Abstract: The European Supercomplex – A Relational and Comparative Regional Security Complex Account of the European and the Post-Soviet Space

In July 2015 I completed my master’s thesis, a regional analysis inspired by the conflict in Ukraine. Read the abstract below. Please contact me for a copy of the thesis (English).

The conflict in Ukraine spurred a crisis between the EU and Russia over the division of the contested areas between the European and the post-Soviet regions. The standard interpretations focus on the Cold War image of great power competition between the United States and Russia and abstract notions of Western vs. Eastern values. Standard international relations (IR) theories are not capturing the crux of the problem, namely the changing interregional security relations. This leaves us with a poor understanding of the current crisis and a lack of constructive perspectives for managing the conflict.

This thesis shows that regional security complex theory can be used to better understand the current security relationship between the European and the post-Soviet regions and the contested areas between them. Comparative regional security complex analysis is used to highlight the differences and similarities in the essential structure of the two regions. There has been much talk of Russian and European spheres of influence, but little agreement about the border between the two. Instead, this study identifies a line of demarcation between the clusters of intense security relations (regional security complexes) that distinguish the two regions, through an analysis of securitization in the Baltic States and Ukraine. Since 2003, this border has shifted to the East, incorporating the Baltic States into the EU-Europe security cluster and leaving Ukraine as an asymmetrical insulator state between the two regions. The Ukraine crisis has also caused shared securitizations and strong interregional security dynamics that join the two regions into one strategic arena (a supercomplex).

Regional security complex theory (RSCT) allows for an eclectic analysis of the current interregional relations, which involves a mix of geopolitics and identity. While disentangling and comparing the current security dynamics of the two regions and their relations with each other, this study also provides a theoretical assessment and state of the art of RSCT, which has not received thorough scholarly review for years.

KeywordsRegional security complex theory, Russia, the Baltic States, Balkans, Ukraine, EU, supercomplex, insulator state, interregional.
Below is the abstract from the bachelor thesis I completed at the University of Copenhagen.

Abstract: The Tension Between Hard and Soft Power Usage in the Counterinsurgency Efforts in Afghanistan

By Aila Lonka and Trine Høgh 

US. Army Capt. blowing bubbled to Afghan children

U.S. Army Capt. interacting with Afghan children during a humanitarian aid delivery mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 24, 2009. (Photo credit: Senior Airman Marc I. Lane, U.S. Air Force/Released, creative commons)

This study asks the questions: How can you describe the relationship between soft and hard power usage in the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan? Do they support or undermine each other’s efforts? Is counterinsurgency smart power?

The study tests the counterinsurgency doctrine (FM 3-24) against the realities in Afghanistan and finds that there is an inherent tension within the doctrine: conflicting objectives and trade-offs. We found that the combination of hard and soft power usage did in fact yield positive results in some cases, but the different kinds of power could also work counterproductively towards each other.

Thus, the relationship between hard and soft power in Afghanistan proved to be more problematic than counterinsurgency doctrine anticipates. This questions the assumption that the different Logical Lines of Operations in FM 3-24 support each other and that the combination of soft and hard power usage is smart. It seems necessary to consider a new way of describing the relationship between hard and soft power usage that recognizes and anticipates their discrepancies. The study suggests a revision of FM 3-24 and a rejection of “smart power” as analytical and theoretical concept since it does not capture the issues with soft and hard power combinations. The study finally recommends some questions that require further research.

The research is based on an exploratory single-case study of the counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan since 2007. We have conducted closed coding on reports from think tanks, universities and independent authors that all evaluate specific counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. In the coding procedure we have looked for examples of combined soft and hard power usage, and analysed their effects. We also compared our findings with statistics from Afghanistan and conducted an interview with an expert in Kabul.

Keywords: Counterinsurgency, smartpower, soft power, hard power, FM 3-24, Afghanistan, civil-military integration.

Please contact me for a copy of the thesis (Danish).