Howard College Impact of Culture on Politics and Security in Europe Discussion


Question:  How does culture impact politics and security issues in Europe? Please provide specific examples.
Introduction to Europe

Required Lesson Material: Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: “European Union.” Read all.
The Central Intelligence Agency maintains current information on countries around the world. This data provides students with a rudimentary introduction to the diverse countries located in Europe. Students should examine this material, paying close attention to the background of the European Union. Students should also become familiar with other important aspects of European culture contained in the report to include geography, population, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues.
European Demographics European (750 million) Russians (110 million)
Germans (82 million)
French (65 million)
Italians (60 million)
British (60 million)
Spanish (47 million)
Ukrainians (45 million)
Poles (38 million)
II. Culture in Europe
There are many cultural issues in contemporary Europe. One of the most significant is religion. Students should watch the following video discussing the Swiss Minaret Ban. They should consider whether or not the Swiss Referendum shows a fear of Islam. In addition, students should determine which rights shall prevail; the rights of migrants for self-expression and religious freedom or the rights of the receiving communities for preserving their cultures and identity. The ultimate question for students to consider is whether or not the securitization of religion can be justified by national security needs.
Required Lesson Material: Videos. Swiss Minaret Ban. Watch all. If you cannot view the video, click hereIf you cannot view the video, click here
Required Lesson Material: Akbar Ahmed, “To Understand Europe’s Immigration Crisis, Listen to the Voiceless Illegals,” Huffington Post, updated April 22, 2015, accessed August 8, 2016,  Read all.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing desperate and deadly times in their homelands.  They seek basic needs we often take for granted, such as food, water, shelter, freedom from violence and oppression.  This influx of migrants has fueled Zenophobia, the fear or hatred of foreigners or essentially anything that is strange or foreign.  European Zenophobia has at times led to violence and extreme pressure on governments to control immigrants, sometimes in similar ways as the countries they fled.  When you read this piece, pay particular attention to the contrast between areas receiving migrants, particularly between mainland Italy and Sicily.  Put yourselves in their shoes and keep in mind the United States is a country founded by immigrants from Europe fleeing oppression.  A balance must be struck between security of a nation and humane treatment. 
III. Politics in Europe
One of the main political issues in Europe is the European Union. Europe is a region with a long tradition of nationalism. For example, see the below picture jokingly illustrating how Germans view Europe. The European Union is an attempt to unite the various individual countries throughout the region in a common organization.

Required Lesson Material: Videos. European Union. Watch all. If you cannot view the video, click hereIf you cannot view the video, click here
In these short videos of the European Union, students should look for both benefits and challenges of the European Union. Among them are cultural, political, and economic challenges and opportunities.
Required Lesson Material: Leonard, Mark and Hans Kundnani. “Think Again: European Decline.” Foreign Policy 200 (2013): 46-50. Read all.
In this article, Mark Leonard and Hans Kundnani characterize the contemporary situation in Europe and counter other observers’ arguments that the region is in decline. The authors contend that while the region faces significant challenges, there are many factors that are in Europe’s favor. The authors write
“United in Diversity”
“These days, many speak of Europe as if it has already faded into irrelevance. In the words of American pundit Fareed Zakaria, ‘it may well turn out that the most consequential trend of the next decade will be the economic decline of Europe.’ According to Singaporean scholar Kishore Mahbubani, Europe ‘does not get how irrelevant it is becoming to the rest of the world.’ Not a day went by on the 2012 U.S. campaign trail, it seemed, without Republican challenger Mitt Romney warning that President Barack Obama was—gasp—turning the United States into a ‘European social welfare state…. But the declinists would do well to remember a few stubborn facts. Not only does the European Union remain the largest single economy in the world, but it also has the world’s second-highest defense budget after the United States…. The EU’s GDP per capita in purchasing-power terms is still nearly four times that of China, three times Brazil’s, and nearly nine times India’s. If this is decline, it sure beats living in a rising power ” (46-47).
Required Lesson Material: McMenamin, Iain. “Varieties of Capitalist Democracy: What Difference Does East-Central Europe Make?” Journal of Public Policy 24/3 (2004): 259-74. Read all.
In this article, Iain McMenamin of Dublin City University examines the politics of Europe. Specifically, the author analyzes the emergence of capitalist democracies in East-Central Europe, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The author also explores the implications of this dynamic for the European Union. Students should pay particular attention to the role of politics both in specific European countries and within the European Union. The author writes, “The collapse of European communism and the admission of East-Central European states to the European Union and OECD raises the question: how many varieties of capitalist democracy exist today? Given the sharp divergence between the communist states and the capitalist democracies for over 40 years, the former communist states make an intriguing groups for investigating the global diversity of capitalist democracy” (259).
IV. Security in Europe
The European Union faces an array of security challenges, not the least of which is coordinating a coherent strategy representing the diverse viewpoints of EU member nations. In addition, coordinating the administration, leadership, and logistics of the EU military operations is challenging to say the least.

Required Lesson Material: Biscop, Sven. “Peace without Money, War Without Americans: Challenges for European Strategy.” International Affairs 89/5 (2013): 1125-42. Read all.
In this article, Sven Biscop examines both the challenges and promises of European strategy. In doing so, the author examines some of the major challenges confronting both individual European countries and the larger European Union. Some of the challenges that Biscop highlights are the following: “preventing threats against Europe’s territory from materializing;”
“keeping open all lines of interaction with the world, notably sea lanes and cyberspace;”
“assuring the supply of energy and other natural resources;”
“managing migration, to maintain both a viable workforce and a viable social system;”
“mitigating the impact of climate change;”
“strengthening international law, notably the UN charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a foundation and underpinning of international stability;”
“preserving the autonomy of decision-making by preventing undue dependence on any foreign power” (1129).Required Lesson Material: Cornish, Paul and Geoffrey Edwards. “The Strategic Culture of the European Union: A Progress Report.” International Affairs 81/4 (2005): 801-20. Read all.
In this International Affairs article, Paul Cornish and Geoffrey Edwards consider the strategic culture of the European Union. Students should pay particular attention to ways in how the European Union approaches contemporary security issues and how European strategic culture compares to U.S. approaches to the same issues. The authors write that “After many years of strategic rivalry with NATO (often more perceived than real, but never entirely without substance), the EU’s security and defense project has benefited recently from an improved, more constructive relationship between these two institutions. It is difficult to see how it could be in the EU’s interest for rivalry between it and NATO (or, more generally, between Europe and the United States) to be reawakened.

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