Monday, June 10, 2013

Policy Analysis Proposal: EU Arms to Syria

In working with the Atlantic Treaty Association, I do not work with the European Union in any direct capacity, however I have been following the current international crisis posed by the Syrian civil war very closely. By watching the news and discussing the conflict with coworkers and my host family, I’ve been gaining a deeper understanding of the European position toward western intervention in this conflict.

Recently, the EU decided to allow, with limitations, member states to supply arms to Syrian rebel armies. This is a huge step in both the Syrian conflict and in EU policy. Most interestingly, it speaks to the relationship of EU versus member state power with regard to international security. Given this, I would like to take a deeper look into where this decision came from and how it came about.  What I find most interesting about this subject is that all players involved, whether it’s the France, Britain, EU or Russia, all actors seem to be motivated first and foremost by political potentials. I, personally, find this extremely disappointing and would like to possibly present an alternative to this “political” policy choice that may be more effective in terms of global security.

When given the opportunity, I would like to present a mix of both historical and prescriptive policy analysis as I feel that this topic is current enough that any prescription would require adequate background analysis to be fully informed.


  1. Cassandra -- you have a good general topic area here, but it would be good to provide a bit more detail on the specific *puzzle* that you propose to analyze. What in the decision to supply arms to the Syrian rebels does not fit with existing theory or expectations?

    Although any topic will require some historical background information, please note that we can't really combine historical and prescriptive policy analysis (at least not in one short paper). Either you are looking at analyzing and explaining a specific policy outcome (historical policy analysis) or you are taking an existing problem and trying to determine what should be done to solve that problem. Which specific type of analysis are you proposing?

    As you go forward, keep in mind that you'll also need to examine both scholarly work on this topic as well as specific information from the EU itself. Now is the best time (while you are in and involved in the European policy space) to begin collecting these sources!

  2. From my understanding of the new allowance of EU member states to ship arms to Syria, the puzzle seems to be that although the EU doesn't have a common military policy, it has had influence over how member states interact with the Syrian conflict.

    I believe that with more research, I will have a better idea of what kind of analysis is called for in this case. But I think it will most likely be prescriptive.

  3. I think this is an interesting topic - in the course of my internship this tension between the EU and member states when it comes to international security has come up quite a bit.

    I'm not sure if this goes beyond what you want to write about, but it might be interesting to examine some of the dissenting (if there are any?) opinions of member states that did not want to allow the supply of arms to the Syrian army. You could then look at why the views of these states were ultimately overshadowed

    Another possible avenue you might go with is specifically exploring how this all relates to Russia, which I remember you mentioning you're pretty interestd in. As I'm sure you know, prior to the EU decision, Russia had been sending weapons into Syria. At one of the meetings I went to, one of the EU officials seemed to really resent this. Maybe you could try and examine the EU decision from a perspective that specifically focues on Russia's relationship with the EU and try and draw out some particular themes or issues to analyze. This might allow you to again do a mix of prescriptive/historical policy analysis. Just a thought, I already think your paper sounds good as it is.