A dissident voice in the study of the CSDP

Authored by: Adrian Hyde-Price


Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415588287
eBook ISBN: 9780203098417
Adobe ISBN: 9781136226953


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This chapter provides a realist analysis of the European Union’s role as an emerging regional and global security actor in what remains, in its essentials, an anarchic and ‘Hobbesian’ international system. It draws on the rich tradition of realist international theory, from classical realists such as E. H. Carr, Reinhold Niebuhr and Hans Morgenthau, to structural realists such as Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer. Realist theory emphasizes the significance of material and systemic factors as key determinants of international outcomes, and argues that a foreign and security policy that does not recognize the distribution of relative power capabilities in the international system and does not focus on the pursuit of national or (in the case of the EU) common interests is destined to be weak and ineffectual. Realists argue that security and defence policies are the product of a complex interaction of systemic and domestic level factors, along with the perceptions of decision-makers and the strategic culture within which they operate. Having reviewed classical and neorealist approaches to the CSDP, therefore, this chapter concludes by pointing to some of the interesting work being undertaken within ‘neoclassical realism’, an approach which offers a more fine-grained analytical framework that includes both systemic pressures and national and EU-level factors shaping the evolution of the CSDP.

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