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REGIONAL ECONOMIC

ORGANIZATIONS AND
CONVENTIONAL
SECURITY
CHALLENGES

M. Leann Brown
Regional Economic Organizations
and Conventional Security Challenges
M. Leann Brown

Regional Economic
Organizations
and Conventional
Security Challenges
M. Leann Brown
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida, USA

ISBN 978-3-319-70532-3    ISBN 978-3-319-70533-0 (eBook)


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Contents

1 Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional


Security Challenges   1
The Puzzle   2
A Word About Comparative Case Studies   3
Summaries of the Cases   6
The Thesis   8
References  10

2 Theorizing Organizational Change  13


Systemic and Other Power-Related Explanations  16
Organizational and Functional Explanations  18
Ideational and Social Understandings  21
Conclusion  26
Summary of Some Propositions Discussed in the Literature  28
References  30

3 The 1978–1991 Association of Southeast Asian


Nations-Vietnam Standoff  35
ASEAN’S Formative Years and Security Efforts Before the Crisis  38
Potential Systemic and Other Power-Related Explanations  40
Organizational and Functional Explanations  42
Ideational and Social Understandings  45
Conclusion: ASEAN’s Diplomatic Response
to the Vietnamese Threat  46
References  50

v
vi   Contents

4 The 1990 Economic Community of West African


States-Liberian Civil War Challenge   53
ECOWAS’ Founding and Progress Before the Crisis   55
Potential Systemic and Other Power-Related Explanations   57
Organizational and Functional Explanations  64
Ideational and Social Understandings  66
Conclusion: The ECOWAS Military Intervention
in the Liberian Civil War  68
References  73

5 The 1990–1991 European Communities-­Balkans Crisis  77


EC Security Efforts Before the Crisis  81
Potential Systemic Factors and Other Power-­Related
Explanations  82
Organizational and Functional Explanations  85
Ideational and Social Understandings  87
Conclusion: The EC’s Diplomatic and Economic Response
to the Balkans Crisis  89
References  96

6 Explaining and Understanding Regional Economic


Organizations’ Response to Conventional Security
Challenges  99
References 107
Abbreviations and Acronyms

ARF ASEAN Regional Forum


ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
CFSP Common Foreign and Security Policy
ECOMOG ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group
ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States
EPC European Political Cooperation
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NPFL National Patriotic Front of Liberia
OAU Organization of African Unity
REO Regional economic organization
SADC Southern African Development Community
UK United Kingdom
UN United Nations
US United States
WEU Western European Union

vii
List of Tables

Table 4.1  ECOWAS Member State participation in ECOMOG 63


Table 6.1  Summary of propositions relevant to our case studies 105

ix
CHAPTER 1

Regional Economic Organizations


and Conventional Security Challenges

Abstract  Few dispute that security governance worldwide is insufficient.


In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, literature proliferated sug-
gesting that regional organizations in cooperation with the United Nations
represent the best hope for conflict amelioration. While early optimism has
been tempered by the scope of security challenges and institutional capac-
ity shortfalls at the global and regional levels, regional organizations have
increasingly become mainstays in global security governance. This chapter
asks why REOs decide to take on conventional security challenges and
provides a short explication of comparative case studies methodologies,
summaries of the three historical cases, and the thesis—The decision to
transform the REOs from a predominantly economic organization into a
conventional security actor is most influenced by decision makers’ percep-
tions of threat and functional necessity.

Keywords Regional economic organization • Security governance •


Comparative case studies • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) • The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
• The European Communities (EC)

© The Author(s) 2018 1


M.L. Brown, Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional
Security Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70533-0_1
2   M.L. BROWN

The Puzzle
Given the level of intrastate and interstate violence currently plaguing the
global arena, few dispute that security governance worldwide is insuffi-
cient. Green Cowles (2007, 47) expresses it succinctly: there is “a gap
between the demand for governance and the supply of governance at the
international level.” In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, litera-
ture proliferated suggesting that regional organizations in cooperation
with the United Nations represent the best hope for conflict amelioration
around the world. Former United Nations (UN) Secretary General
Boutros Boutros Ghali discussed this idea in terms of democratizing the
international community. He believed that regional organizations’ assum-
ing more responsibility will allow the UN to play a larger role in preventive
diplomacy and become the instrument of last resort in conflict resolution.
He averred that a multipolar world should be led by a multiplicity of insti-
tutions (Rivlin 1992). While early post-Cold War optimism has been tem-
pered by the scope of security challenges and institutional capacity
shortfalls at the global and regional levels, regional organizations have
increasingly become mainstays in global security governance. It is difficult
to envision a contemporary situation where violent conflict would not
elicit some form of conflict management effort by a regional organization
(Tavares 2010). New relationships obtain between states and markets
weakening distinctions between the public and private and between
“internal” and “external/regional” security. Most conventional security
threats1 now possess the potential to become transnational and regional-
ized (Luckham 2007). This having been said, we would do well to recall
that the tens of regional organizations are quite diverse in terms of their
goals, capacity, and willingness to take on conventional security tasks.2
Why regional economic organizations (REOs) decide to take on conven-
tional security roles is an important theoretical and practical concern.
This study draws upon several bodies of thought to explore this ques-
tion. Firstly, all organizations are given to inertia and are reticent to change
unless forced to do so. Among the organizational change scholarship, the
critical junctures and crisis literatures are particularly relevant to considering
why and how REOs change when faced with conventional security chal-
lenges. Multiple hypotheses and propositions have also been offered within
the regional integration and organizations literatures to explain organiza-
tional decision making and change. Attempting to bring order to the dis-
cussion via categorization, scholars commonly discuss “clusters of factors”
  REGIONAL ECONOMIC ORGANIZATIONS AND CONVENTIONAL…    3

including internal versus external factors, realist versus liberal versus


ideational factors, systemic- and power-related factors versus institutional
factors, among others (Soderbaum 2003, 16; Kurowska 2012, 7). After a
brief discussion of the organizational change, critical junctures, and crises
literatures, Chap. 2 organizes the theoretical regional organizational
change literatures and pertinent empirical studies into those privileging
(1) systemic and other power-related factors, (2) organizational and func-
tional explanations, and (3) ideational and social understandings. It is
impossible to provide an exhaustive accounting of factors and discussion
regarding each category, however, some of the more salient possible expla-
nations for REOs’ taking on conventional security tasks will be outlined.
Employing these categories, Chaps. 3, 4 and 5 investigate three histori-
cal cases wherein REOs are confronted with conventional security threats:
The 1978–91 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Vietnam
Standoff, the 1990 Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS)-Liberian Civil War Challenge, and the 1990–91 European
Communities (EC)-Balkans Crisis. The REOs’ response to the crises dif-
fered in that ASEAN employed diplomatic means for more than a decade
to address Vietnamese expansion in Southeast Asia, the ECOWAS under-
took a vigorous military intervention in the Liberian Civil War, and while
the EC deployed diplomatic and economic instruments to address disor-
der associated with the breakup of Yugoslavia, its Member States were
unable to agree on a common military strategy and responsibility for ame-
liorating the conflict fell to the United Nations and then to the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States.

A Word About Comparative Case Studies


The case study method is much practiced, but frequently misunderstood
and/or maligned. Among other concerns, critics charge that case studies
are idiosyncratic, historically specific, atheoretical, do not generate a suffi-
cient number of data points to test theory, and/or their “interpretive”
nature allows the investigator to draw positive conclusions about hypothe-
ses where none exist (Kaarbo and Beasley 1999, 371). Although much of
what we know about the empirical world and much of the work in
International Relations and Political Science are generated by the case study
method, it is held in low regard by many. The case study is an in-­depth study
of a single unit of a relatively bounded phenomenon (in this study, regional
economic organizations responding to conventional s­ ecurity challenges) to
4   M.L. BROWN

generalize across a larger universe of similar phenomena. The case study


method is a way to define cases, not a single way to analyze them (Gerring
2004, 341). While this study relies on qualitative data, case studies may
engage qualitative and/or quantitative data. The single historical case study
may actually comprise multiple case studies because it may examine several
possible understandings, assumptions, propositions, hypotheses, and/or
explanations over time. So within a single case, there are a number of pos-
sible “Ns” (Kaarbo and Beasley 1999, 372–373).
Case studies may be undertaken for several purposes, among them (1)
to describe, (2) to develop theory, (3) to utilize theory to explore some
empirical phenomenon, and (4) to explore and refine theory. When
employing cases to describe (“atheoretical” case studies according to
Lijphart 1971), scholars seek a holistic understanding of the empirical
phenomenon rather than to generate hypotheses and/or theory or to test
hypotheses and/or theory. Of course, the description may begin with or
be structured by some preconceived ideas or points of reference (proto-­
theory), but the primary purpose is simply to generate “understanding” of
the case. Some argue that this type of case study should be further divided
into “historical” and “interpretive” cases with the former presenting
events or circumstances to describe the case while the latter attempting to
understand the phenomenon from the perspectives of the actors involved.
These approaches are not mutually exclusive or competitive, and both may
be used in a single case study (Kaarbo and Beasley 1999, 373).
Case studies may also be used to generate hypotheses and/or develop
theory. In this instance, the empirical specifics of the case are examined
with an eye to possibly developing testable hypotheses. The type of theory
sought will determine the case selected. While the case may be used to
develop a holistic, in-depth understanding of the case, the scholar will
identify a few salient factors and variables to serve as a foundation for
theory building (Lijphart 1971; Kaarbo and Beasley 1999, 374–375).
A third purpose of the case study may be to use theory to explore an
empirical phenomenon. In what Eckstein (1975) refers to as “disciplined
configuration,” theory and/or a set of hypotheses are used to structure,
examine, and/or interpret a particular case or set of cases, mostly to gain
in-depth understanding of the case. George (1979, 61–62) explains that
the comparison is “focused because it deals selectively with only certain
aspects of the historical case…and structured because it employs general
questions to guide the data collection analysis in that historical case.”
  REGIONAL ECONOMIC ORGANIZATIONS AND CONVENTIONAL…    5

He continues:

Using a standardized set of questions in the controlled comparison is necessary


to assure acquisition of comparable data from the several cases. In this way, the
method of structured, focused comparison will avoid the all-too-­familiar and
disappointing experience of traditional, intensive single case studies in the past
which, even when they were instances of a single class of events, were not per-
formed in a comparable way and hence did not contribute to an orderly,
cumulative development of knowledge and theory about the phenomenon in
question. Instead, as conducted in the past, each case study tended to go its
own way, reflecting the special interests of each investigator and often, some-
what opportunistically, being guided by the readily available historical data
rather than by a well defined theoretical focus. As a result, the idiosyncratic
features of each case tended to shape the research questions differently.

Focused comparison also conveys the benefit of avoiding being over-


whelmed by a large number of factors to be analyzed.
Fourthly, cases may be used to explore or refine theory. Again, these
purposes are not mutually exclusive. This present study uses the case study
method to gain in-depth understanding of the individual cases, uses theo-
retical propositions and hypotheses to structure the investigation, and
then uses conclusions drawn from the cases to ascertain what is confirmed
or called into question in the existing theoretical literature.
The putative weaknesses of the case study method have been mentioned.
The three cases of this study allow us to look at several possible explana-
tions or understandings derived from several categories (and levels) of the-
ory regarding a single phenomenon—REOs’ responses to conventional
security challenges. Given that what and how are always easier to discern
than why, descriptive inference deriving from the case study does not always
have to assert causal relationships beyond the most proximate occurring of
A, B, and C. After all, these are very complex phenomena and it is impor-
tant to be humble in one’s aspirations and claims. Gerring (2004, 348)
writes that “Case studies, if well constructed allow one to peer into the box
of causality to the intermediate causes lying between some cause and its
purported effect. Ideally, they allow one to ‘see’ X and Y interact….” Causal
inference may be enhanced by choosing cases that are especially representa-
tive of the phenomenon under study and/or choosing “crucial cases”
(Eckstein 1975; Gerring 2004, 347). There isn’t a large universe of cases
where REOs were required to respond to conventional security threats.
Perhaps the case may be made that the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) could be included in this sample, however, although
6   M.L. BROWN

the SADC has promulgated some security-related protocols, its actions


have been quite limited in this area. This study includes the most clearly
“crucial instances” of the phenomenon. The subsequent segment summa-
ries the cases explored in Chaps. 3, 4 and 5.

Summaries of the Cases
Chapter 3 investigates the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’
response to the Vietnamese military invasion of Cambodia. At the onset of
the crisis in 1978, ASEAN, which had begun in 1967 as a regional eco-
nomic and cultural cooperative entity, was a relatively weak, informal orga-
nization. Its primary successes during its first decade lay in its providing a
means whereby the Member States could manage intraregional (particu-
larly territorial) disputes and the stresses of the Cold War. After forcing the
departure of the United States from Southeast Asia, Vietnam intervened
militarily into Cambodia in 1978, overthrew its government, and in early
1979, established the People’s Republic of Kampuchia under the leader-
ship of Heng Samrin.
The ASEAN states were genuinely alarmed by the threat posed by the
Vietnam incursion, its potential for exacerbating Great Power rivalry in
the region, and its negative consequences for economic growth and devel-
opment. Acharya (2001, 80) contends that “The invasion and the decade-­
long occupation of Cambodia by Vietnamese forces from December 1978
posed the most serious security challenge to ASEAN since its inception.”
While ASEAN lacked the capacity to militarily engage Vietnam, it kept the
issue on the international agenda until the end of the Cold War, paving the
way for institutional change. ASEAN orchestrated international pressure
on Vietnam to withdraw, prevented Vietnamese encroachment into its
Member States, promoted a united-front among anti-Vietnam forces in
Cambodia, and promoted ASEAN’s leadership in the peace process to
protect its security interests and avoid great power control.
ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts in response the Cambodian crisis repre-
sented a turning point in its development as a regional and global actor
prepared to assume security functions. In 1992, the ASEAN Heads of
Government approved the Singapore Declaration laying the groundwork
for creation of the ASEAN Regional Forum. While the Regional Forum
is not a collective security organization in the mold of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO), it is an arena where the now 27 members
converse and assess their interests, goals, and perceptions. The discourse,
  REGIONAL ECONOMIC ORGANIZATIONS AND CONVENTIONAL…    7

transparency, and confidence-building measures undertaken by Regional


Forum members are important socializing and learning activities making
ASEAN and the Regional Forum the leading multilateral security organi-
zations in Southeast Asia.
Chapter 4 considers how the Economic Community of West African
States, at the time a virtually moribund regional economic organization,
decided to take on the extremely challenging role of peacemaking in the
Liberian Civil War. The Liberian Civil War began in December 1989,
when the Charles Taylor-led National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)
launched an attack on Liberian military personnel on the Liberian-Cote
d’Ivoire border. Within five months, the NPFL controlled more than 90
percent of the country. The Liberian conflict quickly deteriorated into
unspeakable levels of violence and ethnic genocide. ECOWAS states
increasingly became concerned for the safety of their nationals and
Monrovian citizens seemingly facing a bloodbath (Vogt 1996, 166). After
an ECOWAS Standing Mediation Committee failed to achieve a peace
settlement, an ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) was
created to intervene militarily beginning in August 1990. Most agree that
ECOWAS leadership in the Liberian Civil War was the most important
event since its founding in 1975, and represented a turning point in its
institutional development.
Chapter 5 considers the final case of the European Communities’
response to the disintegration and violence in Yugoslavia in 1990. Initially
it was clear that EC Member States did not recognize the Yugoslav crisis’
potential for widespread, prolonged and costly armed conflict. In the early
days of the conflict, the organization was only prepared to devote diplo-
matic attention to the problem, mediate, impose an arms embargo, and
curtail financial support. In September 1990, EC leaders met to consider-
ing sending a European military contingent to Yugoslavia. While Member
States were divided in their positions on the military option, in the end no
EC Member was willing to commit peacekeeping forces without Serbian
acquiescence and an effective ceasefire in place. In November, the EC
called upon the United Nations Security Council to assume responsibility
for the Yugoslav conflict and thereafter each Member State decided indi-
vidually whether to contribute to the UN-coordinated peacekeeping
effort (Wood 1993, 237).
The literature discusses EC early efforts to manage the conflict in the
Balkans as a policy failure. While EC members wished to enhance its for-
eign policy capabilities and maintain Yugoslav unity and stability, they did
8   M.L. BROWN

not anticipate that the conflict would spill into EC territory, create thou-
sands of refugees and descend into a level of violence including genocide
not seen in Europe since World War II. At the time with diverging Member
States interests, Member States lacked the incentives to engage in a costly
military intervention. There is consensus that the EC’s failure to manage
the Balkans crisis generated significant soul searching and provided the
impetus for substantial organizational reform.

The Thesis
The theoretical and empirical literatures suggest that systemic- and
organizational-­ level factors provide opportunities and constraints on
regional decision makers faced with a conventional security threat.
However, to paraphrase Alexander Wendt (1992), a security threat is what
decision makers make of it. The decision to transform the REOs from a
predominantly economic organization into a conventional security actor is
most influenced by decision makers’ perceptions of threat and functional
necessity. If the threat is immediate and internal to the organizations as
was the case in the Liberian Civil War, the REO has little choice but to
respond if global Great Powers and/or the United Nations decline to
intervene. The REOs and their Member States (constituting a “regional
security complex”) conclude that the security challenge can only reason-
ably be resolved via regional efforts. Ideational factors such as humanitar-
ian norms and regional identity are often employed to legitimate taking on
conventional security tasks. If, however, Member States do not perceive
the threat to be immediate and credible and/or the threat is external to
the organization’s Member States, then while the organization may be
willing to expend diplomatic and economic resources, it is less likely to
intervene militarily in the conflict.
Although the response of the REO to the convention security threat
differed in each case, dealing with the conventional security challenge rep-
resented an institutional turning point in each of the REOs. ASEAN
emerged from the decade-long struggle with the Vietnamese incursion
into Cambodian with a stronger sense of regional and global identity, and
in 1992 agreed to create the ASEAN Regional Forum. After the successful
military intervention in the Liberian Civil War, ECOWAS Member States
began to attend meetings and pay their monetary contribution more regu-
larly, and the organization extended the ECOMOG to intervene in the
civil war in Sierra Leone in 1997.3 And, the shame and distress associated
  REGIONAL ECONOMIC ORGANIZATIONS AND CONVENTIONAL…    9

with the EC’s failure to reach a consensus regarding how to effectively


address the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the early stages of the conflict
provided the impetus for the EU to move forward with nascent efforts to
create a Common Foreign and Security Policy agreed to in the Second
Pillar of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. While much of Western Europe’s
conventional security needs continue to be addressed via NATO, the EU
has made slow but steady progress toward creating conventional security
capabilities independent of NATO. That process continues today particu-
larly in light of the Russian threat to its East European Member States and
the perceived increasingly unreliability of the United States given it mili-
tary entanglements in the Middle East, its ostensible desire to “pivot to
Asia,” and the recent discourses in the United States about Europeans
“paying their fair share” and “America First” associated with the Donald
Trump administration.4 Chapter 2 considers what the various International
Relations and Political Science literatures tell us about possible explana-
tions for why and how regional economic organizations decide to address
conventional security challenges.

Notes
1. During the Cold War, security studies focused on the geopolitical protection
of the state, dichotomizing the discussion in terms of conventional and non-
conventional military threats, strategies, and weaponry. Nonconventional
security concerns commonly focused on nuclear, chemical, and biological
threats. Since the 1990s, however, the referents to be protected have been
widened to include individual human beings. Threats to human security
include poverty, health and environmental challenges, identity including
gender discrimination, crime, and cyberattacks (Axworthy 2001; King and
Murray 2001; Paris 2001). Regional economic organizations seek member-­
state and regional economic growth, development, and integration, contrib-
uting to states’ and individuals’ economic security. Thus, this study implicitly
explores relationships between economic and military security.
2. The World Trade Organization provides a list of and basic information
regarding bilateral and multilateral trade agreements in force including
those creating regional economic organizations at: ­<http://rtais.wto.org/
UI/PublicAllRTAList.aspx>
3. While the ECOMOG was able at one point to bring the rebels in Sierra
Leone to the negotiating table, its military performance was ineffective,
Nigeria declined to continue its hegemonic role in military operations, and
the United Nations was required to assume responsibility for bringing the
civil war to an end.
10   M.L. BROWN

4. During the presidential campaign, Trump said that he would “certainly look
at” pulling the United States out of NATO because it is “obsolete” and “is
costing us a fortune.” The US pays approximately 22 percent of direct NATO
costs and a significantly larger percentage of the organization’s indirect
costs. (See http://www.factcheck.org/2016/05/whats-trumps-position-
on-nato/, last accessed 5/30/17).

References
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Cowles, Maria Green. 2007. Intergovernmental Organizations: Global Governance
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Eckstein, Harry. 1975. Case Study and Theory in Political Science. In Handbook
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Gerring, John. 2004. What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good For? American
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Kaarbo, Juliet, and Ryan K. Beasley. 1999. A Practical Guide to the Comparative
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King, Gary, and Christopher J.L.  Murray. 2001. Rethinking Human Security.
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Lijphart, Arend. 1971. Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method.
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Luckham, Robin. 2007. The Discordant Voices of ‘Security’. Development in
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Paris, Roland. 2001. Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air? International
Security 26 (2): 87–102.
Rivlin, Benjamin. 1992. Regional Arrangements and the UN System for Collective
Security and Conflict Resolution: A New Road Ahead. International Relations
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Soderbaum, Fredrik. 2003. Introduction: Theories of New Regionalism. In


Theories of New Regionalism, ed. Fredrik Soderbaum and Timothy M. Shaw,
1–21. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
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165–183. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
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CHAPTER 2

Theorizing Organizational Change

Abstract  While the fundamental goals of REOs including promoting


economic growth, development, and integration persist over time, regional
organizations are susceptible to major change when confronted with secu-
rity threats. Several terms including “crises” and “critical junctures” are
used to capture these phenomena and scholars suggest that systemic and
other constraints may be relaxed during these periods, permitting idiosyn-
cratic factors greater sway. That having been said, systemic, organizational,
and ideational factors must be taken into account to understand actors’
decisions regarding organizational change. Propositions related to sys-
temic and other power-related factors, organizational factors and func-
tional needs, and ideational and social factors explicated in the International
Relations, regional integration, and security literatures are discussed in
this chapter.

Keywords  Regional economic organizations • Critical junctures • Great


Powers • Hegemonic stability theory • Functionalism • Norms

Once created, formal international organizations tend to take on a life of


their own and are difficult to transform or destroy.1 In pursuit of their
national and collective interests, states create intergovernmental organiza-
tions, and once created, the organizations, to varying degrees, constrain the
creators’ and others’ choices and actions in the present and in the future.

© The Author(s) 2018 13


M.L. Brown, Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional
Security Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70533-0_2
14   M.L. BROWN

Treaties and other formal agreements codify the existence, goals, and
­structures of organizations, reinforcing their stability and continuity by inter-
national law. Thus, most organizational change is incremental. Organizational
change may be defined as a shift in norms, goals, rules, enforcement proce-
dures, and resource allocation such that different choices and behaviors are
possible, encouraged, or constrained (Levi 1990).
While the fundamental goals of REOs such as promoting economic
stability, growth, development, and integration persist over time, regional
organizations are susceptible to major change when confronted with secu-
rity threats. Jorgen Moller (2013, 699) contends that organizational
change:

is overwhelmingly the result of events or decisions taken during a short phase


of uncertainty, in which the relaxation of structural influence on political
agents open up opportunities for a small number of powerful actors to gen-
erate lasting institutional change [emphasis in the original].

Capoccia and Kelemen (2007) concur that when confronted with an


unanticipated security challenge, structural factors constraining actors’
choices are weaker than normal, and unanticipated organizational change
may occur.
The literatures dealing with these unexpected security challenges employ
several terms to capture these phenomena, including “crises,” “critical
junctures,” “decision points,” “turning points,” and even “unsettled
times” (Capoccia and Kelemen 2007, 341 n2). Crises are defined as threats
to the existence and/or fundamental interests of organizations that arise
unexpectedly and provide limited time for decision makers to respond.
They may be associated with the failure of existing political ideas, norms,
and practices and necessitate a search for alternatives. Security crises require
decision makers to lexicographically prioritize conventional security items
on their agenda, of necessity may reduce the number of factors decision
makers take into account, and legitimate organizational change and politi-
cal action (Dimitrakopoulos 2005, 678–679). Given the fear, stress, time
pressures, and moral dilemmas involved, the foreign policy literature iden-
tifies several departures from instrumental “rationality” that may character-
ize crisis decision making including “satisficing,” bureaucratic politics, and
“groupthink.”2 It should be noted, however, that intergovernmental deci-
sion making is customarily less idiosyncratic and more formulaic than state-
based decision making. REOs certainly benefit from strong, visionary,
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    15

courageous, and charismatic leadership; however, Member States prefer to


retain control over conventional security decision making rather than relin-
quishing control to individual regional leaders.
Arising out of historical institutionalism, the critical junctures literature
conceptualizes organizational development as characterized by relatively
long periods of path-dependent stability punctuated occasionally by brief
periods of organizational change. During critical junctures more significant,
long-term change is possible given that the choices made close off alterna-
tive options and establish practices that generate self-reinforcing, path-
dependent processes that are resistant to change. Critical junctures are
situations wherein the organizational, political, economic, ideological, and
cultural influences on political action are relaxed for a short period of time
which results in the expansion of possible options available to powerful
political actors, making the organizational consequences of their decisions
potentially more momentous (Capoccia and Kelemen 2007, 341–347).
Mahoney (2000, 513; 2001, 113) defines critical junctures as “choice
point[s] when a particular option is adopted among two or more alterna-
tives….” He continues: “[O]nce a particular option is selected, it becomes
progressively more difficult to return to the initial point when multiple
alternatives were still available.” This conceptualization emphasizes the
importance of human agency and choice:

In many cases, critical junctures are moments of relative structural indeter-


minism when willful actors shape outcomes in a more voluntaristic fashion
than normal circumstances permit…these choices demonstrate the power of
agency by revealing how long-term development patterns can hinge on dis-
tant actor decisions of the past. (Mahoney 2002, 7)

Thelen and Steimo (1992, 17) concur that:

Groups and individuals are not merely spectators as conditions change to


favor or penalize them in the political balance of power, but rather strategic
actors capable of acting on “openings” provided by … shifting contextual
conditions in order to enhance their own position.

That having been said, systemic, organizational, and ideational factors


must be taken into account to understand actors’ range of possible options
that contribute to organizational change (Moller 2013, 706–707). These
factors are discussed below as clusters of systemic and other power-related
16   M.L. BROWN

factors, organizational factors and functional needs, and ideational and


social factors explicated in the International Relations, regional integra-
tion, and security literatures.

Systemic and Other Power-Related Explanations


While we have suggested that when confronted with a conventional security
crisis, the importance of systemic factors may be relaxed in the short term,
realists of various strips emphasize the importance of structural factors in
“shaping and shoving” states’ and intergovernmental organizations’ choices
and actions (i.e. they provide opportunities and constraints) in the anarchic
global system (Waltz 2000, 27; Hyde-Price 2012, 23). Survival needs
and national power interests are important to explaining the creation of
and subsequent changes in regional organizations. When the state cannot
achieve economic and/or conventional security autonomously, it will turn
to balancing or bandwagoning in the form of short-­term coalitions and alli-
ances, or create more long-term arrangements like regional organizations.
Global and regional Great Powers may provide both positive impetus
for or impede the creation and change in regional organizations. In 1949,
Lord Ismay, the first Secretary General of the NATO, famously summa-
rized that its purpose was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and
the Germans down.” Similarly, “[t]he common interest in alleviating great
power pressure remained key” to explaining Denmark, Iceland, Norway,
and Sweden’s creation of the Nordic Council in 1952 (Neumann 2003,
169).3 As will be discussed in Chap. 3, the ASEAN was created in 1967 to
forestall global Great Power intervention in the region and to manage
Indonesia’s expansionistic tendencies. And, the United States has actively
encouraged regional integration in, for example, the case of the European
Communities4 and clearly served as the target for balancing in the creation
of Mercosur. Barry Buzan (2003, 142–145) uses the term “overlay” to
refer to one or more external powers’ suppressing regional security dynam-
ics. Clearly, however, regional organizations play a role in conditioning
whether and how outside powerful actors are able to penetrate the region.
Realists understand regionalism as an effort of the most powerful state/s
in the region to manage and simplify the anarchical global system by com-
bining with other states into more or less cohesive groups under its leader-
ship. Each regional power seeks to maximize its wealth and extend its
influence; however, territorial aggrandizement has been delegitimated since
World War II.  The role of hegemonic states in these processes has been
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    17

widely analyzed. Robert Keohane (1984, 32–33) describes hegemony as a


“preponderance of material resources” meaning control and competitive
advantage over raw materials, markets, capital, knowledge, and technology.
Robert Cox adds that hegemony is:

dominance of particular kind where the dominant state creates an order based
ideologically on a broad measure of consent, functional according to general
principles that in fact ensure the continuing supremacy of the leading state or
states and social classes but at the same time offer some measure or prospect
of satisfaction to the less powerful….. (quoted in Hveem 2003, 85–86)

Realists and hegemonic stability theorists argue that clear leadership is vital
to the success of regional projects. Uncertain or contested leadership cre-
ates instability and undermines regional cooperation. Hegemonic stability
relies on the hegemon’s willingness to bear a disproportionate share of the
costs of providing collective goods (including security), act benignly
toward weaker partners, and support redistribution of the gains of integra-
tion. The role played by Brazil in Mercosur, India in the South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation, Nigeria in the ECOWAS, South
Africa in the SADC, and the United States in the North American Free
Trade Agreement are held up as examples of the importance of hegemonic
leadership for regional cooperation. While contemporary hegemonic proj-
ects are vulnerable to charges of “democratic deficits,” hegemons can
legitimize their leadership and orchestrate self-serving change if a credible
threat is available or can be constructed (Hettne 2003, 25). It is often dif-
ficult to discern whether a regional hegemon leads the REO to undertake
security tasks in support of regional interests, its own, or some combina-
tion of both. Neumann observes succinctly: “Perhaps there exists a gen-
eral tendency for regional great powers to identify the region with their
own sphere of interest.” (quoted in Thakur and Langenhove 2006, 235).
While realists and liberals agree on certain hegemony stability assump-
tions, liberals also emphasize the potential importance of systemic factors
like complex interdependence, economic globalization, regionalization, and
global governance (usually in the form of the UN) as explanations for the
creation of and change in regional organizations. While regional organiza-
tions may be conceptualized as one facet of global governance, the creation
of regional organizations may to some extent be regarded as a consequence
of the failure of global multilateralism, in many instances the failure of the
UN to guarantee security (Hettne 2003, 25). There are a significant n ­ umber
18   M.L. BROWN

of instances of regional organizations’ taking on security tasks due to the


UN’s failure to act. However, the role of the UN in encouraging, ­supporting,
and legitimating regional organizations’ taking on security functions should
not be underestimated (Thakur and Langenhove 2006, 235). Regional
organizations being created and/or modified to take on new tasks may also
provide a model or encouragement for other regions to become more inte-
grated and/or take on additional tasks. However, analyses of systemic fac-
tors like globalization and regionalization have difficulty providing detailed
insights and explanations of specific actors’ choices and behaviors within the
context of discrete security crises. Arthur Stein (1990, 22) contends that
structure does not determine states’ choices, but instead structural indeter-
minacy heightens the importance of bargaining and strategic choice. Boas
and his colleagues (2003, 197–210) recommend focusing analytical atten-
tion on how actors perceive their security challenge and how they seek to
deal with it.

Organizational and Functional Explanations


Several propositions in the literature relate to functional or instrumental
explanations as to why REOs take on conventional security tasks, including
(a) regional decision makers accept the premise that REOs are the most
effective and/or efficient agents of conflict amelioration, and (b) following
neofunctionalist5 (and to some extent historical institutionalist) logic,
regional decision makers believe that their economic objectives cannot be
achieved without political stability and security in the region (“natural,
spontaneous, or pure spillover”), (c) the organization’s successes in the
economic realm embolden decision makers to take on security functions
(“cultivated spillover”), and (d) regional organizations, like most organiza-
tions, seek to expand their organizational remit (Haas 1958) and enhance
their global reputations.
Several often-cited, interrelated theoretical advantages of regional orga-
nizations’ taking on security tasks relative to external Great Powers or the
UN include:

1. regional organizations are more effective in conflict amelioration


because of their in-depth understanding of the conflict, while exter-
nal powers and the international community may have difficulties
identifying and understanding the motives and actions of combat-
ants in complex situations;
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    19

2. a shared history makes regional actors’ engagement more acceptable


to citizens in the contributing states and to combatants and civilians
in the country of conflict;
3. regional organizations have stronger incentives to foster long-term
stability because of geographical proximity, the potential for nega-
tive spillover from the conflict, and economic interdependence; and
4. consensus for action may be easier to achieve among members of the
regional organization than in the UN with its larger and more diverse
membership and Great Power dominance in the Security Council.

Each of these arguments for the effectiveness of regional organizations in


addressing conventional security concerns can be undermined by contextual
concerns. While regional organizations may have greater in-depth under-
standing of a conflict relative to external Great Powers or the UN, intimate
knowledge and proximity may also convey disadvantages. Neutrality is gen-
erally assumed a prerequisite for effective diplomatic mediation, and regional
organizations’ associations with, intimate knowledge of, and proximity to
the conflict may preclude their actual and/or perceived neutrality in the con-
flict. Spear and Keller (1996, 120) assert: “regional organizations tend to be
perceived as partial to one side or another in many regional conflicts.”
The second argument supporting regional diplomacy also relates to
effectiveness and legitimacy issues. Some posit that combatants and the
citizenry may find it easier to accept external mediation from regional
actors. Paul Diehl (1993, 125) writes: “People in governments and regions
have a natural affinity with those in that geographic area and an inherent
suspicion of what they perceive as outside intervention.” It is paramount
that all parties trust and accept the diplomatic interlocutors and/or mili-
tary intervention; otherwise they can easily become another party among
the various warring factions. However, greater legitimacy derived from a
shared culture among regional actors is not available in cases of mixed
ethnicity and colonial heritages and historic enmities.
Joseph Nye (1971, 199–209) discusses seven process mechanisms asso-
ciated with increased integration, four of which are organizational and
functional in nature: (a) the inherent functional linkage of tasks (natural,
pure, or spontaneous spillover); (b) deliberate issue linkages and coalition
building (cultivated spillover); (c) increased flows and transactions; and
(d) regional organization formation.6 Haas (1968, 523) explains sponta-
neous spillover in this way:
20   M.L. BROWN

…the accretion of new powers and tasks to a central institutional structure,


based on changing demands and expectations on the part of such political
actors as interest groups, political parties, and bureaucracies. It refers to the
specific process which originates in one functional context, initially separate
from other political concerns, and then expands into related activities as it
becomes clear to the chief political actors that the achievement of the initial
aims cannot take place without such expansion.

Because complex linkages characterize modern society and issues, REOs are
unable to perform at the highest capacity unless they engage multiple eco-
nomic, political, and social sectors (Caporaso 1972, 32). Walter Hallstein
(1967, 11), the first president of the European Commission, describes the
impetus in this way: “The material logic of the facts of integration urges us
relentlessly on from one step to the next, from one field to another.” And,
Haas (1958, 297) concurs that “Sector integration…begets its own impetus
toward extension to the entire economy even in the absence of specific
group demands.”
“Cultivated spillover” yields consequences similar to that of spontane-
ous spillover, that is, the regional economic organization broadens this
agenda to include tasks beyond its original mandate, but these new tasks
are not inherently and substantively connected to earlier functions.
Cultivated spillover is more a consequence of deliberate choice by policy-
makers. Nye (1971, 202) explains:

In contrast to pure spillover in which the main force comes from a common
perception of the degree to which the problems are inextricably intertwined
in a modern economy, problems are deliberately linked together into pack-
aged deals not on the basis of technological necessity but on the basis of
political and ideological projections and political possibilities.7

Philippe Schmitter (1964) contributed to the analysis of spillover by iden-


tifying three additional possible spillover mechanisms: reward generaliza-
tion, imitation, and frustration.
At the end of the day, the resources, capacity, and legitimacy of the
regional economic organization itself may encourage expanding its agenda
to include conventional security concerns. The liberal institutionalist lit-
erature explains how, over time, organizational structures may foster reci-
procity, reduce incentives to shirk and free ride, build trust, and socialize
participants to the degree that a common identity is cultivated (Hveem
2003, 90). Barnett and Finnemore (1999, 707) add:
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    21

[International organizations] can become autonomous sites of authority,


independent from the state “principals” who may have created them because
of power flowing from at least two sources: (1) the legitimacy of the rational-­
legal authority they embody, and (2) control over technical expertise and
information….

Successful achievement of relatively specific economic integration goals


may encourage and embolden the organization to expand its mandate to
enhance its international reputation. REOs among less developed coun-
tries, however, may lack the material resources, institutional success and
legitimacy, and expertise to successfully take on conventional security
missions.

Ideational and Social Understandings


Since the “third debate”8 beginning in the late 1980s and the subsequent
strengthening of constructivist thought in International Relations, several
variants of ideational and socially oriented literatures challenging material-
ist, rationalist, and individualist approaches have emerged to generate
understandings regarding REOs’ taking on conventional security roles
(Keohane 1988). These approaches raise ontological questions concern-
ing, for example, the separation of subject and object, structure and agent,
“facts” and values, state-centrism, and rationalist epistemologies. Rather
than accepting leaders’, states’, and REOs’ ideas, interests, and identities
as pre-existing or given, these factors are conceptualized as constructed in
social interaction. Fredrik Soderbaum (2003, 10–11) writes that “agency
is often motivated and explained by ideas, identity, accumulation of knowl-
edge and learning rather than by traditional routines, structural factors or
established institutions.” Proponents of these perspectives look to ideas,
norms, ideology, culture, learning, discourse, and/or identity for under-
standings as to why REOs take on conventional security tasks.
Goldstein and Keohane (1993, 9) define norms as principled ideas and
beliefs that “translate fundamental doctrines into guidance for contemporary
human actions.” Norms like economic liberalism, reciprocity, fairness,
regionalism, and democracy may be embedded in REOs in formal and infor-
mal processes by which organizations are created and organizational rules are
made, implemented, and revised. They also serve as foundations to legiti-
mate political processes, organizations, rules, and policies (Dimitrakopoulos
2005, 676–677). Value and norm consensus is a very powerful source of
22   M.L. BROWN

states’ and other actors’ support for and compliance with organizational rules
and policies beyond what rational choice theorists would predict given
the material benefits and costs. A commitment to ideas, values, and norms
like humanitarianism and human rights may encourage regional leaders to
take on conventional security tasks when faced with egregious violations of
human rights or violence against regional citizens. These powerful values and
norms are often universal, and the region may serve as a platform for pro-
moting universal values like humanitarianism (Hettne 2003, 37).
Ideas, values, and norms interact with power, functionalist, and identity
and other cognitive factors as sources of organizational change. Ideational-,
value- and norm-based change occurs when the new ideas coincide with
the perceived interests of actors empowered to take decisions. The ideas
and norms may solve pressing political problems, shape actors’ percep-
tions of their interests and the strategies, and legitimize some forms of
political action while delegitimizing others. Change usually assumes the
form of a re-interpretation rather than a complete re-definition of norms.
As was previously discussed regarding crises, timing is an important con-
sideration in this analysis. A crisis challenging the REO’s ontological secu-
rity (Steele 2008) may undermine the legitimacy of its ideational and
normative framework and necessitate a search for alternatives. Scholarly
analysis of the influence of norms must identify specific aspects of norms
that render them political salient in the timeframe when political decisions
are being taken, and ascertain why and how political actors associate par-
ticular norms with particular political action (Dimitrakopoulos 2005).
As will be elaborated in Chap. 3, the importance of norms is often
discussed in relation to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’
­
“ASEAN Way,” that distinguishes it from other regional organizations.
State ­ sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of fellow
Member States are paramount norms reiterated in successive formal agree-
ments by the relatively young states. However, the ASEAN Way also
includes the Malay cultural practices of consultation (musjawarah) and
consensus (mufukat) in decision making and problem solving rather than
argumentation, negotiation, and confrontation. If a problem arises, mem-
bers table the issue and continue consultation regarding other issue areas.
This explicit code of conduct aims to contain disputes among the disparate
Member States and over time to inculcate the ASEAN Way as a standard
operating procedure if not a regional identity. Confidence-building mea-
sures are ASEAN’s policy instruments of choice, including disseminating
military White Papers, registering arms and disclosing arms exports, and
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    23

routine high-­level visits among Member States’ military officials (Narine


2002, 13; Acharya 2003, 149; Weber 2012, 220–228).
As will be discussed in Chap. 4, the importance of norms and identity
has also been discussed in relation to the ECOWAS’ military intervention
in the Liberian civil war in the early 1990s. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning argues
that some Africa-wide values and norms incline West Africans to under-
take the role of “each other’s keeper” based on the need to control unan-
ticipated events. He informs that this response to crisis is based on the
philosophy (in the Akan language) “se wo yondo sese reshye, na se wamoa no
andum ogya no a, etra ba wo dea ho” which articulates the norm of posi-
tive, active engagement to assist a neighbor whose hut is on fire to avoid
the fire engulfing one’s own property. These communal-related norms
diverge significantly from the Westphalian diplomatic and legal norms of
state sovereignty and nonintervention (Aning 1999, 17). Sufficient evi-
dence to support these normative (African neighborly solidarity, humani-
tarianism) explanations of the intervention relies on demonstrating that
ECOWAS leaders believed that the Liberian conflict required a neighborly
response, posed an immediate threat to spreading to neighboring coun-
tries, and/or they were moved to act by the violence and humanitarian
crisis underway in Liberia.
Constructivists are also interested in how issues become “securitized”
necessitating and legitimating a conventional security response. A situa-
tion is securitized via discourse when political, economic, and/or intel-
lectual leaders speak about it as posing an existential threat to some valued
referent and garner the attention of the state, general public, and/or
regional actors. Securitized threats necessitate and legitimate extraordi-
nary political measures and actions like the use of force; secrecy; additional
powers accruing to the executive, intelligence services and/or military;
and other activities that might otherwise be regarded as inappropriate or
illegal (Waever 1995; Buzan et  al. 1998; Buzan 2003). Buzan (2003)
informs that perceptions and securitization processes may constitute a
“regional security complex” defined as “a set of units whose major pro-
cesses of securitization, desecuritization, or both, are so interlinked that
their security problems cannot reasonably be analyzed or resolved apart
from one another.” A “regional security complex” falls short of but shares
some characteristics with Karl Deutsch’s “pluralistic security community”
discussed below. Boas and his colleagues (2003, 250) contend that West
Africa is an empirical example of a regional security complex, but despite
the assertions of ECOWAS exponents, it is not a “security community in
24   M.L. BROWN

the making.” Rather, informal networks and conflict and wars that emerge
around and out of these networks serve as the integrating security mecha-
nism in West Africa.
Constructivists inform that a “region” (like the “state” and “nation”)
is an “imagined community” constituted by juxtaposing identity dis-
courses of the Self and Other/s (Anderson 1983). Regional leaders may or
may not consciously envisage the creation of the regional organization as
the first step toward creating a political identity. However, region-­builders’
discourse often portrays the regional project as “natural,” and articulates
an ideology of regionalism. Shared histories, cultural similarities, and/or
social ties are not in themselves relevant but are made salient by political
actors to serve their purposes. Neumann (2003, 161–162) writes:

Where a region has been part of a discourse for so long that it is taken as a
given fact, the approach can show that structures which may at first sight
seem to be inevitably given, will remain so long as they are perceived as inevi-
tably given [emphasis in the original].

Individuals and groups have no single, static identity—identities are mul-


tiple, flexible, and always evolving (Mudimbe 2000; Boas et  al. 2003,
208). Identities may be manipulated by political and economic elites, but
identity discourses may also “pattern” political interest articulation in
nonintentional and unanticipated ways. How the regional identity is con-
stituted may have a major impact on how regionalization proceeds and
whether the REO decides to take on conventional security tasks.
In addition to “region builders” or leaders who seek to create and/or
promote an ideology of regionalism (Jean Monnet comes particularly to
mind), other internal processes of creating a regional identity or commu-
nity occur when the organization fosters and promotes communication,
the convergence of values and norms, and reciprocity and trust through-
out the region. Convergence, socialization, and integration may occur in
the economic, political, and the security realms such that what Deustch
and his colleagues refer to as a “pluralistic security community” is created.
Citizens in a security community share common interests, trust, empathy,
and “a sense of community.” They believe “that common social problems
must and can be resolved by processes of ‘peaceful change’,” defined as
“the resolution of social problems, normally by institutionalized proce-
dures, without resort to large-scale physical force.” (Deutsch et al. 1957;
Adler and Barnett 1998). “We” feelings may instigate and legitimate
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    25

regional military intervention on behalf of fellow citizens. Hettne (2003,


29) writes: “Crucial areas for regional intervention are the prevention and
handling of region-wide natural catastrophes and emergencies, conflict
management and conflict resolution and creation of welfare in terms of
improved regional balance between different areas.” He opines that col-
lective identity is underestimated in theories of regional cooperation.
Regional integration commonly attributed to hegemonic leadership based
on power asymmetries and dominance may be more related to effective
political and/or moral leadership, the acceptance of a common set of
norms and ideologies, and/or the construction of a common identity
among the hegemon and its regional partners (Allison 1971; Gill 1993;
Gamble and Payne 2003, 59).
As was noted, a strong regional identity is likely created in relation to
external partial and/or radical “Others” (Shapiro 1987; Hansen 2006).
For example, the European Communities’ identity has been forged in rela-
tion to its Partial Other (and ally), the United States (Posen 2006), and the
Soviet Union/Russia, a more Radical Other. For several decades, the
European Communities sought to distinguish itself from the United States
by fashioning its security identity around the Petersberg Tasks,9 as a global
“civilian power” without a legacy of wars, colonialism, or power aspirations
(Laffan et al. 2000, 38–39; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and Verdier 2005) and/or
as a “normative power,” (Manners 2002)10 leaving the use of heavy military
force and compellence to the NATO.  Its strongest and most consistent
contributions to security center around conflict preventive policies such as
preferential trade agreements, financial and technical aid, and bilateral and
interregional cooperation (Kirchner 2011, 32). Perceptions of an existen-
tial threat from a Radical Other heighten ­awareness of distinctions between
the Self and Other and strengthen feelings of community. An often-cited
example of an articulation of the power of Partial (the United States) and
Radical (the Serbs) Others to strengthen perceptions of the Self was the
announcement that “The hour of Europe has dawned” at the end of the
war in Slovenia in 1991 by Jacques Poos, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg,
at the time holder of the EC Council Presidency (Watt 2012).
Lively debates persist over the degree to which pluralistic security
communities can be found outside of NATO. Kirchner (2011, 41) opines
that “Europe’s societies and citizens have not made the transition to a
post-­national identity that would complement post-Westphalian policy
arenas, compellence and protection.” However, Kirchner and Dominguez
(2011, 14) continue that:
26   M.L. BROWN

the EU has successfully created both formal and informal authority s­ tructures,
enabled states to positively identify with one another in security terms, acted as a
socializing agent both for its members and for aspirants and non-­members in
the regional, and encouraged normative notions of good and democratic
governance [emphasis added].

And later, “There is deep amity derived from collective identity where the
regional norms have been internalized and the security dilemma has been
superseded.” (Kirchner and Dominguez 2011, 326). Internal threats have
been eliminated within a pluralistic security community, and when a secu-
rity threat emerges in the “neighborhood,” REOs cum pluralistic security
communities face fewer obstacles to reaching consensus on taking on con-
ventional security tasks.

Conclusion
This chapter has reviewed some literatures associated with why REOs take
on conventional security tasks. This is an important inquiry because intra-
state and interstate conflicts persist in the absence of effective global security
governance. Several organizational attributes and resource-based impedi-
ments preclude the UN’s providing robust conflict amelioration, and
regional organizations are increasingly called upon to step into the breach.
Theory and illustrative empirical cases make clear, however, that inter-
governmental organizations are slow to change and only do so abruptly
when confronted with some form of “crisis.” This chapter discussed sev-
eral systemic and other power-related factors such as states’ need or wish
to balance or bandwagon and regional hegemonic interests and leader-
ship; however, some literature suggests that when faced with crisis, sys-
temic and power-related factors may be relatively less important in the
short term, and REO decision makers have more agency to act on their
own interests, norms, perceptions, and identities.
A second cluster of factors considered is organizational and functional in
nature. Several propositions relate to why regional organizations are likely
more effective and efficient in conflict amelioration relative to the larger
UN. The fact that states in the region are immediately vulnerable to the
spread of violence and negative economic consequences of conflict in the
region provides strong incentives for regional leaders to take on the chal-
lenge of amelioration. REOs may take on conventional security tasks on
the assumption that their original goals of economic cooperation and
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    27

growth cannot be achieved in a conflict-ridden milieu. However, a


­significant deterrent to REOs in developing countries’ taking on conven-
tional security tasks is their lack of military assets relative to more developed
countries and the UN. In these instances, regional leaders may prefer assis-
tance from external Great Powers or the UN to deal with the security
threat and take on the security tasks only when external assistance is not
forthcoming.
The final cluster of factors considered to provide understanding as to
why REOs may undertake conventional security tasks relates to ideational
and social factors espoused in the constructivist literature—including val-
ues, norms, discourse, and identity. Scholars of various strips concur that
consensus regarding and commitment to values and norms are powerful
factors that prompt actors to undertake behaviors inexplicable within
rational materialist calculations. Humanitarianism and regional identity
are salient examples of these ideational and social factors.
The constructivist literature has much to offer with regard to how
“regions” are imagined, how issues become “securitized,” the concept of
regional security complexes, and how regional identities may be created to
the extent that regional citizens trust, feel mutual sympathy, and share
common interests making violent conflict virtually impossible. “We” feel-
ings are sufficiently strong that a security challenge on one is regarded as
a threat to all. Scholars agree that while NATO and the EU are examples
of pluralistic security communities relative to internal threats, only in the
last 20 years has the EU approached this level of integration relative to
external threats.
While the case be made that these clusters of factors interact to provide
understanding of why REOs decide to take on conventional security tasks,
these factors are not equally important in instances of conventional security
crisis. Systemic- and organizational-level factors provide opportunities and
constraints on regional decision makers faced with a conventional security
threat. However, to reiterate the earlier Wendt (1992) paraphrase, a secu-
rity threat is what decision makers make of it. The decision to transform the
REO from a predominantly economic organization into a conventional
security actor is most immediately influenced by decision makers’ percep-
tions of threat and functional necessity. Constituting “regional security
complexes,” the REOs assume that the security challenges (whether within
or immediately outside of the Member States) cannot be resolved reason-
ably except on a regional basis. Other ideational factors such as humanitar-
ian norms and regional identity may also be employed to legitimate taking
28   M.L. BROWN

on conventional security tasks. The circumstances and mix of factors


­associated with each empirical case vary, and the in-depth analyses to follow
will yield a case-specific matrix of explanations and understandings.
Below is a summary of some propositions discussed in the literature
that will be used to investigate the three cases of this study. In Table 6.1
of Chap. 6, we will return to these propositions to summarize findings
from the three cases.

Summary of Some Propositions Discussed


in the Literature

Systemic and Other Power-Related Explanations


P1 The REO undertakes conventional security functions to preclude
external powers’ intervention.
P2 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks because the UN
and/or external Great Powers decline to intervene.
P3 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks to “domesticate”
an internal/regional Great Power.
P4 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks because the
regional hegemon perceives its national security interests and regional
security interests as the same.

Organizational and Functional Explanations


P5 The REO undertakes conventional security functions because it is
the most effective and efficient actor to address the security challenge
due to its in-depth knowledge, shared history, and/or smaller num-
ber of decision makers relative to the larger UN.
P6 The REO addresses the conventional security challenge because
political stability and security are required to achieve its economic
objectives (i.e. spontaneous, natural, or pure spillover).
P7 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks in frustration
deriving from previous failures.
P8 The REO’s previous economic and political achievements encour-
age and embolden it to augment its mission and take on conven-
tional security functions (i.e. cultivated spillover).
P9 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks to enhance its
global reputation.
  THEORIZING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE    29

Ideational and Social Understandings


P10 Humanitarian values and norms prompt the REO to take on
conventional security functions tasks.
P11 A regional cultural norm of “being your neighbor’s keeper”
prompts the REO to take on conventional security tasks.
P12 The REO’s perception of existential threat prompts it to take on
conventional security functions.
P13 The REO takes on conventional security tasks because discourse
has “securitized” empirical events.
P14 Constituting a “regional security complex,” the REO takes on
conventional security functions because it believes that the security
challenge cannot be reasonably resolved except on a regional basis.
P15 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks because as a
“pluralistic security community” its “we feelings” and common iden-
tity translate into the threat being perceived as a threat to all.

Notes
1. This chapter is a revised version of Brown (2015), provided for use cour-
tesy of The Air and Space Power Journal.
2. See, for example, Simon (1947), Allison (1971), Janis (1972), and Schafer
and Crichlow (2010).
3. Finland joined the Nordic Council in 1955. The Council may take up any
issue of common interest except defense matters. Among its accomplish-
ments are the abolition of visas, the creation of a common labor market,
mutual recognition of academic degrees, and law enforcement coopera-
tion. See <www.norden.org>.
4. Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform (London) summarizes
the US role:
Let’s also not forget: it was always an American plot too to create an
European [U]nion which of course the Eurosceptics have no idea
about. The Americans were always there behind the scenes trying to
help Monnet, trying to persuade the French and the Germans to reach
agreement and also to persuade the British to join in. They failed on
that last thing. But the Americans always saw the EU as a good way of
preventing them being drawn into another European war and a good
way of creating a bulwark against communism which it was.
Right through to more recent times, when George Bush [Snr]
supported German unification and the Maastricht treaty while Margaret
30   M.L. BROWN

Thatcher did not – the Americans have nearly always been pushers of
European integration for most of the past 60 years. (quoted in Watt
2012)
See also Beloff (1963) and Heller and Gillingham (1996).
5. Functionalist and neofunctionalist approaches focusing mainly on the
European Communities dominated scholarship during early years of theo-
rizing regarding regional economic and political integration (Boas et  al.
2003, 202).
6. Nye’s other process mechanisms are potentially power-related (external
actor involvement) and ideational and social in nature—elite socialization,
and regional ideology and identity.
7. At the end of this early period of theorizing, some came to regard this lit-
erature as overly detail oriented.
8. Or perhaps the “fourth”—See Lapid (1989) and Smith (2007).
9. The Petersberg Tasks are military and security priorities incorporated
within the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy including humani-
tarian and rescue missions, crisis management, conflict prevention, disar-
mament, peacekeeping and peacemaking, military advice and assistance,
and post-­conflict stabilization tasks. These tasks were initially articulated by
Western European Union leaders at a 1992 summit convened in Germany,
and were incorporated into Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union
(i.e. the Maastricht Treaty).
10. For critiques of the notion of the EU as a normative power, see Diez
(2005) and Merlingen (2007). By 2006, Manners conceded that the
European Security Strategy signaled a “sharp turn away from the norma-
tive path of sustainable peace toward the full spectrum of instruments for
robust interventions.”

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CHAPTER 3

The 1978–1991 Association of Southeast


Asian Nations-Vietnam Standoff

Abstract  This chapter examines ASEANs’ response to the Vietnamese


military invasion of Cambodia between 1978 and 1991. Despite the fact
that ASEAN began as an economic and cultural cooperative entity in
1967, the primary successes of its first decade lay in its providing a means
whereby Member States could manage intraregional disputes and the
stresses of the Cold War. Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia constituted a
turning point in the Association’s willingness to assume leadership to
address conventional security threats. The conflict in Cambodia was per-
ceived as a genuine security threat to ASEAN Member States and to the
political and economic goals of the organization. ASEAN employed
diplomacy to contain Vietnamese influence in Cambodia while seeking to
manage fractious politics within Cambodia and ASEAN itself, laying the
foundation for a nascent security community in Southeast Asia.

Keywords  Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) • Vietnam


• Cambodia • Indonesia • Thailand • ASEAN Regional Forum

This chapter examines the ASEAN’s response to the Vietnamese military


intervention in Cambodia between 1978 and 1991. Despite the fact that
ASEAN began ostensibly as a regional economic and cultural cooperative
entity in 1967, the primary successes of its first decade lay in its providing

© The Author(s) 2018 35


M.L. Brown, Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional
Security Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70533-0_3
36   M.L. BROWN

a means whereby Member States could manage intraregional disputes and


the stresses of the Cold War. Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978
clearly constituted a turning point in the Association’s willingness to
assume leadership to address the ongoing conflict in Indochina. The evi-
dence suggests that the conflict in Cambodia was perceived as a genuine
conventional security threat to ASEAN Member States and to the political
and economic goals of the organization. However, the ten-year-old REO,
constituted of relatively young and weak states, was only capable of diplo-
matic efforts including sustaining the attention of the global community
until the end of the Cold War. For more than a decade, ASEAN engaged
in intense diplomacy to contain Vietnamese influence in Cambodia while
seeking to manage fractious politics within Cambodia and the ASEAN
itself, laying the foundation for a security community in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam intervened militarily into Cambodia in December 1978, over-
threw its government, and in early January 1979, established the People’s
Republic of Kampuchia under the leadership of Heng Samrin. ASEAN
criticized the invasion as a serious violation of its principles of noninterfer-
ence and peaceful settlement of disputes. It regarded Vietnamese behavior
as particularly galling given that the Association earlier had made concilia-
tory gestures toward that country (Acharya 2001, 59). Thereafter for
more than a decade, open animosity, confrontation, and intense diplo-
macy characterized relations between ASEAN and the countries of
Indochina.
ASEAN’s objectives in the face of Vietnamese aggression included:

1. to deny legitimacy to the Vietnamese-installed government in



Phnom Penh and to support the government of Democratic
Kampuchea at the UN;
2. to isolate Vietnam internationally;
3. to secure the unconditional withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from
Cambodia;
4. to prevent Vietnamese/Cambodian/Laotian encroachment into

Thai territory;
5. to convene an international conference to address the problem

under UN auspices;
6. to promote a peaceful, neutral, and democratic Cambodia, which in
the short-term meant promoting the formation of a united front
government among anti-Vietnam forces in Cambodia (including
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    37

the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front


under Son Sann, and the Moulinaka and others who supported
Prince Sihanouk); and,
7. to ensure ASEAN’s leadership in the peace process so that the eventual
settlement would protect ASEAN’s security interests and would not
be dictated by outside powers (Lau 1982, 549; Acharya 2001, 81).

In 1979, an ASEAN proposal for a comprehensive political settlement


of the Cambodian problem was placed before the 34th General Assembly
of the UN and gained the overwhelming support of that body. The pro-
posal provided, for the withdrawal of all Vietnamese troops from
Cambodia, the right of the Cambodian people to self-determination and
the holding of UN-supervised elections so that the Cambodian people
could exercise their franchise free of coercion. Vietnam countered ASEAN
proposals in the Vientiane statement of July 1979 suggesting the conven-
ing of a regional rather than an international conference. In June 1980,
Vietnam proposed the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the
Cambodian-Thai border to address Thai security concerns. In its view,
the Heng Samrin government had the right to govern Cambodia and the
presence of Vietnamese troops was not negotiable (Lau 1982, 548).
While the then five ASEAN members viewed the Vietnamese presence
in Cambodia and Laos through individual national security lens (Thailand
and Singapore were more inclined to confronting Vietnam, while
Indonesia and Malaysia were more accommodative), they all accorded
highest priority to Thailand’s security concerns given its status as a “front-
line” state. The evidence is clear that Thailand faced a significant threat. In
January 1980, Thailand had moved its fifth tank regiment and additional
infantry to the Cambodian border. There were Vietnamese incursions into
Thailand in June 1980 and January 1981  in pursuit of Cambodian
resistance guerrillas that claimed the lives of two Thai soldiers. Another
incident occurred in late January 1981 that resulted in an additional Thai
loss. And, another Thai soldier was killed by Laotian troops in June 1980
(Lau 1982, 551). Thailand solicited United States’ assistance under the
1954 Manila Pact and the subsequent Rusk-That agreement.
Malaysia could not ignore these events given that it conducted joint
military operations with Thailand against Malaysian communist insurgents
along its northern border. Further, Malaysia was the destination of large
numbers of “boat people,” refugees fleeing Vietnam with the encourage-
ment of that government. Ethnic Chinese refugees from Indochina threat-
ened to destabilize the delicate social and demographic balances within
38   M.L. BROWN

ASEAN receiving states (Acharya 2001, 81). On January 7, the day


Phnom Penh fell, Manila concluded arrangements with the United States
to allow its continued use of military installations on its soil (Clark
Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Complex), with ASEAN, Chinese, and
Japanese support.
Although Indonesia was the most geographically distant from
Cambodia, it was strongly anticommunist in outlook and was eager to
stem the spread of communist influence in Indochina (Fifield 1979,
1199–1200). Adam Malik, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister who had
opposed a military role for ASEAN while in office, proposed that 10,000
troops from ASEAN countries conduct military exercises on the
Cambodian-­Thai border to convince Vietnam of ASEAN’s solidarity. In
fact, ASEAN lacked the collective military capacity to withstand an all-
out Vietnamese attack. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s prime minister, was
quoted as saying “there is no combination of forces in Southeast Asia that
can stop the Vietnamese on the mainland of Asia.” (Acharya 2001, 89).
Logistical (particularly the lack of air transport capacity) and operational
(e.g. the lack of joint operations experience with Thai forces) challenges
to regional military cooperation were enormous. Buzan and Waever
(2003, 135) write: “With 140,000 troops in Cambodia and 50,000  in
Laos, Vietnam was, until the end of the Cold War, effectively in control
of an Indochinese empire.”

ASEAN’S Formative Years and Security Efforts


Before the Crisis
ASEAN was born during a period of great political and security turmoil in
Southeast Asia. In July 1967, the United Kingdom announced plans to
withdraw its military assets east of the Suez by the mid-1970s. China was
in the throes of the Cultural Revolution, and United States’ involvement
in Vietnam was escalating at an alarming pace. The five original members
(Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand) viewed
cooperation within ASEAN as a potential mechanism for dealing with
these uncertainties. Analysts and critics, including China and the Soviet
Union, observed that the embryonic organization could not avoid serving
as an anticommunist effort. Vietnam labeled the new organization a “new
SEATO” (Irvine 1982, 3–36; Brown 1994, 107–108). Then-Indonesian
Foreign Minister Adam Malik (1975, 162–163) explained the usefulness
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    39

of regionalism to enhancing the bargaining position of the young and


weak states in dealing with Great Powers:

[T]he smaller nations of the region have no hope of ever making any impact
on this pattern of dominant influence of the big powers, unless they act col-
lectively and until they develop the capacity to forge among themselves an
area of internal cohesion, stability and common purpose. Thus regional
cooperation within ASEAN also came to represent the conscious effort by
its member countries to try to re-assert their position and contribute their
own concepts and goals within the ongoing process of stabilization of a new
power equilibrium in the region.

In addition to the wider security context, multiple conflicts plagued intra-


regional relations. Indonesia and Malaysia had just concluded three years
of war,1 and some in the region were concerned about possible Indonesian
expansionist tendencies. A dispute between Malaysia and the Philippines
over claims to Sabah continued.2 The activities of the Communist Party of
Malaysia and Muslim separatists in southern Thailand contributed to
strained relations between Malaysia and Thailand. And, problems per-
sisted between the newly independent Singapore and Indonesia and
Malaysia.3
In August 1967, Thailand invited the foreign ministers of all Southeast
Asian countries to a conference to conclude a regional economic coopera-
tion agreement. Four states responded, and on August 8, after three days
of talks in the seaside resort of Bangsaen, the five signed the Bangkok
Declaration bringing ASEAN into existence. The Bangkok Declaration
established seven goals for the new association:

1.
accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural
development;
2. promote regional peace and stability;
3. promote collaboration on matters of common interest;
4. provide assistance in training and research;
5.
enhance agriculture, industry, trade, transportation, and
communication;
6. promote Southeast Asian studies; and,
7. promote ties with other regional organizations with similar

missions.4
40   M.L. BROWN

The paragraph pertaining to the promotion of “regional peace and


stability” provided no specifics as to how these goals were to be achieved
(Amer 1999, 1).
The promulgation of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration calling for the cre-
ation of a Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) in
November 1971 was among ASEAN’s first political acts. The Declaration
specifically mentions several principles of the UN Charter as the inspira-
tion for ASEAN objectives, including “abstention from the threat of use
of force,” and “peaceful settlement of international disputes.” The seg-
ment of the Declaration outlining principles and objectives makes clear
that ASEAN Member States considered domestic, regional, and global
stability, peace, and security as inherently connected. The articulation of
the principle of neutrality obviously represented a long-term goal given
that some ASEAN Member States hosted foreign military bases on their
soil at the time. In 1973, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Chatichai
Choonhavan commented that “[t]he immediate task of ASEAN…is to
attempt to create a favourable condition in the region whereby political
differences and security problems among Southeast Asian nations can be
resolved peacefully” (quoted in Acharya 2001, 48).

Potential Systemic and Other


Power-Related Explanations
ASEAN was created in 1967 in part to offset Great Power intervention in
the region and to manage Indonesia’s expansionist tendencies. The United
States’ relationships with the Philippines and Thailand have already been
noted. Vietnam’s alliance with the Soviet Union5 and China’s determina-
tion to counter Vietnamese and Soviet influence in Indochina also figured
in Great Power competition in the region. The Vietnamese invasion of
Cambodia heightened Sino-Vietnamese, Sino-Soviet, and US-Soviet rival-
ries in the region (Acharya 2001, 557). China’s punitive attack on Vietnam
in February and March 1979 demonstrated its vehement opposition to
the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia with Soviet backing.
As was noted, a primary goal of ASEAN’s response to the Vietnamese
intervention was guaranteeing ASEAN leadership in the peace process so
that the eventual settlement would protect its security interests and would
not be dictated by outside powers (Lau 1982, 549; Acharya 2001, 81).
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    41

ASEAN diplomatic efforts continued for more than a decade—only the


end of the Cold War provided favorable conditions for resolving the con-
flict. With Sino-Soviet rapprochement, Beijing became willing to consider
withdrawing support from its Khmer allies and Moscow became willing to
encourage Vietnam to withdraw from Cambodia (Brown and Manning
1989, 2). These Great Power initiatives somewhat sidelined ASEAN in the
peace process although Indonesia served as co-chair of two Jakarta
Informal Meetings on the Cambodian situation and the two Paris Peace
Conferences on Cambodia. During this final stage, ASEAN’s leadership
was eclipsed by outside influences and it experienced disunity over how to
end the diplomatic stalemate (Acharya 2001, 91, 94). In response to
changes in the international environment and in the leadership in ASEAN
countries, Thailand began to engage in “cocktail diplomacy” with
Vietnam, and Thai Premier Chatichai Choonhaven began advocating a
“battlefield to marketplace” approach to dealing with the disorder in
Indochina. Singapore regarded these moves as de facto recognition of the
Vietnam-installed PRK government. And, Indonesia was furious with
Thailand’s breaking ranks and undermining ongoing ASEAN and UN
diplomatic initiatives (Saravanamuttu 2003, 556).
Another possible explanation for ASEAN’s undertaking diplomatic
leadership in the Cambodian crisis derives from regime and hegemonic
stability theories that hypothesize that a hegemon may be essential to
states’ ability to overcome collective action and coordination problems.
Particularly in the context of less developed countries, a paucity of
resources and concerns about equitable distribution of the benefits of inte-
gration may plague regional organizations. A benevolent hegemon may
facilitate policy coordination and contribute “side payments” to reduce
incentives to free ride and allay distributional equity concerns. In most
regional organizations, a single state (or in the case of the EU, two
powerful states) serves as a focal point for negotiating treaties, institution
building, and policy initiatives (Mattli 1999, 55–56). The realist/inter-
governmental literature goes a step further and posits that regional orga-
nizations’ existence and behaviors reflect the national interests of the
regional hegemon.
The case may be made that, in general, Indonesia exerts leadership or
hegemonic influence in ASEAN. As was noted previously, domesticating
Indonesia’s expansionist tendencies in Southeast Asia was among the
42   M.L. BROWN

initial objectives of the original ASEAN states. Djiwandono (1983, 20)


assesses the two-edged nature of Indonesia’s leadership in ASEAN:

Indonesia’s membership within ASEAN would reduce the possibility of


threat to their security posed by their giant neighbor…. Indonesia would
appear to be placed in what amounts to a “hostage” position, albeit in a
golden cage. For the new leadership in Jakarta….it is within ASEAN that
Indonesia might be provided with an opportunity to realize its ambitions, if
any, to occupy a position of primary or primus inter pares without recourse
to a policy of confrontation.

However, the evidence suggests that while Indonesia was concerned about
the spread of communism and Vietnamese influence in Southeast Asia, it
was more concerned about the potential for Chinese dominance in the
region and regarded a strong Vietnam and its Soviet ally as a counterbal-
ance against Chinese adventurism. Thus, Indonesia did not consider itself
as threatened by Vietnamese involvement in Cambodia as did Thailand
and Singapore. However, Indonesia and the other ASEAN states came to
accept Thailand and Singapore’s assessment of the threat and coalesced to
formulate a united diplomatic effort to deal with the Cambodian problem.
Acharya (2001, 87) reports that “Indonesia was confirmed as the political
leader of ASEAN, by being designated as ASEAN’s official interlocutor
with Hanoi for all negotiations on Cambodia.”6

Organizational and Functional Explanations


As outlined in Chap. 2, several instrumental hypotheses have been offered
as to why regional organizations engage in conflict amelioration. Did
ASEAN take on these tasks because it possessed effectiveness and effi-
ciency advantages relative to the UN?7 Did it act on the assumption that
its economic objectives could not be achieved without expanding the
organization’s remit to include conventional military security? Or, as in
the ECOWAS case to follow, did the organization provide diplomatic
leadership simply because Great Powers declined to become involved?
Several often-cited, interrelated theoretical advantages of regional lead-
ership include:

1. regional actors are more effective in conflict amelioration because of


their in-depth understanding of the conflict, while external actors
and/or the international community may have difficulties identifying
and understanding the motives of combatants in complex situations;
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    43

2. regional organizations have strong incentives to ameliorate conflict


and foster long-term stability because of geographical proximity, the
potential for negative spillover from the conflict, and economic
interdependence; and
3. a consensus for action may be easier to achieve among Member
States of regional organizations than in the UN with its larger and
diverse membership and Great Power dominance in the Security
Council.

While any military conflict is complex, the Cambodian conflict was par-
ticularly troublesome, involving a population decimated by the genocide
of the Pol Pot regime, decades of civil war among multiple factions with
Great Power involvement, and the intervention of Vietnamese military
forces. However, while ASEAN states possessed greater in-depth under-
standing of the conflict, as we have noted, intimate knowledge and prox-
imity may also convey disadvantages. Neutrality is generally assumed a
prerequisite for effective diplomatic mediation, and regional organiza-
tions’ association with, intimate knowledge of, and proximity to the con-
flict may preclude their actual and/or perceived neutrality in the conflict.
From the outset, it was clear that ASEAN was not neutral with regard to
Vietnamese behavior. Instead, it was determined to force Vietnamese
troops out of the country and to support and organize political coalitions
and elections to replace the Heng Samrin regime.
A second potential rationale for regional actors facing potential conflict
to provide diplomatic leadership is their strong economic and political
interests in establishing and maintaining regional stability and peace,
explicit among ASEAN’s stated goals (Howe 1996, 151; Adeleka 1995;
Diehl 1993, 124). In many cases, regional actors involved in conflict ame-
lioration are physically and economically connected to the country in con-
flict. War threatens their nationals’ lives, the spillover of refugees, political
destabilization and conflict, and disruption of their economies. For these
reasons, it is in the interests of regional actors to intervene to find lasting
solutions to conflict. Regional actors don’t just engage in diplomacy to
bring an end to military conflict, remain involved for a discrete period of
time, and return to their homes, never to be confronted with the issue
again. Regional interlocutors have powerful incentives to ensure that the
solutions they broker promote long-term stability and peace. These incen-
tives may facilitate regional associations’ ability to achieve consensus to act
compared to larger multilateral organizations such as the UN.
44   M.L. BROWN

To elaborate on possible interdependence motivations, the cooperative


agreements and treaties of the ASEAN make clear that regional leaders
regard political stability, conflict management and peace, and economic
development and growth reciprocally related and reinforcing. Further,
ASEAN Member States define national security in terms of territorial
integrity, political sovereignty, and economic prosperity. While military
challenges are always regarded as the primary threat to regional and
national security, a more comprehensive definition of security always
includes economic security. Bristow (2005, 13) stresses the security ben-
efits envisioned from cooperation, when he writes that the creation of
ASEAN was “underpinned by the belief that increased regional prosperity
and intraregional trade would enhance the security and stability of the
region.” This conceptualization of regional security and the interactive
relationship between political stability and economic progress provided
powerful incentives for ASEAN to undertake conflict amelioration. In
1989, Brown and Mann, reporting for the Los Angeles Times, concurred
with this assessment: “For ASEAN, Cambodia is a running sore, one that
conveniently hobbles Vietnam yet also threatens regional stability—and is
therefore bad for business.”
The ASEAN states were genuinely alarmed by the threat posed by the
Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, its potential for exacerbating Great
Power rivalry in the region, and its negative consequences for economic
growth and development. As was noted in Chap. 1, Acharya (2001, 80)
contends that “The invasion and the decade-long occupation of Cambodia
by Vietnamese forces from December 1978 posed the most serious secu-
rity challenge to ASEAN since its inception.” One may ask, however,
whether the ASEAN was forced to assume diplomatic leadership in this
crisis not because it was the most effective agent but because no other
state or intergovernmental entity was prepared to do so. As was discussed,
this may well be the case. In 1967, the United Kingdom announced plans
to withdraw its military assets east of the Suez by the mid-1970s. In strong
contrast to US President John F.  Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration address
commitment to “pay any price, bear any burden…,”8 in 1969, President
Richard M. Nixon articulated his own Guam Doctrine: “…America can-
not—and will not—conceive all the plans, design all the programs, execute
all the decisions and undertake all the defense of the free nations of the
world” (United States Department of State 1970). Upon finally extricat-
ing itself from Vietnam in 1975, the United States certainly was not will-
ing to become involved in Cambodia. China and the Soviet Union
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    45

supported opposing sides in the conflict. With this lack of Great Power
consensus, definitive action by the UN Security Council was difficult to
achieve. However, even had the UN been willing and able to provide
leadership, ASEAN was eager to orchestrate a regional solution to this
challenge to regional security.

Ideational and Social Understandings


ASEAN norms, that is, the “ASEAN Way,” are often discussed as distin-
guishing it from other regional organizations. Preservation of state sover-
eignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of regional partners are
paramount norms reiterated in successive formal agreements by the rela-
tively young states. Vietnam’s “expansionism” and aggressive behavior
contrasted markedly with ASEAN’s “good neighborliness,” noninterven-
tion, and stability and peaceful norms. The ASEAN Way also reflects the
Malay cultural practice of consultation (musjawarah) and consensus
building (mufukat) in decision making and problem solving rather than
argumentation and bargaining. This explicit code of conduct is designed
to contain disputes among the Member States and over time to inculcate
the norms into regional standard operating procedures (Narine 2002, 13;
Acharya 2003, 149; Weber 2012, 220–228). The ASEAN Way clearly pri-
oritizes diplomacy over more force-related responses to security challenges.
A shared history and cultural heritage potentially make regional actors
more inclined to come to the aid of their regional neighbors in the face of
a security challenge. States and regional citizens may have a natural affinity
to those in their geographic regions and are suspicious of what they per-
ceive as outside intervention (Diehl 1993, 125). However, beyond the
tenets of the ASEAN Way, a shared culture among regional actors is not
particularly applicable in this case of mixed ethnicity and colonial heri-
tages. The cosmopolitan norm of humanitarianism is also a potential nor-
mative influence on the ASEAN response to the security challenge in
Southeast Asia. It also cannot be said that humanitarianism played a sig-
nificant role in ASEAN’s assuming diplomatic leadership to address the
crisis. The Pol Pot regime had figured in the death of one to three million
Cambodian citizens between 1976 and 1979, without ASEAN response.
Identity theories contend that group socialization, including creation
of an associational and/or regional “identity,” emerges from discussing,
developing, and acting on norms and principles, as well as the existence of an
“Other” at variance with one’s identity and norms. The Cambodian conflict
46   M.L. BROWN

allowed the Association to carve out a unique identity in international


diplomatic circles and to enhance its international standing. Most analysts
contend that the Cambodia conflict represented an important step toward
ASEAN states’ becoming a “security community” (Acharya 2001, 96).
However, it cannot be said that ASEAN members intervened diplomati-
cally specifically to establish and/or enhance a regional identity as will be
discussed in the EC-Balkans crisis.
Although initially and most commonly referenced with regard to the
abatement of hostilities among North Atlantic and Western European
states, Karl Deutsch and his colleagues provide insights on sources and the
nature of “pluralistic security communities.” A pluralistic security obtains
when the likelihood of the use of force between two or more states has
virtually disappeared as indicated by absence of military deployment plans
or threats targeted toward the other states in the community. Members of
a security community accept and observe certain international laws, com-
ply with treaty obligations, avoid interference in others’ internal affairs,
and observe normal diplomatic protocol and etiquette in all transactions
and negotiations (Deutsch et  al. 1957). While diplomatic tiffs (often
accompanied by heated rhetoric and the withdrawal of diplomatic
personnel) commonly occurred among ASEAN members during this
period, there was no expectation of the use of force to resolve them.
Further, as was pointed out, within three years of Vietnam’s official with-
drawal from Cambodian territory in September 1989, ASEAN created the
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to address the significant security issues in
East and Southeast Asia.

Conclusion: ASEAN’s Diplomatic Response


to the Vietnamese Threat

To conclude with details of the empirical “end of the story,” ASEAN rela-
tions with Cambodia were normalized and expanded in the wake of a UN
peacekeeping operation and formation of a new coalition government
after general elections in May 1993. In 1994, Cambodia acceded to the
Bali Treaty, and in 1995 became an official ASEAN observer. Although
conflict resumed in the country in June 1997 leading to the ouster of First
Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh by Second Prime Minister Hun Sen,
Cambodia became a full member of ASEAN on 16 December 1998 (Amer
1999, 5; Saravanamuttu 2003, 556).
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    47

Strong confirmation that ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts in response to


Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia (and the end of the Cold War)9 repre-
sented a turning point in ASEAN’s development as a regional and global
actor prepared to assume leadership in conflict amelioration, was its cre-
ation of the ARF.  In 1992, the ASEAN Heads of Government at their
Fourth Summit approved the Singapore Declaration establishing the
framework for the new forum, finally removing the formal taboo of open
discussion of security issues. The original ARF members were the ASEAN
states, other Southeast Asian states soon to be ASEAN members, ASEAN’s
then seven dialogue partners, Papua New Guinea (an ASEAN observer),
China, and Russia (Bristow 2005, 19 footnote 33).10
The ARF is not a collective security organization in the mold of the
NATO. There are no provisions for mutual assistance in case of an outside
attack, and no formal sanctions should ARF members act aggressively. The
ARF doesn’t enhance members’ security by means of deterrence or bal-
ancing. Instead, the ARF serves as an arena for learning wherein members
may examine and reassess their perceptions, interests, and goals in light of
their social interaction via discourse and confidence-building mechanisms
(Heller 2005, 129–131, 138). Two years after the establishment of the
ARF, D. Singh (1994, 32–35) was buoyant about its prospects:

The establishment of the ARF was an extraordinary achievement, unprece-


dented in any part of the world. Unlike NATO and many other security
organizations, the ARF has not been established in response to any threat or
crisis. Rather, it has been established at a time when the Asia-Pacific region
is enjoying an economic boom and its first real peace in well over half a cen-
tury. It was thus proactive rather than reactive; a signal exercise in preventive
diplomacy. It provides a vast region, one rapidly becoming the economic
dynamo of the world, a means for discouraging armed conflict so that eco-
nomic growth and cooperation can continue [emphasis added].

Forum members commit to activities like reporting annually on military


expenditures, allowing Forum partners to observe military operations,
publishing their military doctrine, and openly discussing the major chal-
lenges to peace in official circles and academic conferences. Analysts regard
these activities as important socialization and learning exercises.
Between 1978 and 1991, when ASEAN provided diplomatic leadership
in addressing Vietnamese dominance in Indochina, the Association aban-
doned its neutral stance and actively sought to diplomatically isolate
48   M.L. BROWN

Vietnam, to engage the various Cambodian factions to create a united


front, and to promote regional interests at the UN. While ASEAN lacked
the military capacity to end the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, it
kept the issue on the agenda of the international community and in the
end was instrumental in denying Vietnam’s continued dominance in
Indochina. The evidence suggests that ASEAN responded to the
Cambodian crisis chiefly because Thailand and other proximate Member
States faced military threat, it was determined to manage Great Power
involvement in the region to the best of its limited abilities, and it regarded
political stability and security as necessary to achieve its economic objec-
tives. ASEAN emerged from this decade of crisis with a more clearly
defined identity as a regional actor and a nascent security community.

Notes
1. Indonesia challenged the legitimacy of the newly independent Malaysia
during this period of coercive diplomacy referred to as Konfrontasi
(Confrontation).
2. Sabah, formerly British North Borneo, is a 29,000-square-mile tract of
territory that presently constitutes the northeastern tip of Malaysia. It was
a valuable territory—rich in oil, hemp, timber, rubber, tobacco, and fisher-
ies. A 1963 census put Sabah’s population at 809,737, between 25,000
and 50,000 of whom were Filipino or of Philippine origin. See the New
York Times, September 28, 1968, 3:2.
Intraregional tensions had foiled earlier attempts at regional coopera-
tion in Southeast Asia. The Association of South Asia (ASA), established in
1961, had collapsed over the Philippines’ claim to Sabah which opted to
join the Malay federation. ASA was followed by MAPHILINDO, an acro-
nym for a loose confederation of the three independent states of Malay
ethnicity (Indonesia, Malaya, and the Philippines), that never quite
achieved organizational status. The Konfrontasi between Indonesia and
Malaysia precipitated the demise of MAPHILINDO.
3. Ethnicity contributed to these tensions; Malay-Muslim Indonesia and
Malaysia distrusted Chinese-dominated Singapore (Acharya 2001, 48, 59).
4. Fifield (1979, 1200) points out that the Bangkok Declaration was a decla-
ration of intent rather than a binding treaty. The new regional organization
did not lack for human and natural resources. In 1975, the region exported
83 percent of the world’s natural rubber and abaca fiber, 84 percent of
palm oil, 73 percent of the tin, and 76 percent of the world’s coconut
products, in addition to other mining and agricultural products. Although
rich in resources, the new economic organization suffered many limitations
  THE 1978–1991 ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS-VIETNAM…    49

common to economic cooperative schemes among less developed countries.


The New York Times (January 18, 1968, 60:3) pessimistically pointed out
that the Member States’ economies were competitive rather than comple-
mentary, were overly dependent on primary commodity exports, and had
nonconvertible currencies. At the time of their union, less than 21 percent
of the ASEAN countries’ trade was with each other. In addition, Association
Members lacked a common language.
5. After Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, the Soviet Union increased its mili-
tary presence in Indochina. At one point, 16 Soviet ships were stationed at
Cam Ranh Bay, including four combat surface vessels (including the carrier
Minsk), two mine sweepers, and eight supply ships. It was also generally
believed that Soviet aircrafts (e.g. the TU-95D Bear reconnaissance air-
craft) were using Cam Ranh Bay. The aircraft carrier allowed the Soviet
Union to project power into the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca
(Lau 1982, 559).
6. An anonymous reviewer provides a slightly different assessment: “Indonesia
often felt sidelined during this conflict and that Thailand had hijacked
ASEAN to serve its own ends. Indonesia did see ASEAN as its vehicle and
was frustrated that Thailand was calling the shots. ASEAN’s decision to
make Indonesia the ‘interlocutor’ could be seen as throwing a bone to
Indonesia rather than ‘confirming’ its political role.”
7. This discussion draws heavily upon Dennis and Brown (2003, 227–248).
8. The quote is: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that
we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any
friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of
liberty.” Video of the address is available at the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library website: https://www.jfklibrary.org/, last accessed 1/8/17.
9. The post-Cold War shifting of power relationships among China, Japan,
Russia, and the United States generated uncertainty and concern. The
reduced presence of Russia and the United States in the region portended
a power vacuum, China’s military modernization threatened an arms race,
and there was concern that these changes might tempt Japan to revamp its
predominantly defensive military posture. In addition to these interstate
concerns, scholars identified some 57 minorities in East, South, and
Southeast Asia whose grievances might challenge states’ domestic tranquil-
ity. Nontraditional security threats also claimed Member States’ attention:
human rights violations, poverty, environmental degradation, terrorism,
and transnational crime including illegal movement of peoples, drugs, and
piracy. These challenges convinced ASEAN and other parties of the need
for new security arrangements for the region. Australia and Canada pro-
posed a kind of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Asia, but the
ASEAN states rejected this idea as “too European.” What emerged instead
50   M.L. BROWN

was the new ARF (Peck 1998, 173–175). An anonymous reviewer adds
this assessment: “ASEAN was …pushed into creating the ARF. It really did
not want to do so, but it became apparent that the pressure to have a
regional security organization was coming from many external actors and
ASEAN feared being sidelined if it did not act to take the initiative.”
10. In 2017, ARF participants include the ten ASEAN Member States, Australia,
Bangladesh, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, East Timor, the EU,
India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan,
Papua New Guinea, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

References
Acharya, Amitav. 2001. Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia,
ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order. London: Routledge.
———. 2003. Regionalism and Multilateralism. Essays on Cooperative Security in
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Adeleka, Ademola. 1995. The Politics and Diplomacy of Peacekeeping in West
Africa: The Ecowas Operation in Liberia. Journal of Modern African Studies 33
(4): 569–593.
Amer, Ramses. 1999. Conflict Management and Constructive Engagement in
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Bristow, Damon. 2005. The Five Power Defence Arrangements: Southeast Asia’s
Unknown Regional Organization. Contemporary Southeast Asia 27 (1): 1–20.
Brown, M. Leann. 1994. Developing Countries and Regional Economic Cooperation.
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Brown, Frederick Z., and Robert A.  Manning. 1989. Ending the Carnage in
Cambodia by a Coalition of Outside Interests. Los Angeles Times, January 8, p. 2.
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Dennis, Peter M., and M.  Leann Brown. 2003. The Ecowas: From Regional
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Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
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Diehl, Paul. 1993. International Peacekeeping. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
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CHAPTER 4

The 1990 Economic Community of West


African States-Liberian Civil War Challenge

Abstract  This chapter considers how and why ECOWAS decided to take
on peacemaking in the Liberian Civil War which began in December 1989
when the Charles Taylor-led National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)
launched an attack on the Liberian-Cote d’Ivoire border. Within five
months, the NPFL controlled more than 90 percent of the country, and
the conflict quickly deteriorated into unspeakable levels of violence and
ethnic genocide. After an ECOWAS Standing Mediation Committee
failed, an ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group was created to inter-
vene militarily. This is an example of an REO taking on peacemaking as a
result of the failure of Great Power interest and global governance. Most
agree that leadership in the Liberian Civil War represented a turning point
in ECOWAS’ institutional development.

Keywords Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


• Liberia • Charles Taylor • Nigeria • Hegemony • United States

Since its inception in 1975, the ECOWAS had struggled along as a fairly
unsuccessful regional economic organization.1 Its original goals, creating
a trading bloc to enhance economic development and compete with more
developed economies, all but abandoned, and the very future of the

© The Author(s) 2018 53


M.L. Brown, Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional
Security Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70533-0_4
54   M.L. BROWN

­ rganization in question. Then in 1990 the organization took on the


o
extremely difficult task of peacemaking2 in the Liberian civil war. What
prompted the virtually moribund regional economic organization to take
on this challenge?
The Liberian civil war began on 24 December 1989 when Charles
Taylor and a group of rebels who came to be known as the National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) launched an attack on military person-
nel on the Liberian-Cote d’Ivoire border. Joined by politically disillusioned
members of the Gio and Mano ethnic groups, the NPFL quickly grew in
numbers and advanced toward Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, seeking to
overthrow the autocratic regime of President Samuel K.  Doe. By May
1990, the NPFL controlled more than 90 percent of the country.3
The Liberian conflict quickly deteriorated into unspeakable levels of
violence and ethnic genocide. Several ECOWAS states expressed concern
for the safety of their nationals and Liberian civilians trapped in Monrovia
seemingly facing a bloodbath (Vogt 1996, 166). Donald Snow (1996,
1–2) writes that the Liberian conflict like other intrastate wars of the post-­
Cold War era was decidedly “uncivil”:

[T]hey seem, for instance, less principled in political terms, less focused
upon the attainment of some political ideal. They seem more vicious and
uncontrolled; one cannot find the restraining influence of…political phi-
losophies. Instead these wars often appear to be little more than rampages
by groups within states against one another with little or no apparent enno-
bling purpose or outcome….

In May 1990, the ECOWAS convened a summit in Banjul (The


Gambia) at the suggestion of Nigeria’s President Ibrahim Babanghida to
consider the escalating violence in Liberia. At this meeting, a Standing
Mediation Committee (SMC) was created to foster peaceful settlement of
the conflict that would then lead to general elections. For three weeks in
July, the SMC and representatives from the warring factions tried in vain
to reach a peace settlement. By August, with no peace in sight, the SMC
created the ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) to
intervene militarily in an operation code named “Liberty,” beginning on
24 August 1990 (Dennis and Brown 2003, 231). The SMC continued to
hope for a political solution to the conflict, and called for the creation of a
broadly based, interim government to rule Liberia until internationally
supervised elections could be held (Howe 1996, 151). How prepared was
the ECOWAS to undertake this mission?
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    55

ECOWAS’ Founding and Progress Before the Crisis


On 28 May 1975, representatives of 15 West African states met in Lagos
(Nigeria) to create what came to be known as the ECOWAS. ECOWAS’
founding members recognized the need to coordinate and accelerate eco-
nomic development and agreed to pursue policies of regional self-reliance.
The ECOWAS’ stated objectives were comprehensive and far-reaching,
including: (a) liberalize and enhance trade; (b) foster free movement of
persons, goods, and capital; (c) improve transportation; (d) coordinate
telecommunications; (e) promote industrial and agricultural growth;
(f ) raise citizens’ standard of living; and (g) increase and maintain eco-
nomic stability (Kacowicz 1997, 378).
The economic rationale for creating ECOWAS was persuasive. Multiple
obstacles deterred free movement of people, goods, and capital. An
example—West Africans were often required to make connecting flights in
Western Europe to travel to neighboring countries. A more serious problem,
national policies deterred the migration of skilled workers, distorting labor
markets and impeding economic development. Would-be investors were
discouraged from buying stocks and securities; sometimes countries refused
to divulge the status and prices of stocks to foreign individuals and compa-
nies. West African countries dumped goods on the market at prices designed
to destroy neighbors’ production of the same commodity (Lay 1982, 11).
From the outset, ECOWAS was little more than a loose confederation
plagued with “growing pains” derived from a cluster of historical, social,
political, and economic factors. Most ECOWAS members are former
British and French colonies. The Francophone states were Benin, Burkina
Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania,4 Niger, Senegal, and Togo,
and the Anglophone states included The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia,
Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. (The remaining two members, Cape Verde
and Guinea-­Bissau, are Lusophone.) The political obstacles to ECOWAS’
achieving its goals were formidable, including frequent political upheaval
and changes in Member State leadership and a lack of democratic gover-
nance. Economic obstacles, in addition to those already mentioned,
include a diversity of currencies and complex exchange controls, low lev-
els of intraregional trade and communications, competitive rather than
­complementary economies, and disparities among members in terms of
size, population, level of economic development, and prosperity. Many
regarded the ECOWAS as a failure because most of its members priori-
tized national interests above regional ones (Howe 1996, 150). In 1990,
56   M.L. BROWN

of 21 protocols signed by the Member States, only one had been ratified
by all 16 members, and only 10 had been ratified by one-half of the states.
This provides strong evidence that Member States were more interested
in paying lip service to integration than actually implementing integra-
tion policies (The Guardian 4 September 1997, 23; Aning 1999, 180).
While predominantly an economic organization, the ECOWAS had
agreed to two conventional security-related protocols before the Liberian
intervention—the 1978 Protocol on Non-Aggression5 and the 1981
Protocol Relating to Mutual Assistance on Defence (PMAD).6 The
Preamble to the Protocol on Non-Aggression recognizes that the
Community “cannot attain its objectives save in an atmosphere of peace
and harmonious understanding among the Member States….” In Article 2,
Member States agree to refrain “from committing, encouraging or con-
doning acts of subversion, hostility or aggression against the territorial
integrity or political independence of the other Member States.” In Articles 3
and 4, members agree to prevent foreigners from using their territories as
bases for attack against others. And, if problems could not be settled peace-
fully, Article 5 provides that the dispute be referred to a Committee of the
Authority, and settlement failing there, to the Authority itself.
The Preamble to Protocol A/SP.3/5/81 Relating to Mutual Assistance
on Defence, which came into effect in 1986, reiterates the signers’ convic-
tion “that economic progress cannot be achieved unless the conditions for
the necessary security are ensured to all Member States of the Community.”
It provides guidance for dealing with “internal armed conflict within any
Member State engineered and supported actively from outside likely to
endanger the security and peace in the entire community” (Article 4 (b)).
At the time, Radio Nigeria opined:

it is a fact that there cannot be any meaningful development without peace


and adequate security…. The ECOWAS protocol relating to mutual defense
must therefore be seen as a first step towards an attempt for a collective
defense system for the West African sub-region. (African Research Bulletin,
June 1981, 6072 quoted in Aning 1999, 173)

At the time of the Liberian crisis, an institutional framework and decision-­


making procedures for operationalizing the protocols had not been estab-
lished. Kacowicz (1997, 378–389) contends that despite the fact that the
ECOWAS’ economic integration goals remained unfulfilled, the organization
had contributed in some measure to a reduction of regional conflict. While
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    57

the countries of West Africa had experienced significant domestic instability,


they had been able to maintain relative interstate stability, aside from minor
border disputes.

Potential Systemic and Other


Power-Related Explanations
The end of the Cold War and the termination of the superpower “overlay”
regarding regional conflict have increased the potential for and height-
ened the intensity of intrastate conflict, increasing the need for regional
organizations to provide security (Buzan and Segal 1994). When con-
fronted with the NPFL threat, Doe contacted the United States (US), the
UN, and Nigeria and Togo before turning to the ECOWAS for assistance
(Aning 1999, 27, 144). Whereas during the Cold War, the United States
had designated Liberia as one of 12 bastions against the spread of com-
munism to receive special security assistance, in the post-Cold War era,7 a
US Institute for National Security Studies study informed that:

The United States has essentially no serious military/geostrategic interests


in Africa any more, other than the inescapable fact that its vastness poses an
obstacle to deployment in the Middle East and South Asia, whether by sea
or air.

In general, the Great Powers and the international community did not
focus on the Liberian conflict because it was not regarded as imperiling
international security (Helman and Ratner 1992/3; Michaels 1993,
93–108). By the time of the ECOWAS intervention, Liberia and the civil
war were being characterized as a “forgotten country” (West Africa 4–10
February 1991), “a forgotten war” (National Accord 4 September 1992: 6),
and the “world’s forgotten emergency” (West Africa 4–10 December
1995, quoted in Aning 1999, 25).
The Organization of African Union (OAU) also declined to intervene
in the Liberian conflict. During that period, the organization’s consistent
conservative emphasis on state sovereignty and unwillingness to take on
security issues undermined its ability to intervene in crises of this nature.
Article XIX of the OAU Charter created a Commission of Mediation,
Conciliation and Arbitration to resolve disputes in May 1963, and media-
tion remained its primary security contribution. And although some OAU
Member States, including Ghana and Sierra Leone, had argued that a
58   M.L. BROWN

system of collective security was needed, Welch (1990, 173) concluded


that only “minimal progress had been made on either cooperative protec-
tion against civil strife or effective moves against apartheid.”8
In the immediate post-Cold War era, a global discourse arose concerning
the possible advantages enjoyed by regional organizations relative to the
UN in undertaking peacekeeping operations. Did the ECOWAS take on
peacemaking in Liberia because its leadership believed that it possessed
advantages relative to the UN or external Great Powers? As was outlined
in Chap. 2, several interrelated advantages of regional peacekeeping over
that of larger multilateral organizations being discussed included (a)
regional actors are more effective peacekeepers because of their in-depth
understanding of the conflict; (b) a shared history, cultural heritage, and
regional identity provide regional peacekeepers greater acceptance and
legitimacy in the eyes of combatants and civilians in the country of con-
flict; (c) regional peacekeepers have strong incentives to foster long-term
stability because of geographical proximity and economic interdepen-
dence; (d) a greater consensus for action may be more easily obtained
among members of regional organizations than in organizations like the
UN with its larger and more diverse membership; and (e) regional peace-
keepers possess equipment and personnel more suitable for battlefield
conditions. Referring specifically to the ECOWAS intervention, Herbert
Howe (1996, 160) writes:

Such a force could enjoy greater political acceptance among combatants,


display more knowledge about the contested country’s political issues and
physical geography, and maintain a greater commitment to ending a nearby
struggle whose suffering could affect neighboring states. Additionally it
could employ more suitable military capabilities.

Two important empirical questions raised by these theoretical assertions


are whether the ECOWAS indeed enjoyed practical and logistical advan-
tages in Liberian peacemaking, and secondly, whether these arguments
and/or potential advantages were the basis for the ECOWAS decision
(Dennis and Brown 2003, 234).
Conditions of interstate conflict requiring peacemaking and peacekeep-
ing are very complex; however, in the post-Cold War context, many situa-
tions requiring those functions are intrastate in nature and frequently
ethnicity-influenced. The wider international community may have difficulty
in identifying and understanding the motives of the combatants. Some
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    59

analysts suggest that because of its proximity to and longer history with the
conflict and actors involved, a regional organization may have superior
understanding of those actors and issues, and therefore, undertake the oper-
ation in a more effective and timely manner.
However, in actual practice, regional peacekeepers’ proximity and in-­
depth understanding of the conflict may represent a disadvantage.
Neutrality is generally assumed to be a prerequisite for effective peace-
keeping, and regional organizations’ associations and intimate knowledge
of the conflict may preclude their actual and/or perceived neutrality. As
was discussed earlier, Spear and Keller (1996, 120) contend that regional
organizations rarely are impartial with regard to the parties in regional
conflict. From the beginning, one of the major problems of ECOMOG
was that it was regarded by some, including some ECOWAS Member
States, as a means whereby Nigerian President Ibrahim Babanghida could
rescue his Liberian counterpart and friend Samuel Doe and enhance
Nigeria’s regional influence. Certainly ECOWAS possessed superior
understanding of the situation relative to the UN or Organization of
African Unity, but some argue that its associations corrupted the neutrality
of the operation. Had the Nigerian-led ECOMOG troops remained bas-
tions of neutrality, there remained perceptions of connections between
Babanghida and Doe. Neutral peacekeepers are essential to guarantee
combatants’ willingness to cooperate (Diehl 1993, 124).
The second argument supporting regional peacekeepers also relates to
effectiveness and legitimacy issues. Some posit that combatants and the
public may more easily accept external intervention if peacekeepers hail
from the region. Governments and citizens may have a natural affinity for
their regional counterparts and suspicion and antipathy toward outside
interveners (Diehl 1993, 125). It is paramount that all involved parties
trust and accept the peacemakers; otherwise, they can easily become
another participant among warring factions. However, greater legitimacy
deriving from a shared history and culture among regional actors is not
applicable in this case. As was noted, ECOWAS members possess diverse
histories and cultures due to their colonial pasts and ethnic diversity,
­precluding its peacemakers’ deriving legitimacy and solidarity from a com-
mon history and culture.
A third rationale for regional actors to undertake the role of peace-
maker is their strong economic and political interests in establishing and
maintaining regional stability and peace (Diehl 1993, 124; Adeleka 1995,
569–593; Howe 1996, 151). In many cases, states contributing to
60   M.L. BROWN

peacemaking are physically and economically connected with the country


in conflict. War threatens their nationals, the spillover of refugees, political
destabilization and conflict, and disruption of their economies. The sub-
sequent spreading of the war into Sierra Leone confirmed the threat of
warfare spilling across frontiers into neighboring countries.9 It is therefore
in the interests of regional states to intervene and find lasting solutions to
the conflict. Regional peacemakers have powerful incentives to ensure
that the solution they broker promotes long-term stability. These incen-
tives may facilitate the regional organization’s ability to achieve consensus
to act, compared to larger multilateral organizations such as the UN or
the African Union, with their larger and more diverse memberships
(Dennis and Brown 2003, 234–235).
Regional actors’ incentives for brokering a long-term peace, however,
may be connected with and/or perceived as reflecting hegemonic regional
interests, as is apparent with the ECOMOG case. The peacemaking force’s
effectiveness was hampered by suspicions that ECOMOG was a Nigerian
scheme to promote itself as the regional hegemon. Many feared that the
ECOMOG force was not seeking the most effective peaceful solution, but
instead an outcome that would allow Nigeria to reap the most benefits. In
theory, a hegemon may have little incentive to end the conflict because a
weakened, dependent neighbor may better serve its interests than conflict
resolution. This reasoning shaped the perspective of some Francophone
countries toward the ECOMOG operation.
While some of these theoretical assertions may have been useful to
encourage and/or justify the ECOWAS intervention in Liberia, a more
important question is whether and to what extent these arguments influ-
enced the organization’s decision makers. It must be concluded that they
did not. Faced with mounting disorder in Liberia, most West African states
desired and preferred outside intervention by the United States, the UN, or
the OAU.  This assistance was not forthcoming, however. Whether the
ECOWAS was the most effective and/or legitimate actor to undertake the
task was academic; the only actors with the interests and wherewithal to
undertake the mission were Nigeria and a Nigeria-led ECOWAS. The inter-
national discourse in the post-Cold War era about the possible advantages
of employing regional organizations as an extension of UN peacekeeping
may well have served to legitimate the role assumed by the West African
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    61

organization, and to salve the conscience of the international community


which refused to assume responsibility in the face of mounting disorder in
Liberia (Dennis and Brown 2003, 229–236).
A further possible power-related explanation for the creation of the
ECOMOG is that it served as an instrument of Nigerian hegemonic influ-
ence in West Africa. Nigeria played a primary role in the founding of the
ECOWAS, over the years provided approximately 30 percent of its operat-
ing budget, and hosts the community’s headquarters (Falola and Ihonvbere
1985, 191). Integration, regime, and hegemonic stability theories postu-
late that a hegemon may be essential to states’ ability to overcome collec-
tive action and coordination problems. Over time, particularly in the
context of less economically developed states, the paucity of resources and
concerns about equitable distribution of the benefits of integration may
plague regional organizations. A benevolent hegemon may facilitate policy
coordination and contribute “side payments” to reduce incentives to shirk
and free ride and allay distributional equity concerns. In most regional
organizations, a single state (or in the case of the EU two powerful states)
serves as a focal point for negotiating treaties, institution building, and
policy initiatives (Mattli 1999, 55–56).
The Liberian civil war affected Nigerian national and regional concerns
in four ways: (1) it threatened to topple a government traditionally friendly
to Nigeria; (2) it threatened Nigeria’s economic interests; (3) a Charles
Taylor government could “unleash dissidents in his army to overthrow
governments friendly to Nigeria in Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone”;
(4) the ongoing civil war could encourage intervention and/or increase
the influence of extra-regional states like France and Libya; and (5)
Nigerian nationals were at risk in the escalating violence in Liberia (Mays
1998, 111). Concerns about external intervention were shared by several
ECOWAS Member States and other extra-regional actors including the
OAU, UN, and the United States.
Nigerian and West African analysts debated how the war would affect
Nigeria, and many opined at the outset that the ECOWAS intervention
would enhance Nigerian influence. However, as is common with hege-
mons, Nigerian leaders largely regard national and regional security
­interests as the same. Margaret Vogt (1990, 94), Senior Research Fellow
at the government-sponsored Nigerian Institute of International Affairs,
explains Nigeria’s policies toward West Africa and the continent:
62   M.L. BROWN

Nigeria cannot take on itself the responsibility of guaranteeing African


Security without first ensuring its own territorial boundaries, of the states
continuous to it, of the West African sub region, and then one can operate
with confidence at the regional (African continent) level.

At the outset of the ECOWAS mission, Nigerian President Babangida


explained:

Nigeria’s participation in ECOMOG fell in line with Nigerian foreign policy


over the past three decades…. There is therefore no gain in saying that when
certain events occur in the sub region depending upon their intensity and
magnitude, which are bound to affect Nigeria’s politico-military and socio-­
economic environment, we should not stand by as helpless and hapless spec-
tators. (Lardner 1990, 51)

And, after a decade of peacekeeping in the region, Nigerian President


Olusegun Obasanjo stated:

Nigeria has over the years played a very active role in the ECOMOG for the
restoration of peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Our national interest
requires the establishment of maintenance of peace and stability in the West
African Sub-region. (Nigerian Guardian 6 July 2000, 24)

Political instability in the area negatively impacted economic and political


cooperation in the region, and “The Nigerian general consensus included
the point that ECOWAS cannot achieve its ultimate objective of economic
integration and cooperation unless the sub region was considerably free of
political tension and conflict.”
Nigeria’s perspective coincided with most of its ECOWAS partners,
who accepted that achieving economic growth and integration was con-
tingent on military security in the region. And, as was noted previously, all
acknowledged that the Liberian situation represented a genuine security
and humanitarian crisis. Abbass Bandu, ECOWAS Executive Director,
explained in July 1991:

You cannot talk meaningfully about economic integration by itself without


also relating [it] to the underpinning political instability within the sub-­
region. The two are inseparable and therefore have to be discussed inter
alia…. Regional solidarity and commitment to integration will be consider-
ably enhanced where political stability becomes a common identity and is
also perceived as a shared responsibility. (West Africa 1–7 July 1991, 1085;
quoted in Aning 1999, 25)
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    63

ECOWAS decisions are commonly made by consensus, and the Standing


Mediating Committee which decided to intervene in Liberia was com-
prised of Anglophone and Francophone countries. As illustrated in the
summary below, Nigeria contributed the largest number of troops and
nearly 80 percent of the funding (although the latter was not entirely its
preference). These disproportionate contributions derived in part from the
suspicious and uncooperative attitude of the Francophone Member States.
Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal either refused to contribute, or
did so only on a limited, short-term basis.10 Nigeria exerted significant
efforts to include several ECOWAS Member States within the ECOMOG
to reinforce the impression that it was a regional undertaking (Table 4.1).
Although Mali’s troop contribution was a token, it should be noted
that Mali and Togo were active in ECOMOG through their roles in the
SMC, and continuing support for the operation. Toward the end of the
operation in 1997, the 11,000 ECOMOG troops were from 10 of the 16
ECOWAS Member States, 6000 of whom were Nigerians.
The commitment to incorporate representatives from as many ECOWAS
countries as possible actually deterred the operation’s progress. The com-
mand structure included a Force Commander from Ghana, the Chief of
Personnel from Gambia, and the Chief of Operations from Sierra Leone.
Care was taken to balance the smaller members’ roles with that of Nigeria.
This is evident in the operational logistics; for example, combined Ghanaian
and Nigeria forces were charged with securing Liberia’s main port before
ECOWAS forces disembarked. Then, the “Guinea battalion was to advance
toward the center and secure the bridge at Stockton Creek and capture
Garnersville, while the Sierra Leone battalion was to hold the breakwaters
as from the outer perimeter of defense….” (Iweze 1993, 218, 223).

Table 4.1  ECOWAS


Member States Troop contributions
Member State participa-
tion in ECOMOG Gambia 150
Ghana 1500
Guinea 600
Mali 6
Nigeria 9000
Senegal 1600
Sierra Leone 700

Source: Inegbedion (1994, 231)


64   M.L. BROWN

The ECOWAS undertaking this mission under Nigerian leadership is


congruent with the broader post-Cold War trend of global (as in the case
of the United States in the First Gulf War and the Balkans) and regional
hegemons providing leadership to ameliorate conflict within the context
of multilateral coordination and legitimization. However, Nigeria’s hege-
monic interests were perhaps a necessary but not sufficient explanation for
the ECOWAS involving itself in West African peacemaking. Employing
institutionalist concepts, while some may consider Nigeria the principal
and ECOWAS the agent, the other ECOWAS Member States and the
ECOWAS possessed autonomy and interests independent of Nigeria’s
interests, and the ECOWAS role was not exclusively one of agent. The
purpose of this chapter is to explain ECOWAS’ taking on peacemaking
rather than Nigeria’s role in the Liberia. Haas (1971, 4) reminds us that:

The study of federalism, national unification, nation and empire building is


necessarily replete with attention to the use of force by the federalizer or the
catalytic agent—external colonizing elite, military conqueror, or hegemony
seeking state. Our task is to explain integration among nations without
recourse to these historical agents. Not because they are not important, but
because they make the explanation too simple and too time-bound.

Nigeria certainly had aspirations to maintain and augment its power


and leadership in the region, and to enhance its reputation internationally
and regionally. However, Nigeria’s interests in regional order and eco-
nomic cooperation coincided with ECOWAS’ goals, and its interests, lead-
ership, and resources were a necessary but not sufficient explanation for
ECOWAS’ actions in the sub-region during the decade of the 1990s
(Dennis and Brown 2003, 230).

Organizational and Functional Explanations


Many ECOWAS Member States had seen their economies crippled by
structural adjustment programs, and Nigeria’s once robust oil revenues
had declined. Worldwide exports from the region were minuscule; the
majority of intraregional trade was restricted to the four largest coun-
tries. The average number of intraregional trading partners for any
Member State was six (Adibe 1994, 190–195). Nor was the involvement
of the organization in peacemaking an effort to duplicate similar efforts
in other sectors or by external actors. However, frustration-generated
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    65

spillover, a mechanism suggested by Schmitter, at first blush may seem to


have relevance for the ECOWAS case. As was explained in Chap. 2,
Schmitter (1964, 19) describes frustration-generated spillover as:

The process whereby members of an integration scheme—agreed on some


collective goals for a variety of motives but unequally satisfied with their
attainment of these goals—attempt to resolve their dissatisfaction either by
resorting to collaboration in another, related sector (expanding the scope of
mutual commitment) or by intensifying their commitments to the original
sector (increasing the level of mutual commitment), or both.

As was previously noted, ECOWAS had failed to achieve the objectives set
out 15 years earlier in Article 2(1) of its original treaty:

It shall be the aim of the Community to promote co-operation and develop-


ment in all fields of economic activity particularly in the fields of industry,
transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, com-
merce, monetary and financial questions and in social and cultural matters
for the purpose of raising the standard of living for its peoples, of increasing
and maintaining economic stability, of fostering closer relations among its
members and of contributing to the progress and development of the
African continent. (quoted in Adibe 1994, 187–188)

In 1986, just over a decade after the creation of the ECOWAS, Nigerian
President Babangida (Africa Research Bulletin 1986, 8264) was quoted as
saying, “The hallmark of integration has been inaction and cosmetic com-
mitment.” In 1990, many doubted that the ECOWAS would survive into
the new decade; Phoebe Kornfeld (1990, 109) wrote: “If ECOWAS is not
to be doomed to failure, national-interest must be replaced by regional
priorities.” There seems little doubt that the most committed among
ECOWAS leaders were frustrated by the organization’s continued embry-
onic state. However, it must be noted that the organization had been inef-
fective since inception. Regional economic organizations of that era were
prone to languish due to a lack of resources and commitment and political
instability within Member States. It is unlikely that the ECOWAS’ decision
to take on peacemaking in 1990 was derived from some sudden burst of
accumulated frustration. The security threat posed by the Liberian conflict
represents a more credible explanation for ECOWAS’ behavior.
To what extent was ECOMOG a consequence of concern that the
Liberian conflict threatened the organization’s economic objectives? Most
agree that “Planning [within regional organizations] in particular becomes
66   M.L. BROWN

problematic because political fluidity detracts from long-term stability


desired for the success of these development schemes” (Okolo and Wright
1990, 4). In order to pursue economic integration, the primary mission of
the organization, ECOWAS leaders had to cooperate to protect political
and social sectors as well. A declaration of political principles by the
Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja in
1991 stated that it was not only through coordinated economic policies
that regional cooperation and integration could contribute to a better life
or all, but also through sub-regional peace, political stability, and shared
political beliefs (Quashigah 1997).
There is scholarly support for the spontaneous spillover argument. Earl
Conteh-Morgan (1998) writes:

The response of ECOWAS as a community to the dynamics of change,


increased domestic demands, and the growing challenges from abroad, is to
invoke its adaptive reflex—that is, to put into operation its cooperative norms
and new practices that are essential to sustaining the entire ECOWAS system.

For ECOWAS, the Liberian civil war was a novel challenge that “constituted
the greatest threat to the stability of the sub-region” (Mays 1998, 135). War
in the region would destroy the already precarious balance within the orga-
nization and any hopes of moving forward with economic integration.
For ECOWAS’ behavior to fulfill the definitional requirement of “spon-
taneous” rather than “cultivated” spillover, it must be demonstrated that
the new role was undertaken as a necessary part of its economic mission.
King (1996, 26) writes: “The political economy of development is thus
intimately bound up with security…. How prevalent is security as a policy
concern to ECOWAS states and others? Several contributors argue that it
is essential.” When viewed over the long term, a case may be made that
undertaking this security mission was an inherent and spontaneous part of
ECOWAS’ development. However, an equally strong case may be made
that, in the short term, the decision to establish the ECOMOG was based
upon immediate security needs, independent of long-term considerations
of economic integration.

Ideational and Social Understandings


Employing ideational and/or constructivists lens leads us to consider the
degree to which factors like shared ideas, values, and norms (e.g. regional
ideology or regionalism); culture; and/or identity help us understand the
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    67

ECOWAS’ intervention into the Liberian conflict.11 As was previously


discussed, the Member States of ECOWAS do not share a common lan-
guage, identity (with the exception of being “African”), or constitute a
pluralistic security community (Deutsch et  al. 1957; Adler and Barnett
1998; Tusicisny 2007).
Aning (1999, 17) argues that some African values and norms incline
West Africans to undertake the role of “each other’s keeper” based on the
need to control unanticipated events. He informs that this response to
crisis is based on the African philosophy (in the Akan language) “se wo
yondo sese reshye, na se wamoa no andum ogya no a, etra ba wo dea ho” which
articulates active, positive engagement to assist a neighbor whose hut is on
fire to avoid the fire’s engulfing your own property.
In Swahili, this norm is expressed as: “zima moto, usihoji aliyechoma”
(“First put out the fire, then sit down to ask who started the fire.”) The
“fire” may refer to actual fire or problems like internal conflict. The
Somalis espouse similar philosophies regarding neighbors: “Guriga ma
gadine, jaarkiis baan agay.” (“If you buy a house, you also ‘buy’ the
neighbors.”); “Walaal ka fog deriska ku dhaama” (“Better a close neigh-
bor than a distant brother.”); and, “Guryihii usu dhow baa is guba.” (“The
huts close together will be destroyed by fire.”)
How significant is the more universal norm of humanitarianism to
understanding the ECOWAS becoming involved in the Liberian conflict?
A consensus existed in West Africa and the wider international community
that the escalating violence and humanitarian crisis necessitated interven-
tion. Since assistance from the UN, Organization of African Unity, and
Western powers was not forthcoming, it fell to the ECOWAS to act. Aside
from unilateral Nigerian action, the regional organization was, as it were,
“the only game in town.” Sufficient evidence to support these normative
(African neighborly solidarity, humanitarianism) explanations of the inter-
vention relies on demonstrating that ECOWAS leaders believed that the
Liberian conflict required a neighborly response, posed an immediate
threat to spreading to neighboring countries, and/or they were moved to
act by the violence and humanitarian crisis underway in the Liberia.
However, values and norms as impetuses of the military intervention must
be distinguished from discourse only used to justify or legitimize the
intervention.
From the beginning, ECOWAS leaders explained and justified the inter-
vention on humanitarian grounds. King (1996, 216) explains that ECOWAS
leaders regarded Liberians as fellow-West Africans, and that “The wanton
68   M.L. BROWN

destruction of lives and property; the displacement of people and the


incidence of starvation were too much to bear for the members to sit idly by
and watch.” A leading ECOWAS official stated that ECOMOG was estab-
lished “as a result of the seeming concern for the loss of lives and property
of fellow Africans. This to my mind remains so. Fellow Africans albeit at a
sub-regional level, will continue to feel for their brothers in dire straits like
the Liberian debacle.” (quoted in King 1996, 238). Nigerian President
Babanghida echoed this sentiment in 1992: “Nigeria’s role is basically
informed by our traditional sense of responsibility to our African brothers
and sisters. It would have been indefensible if we had turned a blind eye to
the carnage in Liberia.” When hosting a workshop on the Liberian crisis in
1991, Abass Bundu, the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, spoke of the
Liberian war as a tragedy for Liberia and the whole of Africa. He referred to
Liberians as “hopeless people,” and called upon ECOWAS Member States
to learn from this experience:

My fervent hope is that out of the Liberian crisis will emerge an ECOWAS
more determined more purposeful and more resilient, indeed a beacon that
would eliminate Africa’s latent capacity to solve its own problems in the
furtherance of African Unity and aspiration. (quoted in Dennis and Brown
2003, 244)

Conclusion: The ECOWAS Military Intervention


in the Liberian Civil War

The Liberian civil war was an extremely difficult situation from every per-
spective. Combatants demonstrated time after time that they had little
respect for citizens’ survival, human rights, or property. This was the situ-
ation confronting ECOWAS leaders when the decision was made to send
troops into Monrovia. This chapter has explored several possible explana-
tions for the ECOWAS’ embracing peacemaking.
The international community and scholars heralded regional peace-
keeping as a way to address post-Cold War intrastate conflicts. There cer-
tainly may be theoretical advantages to regional peacekeeping over UN
and OAU peacekeeping; however, in this case these advantages were non-
existent. ECOWAS was struggling in every sense—the idea that it pos-
sessed any advantage quickly disappears as one considers the realities on
the ground. ECOMOG was a conglomeration of at best second-rate mili-
taries. All Member States save Nigeria provided their troops with minimal
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    69

support, and many voiced concern that ECOWAS states would withdraw
from the operation after suffering their first substantial loss. With weak
commitment, technology, training, support, and in some cases a lack of
neutrality, ECOWAS had few advantages over any other organization
except its willingness to intervene.
Nigeria committed more troops and resources to the operation than
any other ECOWAS Member State. In a country where many struggle to
meet basic human needs, it is reasonable to ask why it took up this chal-
lenge. Nigeria is the regional hegemon of West Africa and many saw this
as a strategy for the country to increase its already dominant position. The
evidence provided here that Nigeria was not motivated exclusively by
hegemonic aspirations may be problematic for some because it relies in
large part on the speeches and rhetoric of seasoned politicians. We are all
aware of the difficulties distinguishing between indicators of causation and
the rhetoric used to build political support for and/or justify political
action. Had Nigerian foreign policy rather the ECOWAS been the primary
unit of analysis, the ECOWAS intervention may have been conceptualized
as an instrument of Nigerian foreign policy. There is no evidence, how-
ever, that Nigeria ever wished ECOMOG to be a unilateral operation.
Public statements by Nigerian officials during and after the operation
always stressed the need for regional solidarity. Most expressions of con-
cern regarding Nigerian hegemony came from Francophone states who
refused from the outset to play a substantial role in the operation.
Nigeria certainly was not blameless for a good deal of this criticism.
From the outset, neither Nigeria nor the ECOMOG were perceived as
neutral in the conflict. If increased regional influence had been Nigeria’s
primary objective, this might have been pursued in more effective ways.
For example, Nigeria might have intervened in the civil war unilaterally,
which would have proved less difficult and possibly less expensive than the
multinational ECOMOG. In 1999, former Nigerian President Obasanjo
said of the ECOWAS:

Personally, since my modest contribution to the birth of ECOWAS, I have


firmly believed in cooperation with our immediate neighbours as a major
plank and a starting point of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Our Administration
fully accepts the challenge of making ECOWAS a viable regional organiza-
tion that will also serve as major building block for the continental integration
of Africa as a whole. (Nigerian Guardian, 29 May 1999, 2)
70   M.L. BROWN

As was noted in Chap. 2, the critical junctures literature contends that


organizational change “is overwhelmingly the result of events and deci-
sions taken during a short phase of uncertainty, in which the relaxation of
structural influence on political agents open up opportunities for a small
number of powerful actors to generate lasting institutional change”
(Moller 2013, 699, emphasis in the original). And one might anticipate
that given the ECOWAS’ Member States’ military/authoritarian govern-
ments, individual leaders might exercise high levels of influence over state
and regional decision making. Scholars have noted the prominent roles
played by individuals such as Nigerian President Babandiga and ECOWAS
Executive Secretary Abass Bundu during the initial phases of ECOWAS
involvement in the Liberian conflict. Some scholars particularly focus on
the personal relationship between Samuel Doe and Babandiga—as mili-
tary leaders they sought allies among fellow military leaders in the region,
and the Nigerian head of state provided arms to support Doe’s counter-­
insurgency efforts.
At the beginning of the conflict, Bandu spearheaded the diplomatic
effort to encourage the major actors including Doe, Taylor, Johnson, and
members of the Inter-Faith mission to cooperate with the ECOWAS
effort. For a time, Bundu resided in Monrovia and worked to insure
ECOWAS’ impartiality, credibility, and usefulness in addressing the
­conflict. Taylor agreed to meet with ECOWAS officials and signed a state-
ment permitting the ECOWAS to mediate the conflict after receiving per-
sonal assurances from Bundu that the ECOWAS staff and he had no
hidden agenda and were independent of Nigerian and other Member
State control (Aning 1999).12 Despite these examples of specific individuals’
influencing events as they unfolded in West Africa, it cannot be said that
idiosyncratic factors played a significant role in explaining why the
ECOWAS decided to intervene in the Liberian civil war.
While some analyses tend to vilify or glorify various individual actors,
neofunctionalist assumptions allow one to examine the situation in a more
theoretically useful way. What began as cultivated spillover to address a
short-term security emergency in the long term translated into increased
institutionalization. The imperative and opportunity to create ECOMOG
was the most propitious event since the founding of ECOWAS in 1975.
ECOWAS Member States became more inclined to attend the meetings
and meet their financial obligations. And, ECOWAS’ intra- and extra-­
regional reputation as a force in West Africa was enhanced significantly.
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    71

Most concur that the military intervention in Liberia was a turning


point in the institutional development of ECOWAS.  Aning (1999, 24,
166) writes that “ECOWAS’s actions in Liberia reflect a radical detour
from its immobilism and ‘eco-pessimism’ to an era of ‘eco-optimism’.” He
concludes:

it is critical that the nexus between ECOWAS’ transformation and the


Liberian case is understood. The issue here is not only…that transformation
has taken place to enable ECOWAS to respond to the Liberian crisis, but
also that the Liberian crisis itself was a contributory factor to the transforma-
tion of ECOWAS and probably the more decisive part.

Notes
1. This chapter is a revised version of Dennis and Brown (2003).
2. Peace and conflict theorists distinguish among peacemaking, peacekeep-
ing, and peacebuilding. Peacemakers seek to forge a settlement between
disputing parties. While this may be done in direct negotiations among
disputants, it is often also undertaken with a third-party mediator who
assists with process and communication, and helps the parties draft a work-
able peace accord. Achieving a peace accord is, however, just the begin-
ning. Peacekeeping refers to efforts to sustain peace by placing a barrier
between disputants. Often this barrier is made up of neutral soldiers
(peacekeepers) from the UN or a group of willing states. Peacekeepers are
not tasked with settling disputants’ differences or helping negotiate a peace
agreement—they simply keep the two sides apart. Long-term peacebuild-
ing, that is, the process of normalizing relations and reconciling differences
among warring parties to build a lasting peace, is the final challenge of
conflict resolution (See Kirchner and von Stein 2009; Ker-Lindsay 2010;
Sisk 2013).
3. At one point, Taylor has been Director-General of the General Services
Agency in the Doe government. He was charged with embezzlement, fled
to the United States, and was arrested in Massachusetts. He escaped from
jail while awaiting extradition to Liberia (Levitt 1999, 9). Taylor found
refuge in Libya where, as Muammar Gaddafi’s protégé, he received guer-
rilla warfare training. It is generally accepted that Gaddafi supported
Taylor’s uprising against the Doe government in 1989.
A post-script to this inquiry—Taylor served as President of Liberia between
1997 and 2003. On 26 April 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone
72   M.L. BROWN

convicted him of 11 counts of “aiding and abetting” war crimes and crimes
against humanity, and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
4. Mauritania withdrew from ECOWAS membership in December 1999.
5. See http://documentation.ecowas.int/download/en/legal_documents/
protocols/Protocol%20on%20Non-aggression.pdf (last accessed 16 July
2017).
6. See http://documentation.ecowas.int/download/en/legal_documents/
protocols/Protocol%20Relating%20to%20Mutual%20Assistance%20
on%20Defence.pdf (last accessed 16 July 2017).
7. The history of the Republic of Liberia can be traced to an 1822 effort of
the American Colonization Society (ACS), who believed blacks would
have better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States.
Liberia’s leaders, largely Americo-Liberians, initially established political
and economic dominance in the coastal areas purchased by the ACS and
maintained economic ties with the United States. In the mid-20th cen-
tury, Liberia gradually began to modernize with American assistance. The
United States made major infrastructure improvements to support its
military efforts in Africa and Europe in the run up to and during World
War II. For example, the United States built Freeport of Monrovia and
Roberts International Airport under the Lend-Lease Program before the
war. As was noted, as a strategic partner against the spread of commu-
nism, Liberia received significant funding from the United States during
the Cold War.
8. After 1993, the ECOWAS would create partnerships with the OAU and
the UN to bring peace to Liberia.
9. The civil war in Sierra Leone lasted for 11 years (1991–2002), resulted in
the death of an estimated 50,000 to 300,000 persons, and the internal and
external displacement of 2.5 million (Gberie 2005, 6).
10. Senegal received US$10 million from the United States and contributed
1600 troops for two years of the ECOWAS operation.
11. Elite socialization, organizational learning, and discourse may also be
added to this list of potential ideational and social factors. Nationalism
certainly may have featured to some degree on Member States’ willingness
to consider military intervention. While it cannot be said that ECOWAS
Member States were significantly influenced by public opinion, there was
increasing press attention to the hostage taking and plight of their nation-
als in the Liberian conflict. Nondemocratic leadership is not immune to
the nationalistic urges when their citizens are taken hostage and/or treated
inhumanely abroad.
12. Bundu’s term as ECOWAS Executive Director ended in 1993.
  THE 1990 ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES-LIBERIAN…    73

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CHAPTER 5

The 1990–1991 European


Communities-­Balkans Crisis

Abstract  This chapter considers the EC’s response to conflict in Yugoslavia


in 1990–1991. Initially, EC members did not recognize the crisis’ potential
for violence. However, previous economic and political achievements and
a desire to put in place a Common Foreign and Security Policy and enhance
its global reputation encouraged the EC to engage this security challenge.
In the end, the EC could only agree to devote diplomatic attention to the
problem, mediate, impose an arms embargo, and curtail financial support;
no member was willing to commit peacekeeping forces without Serbian
acquiescence and an effective ceasefire in place. The EC called upon the
UN to assume responsibility for the conflict, in what is regarded as a policy
failure and a turning point in the REO’s development.

Keywords European Communities (EC) • Yugoslavia • Common


Foreign and Security Policy • 1992 Maastricht Treaty • France • Germany
• Great Britain

It is generally acknowledged that the EC initially underestimated the


potential for violence and the intractability of the problems associated with
the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.1 Democratic
elections in Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia in 1990 brought noncommunist
governments to power accelerating the republics’ push for independence.

© The Author(s) 2018 77


M.L. Brown, Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional
Security Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70533-0_5
78   M.L. BROWN

That summer, Croatian forces and Serbian irregulars exchanged gunfire


over control of ethnic-Serb-populated regions in Croatia. As late as April
1991, an EC delegation to Belgrade consulted with Yugoslav Prime
Minister Ante Markovic but not with leaders of the republics.
During the initial days of diplomatic exchange, consensus obtained
within the EC that its objectives were maintaining political stability and
status quo in the region and enhancing the organization’s foreign policy
capacity and status. When, however, EC’s initial efforts to preserve
Yugoslav unity failed and it became clear that the republics were bent on
dissolving the union and violence ensued, members came to conceptualize
the crisis and their individual interests in divergent ways, EC policy con-
sensus dissipated, and members were unwilling to expend the resources
necessary for effective conflict amelioration.
The Europeans attempted to deal with the issue via the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in European (CSCE), but this body is only a
forum for discussion and could do little to halt the momentum toward
secession. In May, Serbia and its satellites Kosovo and Vojvodina blocked
the routine assumption of Yugoslavia’s rotating Presidency by the Croatian
delegate, Stipe Mesic, further undermining non-Serbs’ confidence in a
federal solution. That same month, the EC threatened to suspend a second
financial protocol and negotiations regarding an association agreement
unless the independence movements in Slovenia and Croatia were halted
and fighting ceased.2
British Prime Minister John Major announced that the “the first prize is
to keep the federation together,” and French Prime Minister Edith Cresson
proclaimed that “Yugoslavia cannot be part of Europe unless she remains
united.” (Wood 1993, 233). Serbia and the breakaway republics were
encouraged to seek a settlement based upon three provisions referred to as
the “Luxembourg formula”: (a) there must be a ceasefire and return of
troops to the barracks; (b) Croatia and Slovenia should suspend their decla-
rations of independence; and (c) the Yugoslav Presidency should be restored.
On June 24, the EC signed a third financial protocol with Yugoslavia pro-
viding an aid package as inducement for it to somehow remain a federal
entity, but most analysts believe this ECU807 “carrot” came at least a year
too late (Gompert 1994). On June 25, Croatia and Slovenia seceded and
Slovenian militia moved to seize border installations. Croatian Serbs, the
Belgrade government, and the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) resisted
these moves. After six days of skirmishes and a series of setbacks, the JNA
withdrew to its barracks. It was reported that six Slovenians and 39 JNA
personnel were killed (Bjork and Goodman 1993, 5).
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    79

When fighting broke out, the EC responded by sending a diplomatic


mission comprised of a Troika of foreign ministers to mediate among the
parties. After two more diplomatic missions, it placed an embargo on
armaments and military equipment to all of Yugoslavia, and suspended
the second and third financial protocols. The EC claimed success when
the warring sides agreed to a ceasefire and a three-month suspension of
the declarations of independence. It was at this point that Luxembourg
Foreign Minister Jacques Poos (speaking as chair of the EC Foreign
Affairs Council) famously proclaimed that “The hour of Europe has
dawned.” Euphoria was short-lived, however, as the ceasefire was
disregarded.
All parties to the Yugoslav problem affirmed their commitment to find-
ing a solution to the crisis in the Brioni Declaration of July 7 to adhere to
the EC June proposals and agreed that a 50-member observer mission
requested by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
would monitor the ceasefire in Slovenia and possibly Croatia. However,
despite the diplomatic efforts, economic sanctions, an arms embargo, and
the observer force, no solution was forged acceptable to both sides. It
soon became evident that the Brioni Agreement, which the EC viewed as
the foundation for negotiations, was being used by the Yugoslav factions
as a delaying tactic to consolidate their positions. In September, the EC
agreed to create an arbitration commission and to convene a peace confer-
ence under the leadership of Lord Peter Carrington in The Hague (Wood
1993, 234).
Initially, it is clear that EC Member States did not recognize the Yugoslav
crisis’ potential for prolonged, widespread, and/or costly armed conflict.
There is no evidence that the Member States feared spillover of the conflict
into their territories. EC members expected the Yugoslavs, “as Europeans,”
to prefer peace to war and to negotiate toward that end in good faith. It did
not seem to enter into their thinking that some Yugoslav parties might
regard urban bombardment, ethnic cleansing, and rape camps as acceptable
means to achieving their goals. In 1990, the French government had
accused the United States of overdramatizing the threat in Yugoslavia when
the United States suggested that it might be appropriate to consider the
problem in the context of NATO. The ultimate indicator of the EC’s under-
estimation of the possibility of violence was that its leaders believed that
they could achieve their goals of institutional enhancement and maintaining
stability and Yugoslav unity without military action. At this early stage, the
subsequent refugee and economic consequences of the conflict did not
seem to figure significantly in their calculations (Hoffmann 1994).
80   M.L. BROWN

Consensus obtained among EC members that a mediatory role was


desirable, that the goals should be to preserve Yugoslav unity, and failing
this, to delay recognition of new states until a political solution could be
found to prevent the spread of hostilities. At this juncture, the organiza-
tion had been required to expend only institutional and diplomatic
attention and personnel time on the problem, mediating, imposing an
arms embargo, and cutting off financial support. These were acceptable
prices to pay for institutional enhancement, and to maintain stability and
the status quo in Yugoslavia. However, when it became clear that the
breakaway republics refused to delay their independence and that media-
tion, an arms embargo, and suspending financial assistance would not
deter violence, the policy consensus as to how to deal with the crisis evap-
orated, and the Member States’ policies came to reflect their individual
interests, including responding to domestic political considerations.
On September 19, EC leaders met in The Hague to consider again
sending a European military contingent to Yugoslavia. The French and
Germans supported seeking a UN Security Council mandate to send in a
European force under auspices of the Western European Union (WEU).
The British argued that it was irresponsible to consider sending in a
European peacekeeping force without an effective ceasefire in place. British
officials (reflecting their experience in Northern Ireland) carefully laid out
the dangers of becoming involved in a protracted guerrilla war and made
it clear that they could not be counted upon to contribute to a peacekeeping
force. The Greeks3 and Spaniards sided with the British, while the Belgians
and Italians backed some form of intervention. In the end, no EC member
was willing to commit military assets without Serb acquiescence and an
effective ceasefire in place. Since any Member State can veto important
decisions within the European Council, these decisions require unanimity.
Because consensus was unattainable, the organization could not act col-
lectively via the WEU (Wood 1993, 234–235).4 Hoffmann (1994) pro-
vides this semi-literary analogy of the attitudes of the major players:

When Bosnia became the center of the drama there was still an ample gap
between Britain’s attitude of prudent (some would say disdainful) noninter-
vention and Germany’s awkward combination of anti-Serb feelings and con-
stitutional impotence, with France playing Hamlet in the middle.

In September 1991 upon the instigation of Belgium, Britain, and


France, the UN invited the Secretary General to begin consultations with
the government of Yugoslavia. In November, after it became clear that EC
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    81

members could not agree to send a European peacekeeping force to


Croatia, they called upon the UN Security Council to assume this respon-
sibility. The initial phase of EC decision making on the Yugoslav question
had come to an end; thereafter each Member State decided individually
whether to contribute troops to the UN-coordinated peacekeeping effort
(Wood 1993, 237).

EC Security Efforts Before the Crisis


At the onset of crisis in the Balkans, the EC’s foreign policy capacity was
at an extremely inchoate stage of development. While European Political
Cooperation had been among the expressed goals of the Member States
for some time, economic cooperation had predominated over the course
of the organization’s existence. A framework for political cooperation was
first introduced at the Hague Summit in December 1969 by French
President George Pompidous and was expanded upon by the Luxembourg
(Davignon) Report in October 1970. The Copenhagen Report of 1973
reiterated the need for concerted action in foreign policy, and the London
Report of 1982 established consultative procedures to facilitate more rapid
response to crises. Title III, Article 30 of the 1987 Single European Act
further defined the parameters of European Political Cooperation.
Although obligations were voluntary, Member States, that is, “High
Contracting Parties,” agreed to inform and consult each other before tak-
ing positions on foreign policy issues (Wood 1993, 227; Ginsberg 1994,
13–16). EC members were negotiating the Treaty on European Union
(the Maastricht Treaty) as the Balkans crisis unfolded. Title V, Article J.1
of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty would provide the legal basis for upgrading
foreign defense policy operations: “The Union and its Member States
shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy,…
covering all areas of foreign and security policy.” (European Communities
1992, 123). The treaty outlines the principles and goals that guide all EU
external policies and actions:

(a) to safeguard its values, fundamental interests, security, indepen-


dence, and integrity;
(b) to consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human
rights, and the principles of international law;
(c) to preserve peace, prevent conflicts, and strengthen international
security, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN
82   M.L. BROWN

Charter, with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and with the
aims of the Charter of Paris, including those relating to external
borders;
(d) to foster the sustainable economic, social, and environmental

development of developing countries, with the primary aim of
eradicating poverty;
(e) to encourage the integration of all countries into the world econ-
omy, including through the progressive abolition of restrictions on
international trade;
(f) to help develop international measures to preserve and improve the
quality of the environment and the sustainable management of
global natural resources, in order to ensure sustainable
development;
(g) to assist populations, countries, and regions confronting natural or
man-made disasters; and
(h) to promote an international system based on stronger multilateral
cooperation and good global governance.5

However, during the early years of the Balkans crisis, the modalities of
policy articulation and implementation were not yet delineated. The
Maastricht Treaty entered into force on 1 November 1993. Germany
Chancellor Helmut Kohn, French President Francois Mitterrand, and
others among the EC leadership viewed the Yugoslav crisis as an opportu-
nity to demonstrate the EC’s ability to act cohesively and effectively in the
foreign policy area. However, the Yugoslav crisis was an unfortunate first
occasion for the EC to exercise its aspirations for the nascent CFSP. James
Gow (1997, 5) labels EC policies during the first two years of the Balkans
crisis as a failure due to the entire international community’s “lack of
political will,” among other factors. The next segment explores some
potential systemic and national-interest-related factors in EC decision
making.

Potential Systemic Factors and Other


Power-­Related Explanations
The Balkans crisis erupted just as the Cold War was drawing to a close and
the Soviet Union faced disintegration. West Europeans initially framed the
Yugoslav question in terms of their desire to preserve stability and the
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    83

status quo, and to forestall any potential negative effects on events


unfolding in the Soviet Union. They believed that the breakup of such a
complicated, multi-ethnic state as Yugoslavia would inevitably lead to
instability and bloodshed. Some believed that the disintegration of
Yugoslavia would undermine Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to retain central
authority in the Soviet Union, but these concerns were not the most
salient among EC concerns as the crisis erupted (Freedman 1992, 19;
Bjork and Goodman 1993).
From the outset the United States made it clear that it did not regard
its strategic interests at stake in the Balkans, and it saw no clear-cut policy
solutions to the crisis. It was pleased for the EC to provide leadership out
of the belief that West Europeans possessed more political leverage to deal
with the fractious parties. David Gompert6 (1994) writes:

[T]he Bush administration was well aware of the dangers in Yugoslavia prior
to the crisis. It simply knew of no way to prevent a violent disintegration.
National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State
Lawrence Eagleburger … understood Yugoslavia and its volcanic nature.
There was no “intelligence failure,” no inattention due to preoccupation
with the collapse of communism or Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.7

As a matter of fact, a November 1990 Central Intelligence Agency report


predicting the disintegration of Yugoslavia had been passed along to the
Europeans. When the US government suggested consultation within
NATO on the Balkans, the French accused it of “overdramatizing” the
problem. The United States deferred to the Europeans’ preference that
transatlantic coordination occurs within EC-US channels. NATO was thus
kept out until it became clear that the conflict exceeded the capacity of
other institutions to deal with the crisis.8
Historically, the French have chafed against United States’ hegemonic
leadership in the Cold War and NATO and demonstrated the most inter-
est in fostering an independent West European military capacity in
European Political Cooperation and the WEU.9 The German government
was somewhat less interested in enhancing a common defense capacity
within the WEU because it preferred to keep its options open. However,
because Germany weighed military intervention in terms of its need for
political stability in the east, by Fall 1991, it favored sending troops. Any
upheaval in eastern and southeastern Europe affects Germany immediately
and more severely than its EC partners, particularly in terms of incoming
84   M.L. BROWN

refugees. Of course at that time, Germany’s military participation in such


a venture was limited by Articles 24, 26, and 87A of its basic law which
allowed participation in a “system of mutual collective security,” but
restricted use of its armed forces to defensive purposes.
Opposing European military intervention in the Balkans, the British
demonstrated the least commitment to organizational enhancement, and
because of its experience with internecine warfare in Northern Ireland and
Cyprus, were sensitive to the potentially high costs of military interven-
tion. During times of crisis, Britain usually prefers to draw upon its “spe-
cial relationship” with the United States rather than tie its fate to concerted
action in the WEU.10 Britain believed enhancing European reliance on the
WEU at the expense of commitment to NATO would increase the likeli-
hood that Germany would “renationalize.”
The Member States’ reframing of the Balkans crisis in terms of their
national interests was most pronounced in the disintegration of EC con-
sensus on the nonrecognition of the breakaway republics. This consensus
was held through September 1991 although there was increasing support
for independence for Slovenia and Croatia after appropriate negotiations
(Wood 1993, 234). By the end of September, it was clear that the EC
peace process was ineffective (there had been 13 ceasefires.), and that the
continued existence of a federal Yugoslavia was no longer possible. France,
however, continued to oppose recognition of Slovenia and Croatia until
the fighting ceased, insisting that recognition would lead to greater vio-
lence that would spread to the other republics. Mitterrand argued that the
conditions for independence should be established in international delib-
erations in which issues such as borders, refugees, and human rights were
considered. The British government also opposed premature recognition.
Its Ambassador in Belgrade, Peter Hall, outlined in very clear terms the
potential negative consequences of recognition (Sheridan 1993, 15).
The German government’s position on recognition, however, had
come to be shaped by domestic political considerations as liberal intergov-
ernmentalists (see e.g. Moravcsik 1998) expect rather than the objective
of enhancing the EC’s security capacity. With long-standing historic and
economic affiliations with the peoples of Croatia and Slovenia, and strong
support for the principle of self-determination amplified by its recent uni-
fication, the Germany government experienced increased public pressure
to recognize the breakaway republics. Some contend that the media con-
tributed to this swell of public sentiment by presenting a one-sided view of
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    85

Serbian aggression and atrocities against the “freedom-seeking Croatians.”


All major German political parties supported recognition of the breakaway
republics, German Catholic bishops came out strongly in support of
Catholics in Slovenia and Croatia, and approximately 700,000 Yugoslav
migrant workers in Germany (an estimated two-thirds of whom were
Croatian) constituted a formidable coalition in favor of recognition (Wood
1993, 235–236).
Both the UN11 and the United States urged nonrecognition on the
belief, espoused by UN envoy Cyrus Vance, that premature recognition
would undermine Vance’s efforts to obtain a ceasefire and deploy a peace-
keeping force in Croatia. The United States also had strong reservations
against recognizing Croatia and Slovenia without according the same legal
status to Bosnia.
While systemic factors such as the disintegration of the Soviet Union
and the French desire to provide a West European alternative to United
States leadership provided context within which the EC contemplated its
actions toward the breakup of Yugoslavia, these factors were not determi-
nant in EC decisions not to intervene militarily and to accord diplomatic
recognition to the breakaway republics. While EC members wished to
enhance the organization’s foreign policy capacity and were in treaty
negotiations to do so and they wished to maintain the status quo and
instability in the Balkans, these common objectives were insufficient to
override the major military powers’ diverse national interests in relation to
the crisis. Consensus could not be reached to maintain solidarity in non-
recognition of the breakaway republics or to intervene militarily.

Organizational and Functional Explanations


Chapter 4 pertaining to the ECOWAS military intervention in the Liberian
civil war concludes that because the ECOWAS faced ongoing carnage
within a Member State and outside actors including the United States and
the UN declined to intervene, the ECOWAS was the “only game in town”
to bring an end to the conflict. This functional necessity did not apply in
EC decision making regarding the Balkans crisis. The Member States did
not regard spillover of the conflict onto their territory as an immediate
threat. At the outset, they also seemed to underestimate the potential for
horrendous destruction of lives and property in the Balkans. Had either of
these been a consideration, might have turned to NATO to persuade the
Yugoslav government and breakaway republics to negotiate their grievances
86   M.L. BROWN

in a timely manner. Instead some combination of successful economic


cooperation within the EC (with the promulgation of the 1987 Single
European Act and the Maastricht Treaty under negotiation) and the desire
to enhance EC institutional capacity to provide an alternative to US lead-
ership in the wake of the Cold War were the strongest impetuses to EC
determination to provide leadership in the early days of the crisis. The fact
that the British were prepared to abandon opposition to recognition of the
breakaway republics in exchange for satisfying its preferences in Maastricht
Treaty negotiations clearly demonstrates intra-EC politics trumped con-
cern about fostering stability and the status quo in the Balkans.
Throughout the crisis, the goals of institutional enhancement remained
at the forefront of EC calculations. Stanley Hoffmann (1994) writes that
with economic integration largely completed, EC leadership wished to
create a common foreign and defense policy “so that the new economic
giant would cease to be a geopolitical dwarf.” The EC is predominantly an
economic organization, and thus it is not surprising that its first response
was to employ financial inducements to address problems on its frontier.
The question which claimed their attention was whether their desire to
enhance institutional capacity would provide a consensus to intervene
militarily and whether that consensus would extend to a common position
on recognition of the breakaway republics. In early August 1991, as a
proponent of military intervention coordinated by the WEU, France
remained the most committed among EC members to framing the issue in
terms of institutional enhancement. This position was supported by Italy
and the Netherlands.
In the end, German policy, shaped by domestic political considerations,
forced an about-face in EC policy toward recognition of the breakaway
republics. As was noted, this challenge to the EC’s foreign policy capabili-
ties was occurring simultaneously with negotiations over the Maastricht
Treaty which sought to expand the foreign policy capacity of the organiza-
tion in addition to other major institutional reforms.12 Although the
British steadfastly warned against the dangers of premature diplomatic
recognition of the breakaway republics, it abandoned its opposition in
exchange for German support for its policy preferences on other Maastricht
Treaty provisions. Two senior Whitehall sources informed that “the fate of
Croatia was decided in a trade-off between John Major and German
Chancellor, Helmut Kohl. ‘Kohl supported us on the crucial points we
needed at Maastricht and we gave in on recognition in return.’….‘It didn’t
seem too bad a deal at the time.’” (Sheridan 1993, 15).
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    87

Following the Maastricht summit, Hans-Dietrich Genscher declared


that Germany would recognize Croatia and Slovenia with or without EC
support. In the end, the French went along rather than undermine EC
unity. Gompert (1994) summarizes the domestic political factors that
shaped Germany’s position on diplomatic recognition:

Bowing to right-wing and Croat expatriate pressure, German leaders mus-


cled their EC colleagues into recognizing Slovenia and Croatia against the
better judgment of the United States, the United Nations and indeed most
EC foreign ministries.13

Ideational and Social Understandings


With any crisis, a host of ideas, principles, norms, cultural, and historical
experiences and analogies (Khong 1992) may guide and simplify thinking
and be used to justify some policy responses over others. Significant litera-
ture contends that shared values, norms, discourses, ethnicity, and histori-
cal experiences may constitute a shared identity that inclines regional actors
to engage in conflict amelioration. A domestic-politics corollary to this
proposition is that due to the aforementioned factors, citizens are likely to
countenance their governments’ participation in regional conflict amelio-
ration. Historical experiences, values, and cultural factors were not incon-
sequential to the way EC Member States framed the Balkans crisis and
assessed the various policy options. EC members were sensitive to the fact
that political instability in the Balkans had brought into play the ­complex
set of alliances that ignited World War I. We have previously noted that
Britain’s experience in Northern Ireland and Cyprus and historical antipa-
thy to involvement on the continent shaped its opposition to EC military
intervention in the Balkans.14 Alternatively, its recent unification experi-
ence inclined Germany to sympathize with the breakaway republics’ desire
for freedom from Serbian control. Notions of a common European heri-
tage and identity are also important to West European leaders.15 EC leaders
regarded Yugoslavs as sharing a European culture, heritage, and identity,
and as part of its “neighborhood.” As was previously noted, EC leaders
expected the Yugoslavs as Europeans to negotiate in good faith and to
prefer peaceful resolution of their differences rather than war.
It is clear that the EC’s initial effort to provide leadership in addressing the
Yugoslav crisis was related to enhancing both its organizational capacity and
its identity as a foreign policy actor. As was previously noted, negotiations
88   M.L. BROWN

were underway that yielded the Maastricht Treaty with a second pillar
providing for creation of a common foreign and security policy. Article 2
[ex B] of the treaty specifically stated that the goal was “to assert its identity
on the international scene, in particular through the implementation of a
common foreign and security policy including the eventual framing of a com-
mon defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence.”
Constructivist literature contends that a state’s identity is a function of
who it is (i.e. the “Self” deriving from and indicated by language, dis-
courses, historical experiences, ethnicity, values, norms, among other
factors) as well as who it is not—that is, its interaction with external partial
and/or radical “Others” (Shapiro 1987; Hansen 2006). The EC’s identity
has been forged in relation to its Partial Other (and ally), the United States
(Posen 2006), and the Soviet Union/Russia, a more Radical Other. In the
previous discussion of the role played by the United States as the recent
unipolar hegemon, we discussed the possibility that soft balancing might
explain EC inclination to provide leadership in addressing the Balkans cri-
sis. For several decades, the EC sought to distinguish itself from the
United States by fashioning its security identity around the Petersberg
Tasks,16 as a global “civilian power” without a legacy of wars, colonialism,
or power aspirations (Laffan et al. 2000, 38–39; Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and
Verdier 2005), and/or as a “normative power” (Manners 2002),17 leaving
the use of heavy military force and compellence to NATO.  During the
early days of the Balkans crisis, the EC’s strongest and most consistent
contributions to security centered around conflict preventive policies such
as preferential trade agreements, financial and technical aid, and bilateral
and interregional cooperation (Kirchner 2011, 32). Robert Cooper
(2004, 158–159), a senior British diplomat, notes: “the use of military
power has—for good historical reasons—low legitimacy. And for equally
good historical reasons, most European countries would prefer to live in a
world of law rather than one of power.” There can be little doubt that the
desire to create its own identity as a security leader is important in
explaining the EC’s taking on the challenge. As is often pointed out, after
the EC’s initial success in arranging a ceasefire in Slovenia, Jacques Poos,
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, proclaimed: “We have completed our
mission….If the Yugoslavs want to enter the Europe of the 20th century,
they have to follow our advice. This is the hour of Europe, not the hour
of the Americans.” (Financial Times 7/1/91).
Closely aligned with this desire to assume leadership in providing secu-
rity in Europe was the Europeans’ recent failure (in August 1990) to reach
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    89

a consensus regarding addressing Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Brent Steele


(2008) opines that policy failure perceived as undermining one’s identity
and ontological security generates shame. The Balkans crisis offered West
Europeans an opportunity to repair their foreign policy image tarnished by
their inability to act cohesively to contribute military assets to the coalition.18
In the end, military coordination in the First Gulf War was undertaken
bilaterally between EC members and the United States. In January 1991,
French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas conceded that “Europe does not
have a common foreign policy” (quoted in Wood 1993, 230).

Conclusion: The EC’s Diplomatic and Economic


Response to the Balkans Crisis
The literature discusses this instance of EC’s early attempts to manage
conflict in the Balkans as a policy failure. While EC members were able to
agree to impose financial penalties and an arms embargo, initially they
could not reach consensus on whether to recognize the breakaway repub-
lics or to intervene militarily. While many factors discussed in this chapter
influence members’ positions on these issues, the evidence suggests that in
1990 and early 1991, enhancing the organization’s foreign policy capacity
and maintaining Yugoslav unity and stability in the region were their pri-
mary objectives. EC members were willing to bear burdens associated
with diplomacy, mediation, to offer and withhold economic incentives,
and to impose an arms embargo in pursuit of these goals. Evidently, they
did not consider EC involvement in terms of a high potential for wide-
spread and protracted violence that would send thousands of refugees
across their frontiers, nor were they concerned that the conflict might spill
beyond the Yugoslav borders.
It soon became clear that EC policy objectives could not be achieved
via the agree-upon means. Member States then reframed the issue in terms
of when and under what conditions the breakaway republics would be
accorded diplomatic recognition and whether EC members would
undertake military intervention. It was impossible to retain consensus on
withholding diplomatic recognition of Croatia and Slovenia until the
fighting could be abated, and border, refugee, and human rights issues
could be dealt with via international consultations. Germany succumbed
to domestic political pressures and unilaterally recognized the two break-
away republics. Britain traded its previous opposition to recognition in
90   M.L. BROWN

exchange for German support for its policy preferences in Maastricht


Treaty negotiations, and France finally agreed to recognition to preserve a
unified stance. Britain’s actions in this instance clearly demonstrate its pri-
oritization of its EC treaty preferences over standing firm on nonrecogni-
tion of the breakaway republics. Analysts generally believe that the
recognition of Slovenia and Croatia may have ended the fighting there in
the short term, but it doomed Bosnia to protracted civil war.
France, wishing to enhance the organization’s foreign policy capacity,
advocated military intervention under the auspices of the WEU. Britain,
because of its experience in Northern Ireland and general disinclination to
involving itself in continental affairs, rejected any thought of military
intervention. And, Germany favored intervention under the WEU banner,
but was constitutionally prohibited from contributing military personnel.
Because a consensus could not be reached, the question of military inter-
vention was passed back to the UN and ultimately the United States.
Some argue that the inchoate state of the EC foreign policy mecha-
nisms and the dearth of regional military capacity deterred EC effective-
ness in this crisis (Wood 1993). Although EC’s foreign policy capacity had
not yet been fully articulated, had military intervention been regarded as
a vital interest by EC members, there were sufficient organizational assets
among the EC, the WEU, and NATO, to undertake the role. However, in
that instance, the providers of the military security would not have been
the primary beneficiaries of the intervention. An embattled Yugoslavia
represented the potential for instability on the eastern flank of the EC, but
was not perceived as directly threatening the territorial and political integ-
rity of EC members. Member States lacked sufficient incentives to engage
in costly military intervention at that time. While the regional economic
organization exhibited greater willingness to engage in conflict ameliora-
tion relative to the larger and more distant UN, when there are divergent
interests among the Member States and when the costs of military inter-
vention exceed the benefits to be reaped by the members, consensus for
collective action dissipated. This suggests, however, that when conflict
amelioration is required within the ranks of the organization’s members,
as in the case of the Economic Organization of West African States in
Chap. 4, the costs and benefits may be framed in a manner more condu-
cive to effective conflict amelioration.
There is little debate that the failure of the EC to manage Balkans crisis
was a painful learning experience for the EU and provided the impetus for
significant organizational reform.19 It clearly demonstrated the difficulties
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    91

associated with reaching policy consensus within treaty requirements for


unanimity. Critics charged that EU foreign policy suffered from inade-
quate institutional development and policy incoherence and that the inter-
governmental and supranational instruments of EC external policy were
“not linked in a meaningful and complementary way” (Mix 2013, 2).
Since the early 1990s, steady progress has been made to address these
shortcomings. As was noted, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty provided a legal
basis for (1) defining general principles and guidelines for a Common
Foreign and Security Policy, (2) deciding common strategies, (3) adopting
joint actions, (4) adopting common positions, and (5) strengthening
cooperation among Member States in the conduct of policy.
The 1997 Amsterdam Treaty (which entered into force in 1999) laid
down new principles and responsibilities in the field of the common for-
eign and security policy, with emphasis on projecting the EU’s values to
the outside world, protecting its interests, and reforming its modes of
action. After the European Council agrees upon “common strategies”
within the intergovernmental framework, agreement on implementation
may be reached by qualified majority decision making under certain con-
ditions. In some instances, Member States may also elect to “abstain con-
structively,” allowing actions to go forward.
The Amsterdam Treaty also created the post of High Representative for
EU Foreign Policy who, with the presidents of the Council and the
European Commission, helps coordinate EU policy and represents that
policy to the outside world. Although the Amsterdam Treaty did not pro-
vide for a common defense, it increased the EU’s responsibilities for
peacekeeping and humanitarian activities, particularly by forging closer
links with WEU.20
The EU has also made progress in the area of policy coherence. In
2003, the EU published a European Security Strategy which set out three
broad objectives:

(a) to take necessary actions to address a list of global challenges and


security threats including regional conflicts, the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, failed states, organized
crime and disease;
(b) to build security in its “neighborhood,” which includes the Balkans,
the Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East; and
(c) to assist in the creation of a rules-based, multilateral world order in
which international law, peace, and security are ensured by strong
regional and global institutions.21
92   M.L. BROWN

The 2009 Lisbon Treaty slightly revised the title of the EU’s High
Representative into that of “High Representative of the Union for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy.” The High Representative continues to be
responsible for coordinating, implementing, and representing EU foreign
and security policies. The European External Action Service, a new EU dip-
lomatic corps, was officially launched in December 2010 to support the work
of the High Representative.22 Within the External Action Service, the EU
makes frequent use of Special Representatives (EUSRs) to troubled areas. At
present, the EU has 11 EUSRs tasked with managing EU policies toward
Afghanistan, the African Union, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Central Asia, The
Horn of Africa, Kosovo, the Middle East Peace Process, the Sahel, the South
Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, the Southern Mediterranean Region, and
Sudan.23 The EU has also increased its material capabilities to address secu-
rity threats, although critics often charge that the body fails to coordinate the
full range of hard and soft assets (Mix 2013, 2).
With a legacy of two horrendous world wars and the availability of
NATO assets, the EU clearly remains ambivalent about use of “hard
power.” EU foreign policy is principles-based in its emphasis on human
rights, the rule of law, and good governance. The 2003 European Security
Strategy asserts that challenges and threats cannot be addressed by military
means alone, but require a combination of military, political, and eco-
nomic instruments. Conflict prevention is preferred over conflict ameliora-
tion, and the EU seeks to address the root causes of conflict and instability
by addressing poverty and economic development (i.e. human security) via
means such as foreign direct assistance and trade. External policies in tech-
nical areas such as trade, humanitarian aid, development assistance,
enlargement, and the “Neighborhood Policy” are formulated and man-
aged through the “community” process (Mix 2013, 2–5). Most agree that
these latter areas of “soft power” are where the EU’s strengths lie.24
That having been said, the EU currently has 15 military and civilian
operations underway deploying more than 5000 persons.25 These mis-
sions include police training in Afghanistan and the Balkans, anti-piracy
missions off the Horn of Africa, counterterrorism and terrorist financing,
efforts to end the conflict in Syria, and response to disorder in African
states.
When the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2012,
Charles Grant, Director of the London-based Centre for European
Reform, commented:
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    93

Yes, the EU sat on the sidelines while Bosnia burned from 1992 to 1995.
But we learnt the lesson. After Bosnia and Kosovo, Tony Blair and Jacques
Chirac created European defence policy which is not spectacular and not
magnificent but does a lot of useful work. Today there are EU peacekeepers
in Bosnia and there is a fleet off the coast of Somalia catching pirates….
(Watt 2012).

The debates continue as to whether the EU should and will create a


credible security apparatus particularly in response to the recent crisis in
Ukraine. The possibility of creating a regional defense force was laid down
in the Lisbon Treaty that came into effect in December 2009. In March
2015, Javier Solana, the former EU foreign policy chief and NATO
Secretary General submitted a report entitled More Union in European
Defense calling for a new EU security strategy to include the capability to
intervene beyond the organization’s frontiers (“Juncker Calls…,” 2015).
And, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for a com-
bined EU military force to enhance EU standing on the world stage and
to send a message to Russia with regard to the Ukraine crisis. These recur-
ring conversations gain momentum when crises arise.26

Notes
1. Six republics (Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro,
Serbia, and Slovenia) and two autonomous provinces (Kosovo and
Vojvodina) comprised the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
2. Yugoslavia was the only former Communist country to conclude a coop-
erative agreement with the EC before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first
protocol, signed in 1980, was justified on the grounds that Yugoslavia was
a nonaligned country, geographically within Europe, and a compulsory
road transit route to Greece, which had a large immigrant work force in the
EC.  EC funding was allocated specifically to upgrade Yugoslavia’s roads
(Directorate-General of Research for the European Parliament 1994, 127).
3. Greece opposed European military intervention in Yugoslavia because of
its proximity, special relationship with Belgrade, and disapproval of the
creation of an independent Macedonia.
4. After nearly ten months and numerous UN resolutions, the WEU agreed
on 10 July 1992 to provide ships and helicopters to monitor the UN
embargo against Serbia and Montenegro.
5. Article 21.2 of the Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union.
94   M.L. BROWN

6. Gompert was senior director for Europe and Eurasia on the George H. W.
Bush Administration’s National Security Council.
7. Brent Scowcroft had served as assistant air attaché in the American Embassy
in Belgrade. Eagleburger served as a foreign service officer in Belgrade
between 1961 and 1965, and US ambassador to Yugoslavia between 1977
and 1980. In 1995, then US National Security Advisor Scowcroft was
quoted as saying: “Had we gotten together with the Europeans and drawn
up these nice conditions, gone to the Yugoslavs and said, ‘Look, we don’t
think you ought to break up. It doesn’t make sense. You ought to try to
rationalize your differences. But if you insist on breaking up, OK, but here
are the conditions we insist on,’ [it] might have worked…. Should have
been tried, and it wasn’t.” (quoted in Matthews 1995)
8. It is ironic that although the West Europeans and the United States did not
initially avail themselves of the institutional and bargaining assets repre-
sented by NATO’s capabilities, in the early days of the conflict the Yugoslav
National Army was concerned that NATO’s new “rapid reaction corps”
might become a factor in the conflict. After the Rome summit in late 1991,
the Yugoslav Defense Minister, General Veljko Kadijevic, told David
Gompert that he was concerned that NATO was readying an intervention
force (Gompert 1994, fn 1).
9. The WEU was originally established by seven states to implement the 1957
Modified Treaty of Brussels and was allied with the United States and
NATO during the Cold War. After the Cold War, WEU tasks and ­institutions
were gradually transferred to the Common Security and Defense Policy of
the European Union. This process was completed in 2009 with the Treaty
of Lisbon, and on 30 June 2011 the WEU was officially declared defunct.
The period of this inquiry (1990–1991) was too early in the post-­Cold War
era to feature EC and French “soft balancing” against the United States as
the sole remaining military superpower.
10. This, of course, is an “Atlanticist” stance in contrast to France’s “Gaullist”
or “continentalist” one.
11. In 1990, there is little question that the EC demonstrated greater willingness
to engage in conflict amelioration than did the UN. Both the EC and the
UN were very status-quo-oriented, eager that Yugoslavia remain united to
avoid instability, possible bloodshed, and the negative demonstration effects
that its disintegration might provide for the Soviet Union. In addition, UN
involvement in the escalating crisis was deterred by the fact that any form of
intervention required the invitation or acquiescence of Yugoslavia, a sover-
eign member of the body. At that time, the UN’s mandate did not provide
for intervention in civil wars.
12. Via the “second pillar” of the Maastricht Treaty, the Union sought to
assert its identity on the international stage through a common foreign and
  THE 1990–1991 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES-BALKANS CRISIS    95

security policy. The “third pillar” added justice and home affairs to the
organization’s mission.
13. Member States’ framing of the Balkans in terms of domestic political con-
siderations would only increase as the violence escalated and humanitarian
workers and their protectors were placed in harm’s way. However, these
events are beyond the chronological scope of this chapter. With reference
to the EC-Balkans case in general, Gompert (1994) reproaches: “That
each of the most powerful members of the EC had its own agenda not only
helped ensure EC failure but reminds us why Europeans, left to them-
selves, tend to mismanage Europe’s security.”
14. And, France may well have regarded the dissolution of Yugoslavia as hav-
ing implications for its relationship with Corsica (Gow 1997, 159).
Nationalistic calls for greater autonomy and protection for Corsican cul-
ture and language have been a feature of modern Corsican politics since
1975. Raids and killings have occurred periodically, including the assassi-
nation of Prefect Claude Érignac in 1998.
15. Of course, some critics argue that the West’s later inaction in the face of
atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina was affected by the fact that many Bosnians
are Muslim. For example, journalist Charles Lane (1996, 143–146) argues
that “Just below the surface lies British and French fear of Muslim influence
on the continent.”
16. The Petersberg Tasks are military and security priorities incorporated
within the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy including
­humanitarian and rescue missions, crisis management, conflict prevention,
disarmament, peacekeeping and peacemaking, military advice and assis-
tance, and post-conflict stabilization tasks. These tasks were initially articu-
lated by WEU leaders in a 1992 summit convened in Germany, and were
incorporated into Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union.
17. For critiques of the notion that the EU is a normative power, see Diez
(2005) and Merlingen (2007). By 2006, Manners (2006, 182–199) con-
ceded that the European Security Strategy signaled a “sharp turn away
from the normative path of sustainable peace toward the full spectrum of
instruments for robust interventions.”
18. Historically, Britain maintained special relationships with Kuwait and the
United States, as did France with Iraq. France was also a strong advocate
of problem solving within the UN because of its membership on the
Security Council and its desire to maintain independence from United
States’ policies.
19. Cognitive research confirms that individuals and organizations are more
apt to learn from negative experiences than positive ones; see Brown et al.
(2006).
96   M.L. BROWN

20. The 1948 Brussels Treaty which established the Western Union Defense
Organization, predecessor of the WEU, terminated in June 2011.
21. See A Secure Europe in a Better World—European Security Strategy,
Brussels, December 12, 2003, available at http://www.consilium.europa.
eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/78367.pdf
22. For an organizational chart of the External Action Service, see https://
eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/organisation_chart_june_2017.pdf,
accessed 8/26/17.
23. See http://www.consilium.europa.eu/policies/foreignpolicy/eu-special-
representatives.aspx?lang=en
24. The concept of “soft power” derives from the work of Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
(2004).
25. See https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage_en/
430/Military%20and%20civilian%20missions%20and%20operations for
details of these operations.
26. It might also be noted that EU Member States may also be encouraged to
strengthen their conventional security capabilities in light of the US
President Donald Trump’s ostensible “America First” orientation. At an
early February 2017 summit in Malta, then French President Francois
Hollande said: “Many countries have to realize that their future is first in
the European Union, rather than who knows what bilateral relation with
the United States….” He continued, “Who knows what the president of
the United States really wants” particularly regarding NATO (“EU
Leaders…” 2/3/17).

References
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CHAPTER 6

Explaining and Understanding Regional


Economic Organizations’ Response
to Conventional Security Challenges

Abstract  Many factors potentially affect REOs’ decisions when confronted


with conventional security challenges. When Member States are threatened
and Great Powers and global institutions decline to intervene, REOs take
on conventional security tasks out of necessity even when they are institu-
tionally undeveloped and Member States are relatively poor and weak. This
chapter summarizes how the findings of this study confirm or call into
question various literatures on this subject. REOs often undertake conven-
tional security functions to preclude or manage external powers’ interven-
tion in the region. REOs also undertake conventional security tasks because
they assume that the security challenge can only be resolved on a regional
basis. As security threats multiply and REOs proliferate and become more
sophisticated, a network of REOs is being called upon to replace the post-
World War II security architecture.

Keywords  Regional economic organization • Regional security • Great


Powers • Regional security complex • Post-Cold War security architec-
ture • Human security

The three historical cases of this study confirm first that many factors
potentially affect regional economic organizations’ decisions regarding
how to respond to conventional security challenges. Simple descriptions
and explanations are rarely adequate to explain and understand complex

© The Author(s) 2018 99


M.L. Brown, Regional Economic Organizations and Conventional
Security Challenges, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70533-0_6
100   M.L. BROWN

phenomena. These cases suggest that when Member States are directly
threatened and Great Powers and global institutions decline to intervene,
the REO will take on conventional security tasks out of necessity even
when regional institutionalization is weak and its Member States are rela-
tively poor and weak.
How do these findings confirm or call into question the various litera-
tures on this subject? With regard to the importance of systemic and other
power-related explanations for regional economic organizations’ response
to conventional security challenges, various literatures suggest that sys-
temic factors may provide opportunities and/or constrain decision makers,
but the critical junctures literature contends that the influence of systemic
factors may be relaxed in the short term when decision makers face a crisis.
There is little doubt that the Cold War and post-Cold War conditions pro-
vided context for decision making in these cases, but only in the ECOWAS
case was the lack of Great Power and UN willingness to address the crisis
an important reason for ECOWAS to act. ASEAN was eager to ameliorate
the conflict in Cambodia to avoid the spillover of violence into its Member
States and the disruption of economic relations in the region, but it also
wished to avoid Great Power encroachment into regional affairs. The
regional organization was able to deny legitimacy to Vietnamese actions in
Cambodia and maintained the conflict on the international agenda; how-
ever, it lacked the capacity to deny Vietnam its predominance and end the
conflict. Only after China curtailed support for the Khmer when the Cold
War ended and Moscow encouraged Vietnam to withdraw was a solution
to the conflict found. At this final stage, the Great Powers sidelined ASEAN
in providing leadership to end the conflict.
When considering the importance of systemic factors to explain the
ECOWAS’ undertaking peacemaking in Liberia, it is clearly important
that while the United States had regarded Liberia an ally during the Cold
War, with the end of that global standoff, the United States saw itself as
having no strategic interests in Liberia. Had the United States or the UN
chosen to act in the face of the violence in Liberia, then the ECOWAS
likely would not have taken up the peacemaking role. However, interna-
tional assistance was not forthcoming, and the ECOWAS decided to
undertake this unprecedented mission. Thus, this is clearly an example of
a regional organization taking on peacemaking functions as a result of the
failure of Great Power interest and global governance.
The ending of the Cold War also cast a tangential “overlay” in the
EC-Balkans case. As this crisis unfolded, the Cold War was drawing to a
  EXPLAINING AND UNDERSTANDING REGIONAL ECONOMIC…    101

close and the EC wished to preserve stability and the status quo in the
Balkans to forestall its possibly affecting events unfolding in the Soviet
Union. It is unlikely, however, that this factor was immediately important
in the EC leaderships’ decision making with regard to the Balkans. Further,
at this early stage in the crisis, the United States did not regard its strategic
interests at risk and could not envision a ready solution to the problem.
Hegemonic stability theories suggest that regional economic organiza-
tions’ decisions can be attributed to the national interest preferences of the
regional hegemon. Regional hegemons may be willing to bear a dispro-
portionate share of the cost of maintaining the REO and any military
operations it chooses to undertake. All three of the REOs under investiga-
tion may be regarded as having hegemonic leadership—Indonesia in
ASEAN, Nigeria in the ECOWAS, and Germany and France in the
EC.  While it may be said that these regional hegemons’ leadership role
was apparent to some degree in each of the cases (Indonesia hosted con-
ferences regarding the Cambodian crisis and Germany exerted significant
influence, particularly with regard to the timing of diplomatic recognition
for the breakaway Yugoslav republics.), the ECOWAS’ case most clearly
represents the possibility that the ECOWAS’ decision to take up peace-
making in Liberia represented Nigeria’s national interests. There is no
question that Nigeria is the hegemonic leader in West Africa and the
ECOWAS, given that it hosts ECOWAS headquarters, provides approxi-
mately 30 percent of its annual operation budget and provided more than
half of personnel in the ECOWAS military intervention. However, Nigeria
went to great pains to make the Liberian intervention an ECOWAS politi-
cal and military effort. One must conclude that rather than Nigeria’s
hegemonic national interests driving the ECOWAS actions, it is more
likely that Nigeria regarded its national interests and regional interests as
the same, and the violence in Liberia was perceived as a threat to its
national and regional interests.
With regard to organizational and functional interests and explanations
for these decisions, it cannot be said that the regional economic organiza-
tions were the most effective and efficient sources of conflict amelioration.
As more proximate to the conflicts than the United States and the UN,
the organizations likely had greater understanding of the issues involved
and certainly more incentives to seek order and peace to avoid negative
political and economic spillover throughout the region. However, while
consensus within the numerically smaller regional organizations theoreti-
cally may have been easier to achieve than in the UN, only the ASEAN
102   M.L. BROWN

achieved and maintained consensus regarding its policies throughout most


of the crisis. In the ECOWAS case, a clear rift persisted between
Anglophone and Francophone states, and the ECOWAS and Nigeria
struggled to retain consensus regarding the mediation and military mis-
sions. And, as was pointed out in Chap. 5, while EC Member States were
able to achieve and maintain consensus regarding the use of diplomatic
and financial instruments to promote peace in the Balkans, Member State
consensus disappeared over questions of whether and when the breakaway
republics should be recognized and whether to commit military assets to
address the problem. In the ASEAN case, it is clear that the relatively
young and less developed Member States lacked the military capacity to
take on the Vietnamese military.
Some literature contends that the REOs responded as they did to the
conventional security threats because the crises threatened their economic
objectives. At the time of the Vietnam invasion of Cambodia, the ASEAN
had not made significant progress toward economic integration. However,
as was noted in Chap. 3, the decades-long conflict threatened regional
stability and was “bad for business.” With the Liberia civil war raging
within the REO, the crisis clearly posed a more dangerous threat to the
ECOWAS’ achieving its economic goals. While again, the ECOWAS was
virtually moribund and had few economic achievements to its credit, its
leaders were responding to concerns that the Liberian civil war and refu-
gees were a threat to the organization and its individual Member States.
However, as was noted with regard to the EC choices with regard to the
disintegration and violence in Yugoslavia, at this early stage EC leaders did
not see the conflict as a threat to organizational objectives, but they defi-
nitely seized upon the crisis as an opportunity to enhance the organiza-
tion’s capacity and status.
The EC case provides the strongest evidence that decision makers’
choices in the crisis were shaped by their desire to enhance the capacity
and reputation of the regional economic organization itself. As was noted,
at the time of the Balkans crisis, EC leaders were negotiating the Maastricht
Treaty which added a Common Foreign and Security Policy “second pil-
lar” to the existing first and third pillars of economic cooperation and
cooperation in home and justice affairs, respectively. Having achieved sig-
nificant greater market integration with the 1987 Single European Act,
EC leaders felt empowered to cultivate spillover in the area of political
cooperation and to reduce its reliance on the United States and NATO in
the security area. However, as was noted in Chap. 5, this new policy area
  EXPLAINING AND UNDERSTANDING REGIONAL ECONOMIC…    103

was being negotiated at the outset of the Balkans crisis, the second pillar
lacked form and assets, and, as was illustrated in British actions, effective
intervention in the Balkans conflict actually fell victim to “horse trading”
in Maastricht negotiations.
Understandings related to ideational and social factors focus attention
on norms, ideology, securitization, culture, identity, and discourse. For
some, “regionalism” itself is a norm or ideology. Humanitarianism is
another universal norm that in theory may influence REOs’ decisions to
take up conventional security challenges. Regional leaders clearly evidenced
a commitment to regionalism in the founding of their respective REOs;
however, the ASEAN and ECOWAS had been founded by relatively young
and poor states in 1967 and 1975, respectively, and had yet to make signifi-
cant economic progress. In contrast, the EC had been founded in 1957
and it had made substantial progress integrating the Member States econo-
mies, particularly with the 1987 Single European Act. That having been
said, while the norm of regionalism did not trump Member State interests
in any of these cases, regionalism was a relatively strong norm and dis-
course. While African norms of being “one’s neighbor’s keeper” and the
universal norm of humanitarianism were referenced in relation to the
unspeakable violence in the Liberian civil war, it cannot be said that these
norms were particularly salient factors to understanding ECOWAS action.
These norms were employed to legitimize ECOWAS action.
These three crises threatened the REOs’ primary missions of promot-
ing economic growth, development, and integration, although at the
time it cannot be said that they threatened their identities and ontologi-
cal security. The Liberian civil war was a clear threat to ECOWAS objec-
tives and the armed violence associated with Vietnam’s invasion of
Cambodia occasionally spilled over into ASEAN Member States.
However, the EC did not perceive the conflict in the Balkans as an
immediate threat to its mission. The discourses related to the ECOWAS
and ASEAN crises, thus, were securitized. If the crises were perceived
and securitized by ECOWAS and ASEAN leaders as an ontological
threat, then these two regions and organizations represent a regional
security complex. That is to say, their organizational and Member State
security are so interlinked that security cannot reasonably be achieved
autonomously. Discourse created and confirmed at most a nascent West
African and Southeast Asian identity. The Balkans were discussed as
being “European,” but it should be noted that geographically the for-
mer Yugoslavia was on the periphery of the EC, did not share the liberal
104   M.L. BROWN

economic and political values of EC Member States, and its cultural


identity was more heterogeneous. It cannot be said that these regions
and REOs represented a pluralistic security community where Member
States shared common interests, trust, empathy, and an identity.
In our earlier discussion of possible sources of organizational change in
response to crisis in Chap. 2, we pointed out that particularly the critical
junctures literature asserts that in the midst of uncertainty and crisis, more
space may be available for a small group of actors to exercise agency and
generate lasting institutional change. Under these conditions, it is posited
that constraining systemic factors are weaker. However, these cases sug-
gest that while REOs may benefit from strong and courageous leadership,
Member States in REOs prefer to retain control over their foreign policy
decisions to the degree possible, and do not readily relinquish control to
regional leaders. Even the EU remains intergovernmental rather than
supranational and requires Member State unanimity to act in areas for-
merly referred to as the Second Pillar, the Common Foreign and Security
Policy. Therefore, regional decision making is more state-based and for-
mulaic than idiosyncratic, although delving more deeply into the idiosyn-
cratic via such data sources as personal interviews and memoires may have
shed greater light on the importance of these factors. Table 6.1 summa-
rizes which among Propositions 1–15 outlined in Chap. 2 are relevant to
our case studies.
Twenty-five years have transpired since the ASEAN, ECOWAS, and EC
decided to take on these conventional security challenges. As was noted,
the end of the Cold War removed the “overlay” of bipolar Great Power
competition and constraints and introduced an era of intrastate, particu-
larly ethnicity-based, conflict in this era of “globalizations.” The global
community and International Relations scholars responded with a lively
debate on the concept of “human security,” a deepening and broadening
of referents to be secured (Buzan 1983; Mathews 1989; Kolodziej 2005).
A 1994 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report
defined human security as:

Firstly, safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression.
And secondly, it means protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in
the patterns of daily life—whether in homes, in jobs, or in communities.
Such threats can exist at all levels of national income and development.
(UNDP 1994: 23)1
  EXPLAINING AND UNDERSTANDING REGIONAL ECONOMIC…    105

Table 6.1  Summary of propositions relevant to our case studies

Systemic and other power-related explanaons ASEAN ECOWAS EC

P1 The REO undertakes conventional security functions to preclude external


powers’ intervention

P2 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks because the UN and/or


external Great Powers decline to intervene

P3 The REO undertakes conventional security functions to “domesticate”


an internal regional Great Power
P4 The REO undertakes conventional security functions because the regional
hegemon perceives its national security interests and regional security
interests as one and the same

Organizaonal and funconal explanaons

P5 The REO undertakes conventional security functions because it is the most


effective and efficient actor to address the security challenge due to its
in-depth knowledge, shared history, and/or smaller number of decision
makers relative to the larger UN
P6 The REO addresses the conventional security challenge because political
stability and security are required to achieve its economic objectives
(i.e. spontaneous, natural, or pure spillover)

P7 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks in frustration deriving


from previous failures
P8 The REO’s previous economic and political achievements encourage and
embolden it to augment its mission and take on conventional security
functions (e.g. cultivated spillover)

P9 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks to enhance its global


reputation

Ideaonal and social understandings

P10 Humanitarian values and norms prompt the REO to take on conventional
security tasks

P11 A regional cultural norm of “being your neighbor’s keeper” prompts


the REO to take on conventional security tasks

P12 The REO’s perception of existential threat prompts it to take on


conventional security functions

P13 The REO has taken on conventional security tasks because discourse has
“securitized” empirical events
P14 Constituting a “regional security complex,” the REO takes on conventional
security functions because it assumes that security challenges cannot
reasonably be resolved except on a regional basis
P15 The REO undertakes conventional security tasks because as a “pluralistic
security community” its “we feelings” and common identity translate into
the threat being perceived as a threat to all
106   M.L. BROWN

Under the banner of human security, individuals rather than states are
to be protected from a range of threats including fear, discrimination,
poverty, and disease. Human security scholars are wont to remind us that
more lives are lost to unclean drinking water and air pollution than to
conventional military threats. Nontraditional or nonconventional security
threats like transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, people and sex
trafficking, environmental degradation, and humanitarian and natural
disasters now crowd the global security agenda. The deeper and broader
challenges of human security are recognized by REOs and the “new”
regional literature (Warleigh-Lack et  al. 2011; Telo 2014; Frazer and
Bryant-Tokalau 2017).
At the outset of the twenty-first century, the United States’ World Trade
Center and Pentagon were attacked on 11 September 2001, and it initi-
ated wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The “Age of Terror” began wherein
non-state, networked actors like Al Queda and the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant (ISIL)2 dared to attack Great Powers, and actors around the
war embraced the discourse of “terror” to label their enemies. Widely pub-
licized, horrendous episodes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against
humanity and war crimes led the international community to pass resolu-
tions articulating the norm of the “responsibility to protect” in 2005.
What are the implications of these developments for regional economic
organizations and conventional security? Political and economic powers
are increasingly dispersed throughout the global system, and Great Powers
no longer possess the capacity, willingness, and legitimacy to maintain
global security. A telling example—when faced with a major economic
recession beginning in 2008, the EU and the United States convened the
Group of Twenty to manage the global meltdown. Rising powers includ-
ing Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the BRICS) increas-
ingly pursue political and economic objectives and create institutions
independent of Western leading powers.
With the simultaneous proliferation of regional organizations and secu-
rity referents and threats and the relative retreat of post-World War II
leaders, it will increasingly fall to regional organizations to step into the
breach. As regional economic organizations become more institutionally
sophisticated, a regionally based network of organizations is required to
replace the security architecture established at the end of World War II to
address the communist threat. A careful consideration of the factors that
describe and explain decision making within regional economic organiza-
tions to take on conventional security tasks will facilitate the creation and
  EXPLAINING AND UNDERSTANDING REGIONAL ECONOMIC…    107

consolidation of this new architecture. REOs will increasingly take on


these conventional and other security tasks because they understand that
political stability and security are preconditions for their economic objec-
tives and human security (freedom from fear and want) to be achieved. As
institutional manifestations of “regional security complexes,” REOs
understand that security threats cannot be reasonably addressed except on
a regional basis. The challenge is to develop the political will, institutional
and material capacities, experience, and regional security culture capable
of providing human security.

Notes
1. For further discussion about definitions of “human security,” see Paris
(2001) and Martin and Owen (2010).
2. ISIL is also known as Islamic State (IS), the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
(ISIS), and Daesh (its Arabic acronym).

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