Although realist perspectives seem challenged to explain European choices and preferences, realism retains great utility with its stress on states and states’ concern for their national interests. Traditional realist analysis of European security policy err, rather, by focusing on balancing and related concepts such as soft balancing and balancing for autonomy. These accounts are theoretically and empirically flawed. Whilst balancing perspectives shed some light on European security policy predispositions, bandwagoning better explains trans-Atlantic contemporary security cooperation and increases the explanatory power of realist theories. The case for European bandwagoning is illustrated here by the empirical experience of prominent European Union military initiatives and the French defence reforms in the post-Cold War period. The tendency to bandwagon shows that European attempts to increase capabilities are strengthening rather than weakening transatlantic ties. Contrary to dominant realist views, through bandwagoning NATO benefits from European security and defence policy, becoming more durable and stronger than traditional realism expects.
- European Union