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  • Author: J.C. Sharman
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The making of the international system from c. 1500 reflected distinctively maritime dynamics, especially “gunboat diplomacy,” or the use of naval force for commercial gain. Comparisons between civilizations and across time show, first, that gunboat diplomacy was peculiarly European and, second, that it evolved through stages. For the majority of the modern era, violence was central to the commercial strategies of European state, private, and hybrid actors alike in the wider world. In contrast, large and small non-Western polities almost never sought to advance mercantile aims through naval coercion. European exceptionalism reflected a structural trade deficit, regional systemic dynamics favoring armed trade, and mercantilist beliefs. Changes in international norms later restricted the practice of gunboat diplomacy to states, as private navies became illegitimate. More generally, a maritime perspective suggests the need for a reappraisal of fundamental conceptual divisions and shows how the capital- and technology-intensive nature of naval war allowed relatively small European powers to be global players. It also explains how European expansion and the creation of the first global international system was built on dominance at sea centuries before Europeans’ general military superiority on land.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Navy, Law of the Sea, Maritime
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Seth Johnston
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Europe is pursuing significant new defense initiatives that span capability development, policy, and institutional cooperation. Many of these efforts occur under the auspices of the European Union and are part of the EU’s longstanding aim to grow itself as a security and foreign policy actor. But real security challenges in Europe—from Russian aggression to terrorism and regional instability—have contributed to the importance and potential of European efforts. The political dynamics of the transatlantic relationship may also favor Europe’s initiatives: although the Trump administration’s calls for greater European defense spending have rankled European leaders and U.S. officials have legitimate concerns about the details of EU initiatives, the larger issue of strengthening European defense is consistent with U.S. goals. The EU’s security and defense efforts have implications for the transatlantic economy and defense industry, the NATO alliance, and U.S.-European relations generally. While the United States should work to ensure continued transatlantic defense policy coordination, secure and competitive markets for the defense industry, and preservation of the longstanding principle of ‘no duplication’ with NATO, it should also broadly support European efforts to invest more and more wisely on defense. Both the United States and Europe stand to benefit from greater European defense investment and capability. The history of intra-European and transatlantic differences over European defense cooperation endures in the EU’s current efforts. But today’s environment favors change and represents a rare opportunity for bold action.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, International Security, Europe , Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America