Transatlantic Discord. Combating Terrorism and Proliferation, Preventing Crises

Transatlantic Discord: Combating Terrorism and Proliferation, Preventing Crises

Conference of the Austrian Political Science Association
Vienna, 1 to 2 December 2005

Location: Sala Terrena der Landesverteidigungsakademie, Stiftgasse 2a, 1070 Wien

At the beginning of the 21st century it has become increasingly evident that the transatlantic relationship, which had been held together by the Soviet threat for almost five decades, is characterized by dissent rather than harmony. The actual rift between the USA and Europe was repeatedly highlighted by controversies which evolved around incidents like the unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the decision to deploy a ballistic missile defense system, or the refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Tensions eventually reached a climax in the run-up to the intervention in Iraq with French and German opposition to join forces with the coalition of the willing against Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld’s coining of the division between old and new Europe.

Overall, the field of security and defense policy is a major, if not the main source of severe and recurring disputes in transatlantic relations. Although the National Security Strategy of the United States (2002) and the European Security Strategy (2003) share some common ground regarding the identification of terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and regional destabilization as main threats to their security, there are profound disagreements about how to avert and combat these threats. Cleavages include the legitimacy of unilateral actions or ad-hoc coalitions versus multilateral actions under the authority of the Security Council, or preventive versus preemptive use of force.

Focusing on the combat against terrorism, efforts against the proliferation of sensitive technologies, and crisis prevention, the conference covers three subjects of disagreement, which have had a considerable impact on the relationship between the USA and Europe. In order to give a well-balanced and comprehensive insight on these areas, the conference aims at bringing together experts from both sides of the Atlantic. This set of experts will analyze the respective positions, strategies, and measures, their causes and possible consequences on the future state of the transatlantic community.

The conference will be opened by two keynote speakers giving a fundamental and probably controversial impression of the U.S.-American and European point of view. The keynote speeches will be followed by three panels covering the management of existing and suspected threats, as well as the prevention of future threats:

· Counter- and Non-Proliferation: This initial panel discusses the field of proliferation, as well as ways and means (treaties, regimes, intervention) of encountering this growing global threat.

· Counter-Terrorism: The second panel focuses on concepts and strategies in the combat against terrorism (‘war against global terrorism’ versus ‘global war against terrorism’) and its legal and geopolitical implications.

· Crisis Prevention: This last panel will elaborate and analyze different approaches of the USA and Europe towards the prevention of crises and their implications on global security management.

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