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Cosmopolitan Strategic Culture

Lorraine Elliott and Graeme Cheeseman

On 24 June 2004, the Centre hosted a workshop on cosmopolitan strategic culture in a globalising world followed, on 25 June, by a half-day conference on the United Nations and the use of force. The workshop and conference were organised by Lorraine Elliott, University of Warwick and Graeme Cheeseman, Visiting Fellow at CSGR, under their Cosmopolitan Militaries project which is based at the Australian National University and funded by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace.

The June workshop followed two earlier events under this project. A workshop at Balliol College, Oxford, in July 2002, explored the theoretical and philosophical assumptions about deploying militaries for cosmopolitan or cosmopolitan-minded purposes involving the use of force to defend and protect those who are the victims of tyranny and the gross abuse of human rights. An international conference at the Australian National University in November 2002 examined operational themes and challenges through a number of institutional and country case studies. It became clear at this conference that the strategic, political and social cultural context is central to how states understand their international role and their willingness to deploy force to protect distant strangers and the June workshop was convened to focus on this specific issue.

The workshop began with an explanation of the project and an introduction to the specific issues under discussion by Lorraine Elliott and Graeme Cheeseman. This was followed by a session on the concept of strategic culture and a presentation by Theo Farrell (University of Exeter) that emphasised a constructivist interpretation of culture as norms. The discussion drew attention to the distinctions and relationship between strategic culture and military culture. In the next session, Peter Lawler (University of Manchester), Terry Terriff (University of Birmingham) and Annika Bergman (University of Edinburgh) revisited the role of culture, and specifically strategic culture, in the case studies that they had presented at the November 2002 conference. Peter Lawler’s work on the concept of the good state provided the context for this discussion. Terry Terriff’s analysis of both NATO and the EU and Annika Bergman’s study on the Nordic states offered specific examples of the relationship between a culture influenced by an internationalist foreign policy (sometimes referred to as good international citizenship), the use of military force and the ways in which militaries undertake their missions. The first day finished with a session, led by Nick Wheeler, University of Wales Aberystwyth, on the concept of the ‘cosmopolitan patriot’.

The half-day conference focused on the role of the United Nations in cosmopolitan-minded military deployments. Tori Holt, from the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington DC, drew on her recent co-authored book to talk about the future of peace operations under UN auspices. Trevor Findlay, from the verification NGO, VERTIC, reported on the major findings of his book on the United Nations and the use of force.