The Transformation of Post-Cold War World Order

Postgraduate students on the module POPP 5021 Post-Cold War World Order were asked to group-author a short blog post introducing some of the key issues they encountered in studying this period of recent international history and phase in international relations, as we neared the end of the module. The post below contains their reflections on some key issues in post-Cold War world order, and how these issues have enabled the complex and confrontational global geopolitics of 2017.


Since the collapse of communism in eastern Europe between 1989 and 1991 the world has been riven by change. In particular, the dissolution of the ‘bipolar’ Cold War world order, the grand ideological, political, economic and military face-off between the liberal-capitalist US and its allies and the communist USSR and its allies, has resulted in major changes.

In this post we explore three aspects of the transformation of post-Cold War world order, in an effort to contribute to current efforts to understand the turbulent world of international relations in 2017.  

We argue that:

  • While the bipolar order of the Cold War came to an end after 1991, we nevertheless continue to live in a deeply divided world.
  • The technological innovations that have characterised the post-Cold War era have furthered some of these divisions, especially in their appropriation by the ‘War on Terror’.
  • One result of these changes in post-Cold War world order has been a recent resurgence of nationalism.
  1. A divided world: International tensions in post-Cold War world order

Arguably the tension between Western ‘liberal democracies’ and non-liberal states has been as much a defining feature of the post-Cold War world order as was the tension between communism and capitalism during the Cold War.

Today, we see remnants of older geopolitical disputes between western liberal-democratic states led by the USA and the authoritarian, non-democratic states including the so-called ‘Axis of Evil’ nations such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea. Moreover, the profound contrast between these two ideologies has riven the socio-economic structure of the globe, evidently seen within intergovernmental agents such as the United Nations and World Trade Organisation. Contributing factors that continually highlight the stark differences include freedom of the press, immigration restriction, and economic exploitation. Recently, the coercive economic sanctions deployed upon Russia amid its annexation of Crimea in 2014 has proven that the tension between democratic and non-democratic norms remains crucial in post-Cold War world order.

For example, the results of the Arab Spring have underpinned the meaning of the freedom of the press by illustrating the restrictions towards dissidents such as Egyptian Al-Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein who has been imprisoned for over four months. There has also been increased hostility between governments and civilian opposition groups that has enabled the development and influence of terrorist networks. Technology has been a primary instrument of terrorist groups, enabling their agents to successfully recruit insurgents with social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Twitter. Through this virtual platform, non-state aggressors have become arguably successful in carrying out their agenda abroad to engender continuous conflict.

  1. Technologies of globalisation: From 9/11 to the Arab Spring

The post cold war era has been marked by great technological changes, such as wireless network technologies which was vastly improved after 9/11. New technologies for emergency situations called ad hoc wireless technology emerged which allowed computers, cell phones and other devices to communicate with one another if a main server is disturbed like it was in 9/11 then computers and other devices could form networks with one another to keep communication intact.

Further innovations have been made in airport security such as border control, visas and airline security. Other advancements include better scanners, facial recognition systems and other advanced imaging systems that have all made flying more restrictive than ever were introduced to improve security at airports. The US visit system now uses digital fingerprints and photographic images to identify people entering the country borders.

Technological developments post 9/11 have caused military forces to become more effective in their counter terrorism missions. Ground forces now utilize new systems to cope with improvised explosive devices, the detection of chemical biological and nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction. Air forces can now perform dangerous missions with next generation drone aircraft and land technology which are operated from secure locations a safe distance from targeted sites.

Technological advancements were also vital during the Arab spring, which caused a revolution in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Young protesters were mobilizing via social media to organize protests which was crucial to the revolution and also was used as tool to create awareness to the rest of the world. The advancement of smartphones in the early 2000’s has allowed every person to have immediate access to the internet, and to social media communication at all times. This enabled the young people to engage with the revolution.

However, at the nexus between the two post-Cold War changes discussed so far – the ongoing and even increasing divisions between states and societies, and the rise of internet-based technologies – we have seen a troubling development: the resurgence of nationalism.

  1. The resurgence of nationalism

The 11th September 2001 attacks in the US were the beginning of a dramatic shift in post-Cold War international relations. Despite the fact that Al Qaeda declared war with America in 1996, it was not at the forefront of American foreign policy until the collapse of the twin towers; an event that became emblematic of a huge threat to American national security.  Following from this event, the resurgence of nationalism was propelled through a mixture of discourse, public diplomacy and fear.

Donald Rumsfeld, as he discusses the new threat that emerged post 9/11, describes it in the following way:

they will either succeed in changing our way of life, or we will succeed in changing theirs (cited in Buzan, 2006:1101).

Post-Cold war US dominance removed the previous checks on US action and allowed more preemptive intervention. Terrorism become the ‘new enemy’ and terrorists the new communists. US reaction had a destabilising effect throughout the Middle East, leading to an increase in the number of refugees, which in turn caused greater anxiety in neighbouring countries. This fuelled a rise in nationalism, protectionism and xenophobia.  After the 9/11 attacks, the United States saw a rise in Islamophobia. The FBI reported a 1,700% increase in 2001. Prior to 9/11, the FBI recorded just 28 hate crimes against Muslims. The following year it increased to 481. More recently, the threat of terrorism in America has been at the forefront of Trump’s presidential agenda, with the ban on Muslim arrivals from selected countries that include: Sudan, Libya, Syria and Iran.  Trump justified this executive order as one that ‘is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe’, placing this threat at the heart of American nationalism, catalysing xenophobia and marginalising Muslims as ‘others’.


As we have shown, while the election of Donald Trump in 2017 may have come as a surprise to many, it is in keeping with a number of key trends in post-Cold War world order. The collapse of the USSR and the bipolar world order did not eliminate major divisions between the states and societies of the world. New divisions have come to the fore. And as new global technologies have emerged – which have offered new modes of political action and engagement – they have also been central to entrenching, rather than undermining, some of these divisions. The rise of nationalism in the West and its relationship to the War on Terror demonstrates a longer-term trajectory of conflict and upheaval in post-Cold War world politics.

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Progressives and the politics of expertise

‘Experts’ have been in the news a lot recently. Prominent Vote Leave campaigners in the run-up to last year’s EU membership referendum, including Michael Gove, suggested that we should reject the views of ‘experts’ who insisted that Brexit would be disastrous for the UK. This anti-expert sentiment seems to be more widely held, and has been a central aspect of the transnational surge in what is being called ‘right wing populism’, from UKIP supporters to Trump voters.

The response of many left-of-centre or ‘progressive’ commentators and politicians has been to denounce this anti-expert tendency as anti-intellectualism. A cartoon in the New Yorker earlier this week depicted passengers demanding to be allowed to take the controls of an airliner because the pilots are elitist and “have lost touch with regular passengers like us”. This sort of mocking attitude toward the critique of government by expert is not only unhelpful in terms of developing political conversation and bridge-building at a time of increasing polarisation, but seems curiously elitist.

Progressive, left wing politics used to centre on the notion of creating social change in order to bring about fairer, more equal, less stratified societies. Progressives, in diametric opposition to conservatives (who sought to ‘conserve’ social order, including traditional elites and hierarchies), were engaged in a sustained critique of elitism with the aim of overthrowing it. So why do they now seek to defend government by experts, an explicitly elitist model of politics?

In a longer blog for the Huffington Post (click here to read), I argue that one of the achievements of neoliberalism as the dominant theory and practice that defines the horizons of our political economic life today has been to convince many people – progressives included – that economics in particular is a science identical to natural sciences like physics and that ‘the economy’ is a natural phenomenon to be studied. Yet social and natural sciences are fundamentally different.

Experts on aspects of the social world such as politics and economics can and should be challenged (the neoliberal consensus among many economic ‘experts’ led us to the global financial crisis of 2007, the effects of which we are still feeling today). Knowledge and expertise about the social world and socially produced phenomena like the economy are inescapably ‘value-laden’, partisan, normative. In other words, particular understandings of politics and economics, however ‘expert’, always represent particular interests, social groups and individuals differently. Politics and economics are not neutral, and our knowledge of them is categorically different to a pilot’s knowledge of how to fly an aeroplane. So progressives may wish to think again about their position on the politics of expertise as they respond to the unfolding challenges before them in the era of Brexit and Trump, or risk losing some of their own core values in the debate.

Dr. Ben Whitham, Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics and Public Policy at De Montfort University, Leicester.

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Fear and loathing in the Casey Review: How Islamophobia and scaremongering in mainstream British politics enable right wing populism

This morning Dame Louise Casey published the Casey Review, a “review into integration and opportunity”, which was ordered by David Cameron and Theresa May when Cameron was Prime Minister. The review rightly highlights issues of social mobility and gender disparity as “regressive” tendencies that curtail the potential of millions of British people. However, this specific content is much less important than the wider discursive framing of the review, and the sub-set of the population it makes its target. This review is really about British Muslims, and in this post I want to consider some reasons why we should be concerned about this.

Casey lays out the remit of her review in the following way in the foreword:

“I wanted to consider what divides communities and gives rise to anxiety, prejudice, alienation and a sense of grievance; and to look again at what could be done to fight the injustice that where you are born or live in this country, your background or even your gender, can affect how you get on in modern Britain”.

This might lead us to expect a thoroughgoing report, covering a wide range of different communities and the various class-based, religious, ethno-national and gender identities that constitute them. We might also, as social scientists, anticipate a range of complex and multi-causal tendencies to be identified at the root of these social problems. Instead, it is clear from the first few pages that the focus is really going to be on Muslims alone. In fact, in the entire report, which runs to fewer than 200 pages, Casey uses the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Muslims’ 249 times, with ‘Islam’, ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’ being used a further 100 times. By contrast, the words ‘Jew’ and ‘Jewish’ garner a total of 22 uses and the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ a total of 23. ‘Christian’, ‘Christians’ and Christianity’, meanwhile, are mentioned a total of 35 times in the report.

What the constant, disproportionate[1] references to Muslims and Islam – averaging significantly more than one mention per page of the report – implies is that the author considers this religion a hugely important factor in the life chances and opportunities of Britons today. But this message is transmitted in the form of quiet ideological cues or a so-called “dog whistle”, where the articulated topic of the report is “opportunities and integration” in general, but the message we are meant to take away is that Muslims tend to be regressive in their attitudes towards women, families, education and work.

While specific references to other ethno-national identities, such as being of “Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage” are made, these are subordinated to the notion of “Muslims of…” said heritage. Casey’s view is, unambiguously, though implicitly, that Islam itself is the key variable here – that it is the Muslim-ness, rather than, say, the Pakistani-ness or the male-ness or the white-ness or the working class-ness, or any other characteristic, that drives social division and curbs the ability of, especially, girls and young women to realise their potential.

In keeping with themes established by the last Labour government’s ‘Prevent’ counter-terrorism strategy, and developed by David Cameron from his 2010 speech to the Munich Security Conference onward, Casey also implies that the sorts of “regressive” behaviour she attributes to British Muslims in terms of attitudes to women, education and work, are in some mostly unspecified ways linked to “Islamism” and “extremism”, and so, ultimately, to terrorism. And here we arrive at the real meaning of the Casey Review. This is a policy exercise that, relying on the background assumption that the existence of “Islamist” terrorism makes all Muslims to some extent suspects by default, seeks to tie together disparate strands or narratives about very real social problems (economic and gender inequality, sexism, homophobia, patriarchy, exploitation and coercive control) around an imagined figure of the British Muslim.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this use of ideological cues and “dog whistles” by mainstream political actors to weave together social anxieties about race, religion, immigration and gender – intersecting around the figure of the British Muslim and the barely acknowledged idea that all Muslims are at least potential terrorists – is the reactionary right wing politics it has enabled outside of that mainstream. UKIP’s referendum campaign played upon these anxieties about Muslims, primarily through the claim that refugees, many of whom are currently coming from majority-Muslim countries, include clandestine would-be terrorists. Similarly, Donald Trump’s repugnant pledge to “ban all Muslims” from entering the US won him greater support on the right, and was doubtless instrumental in his winning the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.

The fact that that word – Nazi – has become alive again in our political vernacular should be a cause of real terror. At a recent “policy” event in the Ronald Reagan building, the largest federal building in Washington DC, in the heart of the mainstream political machine, hundreds of suited young white men of the National Policy Institute gave straight-armed fascist salutes and screamed “hail Trump” in unison. This sort of neo-fascism will certainly seek to further marginalise and oppress many and varied already marginalised and oppressed identities, from all non-hetero sexual orientations and transgender identities, to all black people, immigrants and refugees. But it will also require, for its success, the same sort of singular, clearly identifiable figure that fascism 1.0 found in Jewish people – a hate figure to coalesce around, to politically obsess and fantasise over. The danger is that our mainstream politicians have already provided one through the systematic out-casting and demonization of Muslims and the ill-informed policy exercises targeting an imagined homogeneous “Muslim community”.

It is only by focusing public attention on a single group like this, that fascists can slowly win the acquiescence of (and thus suppress the opposition of) various other potentially resistant social groups. This is why Niemoller’s famous “first they came for…” poem perfectly captures the dynamic of fascism as a populist movement. Since 9/11, and especially after 7/7, an ever-increasing attention has been paid to the imagined threats posed by Muslims to British society. Confused and ineffectual counter-terrorism policy has contributed to this ramping up of tension, and to the singling out of British Muslims as a “suspect community”, but work like the Casey Review has also underwritten the accelerated social out-casting of British Muslims in recent years. In the guise of research into “what divides communities and gives rise to anxiety, prejudice, alienation and a sense of grievance”, this report feeds on and in turn reproduces the Islamophobic trope that ties socially conservative families, with their sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other bigotry, to extremism and terrorism and thus to an existential threat to “our values” or “way of life”. The non-Muslim, white British atheist, agnostic and Christian families practicing patriarchy, sexism, homophobia and coercive control get off scot-free in the Casey Review because it is not really about these issues at all. It is about finding the right kind of evidence to further ostracise British Muslims. In this sense, to borrow once more from Casey’s foreword, the report itself may be an object lesson in how to divide communities and give rise to anxiety, prejudice, alienation and a sense of grievance. This was a poorly conceived and executed review, published at the worst possible time, and seems likely to sow only further seeds of division.

[1] 59.3 per cent of British people identified as Christian at the last census, compared with 4.8 per cent who identified as Muslim.

Dr. Ben Whitham, Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics and Public Policy at De Montfort University, Leicester.

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Congress to Campus 2016

It’s that time of year again, when Congress to Campus (C2C) rolls into town, including two DMU events on November 29 and 30. This annual week-long programme consists of two former members of the US Congress (FMCs) visiting a range of institutions around the UK. DMU has been a great supporter of C2C since its UK inception a decade ago, and has helped to ensure the longevity and success of the initiative. DMU Emeritus Professor Philip Davies does a sterling job of keeping the show on the road throughout the week.

This year, our American visitors are Honorable Martin Frost (Democrat-Texas) and The Honorable Phil Gingrey (Republican-Georgia) and the theme of the DMU events will, inevitably, be the 2016 US presidential race. With an outcome that has stunned America and the wider world, there could hardly be a more exciting (some might say terrifying!) time to discuss US politics.

From 7-8pm on Tuesday 29 November, the FMCs will discuss the election results and what a Trump victory means for their country and the international community. There will be time for Q&A, so attendees are encouraged to bring probing questions. To book a place at this public event, please email

On Wednesday 30 November, DMU will host a one-day conference for sixth-form students, along with DMU undergraduates. Again, the former members of Congress will participate, and will be joined by guest speakers from DMU and beyond. In addition, recent DMU graduate Natalie Williams will give a talk on her experience working on the Clinton campaign in the US this year. Interest in this year’s conference has been unprecedented, doubtless thanks to the Trump Factor. Places are strictly limited, and reservations can be made via As well as considerations on the election results, the schedule includes talks on the US Presidency and the Supreme Court. The final  session will involve the FMCs in conversation, reflecting on their Congressional careers and offering insights on how the US government really works.

Posted on behalf of Dr Clodagh Harrington

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Intra-European migration discourses in the Netherlands

My PhD research is about European free movement. Or about migration. Or mobility. No about both. Since it is about how different authorities talk about free movement, it is about the contested perceptions on free movement, sometimes referred to as European mobility AND migration. And in Britain I regularly do not need to explain that there are contested perceptions on this topic…But also in other member-states this is the case. In France, the ‘Polish plumber’ played a significant role in the rejection of the EU constitution in 2005, in Sweden there are fierce debates around ‘new’ beggars and homeless people and the Dutch vice-prime minister called upon a ‘Code Orange’ for a better awareness on the ‘shadow sides’ of free movement. So it illustrates free movement of workers as a strongly contested and controversial topic in which ‘a variety of perspectives’ play a role.

Therefore in my PhD research I study the politics of intra-European movement discourses on the level of the European Commission and the Dutch national and local level. For that aim I collected data (within the research project IMAGINATION, see:, such as qualitative semi-structured interviews with politicians, stakeholders and policymakers next to desk research of parliamentary statements and policy documents.

As a preliminary result I see that the discursive divergence between the Dutch and European level has institutional consequences in terms of divergence between policies, laws and legislation. It gives an insightful understanding about the contestation between member-states and the European Commission and the fierce political debates that went along. In extreme cases, it sometimes evolved into policy deadlocks, policy stalemates or ‘dialogues of the deaf’. This study gives insights and aims to better understand the institutional contestation related to European migration and mobility.

From the beginning of September onwards to the end of December I will work at De Montfort University to strengthen my understanding of this policy contestation. In close collaboration with Prof Steven Griggs and his expertise on governments, policy contestation and discursive approaches, I will sensitize my research and specify the argument of my PhD thesis. I hope that DMU provides a stimulating and inspiring environment that contributes to my international experience as young scholar.

As a MA student I lived, studied and worked in the UK (Manchester) before, a very valuable experience at that time. I hope by connecting the angle of my PhD thesis to the research of the Department of Politics and Public Policy, that this could strengthen my argument and we could lay some groundwork for future collaborations in terms of research, education and funding.

I already love being in Leicester with its high diversity, two internationally oriented universities and a high standard in its quality-of-living. I’m looking forward to the period ahead,

Mark Van Ostaijen
Visiting Research Scholar from Erasmus University Rotterdam

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The Muscles from Brussels

To fully understand what the EU is all about we need to consider the factors that have influenced the outcomes that make the EU what it is today. If we take the example of the initial drive towards European integration in the post-1945 era, many people stress the influence of France and Germany. This consequently results in attention being focussed on individual countries and particularly the role of government. But just as we can take a broad-brush approach by comparing the influence and attitudes of governments, we need to look at the individuals that have been of particular importance. In the early years of European integration this meant that much attention was attached to the role of the so-called ‘founding fathers’. It is, however, not enough to comment on individuals without giving some consideration to their own background. Were there particular issues that shaped their views? This might be their own background, the section of society they came from, and common experiences such as the Second World War. But we also need to consider the role of other groups within society, such as business, trade unions and political movements. Believe it or not, the Communist party actually played an important role in forging European unity. Today, this list also includes what are commonly known as social movements. These are groups that reflect particular interests in society, such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. 

A picture should be emerging that any study of European integration needs to pay attention to a number of factors that range from national governments through to business movements and the EU institutions themselves. A key point that needs to be emphasised is that the decision to expand the number of policies that are dealt with at a European level has for the most part been the result of the pragmatic decisions of member states themselves. At the same time, we also need to be aware of the fact that it would be wrong to purely view the EU through a lens that emphasises the relationship between member state governments and the predominantly Brussels-based institutions. Rather, the relationship is far more complex and emphasis needs to be given to the way that local and regional government engage in policy at a European level. Some academics actually consider the EU to be a bit like a tiered cake where the different layers reflect the distinct areas of activity. This is namely the supranational, national and sub-national. As such, we can conclude that the EU reflects a multi-level body where there are different centres of power. Not all power rests in Brussels.

Alasdair Blair (
Jean Monnet Chair and Professor of International Relations
Department of Politics and Public Policy
De Montfort University


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Where are Europe’s leaders?

It is now eight years since the financial crisis that started in the US and then subsequently spread to Europe. Its impact was particularly felt on Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, with the first initials of these countries being popularised through the use of the derogatory acronym PIIGS. These five Eurozone members suffered from a debt crisis that had arisen because their membership of the Eurozone had enabled governments and banks to borrow vast sums of money at lower rates of interest than they would have otherwise been able to do if they had retained their national currencies. This was because the Eurozone was in effect a de-facto zone of the German economy and as such other members benefited from its economic strength. The crisis also highlighted the fragility of the governance structures of the Eurozone which had largely been focused on the political imperatives that were set down in the Maastricht Treaty, with insufficient attention being given to the necessity of having a fiscal compact between countries which shared the same currency and yet retained distinct national financial policies. In an attempt to deal with the crisis, a combination of EU member state governments, EU institutions such as the European Central Bank (ECB) and global financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) got involved. This included the purchase of bad debt and the issuing of bonds. Yet the effect of these strategies was to place the affected countries in a financial straitjacket, of which Greece and Spain were particularly badly affected. This in turn had an adverse impact on significant numbers of their citizens who either had their wages cut, lost jobs or were not been able to obtain employment. An upshot of this was that the likes of Greece and Spain experienced youth unemployment rates that approached 50 per cent. More significantly, nearly a decade on from its onset, the crisis was far from resolved.

Such issues bring to the fore the complexity of European integration where on the one hand national governments have sought stability and economic growth opportunities from being part of this European marketplace and at the same time have found themselves to be bound by decisions that are imposed by others. Eurosceptics view this as an unacceptable state of affairs and the reality of such adverse economic conditions has provided a breeding ground for political parties that are critical of mainstream politics and the EU. Moreover, the growing support for these parties has also proved a challenge for traditional political parties who have often moved their policy positions to appeal to such individuals. Many EU member states have therefore witnessed growing levels of support for nationalist political parties, while the general tone of the political debate has shifted towards emphasizing national rather than European issues. In the UK, these issues came to a head in the referendum on EU membership which took place on 23 June 2016 and which produced a vote in favour of leaving the EU (51.89% to 48.11%).

Notwithstanding the closeness of the result, the UK electorate’s decision to leave is the most significant challenge that the EU has faced in its history. No other member state has taken such a decision before and the implications of the UK’s departure have raised questions about the future direction of European integration. This includes whether there will be a further concentration of integration that involves those countries that are part of the Eurozone, with a combination of non-Eurozone members and the likes of the UK that are outside of the EU being part of the single market. It might also be the case that the whole European integration project is re-evaluated and that the EU is remodeled as a slimed down version which focuses much more on the challenges that Europe faces in terms of the diversity of its member states. In reflecting on these points, it is important to remember that the origins of the EU can be traced to a desire to ensure that future conflict would not take place and were let by major statesmen of the time. The EU’s success in providing stability in Europe is largely overlooked because its citizens take it for granted even though its borders are surrounded by considerable instability, whether that be the threats posed by Russia to the East or the fractured states of Libya and Syria to the South. The EU’s response to these crises has not been its finest hour and a yawning gap exists that needs to be filled by major European statesmen and women to fill the leadership void that the EU has largely suffered from in the twenty-first century. The challenges that the EU faces are both numerous and complex. But they fundamentally cannot be solved on an individual nation state basis. This is because the world is a far more complex place than it was when the EU was established after the Second World War. To this end, even despite the threat posed by the UK’s departure, the reality is that more than ever there is a need for a strong and united Europe, whether that be in dealing with the environmental challenges of global warming or responding to the humanitarian crises that surround its southern shores.

Alasdair Blair (
Jean Monnet Chair and Professor of International Relations
Department of Politics and Public Policy
De Montfort University

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Jean Monnet’s contribution to the development of European integration

As I sit writing this blog at the start of the 2016 academic year and with the prospect of a visit of former Members of the European Parliament to the university in a couple of weeks, I am reminded of the contribution that Jean Monnet made to the development of the EU.

Monnet was born in Cognac in south-west France and left school at age 16 to work in the family brandy business. He travelled from an early age, learning English while working in the City of London and developed contacts for the family business by travelling throughout Europe and beyond to North America and Russia. Although he was deemed unfit to fight in the First World War, he played an active role by advising the French politician Etienne Clémentel and established the Anglo-French Supply Commission to ensure that France and Britain did not compete for important raw materials that were necessary for the war effort. The significance of his contribution led him being appointed deputy secretary-general of the newly created League of Nations at the age of 31 as well as being awarded an honorary knighthood by the British government. However, the difficulties that the League encountered in overcoming national interests meant that its decisions were often lengthy and relatively ineffective. Monnet quickly became disillusioned with this state of affairs and returned to the family business in 1923. The experience did, however, have a profound impact on him as he realised that governments could not just be relied upon to cooperate on their own.

Monnet would go on to travel widely over the next two decades, where he developed contacts with politicians in the US that included Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles. These proved to be important with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, where once again Monnet played an important role. He was appointed Chairman of the London-based Franco-British Committee for Economic Coordination that directly reported to the prime ministers of both countries. But it was in the US that his influence was particularly significant. He contributed to the development of the Lend-Lease scheme that provided a lifeline to Britain before the US entered the war in 1941 and put forward the phrase ‘the arsenal of democracy’ that was taken up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to visualise America’s contribution to the war effort. Monnet played an important role in establishing and contributing to the French Committee of National Liberation that was created at a meeting in Algiers in 1943 and which became the French provisional government after the country was liberated in 1944.

After the end of the Second World War the French Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle appointed Monnet the country’s chief planning officer. From this position he played a key role in the country’s economic recovery where he advanced in January 1946 a five-year investment and modernisation plan that became known as the Monnet Plan. The underlying success of the plan owed much to the financial contribution of the Marshall Plan from 1947 onwards, which was also reflective of US influence in the postwar settlement. While this was most clearly evidenced by the division of Germany and the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany, Monnet was also aware that in the longer timeframe that it would not be possible to contain the Federal Republic through the International Ruhr Authority that had been created in 1949. This would lead Monnet to propose to the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, in the spring of 1950 that French and German steel production should be joined together under supranational control. For Monnet the benefit of the idea was that it dealt with France’s concern about German dominance and provided a framework to modernise both countries.

Monnet’s views had a profound impact on Schuman and he would go on to be the key drafter of the declaration that Schuman gave on 9 May 1950 which advocated the creation of a ECSC that would take responsibility for Franco-German coal and steel production and which would be open to other countries to join. The ensuing negotiations to establish the ECSC were largely influenced by Monnet’s vision to create a body independent of national control, as reflected in the creation of a High Authority that followed a regulatory style.  It was no surprise when Monnet was appointed the first President of the ECSC High Authority when it commenced working on 10 August 1952. Yet by then the attention of many countries had turned towards the first military action of the Cold War with the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950. Monnet considered that this conflict meant that German rearmament was inevitable and that the only way to tackle this was by adopting the principles of the ECSC. In so doing he convinced the French Premier, René Pleven, to propose the creation of a European Defence Community (EDC). The idea of a European army proved too controversial for European politicians and after its rejection by the French National Assembly in August 1954 the future of European integration seemed to be in question.

But while Monnet’s frustrations would lead him to resign from the ECSC High Authority on 10 June 1955, his influence would continue for years to come through his creation of the Action Committee for a United States of Europe (ACUSE) in October 1955 that campaigned for closer European integration. By then he had already proposed with the Belgian Foreign Minister, Paul-Henri Spaak to establish a new Community for civilian nuclear power (the European Atomic Energy Community – EURATOM), while he also supported the proposal by the Dutch foreign minister, Johan Willem Beyen, for a common market (Beyen Plan) that provided the basis for the 1955 Messina Conference and the ensuing negotiations over 1956-57 that led to the Treaties of Rome which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and Euratom.

Monnet’s view of European integration attached emphasis to the role of institutions at the expense of national influence. This community method did not always sit well with politicians of the time, such as de Gaulle. In the decades that followed this would be played out in debates between those who believed in the importance of supranational institutions that defended common European interests and those who considered that European nation states were the key players.

Alasdair Blair (
Jean Monnet Chair and Professor of International Relations
Department of Politics and Public Policy
De Montfort University

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The perils of Brexit

There is a narrative that the EU is a bureaucratic, intrusive and costly organisation that tells the member states what to do. It is a view exacerbated by a concern about migration and is reflected in a rise of Euroscepticism and support for the ‘leave’ campaign.

The problem is that they tend to be gut instincts. While Britain has had an ‘on-off’ relationship with the EU, it has always benefited from the stability it has brought. Leaving the EU will make Britain less influential in the world, while it will still have to implement EU-shaped rules as nearly 50% of its trade is with the EU.  Leaving the EU will create massive instability in the financial markets, as well as for companies based in Britain who have set up production flows based upon the EU market. It will deprive Britain of necessary labour and lessen opportunities for British people to work abroad. This will in turn reduce economic growth, impacting on everything from employment and taxation to pension funds. And while some may say that British sovereignty is regained, it is hard to think how Britain will negotiate effectively with the likes of China, India, America and many more.

Alasdair Blair ( and Jonathan Rose (

Department of Politics and Public Policy
De Montfort University

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Homelessness and Negotiation in the U.S.A

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

(Emma Lazarus ‘The New Colossus’, 1883)

IMG_6989The Statue of Liberty, New York, May 2016 © Jo Richardson

New York

I visited New York earlier in May: the emblematic city in the land of opportunity.  But, like many global cities, she has her share of housing crises.  I was last here 25 years ago volunteering on a homelessness project with New York City Relief as part of senior year at high school.  Much has changed but much remains the same. On walking around, street homelessness is still observable on many corners, but there are improvements in policy to reduce this, for example Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Policy (MIHP) which was adopted at the end of March 2016 and includes bold actions on numbers of affordable housing units to be included in new developments.

New York City Relief offers individual support on the street in various locations across the city; volunteers take a bus equipped with hot soup and bread, water, clothes and first-aid.  People offer advice on housing and employment and there is also spiritual advice if needed, to help alleviate the ‘hopelessness’.


NYC Relief Bus, 1991 © Jo Richardson


NYC Relief shuttle bus, Chelsea Park, May 2016 © Jo Richardson

This service is little changed from the one I volunteered with 25 years ago.  It can bring temporary relief and some hope to individuals, but for such a complex problem as homelessness, a flexible intervention at the systems level is required.  There is a need for innovative non-governmental organisations to offer fresh approaches and new solutions.

On the advice of one of CCHR’s associates, BSHF’s David Ireland, I went to meet Paul Howard at Community Solutions.  The work of this organisation is truly inspiring in scope and it is increasingly global in reach.  Their 100,000 Homes Campaignwas awarded the World Habitat Award by the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) in 2014 and with the support of BSHF and other organisations it is now spreading across the U.S.A and indeed across the globe.They are helping to introduce projects across Canada, the U.S.A and Europe.  Community Solutions is working with agencies across Europe and in London, the National Housing Federation have announced their NHF 100,000 homes campaign.

A Housing First approach isn’t entirely new; it has been tried in a number of cities for example in the UK and a report in 2015 has evaluated key findings to date.  But a renewed focus, utilising housing first, and blending it with the expertise of Community Solutions’ work in many projects so far, is promising for areas like Valencia where the project has recently started and for Westminster where teams of people will be collecting data in the Summer 2016 on homelessness, as the first step in a new project in England.


The primary reason for my trip to the U.S.A was to give an invited Visiting Professor lecture to the Program on Negotiation (PON) in the Harvard University law school.  The topic of my lecture was ‘Conflict Sites: negotiating a space and place for Travellers’.  The talk linked to my ongoing research project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and included links to some of the key theorists I have come to know based in PON, such as Bill Ury who was one of the authors of the famous Getting to Yes book.  It was great to make the connections with recent and ongoing negotiation work by PON scholars and to hear the questions and comments on my talk that are so vital to ongoing critical reflection and improvement of research work.


Statue of John Harvard, in Harvard Yard on the University Campus, May 2016 © Jo Richardson

Jo Richardson is Professor of Housing and Social Research and Director of the Centre for Comparative Housing Research at De Montfort University, Leicester.



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