The Concept of Civilian Power Revisited


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Other Title
  • 「民生パワー」概念の再検討
  • a case of EU policy towards Iraq
  • EUの対イラク政策を事例として


The EC/EU has evolved as an international actor, or rather as one of the ‘great powers’ over the issue of peace and international security. This article asks what kind of actor or power the EC/EU has been since the 1970s, with special reference to EC/EU policy towards Saddam Hussein's Iraq (1979-2003).<br>In 1972, François Duchêne described the EC as a ‘civilian power’ in discussing ‘Europe's role in world peace’. The new concept of civilian power was introduced as different from the traditional concept of military power. The EC behaved as a significant actor in external economic affairs. However, the international setting in which the EC developed its international identity changed from the East-West détente to the new Cold War. In 1982, Hedley Bull harshly criticised the notion of ‘civilian power Europe’ as a contradiction in terms, because the EC had yet to be an international actor and because the influence exerted by ‘civilian’ European states was ‘conditional upon a strategic environment by the military power of states’. From the perspectives of ‘the return to power politics’ of the 1980s, Bull was rather advocating a ‘Western European military alliance’. As the Cold War was ending and the EC was transforming into the EU with CFSP, the concept of civilian power re-emerged. Christopher Hill and William Wallace discussed the ‘actorness’ of the EU, which ‘requires not only a clear identity and a self-contained decision-making system, but also the practical capabilities to effect policy’.<br>Section One of this article examines the conceptual history of ‘civilian power’ from the 1970s to the 1990s. Section Two attempts to apply the concept to EC/EU policy towards Iraq: from Saddam's inauguration in July 1979, through the Iran-Iraq War in 1980-88, the Gulf conflict in 1990-91 and the Operation Desert Fox in 1998, to the de facto collapse of Saddam's regime in April 2003. The EC/EU became deeply involved with the issues revolving around Iraq: oil, hostages/terrorism, economic sanctions, arms transfer, UN peace-keeping, logistical and financial assistance to the US-led multilateral forces, and the issue of a continued UN inspection or a war.<br>The Iraq War broke out in March 2003. International society would effectively disarm Saddam of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and change his undemocratic regime. Some Americans might well be overwhelmed with a success. It would however be naïve to conclude that the EU did not play any role in pre-war and post-war Iraq. At least two significant issues remained in Iraq, the Gulf region and the world: the establishment of a truly international regime of WMD non-proliferation and the promotion of democracy with little use of military force. In terms of capabilities, the EU collectively may still be a civilian power. In terms of expectations, the EU would cease to be such a power. With ten new members joining the EU and with a EU constitution and CSDP in sight, however, the concept of civilian power Europe should be more sophisticated and more effective in describing and analysing EU diplomacy. This must also be the lasting task of European integration theory.


  • EU Studies in Japan

    EU Studies in Japan 2004 (24), 207-228,323, 2004

    The European Union Studies Association-Japan


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