chapter  1
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The politics of becoming European

The focus of this study is the question of how the experience of liminal Europeanness has informed Poland and the Baltic states’ post-Cold War security imaginaries, and their relations with Europe and the wider world. This book examines the reasons for and implications of the tension between the full institutional Europeanness of Poland and the Baltic states and their enduring self-conceptualization as ‘Europe but not quite Europe’. Having been formally incorporated to the Euro-Atlantic security community, these new Europeans’ sense of ‘liminal Europeanness’ lingers on. This is so despite their completion of passage through the formal liminal phase of becoming part of institutionalized Europe – crossing the threshold from candidate countries to fully fledged members of the EU. This apparent paradox requires further investigation. A central aim of this book is to account for the ways in which the Baltic states and Poland have responded to their historical objectification as ‘Europe but not quite Europe’ since the end of the Cold War. The impetus for this study is Eastern European states’1 ‘puzzle of dif-

ference’ in the field of Euro-Atlantic security politics: their security imaginaries’ alleged distinctiveness from their Western counterparts’ despite more than decade-long processes of Europeanization and Westernization. The study focuses on the receiving end of this interchange, examining in particular Poland and the three Baltic states’ processes of becoming a subject or ‘subjectification’ in the field of Euro-Atlantic foreign and security policy. Their politics of ‘becoming European’ is conceived here as a quest to be part of ‘true Europe’ as opposed to ‘Europe but not quite Europe’ – a position they have been designated by Western Europeans since the Enlightenment (Wolff 1994). This book is a tale of the Baltic and Polish post-Cold War struggles for gaining Western recognition of their ‘European subjectivity’ both in the civilizational as well as institutional meaning of the term (membership in the EU and NATO). The very recognition has generally been regarded not merely as the ultimate

seal on their self-realization as Europeans, but also as fundamentally enabling of their meaningful ‘subjecthood’ in international politics as a whole. Unlike available accounts of the dual enlargement that focus on

how and why East European states were included in the EU and NATO (Schimmelfennig 2003), this study concentrates on how these countries have absorbed Western security policy-related ‘teachings’, ‘coaching’, socialization efforts, and representations into their postCold War security imaginaries and self-understandings. Setting out from a Sartrean dictum ‘we are what we make of what others have made of us’, The Politics of Becoming European examines what the representation of Eastern Europe in Western post-Cold War security debates has made of it. Or, indeed, how Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have shaped and reshaped their security imaginaries in reaction to being constructed as ‘Europe but not quite Europe’ by their Western counterparts. Curiously, in the scholarship of IR, the connection between ‘self’ and

‘other’ has generally been studied from the vantage point of the self, focusing on how the self ‘discovers’ its other(s) and shapes its identity accordingly (Nandy 1983, 1987; Todorov 1984a; Blaney and Inayatullah 1994; Inayatullah and Blaney 1996). How the other relates to its otherness – whether it acknowledges or rejects the construction of its own identity by the more powerful self – has often remained at the margins of research, just as if the colonialist logic were rehearsed in the academic field of IR. Nevertheless, critical IR scholars largely agree that without knowing the other, without analyzing its response to the construction of its identity, it is impossible to understand the self as well. The border between self and other is vague – the others live in and through us and vice versa – and therefore the self could not exist without the other, at least not in its particular form. So paradoxically, while there is an emerging theoretical consensus among critical international relations scholars on the epistemological and ontological necessity of the other for the comprehension and completion of the self, the response of the other to the construction of its identity has generally escaped scholarly attention, not least in the context of Eastern European states’ responses to the long-time Western designation ‘Europe but not Europe’. Yet, this study argues, the experience of being framed as simultaneously in Europe and not quite European has left a constitutive imprint on the current selfunderstandings and security imaginaries of Poland and the Baltic states in the enlarged European community. This book explores the Baltic and Polish reception of the ways Eastern

Europe has been problematized in Western security debates after the end

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of the Cold War. This reception and the subsequent responses to these problematizations are investigated in order to analyze the evolution of their understandings of ‘what they are, what they do, and the world in which they live’ (Foucault 1985: 10; cf. Escobar 1992: 22). By reading their ‘responses’ through the shifts, changes, continuities and discontinuities in their post-Cold War security imaginaries, this study explores the ways in which a particular kind of historical ‘regime of truth’ around Eastern European states’ security has been constructed and responded to, and explores its connections to modern relations of power. The approach undertaken in this book thus follows Foucault’s technique of problematization: it begins with a critical political problem in the present (such as the supposedly distinctive security outlooks of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe), and proceeds to analyze the historical and structural conditions which gave rise to it (Foucault 1985: 11, 1984a). The technique of problematization synthesizes Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical methods of analysis, in which the former enables the examination of ‘forms themselves’, while the latter accounts for their contingent emergence and production. Archaeology, then, provides the means to delimit research objects by describing the rules that condition the elements of a particular discourse (its objects, subjects, concepts and strategies) in a given period, while genealogy explores the constitution of research objects by reciting the historical practices from which they were constructed (Howarth 2005: 318-19). As an approach that concentrates specifically on the historical forma-

tion of discursive practices, Foucaultian discourse analysis enables us to look more attentively for unposed questions, ‘disappeared’ problems and silenced voices in the post-Cold War security encounters between the West (as traditionally understood), Poland and the Baltics. Moreover, retracing the history of the emergence of certain problems allows us to ‘avoid becoming the object of the problems that we take as our object’ (Bourdieu 1992: 238). In its investigation of how specific terms and concepts have functioned within the post-Cold War discourse on Eastern European security, and how structures of meaning have been produced, this analysis is essentially a history of the present. By presenting a genealogically informed examination of Eastern Europe as political and cultural reality in the context of the debates over post-Cold War European security architecture, the reasoning of Poland’s and the Baltic states’ self-positioning in contemporary international security arena is mapped out. After all, genealogy is a historical study that turns towards the past not for its own sake, but in order to explain something that remains problematic in the present (Elbe 2001: 260-61). Therefore it is

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difficult to think of another method more suitable for the analysis of Eastern European states’ post-Cold War politics of becoming European in the foreign and security policy field, since genealogy is a history of how we have become what we are (Owen 1994: 163). This book puts forward an argument that in order to understand why

the sense of liminality persists in the post-enlargement Polish and Baltic self-conceptualizations, we need first to unpack the notable Western European predominance of the construction of ‘Europe’ in the EU, as well as of its foreign and security policy outlook. The first conventions for European unification in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War called for the unity of ‘nothing less than all Europe’ where ‘all European peoples whose society and way of life … are not in disaccord with a Charter of Human Rights and the sincere expression of free democracy’ would eventually participate.2 Yet the actual project of European unification excluded those parts on the other side of the Iron Curtain, relegating them to the inevitable ‘second league of Europe’, despite solemn proclamations of refusing to accept the ‘artificial division of Europe into two parts’.3 Consequently, the seemingly generous openness of the forefathers of European unification towards the inclusion of ‘the other countries of Europe’ to the essentially Franco-German postSecond World War integration process in reality implied just the neighbouring countries of Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy (Dinan 1999: 23). We need to demonstrate further the enduring ‘semi-orientalization’ of

Eastern Europe, most recently exemplified by the persistent usage of the metaphor ‘new Europe’ for envisioning Eastern European EU member states as latecomers, and thus eternal neophytes to the European project, unable ever to fully close the gap separating them from ‘true Europeanness’. The positioning of Eastern European countries as liminal to the project of united Europe has been constitutive for the EU, which has essentially been a Western European project, with Western European origins and core aims.4 A key objective of this study is therefore to contribute towards the de-essentialization of the ‘West’ and the Western paradigm of ‘Europe’ and ‘European’, whether in its history, in its foreign and security policy outlook, or in its identity broadly conceived. To de-centre and provincialize the Western European notion of ‘Europe’ by showing its dependence on subaltern ‘Eastern Europe’ constitutes an additional goal of this study (cf. Chakrabarty 2000; Argyrou 2001). Having been historically constructed as a ‘betwixt and between’ place

in the mental maps of Western Europe, it is hardly surprising that the fact of the accession to the EU per se has not constituted a panacea for

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the Eastern European states’ self-perception as ‘European edge-men’. This must be the case, given that the contestability of their ‘European credentials’ has not disappeared even with their passage through the formal liminal phase of their EU candidacy. The questioning of East European newcomers’ ‘European subjectivity’ has merely become more subtle. Instruction by their Western European counterparts has become slightly less obvious after the accession to the Union than it was in the liminal rituals of the enlargement phase. The very experience of liminality – in both the general historical sense

as a metaphor for capturing East European ‘Europeanness’ as ‘potential Europeanness’, as well as the more recent and clearly demarcated liminal experience of candidateship to the Euro-Atlantic security community5 – has been constitutive of Poland and the Baltics’ self-conceptualizations and positionings in the Euro-Atlantic foreign and security policy field. Consequently, analysis of the perspectives of the common foreign and security policy of the enlarged EU is seriously obstructed unless the constitutive impact of such experience is given due regard. As demonstrated in the following pages, the residual effects of their post-Cold War experience of being constructed by the West as ‘Europe but not Europe’ are visible in all key foreign policies pursued by Poland and the Baltic states in the European framework (especially with regards to Russia and the new Eastern neighbours of the Union) as well as their stance towards the prospects for a common security and defence policy of the Union. Moreover, after their official inclusion in the Euro-Atlantic security community, we are likely to witness a more intense soul searching over their ‘liminal Europeanness’. An increase in their self-imposition on the construction of European identity and EU foreign policy is probable. This would derive from the enhanced sense of solidarity between Eastern European new member states of the EU in setting the agenda of the foreign policy of Europe, which grew out of a historically unprecedented comradeship developed during the openly liminal EU-accession phase (cf. Turner 1969: 81). The book opens with a theoretical discussion on dialogical under-

standing of collective identity formation. Chapter 2 presents a critical account of the constitution of collective identities in post-positivist IR theory, and advances a Bakhtinian dialogical approach as a further epistemological alternative for a fuller understanding of collective identity construction in international politics. This chapter puts forward the argument that since the self-identifications and security understandings of political collectivities are mutually constitutive, the conceptualizations of security, self, other, and the in-between cases thereof

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in post-Cold War European core and periphery should be studied together within a common frame. More attention needs to be paid to how the other, or the one in-between a self and an other, responds to the representation of its identity as such by the more authoritative self. Chapter 3, ‘Liminality and contested Europeanness’, elaborates the cen-

tral analytic concepts of this study: security imaginary, politics of becoming, liminality, carnival and discourse analysis, establishing the theoretical and methodological framework of the study. Chapter 4, ‘“Becoming European” as identity politics: Europe old and new’, explains how the distinction between Western and Eastern Europe came to be seen as natural, how the roots of this distinction are to be found largely in a positive Western European self-constitution against a rustic East European foil, and how the experience of liminality in the European self-image has been reciprocated in Poland and the Baltics’ post-EU-accession foreign and security policies. Chapter 5, ‘The memory politics of becoming European: the East

European subalterns and the collective memory of Europe’, analyzes Polish and Baltic post-Cold War foreign and security policies’ excessive preoccupation with the memory of the Western betrayal of Eastern Europe in the Second World War (or the construction thereof). It considers this a key indicator of an identity-related insecurity that reveals uncertainty about being recognized as ‘fully European’. If we regard coming to terms with the past as reinforcement of one’s self-consciousness, in line with Adorno (1986: 128), Polish and Baltic calls for equal remembrance of their pasts emerge as an essential part of their individuation process as European, of their becoming a European subject. Analyzing Polish and Baltic post-EU-accession attempts to enlarge the mnemonic vision of the Union by introducing their ‘subaltern pasts’ into the common historical consciousness of Europe, this chapter explores the perspectives of a more ‘coherent, common and assumed’ historical consciousness for the whole of Europe and the emergence of a (more) common European identity (cf. Pók et al. 2002: 11). Chapter 6, ‘The “carnival” of Iraq as the meeting point for identity,

memory and security politics of becoming European’, engages with the Polish and Baltic redefinition of their role in Europe in the context of the war in Iraq. This chapter emphasizes the perceived assets of their experience as liminal Europeans: their new self-presentation no longer as apprentices, but in important ways as teachers of (or reminders to) the established members of the Euro-Atlantic community about their special duty to the protection and promotion of freedom and democracy in Europe and, more broadly, in the world (cf. Gheciu 2005a: 250-51). The

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chapter conceives the transatlantic and intra-European rift over the justifiability of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 not as a crisis in the European strategic outlook, but as an expression of a deeper set of tensions in the enlarged Euro-Atlantic security community. The Iraq crisis is suggestive as a case of ritual role reversal in the relations between the Western European ‘core’ and the Eastern European ‘liminal entities’, as the conflict enabled the latter’s unprecedented empowerment over their troubled past that became convenient in finding justifications for siding with the United States (US) (cf. Turner 1979). The conclusion recapitulates the broader theoretical argument of the

book, according to which the concept of liminality is instrumental for a more nuanced understanding of the self-other relationship. Liminality enables differentiation between shades of otherness along a scale between difference and outright threat to self’s identity, and helps locate the space for negotiations between self and other. It reiterates the reasons why the persisting European division along the Western-Eastern line (whatever its current expression – old versus new; modern versus postmodern Europe) is deeply problematic for the forging of a more coherent and representative European consciousness and identity, not to mention a common foreign and security political outlook for the enlarged Union. This study ultimately suggests that the new Europeans’ escape from the status of liminal characters in the EU’s self-image as a post-modern security community would require a radical reconsideration of the historically West-centric European identity. Indeed, a reimagining of the belittled and scientifically objectified Eastern Europe as a dynamic, complex and potentially inspiring participant in the common European project is advocated (cf. Böröcz 2000: 870). The conceptualization of Europe and the European project has to shift towards embracing more of the whole of Europe, looking further eastwards from the traditional ‘French-German integration engine’, and recognizing the responsibility of both Eastern and Western Europe for the success of the project of the united Europe. After the EU’s enlargements to the east, the meaning of ‘Europe’ is essentially about to be redefined.