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Have the Europeans Repudiated the Use of Force? A Dissenting Voice

Franck Petiteville



Because of the pervasive influence of theories about the normative ‘devaluation of war’ and about the ‘preference’ of Europeans for ‘norms over force’, it is commonly assumed that Europeans have ‘repudiated’ the use of force in international relations. However, European governments – especially France and the UK – have participated in a number of important military operations in the post-Cold War era, based on various justifications: sanctions against an aggressive state, protecting civilian populations from large scale crimes, fighting non-state radical armed groups. Most of these operations were multilateral in nature but France has also engaged in several national operations over the last years in Africa. The level of domestic support that these military interventions generally enjoy – as revealed by numerous surveys – indicates that Europeans do not systematically prefer ‘norms over force’ but still believe in just war norms.

Keywords: Europe, military intervention, public opinion, just war, normative power


Bibliography: Petiteville, Franck: Have the Europeans Repudiated the Use of Force? A Dissenting Voice, ERIS, 1-2015, pp. 3-14.


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