The European Union’s Asia-Pacific strategies and policies at the crossroads
Weiqing Song and Jianwei Wang
This introduction provides the background, rationale and objectives of the book. It first provides some history of the EU’s presence in the Asia-Pacific, followed by a discussion of the challenges and opportunities that the EU is currently facing in the region. The focus then turns to the need for the EU to rethink its strategic priorities and policies in the region, introducing various questions and issues. It concludes with a summary of the book structure.
The Union began gaining competence in external relations in 1993 after the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty. Since then the EU has struggled to increase its international presence, and public diplomacy has been one option in the toolbox. In terms of traditional diplomacy, the role and weight of the EU in Asia have been less prominent compared to unitary actors such as the US and Russia; the Union’s public visibility and awareness among the Asian public have also lagged behind. This chapter is devoted to examining the public diplomacy programme of the EU in Asia, to determine how it has (or has not) contributed to the EU’s rapprochement with Asia. It focuses on the EU’s public diplomacy in countries of the ASEAN+3 group. These are subdivided into Northeast Asia (China, Japan and South Korea, which are three of the EU’s ten strategic partners) and Southeast Asia (the ten member states of ASEAN). This study excludes public diplomacy of the individual member states of the EU. The timeframe monitored is between 1994 and the present, as in 1994 the EU published the New Asia Strategy, which marked the beginning of the EU’s rediscovery of Asia.
Over the past 15 years, Brussels’s partnership with Tokyo has become more goal-oriented and has acquired a certain strategic dimension. EU and Japanese leaders, along with many observers, admit that so far the potential for bilateral co-operation continues to exceed the achievements. This chapter examines the evolving EU–Japan strategic partnership, focusing on the relationship’s politico-security dimension. The discussion explores the motivations of both sides to strengthen ties, the factors that improve and inhibit co-operation and the main joint initiatives and policies. ‘New’ opportunities for co-operation are found to have emerged, in particular in the maritime security domain, while some of the ‘old’ constraints have receded, such as those associated with Japan’s international security role, and the EU’s approach to Asia beyond the ‘China only’ dimension. The geopolitical environment of both Europe and the Asia-Pacific is also undergoing major shifts, and longstanding structural limitations affecting the roles of the EU and Japan in each other’s neighbourhoods persist. All this suggests that the search for a more effective and genuinely strategic partnership is positioned to continue, while the outcome remains more, rather than less, uncertain.
Representation, recognition and possibilities for transformative change
The objective of this book is to provide insight into how representations of one state by another influence foreign policymaking behaviour, with a particular emphasis on the reciprocal representations of the United States and Iran. It argues that representations matter in foreign policymaking. How an actor is represented, or wishes to be represented, influences its actions. Desire to cultivate a certain image of the Self, to be recognised in a particular way, is driven by a feeling of disrespect that manifests through misrecognition. Analyses of representations provide critical purchase for understanding international conflict, such as disagreements over Iran’s nuclear program, because misrecognition is emotionally powerful. It can create feelings of disrespect that underlie foreign policy crises. In this conclusion the main claims of this book are revisited and a brief consideration of the enduring power of representation and recognition in world politics is provided.
Identity is a powerful force in shaping foreign policy. Yet identity is not a rigid category; rather, there are different domestic and international factors that interact and develop a cohesive image of who a state believes itself to be. Regardless of the uniqueness and variation in state identities that exist, there are a core set of ideational structures that help to produce an imagined state Self, which then influences foreign policy. This chapter focuses in particular on the United States and its state identity with reference to history, culture and national mission. It is important to analyse state identity because projections of identity inform a state’s foreign policy direction. Before we can understand the impact that representations and recognition have in interstate relations, we first need to understand which factors constitute state identity itself. Understanding the core elements that feed into the framework of state identity allows for a deeper appreciation of state behaviour. Such an appreciation of state identity will, in turn, also facilitate an understanding of how representations influence foreign policymaking.
Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
This chapter introduces the main objective of my book: to demonstrate how representation and recognition influence foreign policy, with specific reference to Iran and the United States, and the methodology used in the study. It explores the connection between representations and recognition and how these are informed by feelings of respect or disrespect that instigate the projection or protection of state identity. The key argument of this book is that representations are important because they shape both the identity of a state and how it is recognised by others. Representational schemas are key to producing images of state Self and Other that act to reinforce or re-imagine frameworks of national identity. Recognition plays a crucial role in the process because inadequate or failed recognition is tantamount to what quickly becomes perceived as disrespect. Disrespect acts as a trigger for foreign policy that is in itself an emotional reaction or response to particular representations. Emotions are linked to the constitution of a collective identity, which in turn has implications for the forms and types of representations that are used to talk about the Self and the Other. Such emotional division is part of a broader process of boundary making that informs interstate engagement.
In this chapter the case study of representations that frame Iran–United States foreign policy discourse continues. The key objective is to examine Iranian representations of itself, the US and Iran’s nuclear program. It argues that Iran represents itself as a Shi’a state, progressive, triumphing over adversity, and represents the US as a bully, deceitful, meddling and threatening. Iran’s representations form a particular discursive framework through which it understands the US and its response to Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian representations of the US are well established within a Self–Other framework, particularly in terms of religion as a civilisational discourse. However, the rhetoric Iran employs challenges the US representational hierarchy of a dominant US and Iran as the subaltern. Iranian representations reinforce its agency as a state and its position of power in the international system, whereas the US is represented as a bully focused on undermining Iran. The historical narratives Iran uses to represent both itself and the US are the 1953 Mossadegh coup and the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War, which emphasise the intimidating and imperialist nature of the US.
This chapter illustrates how the components feeding into Iranian state identity have been continually negotiated and (re)constructed over time. Iranian state identity under the Pahlavi shahs, from 1925 until the overthrow of the last shah in 1979, is often understood as completely distinct from the post-Iranian Revolution identity framework introduced under the Islamic Republic from 1979 onwards. While Iranian state identity was, and continues to be, constituted in unique ways that manifest as two different sets of representations of what Iran is and how Iran should behave, there is nevertheless a strong convergence as to what constitutes Iranian identity: evoking a unique and powerful state that deserves respect. Iranian state identity is explored through the broad categories of history, cultural traditions and national mission. The boundaries between each ideational category often overlap or complement one another within and across these diachronically separate time periods. Yet one element is shared between the Pahlavi dynasty and Islamic Republic eras: the desire for Iran to be recognised as a unique, powerful and deserving of respect.
This chapter examines the role of recognition in foreign policy. It argues that the powerful links between recognition and representation can best be appreciated through a focus on emotions. Conceptualising emotions as part of the struggle for recognition provides a clear mechanism for understanding why states choose to act in defence of an identity, rather than accepting or rethinking how they are recognised. Engaging with the emotional issue of disrespect within the struggle for recognition offers a key for navigating the reasons behind specific foreign policy decisions. States respond to representations of themselves that do not fit with their own constructed image, claiming misrecognition. How states represent and recognise one another has implications for how they behave: this can trigger political crises or open potential avenues for peace. Such a focus allows us to understand how the politics of representation influences foreign policy, and vice versa, creating a deeper comprehension of how and why shifts in policymaking evolve.
This chapter illustrates the links between representation and foreign policy. It argues that representation and foreign policy are inextricably linked, but how states respond to these representations is not fully examined. Representations of Self and Other are also informed by the historical narratives states hold about themselves. In order to understand how a state receives different representations of itself to that which it has artfully cultivated, and to what extent these impact on the dynamics of its identity construction, we must examine its ability and strength to project reinterpreted representational schema in response. Knowledge of how a state, represented by others, manoeuvres its foreign policy can offer insight into how policymaking shifts discursively in all polities concerned.