Theorising European strategic culture: Between convergence and the persistence of national diversity

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Series Details No.204, June 2004
Publication Date June 2004
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Article abstract:

This working document focuses on the dynamics and scope of strategic culture-building in the context of the European Union's aspirations to develop a European security and defence policy (ESDP). It argues that the notion of strategic culture can be useful in assessing the context in which the ESDP will develop further as well as its performance in matters of conflict prevention, management and resolution. Nevertheless, in order to be conceptually and empirically useful, strategic culture needs to be disaggregated into collective norms about the means and ends of security policy, as well as its different carriers such as political elites, societies and armed forces. The paper examines the convergence thesis and suggests three theories to explain convergence informed by realist, constructivist and regional theories of political change. Yet the paper also argues that these forces can affect national strategic cultures differently, depending on the countries' geopolitical positions, the institutional stickiness of domestic ideas, values and norms, and the degree to which such norms are subject to partisan or societal contention. On this basis, the paper advances some hypotheses about the actual extension of the convergence process, which will need to be validated by further empirical study.

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