Balancing Threat, Not Capabilities: European Defence Cooperation as Reformed Bandwagoning

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Cladi and Locatelli’s conceptualization of CSDP as an instance of bandwagoning on US power has significant analytical leverage; however, their analysis fails to outline an alternative systemic explanation to the balance of power. This contribution argues that European defence cooperation is best understood by using a neoclassical realist analysis that integrates the insights of Stephen Walt’s ‘balance of threat’ theory. Furthermore, it is argued that the analysis presented by Pohl neglects the role of the Atlantic Alliance in European security. In doing so, Pohl misses the nature of CSDP as the central element of the ‘reform’ of western Europe’s Cold
War bandwagoning on US power. One should not, therefore, expect CSDP operations to necessarily be about frustrating or helping US strategic objectives. CSDP is instead an institution that is designed primarily to meet security challenges within Europe’s geopolitical
neighbourhood that the US is unwilling or unable to tackle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-91
Number of pages5
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2013


  • Neoclassical realism
  • European defence cooperation
  • Bandwagoning
  • EU Common Security and Defence Policy

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