Between Force and Legitimacy: Th e Worldview of Robert Cooper
Title: Between Force and Legitimacy: Th e Worldview of Robert Cooper
Author: FOLEY, Frank
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2007/09
Advisor to Javier Solana and a Director General at the European Council, Robert Cooper argues for an assertive European stance against threats while at the same time emphasising the importance of gaining international legitimacy for the EU’s actions abroad. This paper outlines how elements of a colonialist worldview inform the first part of Cooper’s proposed response to threats—force, preemptive if necessary, against terrorists and potentially aggressive ‘modern’ states. Yet Cooper is keenly aware that force by itself is unlikely to foster benign long term changes in unstable or potentially threatening parts of the world. Drawing on what he views as the ‘postmodern’ European achievement of peace and order between nations, Cooper argues that Europe and the West should strive to win legitimacy for their actions by consulting deeply with other countries and by making extensive financial and security commitments to the unstable regions where they intervene military. Fashioning a combination of realist, liberal and constructivist ideas, Cooper’s broadly coherent worldview is nevertheless marked by tensions between his conceptions of force and legitimacy. Demonstrating Cooper’s significant influence on the European Security Strategy, the paper concludes that the tensions in his thinking are significant not only for his individual worldview but also for an understanding of the conflicting impulses shaping the development of European foreign policy today.
Subject: Robert Cooper; EU; Foreign policy; European Security Strategy; Force; Legitimacy; Neo-colonialism; Realism; Liberalism; Constructivism
Type of Access: openAccess