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Between Apathy and Adaptation: Euro-Atlantic Security Architecture under Revisionist Pressure

European Union
NATO
Security
Tomáš Karásek
Charles University
Tomáš Karásek
Charles University

Abstract

The surprise over the developments in Ukraine since 2014 has led to a situation that is rather paradoxical: a readjustment of the European Union and NATO to face a security challenge from Russia. The paradox stems from the fact that not only NATO but to a large degree also European integration were in fact founded on the premise of facing and resisting the Soviet threat. For the majority of their historical existence, these organizations developed, adapted and, most importantly, prospered not only next to but essentially vis-à-vis the menace represented by their Cold War’s ‘Other’. Strategic competition was, metaphorically speaking, imprinted in the organizations’ institutional DNA. There are numerous ways of analyzing institutional adaptation. This paper adopts the strategic cultural perspective of institutions, regarding them primarily as an expression of a strategic purpose. Recent studies (see Meyer 2006) highlighted the consensus on expeditionary forms of the use of force by Euro-Atlantic allies. Alas, the paper will test evidence to the opposite, evaluating the scope and depth of renewed commitment to shape the institutions of European and Euro-Atlantic security architecture as components in strategic competition with the newly resurgent and revisionist Russia. In doing so, it will focus on two ‘front line’ cases of NATO’s High Readiness Joint Task Force and the EU’s anti-propaganda task force, both publicly presented as a response to the new strategic predicament. The paper will provide a comprehensive evaluation of these initiatives, analyzing their discursive roots, political framing, organizational embedding as well as funding mechanisms. In an environment historically marked by an ability to hype an new policy initiative to absurd levels, the article will ask whether the Euro-Atlantic security architecture exhibits real signs of institutional adaptation to the new security environment, or whether the result is yet another in a series of capability-expectations gaps.