Europe and the US: Democracy and security after 11 September

Led by Ola Tunander
May 2011
During the Cold War, NATO, to a large extent, streamlined the West European security identity into a US-European (‘Atlantic’) identity in conflict with the Soviet bloc in the east. In Western Europe, the duality between the ‘national’ and the ‘Atlantic’ existed at the time, also in form of a duality between a ‘democratic state’ and a ‘security state’, which the project has presented in case studies of Italy and Sweden, as well as in a general conceptual study. After the Cold War, there is increasingly a European demand for an identity different from the Atlantic one, while the USA seemingly is using the War on Terror and the events of September 11 to regain a unified ‘US-Atlantic identity’. The European focus on a political-economic legal order is competing with the US focus on a political-military world order trying to hijack the European ‘security state’ for its own purpose. The conflicts over the Iraq war were primarily about which security identity will prevail.

Since September 11, the US has worked to create an anti-terrorist coalition that not only coordinates and streamlines foreign and security policy, as the traditional NATO did, but also shapes the security role of the domestic police apparatus. Thus while Europe appears to have its own identity, it has received a new security identity through the US reconfiguration of security on the global level. Crime, ethnic conflicts and migration, together with the rights, privileges and obligations inherent in the Schengen Agreement have forced the EU into the role of policing its borders. Yet these ‘chaotic developments’ are not primarily defined in terms of ‘security’. European identity is no longer or not primarily the identity of the ‘security state’. It is no longer a state entity in a state of war with its hierarchies of secrecy, but primarily the democratic public space that defines European identity. Europe’s ties to the US, remain, however, to a large extent defined in security terms. This is not because of any potential transatlantic military conflict, but rather because the US has an increasing technological lead in military affairs and a dominant role in existing security structures. Because of its central role in NATO and in the Atlantic security community the US can to large extent impose its own security policy upon the Europeans. At present, from a European perspective, the EU and the European states appear primarily as ‘democratic states’, while the US more often than not enters the scene as a ‘security state’. And the European states compete in being helpful to the US effort, while at the same time resisting excessive activism. This project has explored to what extent the ‘dual state’ (democratic state / security state), in fact corresponds to a geographic European-US divide.

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