University of Notre Dame
The Concert of Europe, Transparency, and Crisis Management
Prepared for delivery at the American Political Science Association conference, Boston, MA.
Friday, August 30, 2002, 1:30 pm, panel 18-13.
Abstract and Table of Contents
The Concert of Europe was the first peacetime multilateral crisis management forum in history. States before the Concert were limited to bilateral diplomacy, and never met altogether to manage crises. Compared to prior pre-forum diplomatic practice, the chief benefit of meeting together was the quicker exchange of information. In theoretical terms, a greater flow of information means increased transparency. This paper assesses the extent to which the Concert increased transparency, and the effects of any transparency provided.
I find that transparency facilitated realpolitik, and this in turn helped resolve four of the Concert=s early crises. Increased transparency made coercive bargaining easier and clarified the existence of internal schisms. This helped bring peaceful endings to two crises, and led to peaceful standoffs in the other two cases. An example is the Poland/Saxony crisis when three states made a >secret alliance= and revealed it the next day to successfully coerce two other states into backing down. I argue that this quick exchange of information was impossible prior to the forum. With transparency, the Concert made power politics work more quickly and peacefully.
Although coercion worked in the Concert cases, the cases reveal dark sides of transparency that contrast with the conventional wisdom that transparency is an>elixir of peace.= Because the great powers of the Concert period used coercion and realpolitik so frequently, this examination of transparency also makes a prima facie case against the normative transformation arguments of many of AConcert optimists.@
Introduction p. 2
Hypotheses, Methods, and Structure p. 4
Hypotheses and Predictions about Transparency p. 4
Methods and Structure p. 6
Diplomacy in the 18th Century p. 8
Seven Years War in America p. 9
The First Partition of Poland p. 10
Conclusions p. 13
The Concert of Europe p. 14
The Formation of the Concert p. 15
The Operation of the Concert of Europe: Case Studies of Five Crises p. 19
Poland and Saxony, late 1814 - early 1815 p. 19
Assessment p. 21
The Rebellions in Naples and Spain p. 22
Assessment p. 26
The Revolt in Greece p. 26
Assessment p. 30
Independence of Belgium p. 31
Assessment p. 34
Conclusion p. 35
Findings p. 35
Table 1: Findings by Hypothesis p. 35
Implications for Debates about the Concert p. 37
Implications for Policy p. 39
Draft. Comments welcome, but please do not distribute, copy, or cite without the author's permission. A prior version of this paper was presented at the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security (PIPES), University of Chicago, December 1999, and I am grateful for their helpful comments. Dan Lindley, 448 Decio Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 46556; Phone: 574-631-3226; Fax: 574-631-8209; Email:email@example.com
With the end of the Cold War, many observers argued that NATO and other Cold War security institutions were becoming less relevant to the West's security. Seeing a need and an opportunity to create new security structures to replace or supplement NATO, a number of analysts looked back to the early 19th century Concert of Europe as a model institution for handling security issues. At least a dozen calls for Concert-based or Concert-like structures appeared in prominent journals. More generally, international relations theorists have used the Concert to develop theories about security institutions for a number of years. Robert Jervis called the Concert the "best example of a security regime."
I call those who believe the Concert clearly and effectively contributed to peace in its time "Concert optimists." Concert optimists make some of the strongest claims for the effectiveness of institutions and regimes to be found in any issue area. According to these scholars, the Concert operated according to several principal norms. States behaved with moderation, they compensated each other when territorial and other adjustments became necessary, they consulted each other and did not act unilaterally, and they kept the general equilibrium in mind when judging the consequences of their actions. As a result, these scholars give the Concert credit for numerous peace-enhancing accomplishments: creation of buffer states, isolating regional conflicts, specifying spheres of influence, suppression of revolutions by multilateral action, and the general practice of multilateral conflict resolution.
Paul Schroeder argues that all these effects amounted to a sweeping transformation, even Arevolution,@ of diplomacy and international relations.
While realist accounts go back to Kissinger and beyond, two theory-aware Concert pessimists have recently explicitly challenged the optimists= accounts. Korina Kagan and Matthew Rendall look at the Greek case, with Rendall focusing mostly on Russian behavior. Rendall sides with a realist balance of power interpretation, while acknowledging that the great powers were also content with the status quo. Rendall=s is a nuanced and well researched argument. Kagan=s conclusion is more sweeping:
since the Concert of Europe is widely hailed as the major paradigmatic case of an effective security regime, these findings deprive institutionalism of its strongest case in the security area.
Thus the battle is joined between the optimists and the pessimists.
I take a middle position. The Concert is neither a normative transformation of politics nor a phenomena bereft of institutional benefits. The key institutional benefit is that of transparency, the central focus of this paper. The Concert was a major diplomatic evolution in that it institutionalized the practice of meeting together for crisis management. It was the first peacetime multilateral crisis management forum in history. States before the Concert were limited to bilateral diplomacy, and never met altogether to manage crises. Compared to prior pre-forum diplomatic practice, the chief benefit of meeting together was the quicker exchange of information.
Why is speedy information flow a chief benefit? In situations involving three or more states, bilateral diplomacy slows communications and poses coordination problems. Consider that if there are five states, there have to be ten separate, sequential meetings for each to meet each other only once (#1 with #2, then with #3, etc.). Thus, reaching agreements or otherwise settling disputes is more difficult when states are limited to bilateral, sequential diplomacy than when states can avail themselves of multilateral diplomacy. Meeting in the same place also facilitates backroom deals between subsets of the participants.
In theoretical terms, a greater flow of information means increased transparency. This paper assesses the extent to which the Concert increased transparency, and the effects of any transparency provided.
In short, transparency was increased, transparency facilitated realpolitik, and this in turn helped resolve some of the Concert=s early crises. In the five crises examined, I find that the Concert modestly increased transparency in four cases, but that in one case it facilitated a deception campaign. In the four cases, increased transparency made coercive bargaining easier and clarified the existence of internal schisms. This helped bring peaceful endings to two crises, and led to peaceful standoffs in the other two cases. An example is the Poland/Saxony crisis when three states made a >secret alliance= and revealed it the next day to successfully coerce two other states into backing down. I argue that this quick exchange of information was impossible prior to the forum. With transparency, the Concert made power politics work more quickly and peacefully.
Although coercion worked in the Concert cases, the cases reveal dark sides of transparency that contrast with the conventional wisdom that transparency is an >elixir of peace.= Because the great powers of the Concert period used coercion and realpolitik so frequently, this examination of transparency also makes a prima facie case against the normative transformation arguments of many of the optimists. The only real norm evinced is that of meeting together to confront crises. This was a major evolution in international politics, but the only reason it helped the cause of peace was because it greased the wheels for power politics.
Hypotheses, Methods, and Structure
Hypotheses and Predictions about Transparency
Transparency describes the availability of information about potential adversaries' capabilities and intentions. If information about potential adversaries is easy to obtain, then the world is said to be transparent. If information is hard to get, the world is minimally transparent (or opaque). An increase in transparency increases the amount and accuracy of information available to states (and other groups) about their potential adversaries' capabilities and intentions. Likewise, a decrease in transparency obscures and reduces this information. The more transparency there is, the better a state can assess the threats it faces. The less transparency there is, the harder it is for a state to assess threats.
I seek to assess whether the Concert caused transparency and whether transparency caused peace. The causal chain I am investigating is:
The first independent variable is the Concert, a security regime. Transparency is a dependent, then independent variable. The ultimate dependent variable is peace. My hypotheses are:
H1: Regimes Provide Transparency
H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation
H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation
H3: Transparency Reduces Unwarranted Fears and Worst-case Assumptions
H3': Transparency Confirms Fears
H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation
H4': Transparency Helps Plan Aggression
H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict
H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict
The following paragraphs explain these hypotheses and their main observable implications. The H' hypotheses are the inverse of the H hypotheses. I am not assuming transparency causes peace. I am trying to assess all the effects of any transparency provided.
H1: Regimes Provide Transparency. Transparency does not just happen. An agent or mechanism of some sort is always required generate information, provide information, and/or facilitate the flow of information between the states or parties involved. In this case, the mechanism is the Concert. The central observable implication of this hypothesis is that states will meet together to discuss their problems (the reasons why this should increase transparency are discussed elsewhere). Further, if the security regime provides new information or facilitates the exchange of information, then the actors to whom or between whom the information is distributed should also be identifiable. The content of the information provided or exchanged should be identifiable and describable. Finally, the information provided should show up in the statements and assessments of the actors involved. H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation happens when the Concert=s mechanisms are used to spread disinformation.
H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation. Lack of transparency causes states to fear others will cheat on agreements. These fears of cheating diminish states' willingness to enter into or adhere to peace treaties and other agreements. In contrast, increased transparency lessens fears of cheating. By lessening fears of cheating, increased transparency increases states' willingness to cooperate and sign peace treaties and other agreements. The promise of transparency can help lead states to make agreements while verification of continued compliance helps maintain the agreed-upon cooperation.
As the Concert was not designed to verify the Vienna treaty (or any other agreement), this hypothesis is not likely to hold much water. Nonetheless, we may see behavior in the cases that supports H2. For example, states may indicate a willingness to continue meeting in Concert because they want to learn more about the intentions and capabilities of the other Concert powers.
H3: Transparency Reduces Unwarranted Fears and Worst-case Assumptions. Faced with uncertainty in their threat assessments, states must often make worst-case assumptions to ensure their security. By definition, worst-case assumptions are likely to be wrong and, if wrong, they create unwarranted fears. Increased transparency allows states to replace worst-case assumptions with facts, and this will reduce unwarranted fears in most cases. This in turn reduces tensions and security spirals, reducing the likelihood of war and increasing the likelihood of cooperation. The main observable implication for this hypothesis is that threat assessments should become more benign during meetings of the Concert. H3': Transparency Confirms Fears occurs when increased transparency provides information that confirms the fears of other states.
H4: Transparency Reduces Miscalculation. The absence of transparency causes or exacerbates optimistic miscalculation, a frequent cause of deterrence failure. Increased transparency reduces false optimism. With less information to go on, it is easier for states to miscalculate. For example, states may think that offense is easier or victory more assured than they actually are and start a war (offensive optimistic miscalculation). Or states may think that defense is easier or that war is less likely than they actually are and they may fail to deter (defensive optimistic miscalculation). If states can not determine the payoffs associated with war, miscalculation is likely. As Geoffrey Blainey argues: "most wars were likely to end in the defeat of at least one nation which had expected victory." Miscalculation can also occur in negotiations where difficulties in measuring relative power and can lead states to adopt overly ambitious or overly cautious positions.
The main prediction for H4 is that military plans, political goals, and/or negotiating positions will change upon receipt of more information about others' (or one's own) capabilities and intentions. These changes will occur due to information provided by the regime and actors will explain these changes with reference to this new information. H4': Transparency Helps Plan Aggression is when increased transparency provides information that helps states plan attacks on others. This did not occur during the period examined.
H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict: Increased transparency can help states learn the extent to which they disagree. By clarifying positions and stakes, transparency can help resolve negotiations or help parties live with a standoff. As Ken Oye reminds us, deadlock may result more often from absence of mutual interest than from unwarranted fears, security dilemmas, accidents, and miscalculations. However, just because cooperation and coordination are impossible does not mean war is inevitable. By clarifying deadlock, transparency can help bargaining in two ways. First, transparency improve each side=s understanding of the other=s relative commitment and strength. This can end deadlock by helping one side successfully coerce short of the use of force. Second, such an understanding might also help each side live with deadlock if they came to realize that escalation would be too costly. The main prediction is that benign threat assessments should be replaced by more malevolent threat assessments, or any doubts about the existence of deadlock, tension, or conflict should be removed. This will then help bargaining or help states live with the status quo. H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict is the same as H5, except that bargaining is made harder and relations are worsened.
H3 and H5 are similar, except that H3 focuses solely on threat assessments while H5 focuses on bargaining. To avoid redundancy, the antithesis of H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation is incorporated into H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict. If the negotiations about establishing the regime break down, this should reflect H5' in action. Likewise, if transparency ends up showing that there is not deadlock or conflict, this is likely to be coded under H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation or H3: Transparency Reduces Unwarranted Fears and Worst-case Assumptions.
Methods and Structure
The questions this paper answers are: did the Concert facilitate the exchange of information and increase transparency? What effects, if any, did this have on crisis management?
To answer these questions, I first investigate diplomacy and crisis management in the 18th century. Transparency-increasing mechanisms we now take for granted were minimal in the 18th century: states employed small diplomatic corps and bureaucracies, travel was slow, and there were no peacetime forums for conducting diplomacy. Examining how well crises were managed under these pre-Concert conditions helps reveal what effect the Concert of Europe had on causing peace. I set this 18th century >performance benchmark= in three parts.
The first part examines the general conditions under which diplomacy was conducted during the 18th century. The diminutive size of the diplomatic corps and the slow speed of their communications made this a period of relatively low transparency. The second part is a mini-case study of the outbreak of the Seven Years War in America. This case illustrates how minimal transparency can help cause war. Plausible counterfactuals suggest that greater transparency, and/or a Concert-like forum could have prevented the war.
The third section is a mini-case study of the crisis surrounding the first partition of Poland in 1772. Even more than the Seven Years= War, this case serves as a control case for analysis of the Concert's crises. This is because the first partition of Poland is as close as possible to a Concert episode in time, geography, participating actors, severity, and overall character. During the first partition of Poland, as in many Concert episodes, a crisis arose on the periphery of Europe and the resulting tensions among the great powers threatened general war. Despite lacking a Concert-like forum, the great powers worked through some complicated diplomacy and prevented a general war. This success for bilateral, Concert-less diplomacy and its similarity to the Concert=s crises casts doubt on whether the Concert >transformed= crisis management or European politics more generally.1
I spend the bulk of the paper examining how the Concert handled the first five crises it confronted: Poland/Saxony, the rebellions in Naples, Spain, and Greece, and Belgian independence. This is a comparative case study, and I >interrogate= each of the cases to see if the various observable implications apply. Table 1 summarizes these results, p. 35.
In the Poland/Saxony and Belgian cases, the Concert clearly >added-value= to diplomacy by increasing transparency (H1). The effect of the increased transparency was to facilitate realpolitik2 by clarifying power balances and deadlocks, and help states make threats. This supports H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict and H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation. The Concert clarified deadlock in a minor way in the Naples and Spain cases. Because the resulting schism with Britain was more estrangement than divorce, this mildly supports H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict. In the Greek case, the Concert facilitated a deception campaign. This supports H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation, but with a peaceful result. The Belgian case is complex, but supports a combination of H3': Transparency Confirms Fears, H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation, and H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict. Thus, in two cases, the Concert did help peace by increasing transparency. Miscalculation was averted, but in the realpolitik way of clarifying power and threats (H5). On the other hand, the Concert modestly increased tensions with transparency in two other cases H5'), and helped peace by helping spread misinformation in one case (H1'). Although the result was peaceful (no Russian intervention), the deception campaign confirms that mechanisms used to convey information can convey misinformation as well.
Finally, in both the Poland/Saxony and Belgian case, tensions increased in part because of information exchanged in the forum. This spike in tensions preceded resolution of the crises, meaning that H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict preceded and contributed to H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict.
Diplomacy in the 18th Century
Diplomacy is a basic way of increasing transparency and is one of the first mechanisms states turned to to learn more about their adversaries. The foundations for modern, bureaucratized diplomacy took years to develop, with much progress made in the 18th century. States in the 1600s began to handle "outside threats [with an] emphasis on acquiring information. Permanent embassies were established; secret agents and spies were hired; knowledgeable merchants and travelers were questioned."3 Diplomats were not systematically recruited and paid to serve their state prior to the 18th century. Instead, the few diplomats that were posted abroad were often paid by the host government (!). France had five officials in its foreign ministry in 1661, but the ministry grew during the 1700s to include cartographic, financial, cryptographic, correspondence, legal, and archival departments.4 In 1695, Russia had no permanent representatives abroad. By 1721, it had 21 missions abroad, although by 1800 this number had declined to 14. In 1702, there were four representatives from abroad in Russia, and eleven by 1719.5
In the mid-18th century, despatches traveled at a maximum of 100 kilometers per day. It took about three weeks for news to travel from London to Venice.6 The European road network grew swiftly during the 18th century and when the stagecoach appeared, it hastened communications and enabled meaningful diplomatic discussion by despatch. With permanent diplomats and sufficiently speedy communications, continuous diplomacy became possible. In the hands of a capable diplomatic corps, an organized and continuous flow of information about other states could be relayed back to the home state. The state could respond with instructions that were less likely to have been overtaken by events.
Precursors to concert practices fell into place during the 18th century. There were peace conferences following several of the many wars of the time.7 The practice of mediation also became widespread. Holsti lists six instances of mediation from the Peace of Nystadt in 1721 to the ending the war of Bavarian Succession in 1779. However, he argues that mediation was most often a device for states to save face after "issues had already been resolved on the battlefield" and that Athere are no cases on record where formal mediation actually prevented a war.@8 Between 1713 and 1814 there were no crisis management conferences but states were developing the institutional capacity and physical infrastructure to conduct concert diplomacy.9
Seven Years War in America
The lead up to the Seven Years War between Britain and France in America during the 1750s highlights the dangers of opacity. Concert diplomacy and other means of increasing transparency would have lowered the probability of war.
In the mid-1700s, the expansion of the British colonies in Eastern North America made tension inevitable with its less populated French neighbor to the West. Britain and France sought to control the Ohio River Valley, a vital transit link for the French, and the next open territory to the West of the British colonies. Each side engaged in >arms races= to build forts faster than the other and thus control territory. Attacks followed to oust each other=s forts and forces. On one level, this is a straight contest over resources.
However, opacity exacerbated misperceptions, caused miscalculations, and made specific catalysts of the war including territorial contests and rogue activity harder to rectify. Britain and France frequently misinterpreted each other=s actions as aggressive and their own as defensive. Both had different maps of the same areas, were hampered by slow communications, and the central governments could not monitor their own hawkish, expansionist underlings. These opacity-related problems contributed to the start of the war.
While tension was inevitable, perhaps war was not. Britain and France attempted to dampen their incipient conflicts throughout the Western Hemisphere, most notably by establishing a joint Delimitation Commission in 1750 to settle land claims where their colonies bumped up against one another. As looking at old maps reminds us, there was great uncertainty about the state of the world in this period B especially about relatively undeveloped land. The goal of the commission was to promote peace by establishing a >base truth= or common version about where rivers and boundaries actually were. Thus, the goal of the Commission was to increase transparency, but it had limited powers and could not resolve what should have been objective differences between British and French maps.
The 'map problem' became dangerous in 1753 when France began to fortify the Ohio territory, land that was claimed by both powers. The British responded with an eviction notice and a counter-fortification. The French then forcibly ousted the British from their new fort. The resulting skirmishes led to casualties on both sides, but at this point, neither side wanted war.
Opacity caused the crisis to escalate into a war. First, each side thought itself to be supporting the status quo, so each side perceived its own actions to be aimed at deterrence while viewing the other's moves as compellent. Neither understood the other's intentions and ultimate goals. To the French, their successful attack on Fort Necessity in July 1954 repelled intruders into their Ohio area. Many British saw it as an indication that Louis the XV was pursuing maximum objectives around the world, even at the risk of major war.
Second, rogue hawks influenced policy at several key junctures. Governor Shirley of Massachusetts contributed to Britain's overly pessimistic assessment of French motives by falsely reporting to London in 1954 that the French had begun to settle in Massachusetts (!).10 Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia and Governor Duquesne of New France had commercial interests in Ohio. In communications to their home governments, both over-emphasized Ohio=s importance while exaggerating threats to the area. Their claims were hard to verify and their influence went unchecked by their central governments in part because few channels of communications existed and because communications were so slow (news from Ft. Necessity took two months to reach London). Greater inter- and intra-governmental transparency would have reduced the influence of the hawks in precipitating the war. A forum in particular would have sped up diplomacy, and allowed Britain and France to clarify their misperceptions. After a series of skirmishes and a small naval engagement, Britain declared war on France in May 1756.11
The First Partition of Poland
The first partition of Poland enjoys many similarities to the crises handled by the Concert: same states, close in time, and similar stakes. One big difference is that prior to the Concert, states could not avail themselves of multilateral, forum diplomacy. Did this difference increase transparency and affect crisis management? The first partition of Poland suggests that the answer is Aa bit,@ but only because a forum speeds up realpolitik. The first partition of Poland took a long time to negotiate. Several Concert episodes were resolved with relative alacrity and would not have been resolved so fast without the use of multilateral forum diplomacy.
On October 6, 1768, war erupted between Russia and Turkey when Russian troops pursued Polish rebels across the Polish border and into the then Turkish town of Balta. Prussia under Frederick the Great quickly grasped that war between Turkey and Russia could allow Prussia to acquire some of Poland or push for other advantages. Frederick hoped for a partition of Poland when he offered mediation to Russia on November 9. While nothing came of this suggestion, it was the first of many schemes put forward by Prussia to partition Poland.
In the meantime, Austria became fearful that Russia=s entanglement with Turkey would open a window for France to fight Britain. If France fought Britain, Austria's role would be to restrain Russia=s ally Prussia - an unwelcome prospect. For its part, Prussia did not want its alliance with Russia to draw it into a war with Turkey in Poland and Austria did not want to be dragged into a war with Prussia by its ties with France. Austria and Prussia had common cause in wanting to keep a lid on the Turko-Russian war. Austria made the first move to warm up its ties with Prussia by sending a representative to visit Frederick. Austria renounced its claims to Silesia and both countries agreed that future expansion by either France or Russia should be discouraged. Austria wanted more than just moderation and conciliation. On December 3, Austrian Chancellor Kaunitz sent a memorandum to his government speculating about a partition of Poland or recovery of Silesia, made possible with Turkish help. Austria built up its troops along the Polish and Turkish borders, hoping to prevent the war from spilling over. It installed markers (Austrian eagles) along parts of borders that were unclear. Austria 'eagled' into to its own territory any lands that were in dispute or of unclear ownership. 'Eagling' may have increased transparency (remember the task of the Delimitation Commission), but may also have increased tensions. This action simultaneously supports H4: Transparency Reduces Miscalculation and H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Tension, or Conflict.
With enough 'eagling,' Austria ended up occupying the Polish counties of Zips in February 1769. This offered de facto protection for those Bar Confederates located in Zips. In May 1770, Austria began to suggest to Prussia its ideas for further partition of Poland.
However, in Spring and Summer 1769, Russia began to rack up a series of military victories. Russia occupied Bessarabia and the Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia on the Austrian frontier. By mid-1770, Russia had begun to conquer the Crimea, stirred up a revolt in southern Greece (Morea), and, after sailing from the Baltic, had sunk the Turkish fleet (with British help) at Chesme in the Mediterranean.
Russian victories caused apprehension in nearby great powers. Amidst uncertainty and rising tensions, Austria and Prussia exchanged secret letters of neutrality to help keep the peace between them. Austria and Prussia wanted the August 1769 agreement to be secret because they wanted to keep their respective alliances with Russia and France. But the secret was hard to keep and Prussia's not-so-secret meeting with Austria made Russia nervous. Russia and Prussia renewed their treaty of alliance in October and extended it until 1780. Diplomacy was complex and transparent without a forum. Prussia benefitted from the treaty, not just because it helped manage relations with Russia, but because good relations with Russia also made Austria more conciliatory. Prussia was manipulating the tensions between Russia and Austria.
This episode of secret meetings and shifting and renewed alliances is similar in some respects to the Poland/Saxony crisis of the Concert period in which a secret alliance was formed and then quickly revealed for political effect. Sometimes it is in the interest of states to increase transparency, perhaps when they want to manipulate other states with information (as in the case of Prussia here) or when they want to reveal an advantageous power shift (as in the Poland/Saxony crisis).
In Winter 1769-1770, Prussia suggested that Austria offer mediation to the Turks and promised to support that mediation in its discussions with Russia. Prussia also urged Turkey to enlist Austria as a mediator. In September 1770, Prussia and Austria began to discuss what terms Russia might accept to end its war with Turkey and declared to each other a desire to live in peace. Coincidentally (?) during these discussions, a letter from Turkey arrived asking for mediation from the two countries. Prussia raised the possibility of general European war in its attempt to persuade Russia to accept mediation, but Russia had been too successful to start compromising. However, sufficient progress had soon been made in the war (along with the onset of war-slowing Winter), to lead Russia to express a desire for peace to Prussia in late December 1770. On January 20, 1771, Russia proposed some conciliatory terms, including independence for Moldavia and Wallachia. While the various countries were talking, Austria continued to push its Eagles further into Poland and Prussia had begun to occupy parts of the country as well.
Austria rejected Prussia's suggestion to become a mediator. Instead, they asked Prussia not to help Russia if Austria attacked Russia outside of Poland (presumably along the Danube). Austria also wanted to use Turkey as a lever to help force concessions from Russia, so Austria proposed an alliance with Turkey and promised that Austria would prefer war with Russia to the total defeat of Turkey. Through late Winter and Spring 1771, Prussia pressed Russia to accept a partition of Poland. Parts of Poland would buy off Russia as payment to ease up against Austria in Moldavia and Wallachia along the Danube. Other parts of Poland would buy off Austria, preventing a wider war in which Prussia would have to fight with Russia and heading off the Austro-Turkish alliance. Domestic politics, an epidemic, fear of peasant revolt, and continued unrest in Poland led Russia to begin to see partition as a viable choice to end the stresses of war.
On July 1 1771, Crimea fell to Russia and on July 6, Turkey took up Austria's offer of alliance. Although Frederick believed that Austria actually would not be willing to fight for its new ally, he renewed his push for partition of Poland with Russia. Russia viewed the Austro-Turkish treaty with greater alarm.12 Their fears were exacerbated when they learned that Turkey sent silver to Austria, as payments in accord with their >secret= treaty. Russia learned this from Frederick (who knew it would alarm Russia), who learned it from the French, whose government in Paris had been informed of the shipment by the British Ambassador in Constantinople.13 This was the final straw for Russia which finally accepted a Prussian plan for partition in January of 1772. Austria resisted the plan for several months, but eventually gave in as Russia and Prussia cut it in for ever-larger shares of Poland.
Here, the turning points in the crisis were three shifts in power: on the ground (Russia's victories), domestically (Russia=s turmoil), and in alliances (Turkey with Austria). None required a security regime to make it effects known. If Austria=s alliance with Turkey helped catalyze the partition for peace agreement, and if it was a successful feint, then this would be an example of opacity helping peace. If Prussia figured out the feint, then18th century diplomacy was at least sometimes quite transparent. More striking is that a multilateral forum was not necessary to conduct the complicated diplomatic dance that preceded the partition, or to achieve the tripartite partition itself. States did not need a forum or any added transparency it might provide to machinate, to be aware of each others= machinations, or to make a multilateral peace agreement.
In the end, Poland lost one-third of its territory and one-half of its population. Prussia achieved its goal of partitioning Poland and avoiding being dragged into war. Austria received the largest share of Poland, and the Russians withdrew their threatening forces from the Danubian Principalities and returned the territory to Turkey (but gave itself the role of protector of those lands). Russia received the smallest share of the partition, but also freed itself from the possibility that the Europeans powers would be drawn into its war with Turkey. Thus unfettered, Russia continued to pursue some of its war aims. In 1774, Turkey was forced to accept the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji in which Russia gained the independence of Crimea from Turkish rule and became its protector, gained freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and control over most of its North coast. Turkey pledged "'constantly to protect the Christian religion and its churches' in general, [and] to 'place no impediment in the way of the free practice of the Christian religion'" in Moldavia, Wallachia, Greece, and Georgia. Based on this treaty, Russia later claimed a right to "interfere in the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire."14 This treaty and its interpretation helped cause later crises between Russia and Turkey, including the Crimean War.15
The deal to partition Poland was quite complicated and was essentially a multilateral outcome - even though it resulted from a series of bilateral negotiations and maneuvers. Throughout most of this crisis/war, the great powers wheeled and dealed until the multi-power final partition agreement took shape. Rough and tumble great power politics led to peace at the expense of a minor power. The great powers never sat down together until the end-game, but by then, there was little left to decide. They had worked it out through sequential bilateral diplomacy.
Could multilateral forum (Concert) diplomacy have changed the outcome? A plausible counterfactual argument could be made that multilateral diplomacy could have reduced tensions between Russia and Austria and hastened - but not changed - the eventual outcome. Austria and Prussia (and Russia to a lesser extent) had shared and overlapping interests. Multilateral diplomacy could well have revealed those common interests sooner and reduced the need for what seems to have been an inefficient and time-consuming level of manipulation. That said, Russia's victories and then domestic weakness arguably explain most of the changes in Austrian, Prussian, and Turkish policies during this episode. Multilateral diplomacy would have had little effect on these factors. In the end, all one can conclusively say is that sequential diplomacy was sufficient to produce a near-multilateral outcome and that multilateral diplomacy was not necessary to do so.
To what extent do these results lay the basis for evaluating H1: Regimes Provide Transparency in the case of the Concert? As a baseline for measuring increases in transparency made by the Concert, the first partition of Poland suggests that there was already some transparency and diplomatic nimbleness without forum diplomacy. The next section assesses how much transparency the Concert added, and the effects of any added transparency on cooperation, miscalculation, and misperception.
The Concert of Europe
This section investigates how much the early 19th century's new practice of multilateral crisis-management - called the Concert of Europe16 - helped states manage crises. I examine the five most significant crises the Concert confronted in its early years: the crisis over Poland and Saxony in 1814/15, the rebellions in Naples and Spain in the early 1820s, the revolt in Greece also in the early 1820s, and the establishment of Belgian independence and neutrality in the early 1830s. According to most scholars of the Concert, it was most effective and coherent during its earliest years: 1814/15 to 1821/22.17 I test the hypotheses by examining the cases to see if they evince the predicted behavior. A key place for examining behavior and checking on the predictions is at turning points in crises. In these turning points, I will look for answers to the following sorts of questions: What explains why the crisis escalated or was diffused? What explains changes in states' behavior? How much of a role does transparency play in answering these questions? Seeing how well the predictions are confirmed will indicate what role transparency is playing.
Some confirmation of the predictions will occur if in fact the Concert helped states resolve their crises more peacefully, and with less tension and miscalculation, than the great powers experienced during the first partition of Poland. On a more fine-grained level, the predictions will be confirmed if, for example, actors' threat assessments become more benign during the crises and because of new information whose exchange was arguably facilitated by Concert diplomacy. Confirmation will also occur if misperceptions are corrected, if states' divergent interpretations of incidents or border locations evince more common ground, or if coalitions or bargaining positions shift. All of these changes must be based on new, more accurate information whose exchange was facilitated by the Concert.
This section begins by sketching the origins and legal framework of the Concert. Then I examine the crises just listed above. The conclusion has two main parts. The first explains my findings about transparency and the second explains the implications of these findings for the literature and policy debates that focus on the Concert.
The Formation of the Concert
This section explains the origins of the Concert of Europe and examines whether the promise of increased transparency motivated states to form the Concert (H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation). H2 receives mild support because Britain's Foreign Minister Viscount Castlereagh, the prime architect of the Concert, expressed the hope in 1814 that the Concert-to-be would increase transparency. However, the Concert had its roots in the wartime alliance against Napoleon owes much of its existence to the momentum of that alliance and continued fear of a resurgent France. The Concert powers also feared revolution more generally and banded together to allay these concerns as well. Thus, Walt=s balance of threat theory explains most of the Concert's origins.18
The Concert of Europe took form through a series of military, political, and ideological treaties. The first of these, the Treaty of Chaumont, was signed by Austria, Britain, Prussia, and Russia just prior to Napoleon's first defeat and abdication in March 1814. The allies agreed to continue the war against France, each maintaining 150,000 troops in the field for service against the "common Enemy"19 [France], and "most important, united them for twenty years in jointly maintaining peace."20 In May 1814, the First Treaty of Paris was signed by the allies and the newly restored Bourbon government of France. This treaty returned France to its 1792 borders, exiled Napoleon to Elba, but did not extract any other concessions or reparations from France.
In September 1814, the Congress of Vienna met to chart Europe's future. The Congress was a diplomatic fest of the highest order and included representatives from all the great powers and most of the lesser European states and principalities.21 Amidst an atmosphere of pomp and intrigue, the real work of the Congress was accomplished behind closed doors by the four victorious great powers, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Napoleon's sweeping wars left many territorial issues unsettled. The Congress= final act of June 1815 - a lengthy, formal, and detailed document - covered over one hundred territorial, governance, legal, and other issues. By so doing, it prescribed much of Europe=s borders and political order for at least a generation. While the Congress is widely recognized as the birthplace of the Concert of Europe,22 it continued to evolve over the course of several more treaties.
The alliance against France took a clearer turn toward broader Concert-like peace-maintaining purposes after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo when the Allies signed the Second Treaty of Paris, on November 20, 1815. While singling out the dangers of Bonapartism, the allies also expressed more general fears about revolution:
And as the same revolutionary principles which upheld the last criminal usurpation, might again, under other forms, convulse France, and thereby endanger the repose of other States; under these circumstances the High Contracting Parties...engage...to concert themselves...for the safety of their respective states, and for the general tranquillity of Europe.23
Further, the Allies pledged to "renew their Meetings at fixed periods...for the purpose of consulting upon their common interests, and for the consideration of the measures which at each of those periods shall be considered the most salutary for the repose and prosperity of Nations, and for the maintenance of the Peace of Europe."24 The Concert of Europe thereby received "formal recognition" and its role as a discussion forum was codified.25 The Quadruple Alliance was expanded to include France by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in October 1818.26 [[expand? any other purposes?]]
As early as 1814, the main founder of the Concert, Castlereagh, had an intuitive feel for how such a forum might increase transparency and how transparency might promote peace. Unfamiliar as he was with the social science lexicon of the late 20th century, Castlereagh did not say "transparency," but he talked about it. Castlereagh thought that if the great powers could continue to meet as a body, then:
many pretensions might be modified, asperities removed, and causes of irritation anticipated and met, by bringing the respective parties in unrestricted communications common to them all, and embracing in confidential and united discussion all the great points in which they were severally interested.27
This statement mildly confirms H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation in that Castlereagh seems to believe that the promise of transparency helps adversaries make peace. Moreover, Castlereagh's statement also indicates an implicit understanding that transparency would reduce fears, tensions, and miscalculation (H3 and H4).
The Treaty of the Holy Alliance, signed by Austria, Prussia, and Russia on September 26, 1815, was the most ideological of the various treaties of the period. It also presaged the difficulties Britain would have with other Concert members. The "Three Contracting Monarchs" agreed to "take no other rule for their guidance" than the precepts of Christianity - "Justice, Charity, and Peace" and to give each other aid and assistance "on all occasions and in all places."28 All other European governments subsequently adhered to this treaty, except Turkey, the Papal States, and Great Britain. Recognizing that the British Parliament would never accept the terms of the Holy Alliance, the British Foreign Minister Castlereagh proposed that Britain unofficially subscribe to the Treaty. The Cabinet rejected this proposal, on the grounds that it was inconsistent with Britain's constitutional principles.29 Most states did not take the Holy Alliance seriously and signed on mostly to please Tsar Alexander.
This series of treaties provided the formal basis for the Concert of Europe (and thus show why the Concert is considered a security regime). The treaties also show that, from the outset, liberal revolution was seen as a cause of the Napoleonic wars and that Britain's liberal-for-the-times ideology had begun to distance her from the more conservative powers. The East/Conservative vs. West/more liberal schism was heightened at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, September-November 1818,30 where Tsar Alexander proposed an Alliance Solidaire to suppress liberal revolutions. Castlereagh vigorously objected to this notion of a collective security system designed to interfere in the domestic politics of its members and it never got off the ground.31
There were two liberal revolutions in 1820 (Spain, January; Naples, July). In response, and over the protests of Britain, Tsar Alexander succeeded in gathering a conference of the great powers in Troppau in October, 1820. The resulting Troppau protocol endorsed the use of force against revolutionary states (see excerpt in the case study of Naples and Spain) was signed only by Austria, Russia, and Prussia.32 The rejection of the Protocol by the British Government33 created "an open and public breach with the Alliance."34 In the end, according to Temperley, Metternich thought the schism with England "was very fatal to the Congress system. Its essence was that Europe should present an entirely united front to cow the revolutionaries in all parts of Europe."35
By formalizing commitments and making states more explicitly express their views by voting on them, the Concert reduced ambiguity and heightened tensions with England. This only mildly supports H1: Regimes Provide Transparency and H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict, because Britain would probably have distanced itself from any conservative intervention, voting or no voting.
With this sketch of the formation, legal framework, and initial jockeying of the Concert in hand, it is time to progress to the case studies. In line with balance of threat theory, this section showed that the Concert=s founders were motivated mostly by an ideologically-shaped sense of common threat from France in particular and liberal revolution in general. Despite Castlereagh=s intuition, increased transparency was only a small part of the story, and H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation only receives modest support.
The Operation of the Concert of Europe: Case Studies of Five Crises
Poland and Saxony, late 1814 - early 1815
This crisis involved clarification of bargaining which heightened tensions. These tensions lead to the making and communicating of threats that ended up resolving the episode, curbing the overly ambitious plans of Prussia and Russia. This ease of communication in a forum supports H1: Regimes Provide Transparency. The rising tensions support H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict, while the ability to quickly make an alliance and coerce Russia supports H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict and H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation. This is the most powerful case supporting this chapter=s central theme that transparency facilitates realpolitik.
The most difficult and dangerous problem that arose during the Congress of Vienna involved the ultimate governance of the Duchy of Warsaw (Poland) and the Kingdom of Saxony. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, treaties had already been signed (Teplitz, Kalisch, and Reichenbach) between Austria, Prussia, and Russia to peacefully partition Saxony, Poland, and other territories when the war was over. Russia, the dominant power in the region, wanted Poland and had 200,000 troops stationed there at war=s end. But some of Poland had been part of Prussia, so to placate Prussia, Russia backed giving it long-coveted Saxony in exchange.
This plan raised fears in both England and Austria. If Russia obtained Poland, Russian power would be projected deep into central Europe. Central Europe would then no longer be strong enough to serve as a counterweight to either French or Russian expansion. For Austria in particular, Prussian expansion into Saxony would boost its influence throughout greater Germany and give Prussia a much longer border with Austria.
Russia=s plan, backed by military force in place, amounted to a fait accompli.36 At the Congress in September 1814, England=s representative Viscount Castlereagh began to present arguments against the plan to Tsar Alexander. Castlereagh sought a "'just equilibrium=" in Europe and for him this meant a strong central Europe.37 Alexander held firm and Castlereagh began efforts to unite Austria and Prussia against Russia. He wanted it made clear to Russia that the rest of Europe would not grant legitimacy to Russia=s virtual annexation of Poland. Prussia would not join this effort until its claims to Saxony received conditional support from Austria=s representative, Metternich. Even after Prussia obtained this support, continued bickering between Austria and Prussia almost broke up their nascent coalition. In the face of mounting resistance, Alexander became increasingly strident. This was part of an October 22 meeting between Alexander and France=s representative Talleyrand:
Alexander: "I have two hundred thousand men in the duchy of Warsaw. Let them drive me out if they can! I have given Saxony to Prussia; and Austria consents."
Talleyrand: "I do not know that. I should find it difficult to believe, it is so decidedly against her own interests. But can the consent of Austria give to Prussia what belongs to the King of Saxony?"
Alexander: "If the King of Saxony refuses to abdicate, he shall be led to Russia; where he will die." The Tsar continued: "You are always speaking to me of principles. Your public law is nothing to me: I don=t understand all that. What do you think are all your parchments and treaties to me?" Talleyrand later wrote: "I had reminded him of the treaty by which the allies had agreed that the duchy of Warsaw should be shared by the three courts."38
This discussion shows H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict in action. Talleyrand and Alexander are clarifying their differences, making claims about relative power on the ground, and indicating how they view the stakes in the crisis. In this case, the crisis almost led to war B it was a zero-sum game which everyone wanted to win and nobody was backing down. But it also led to the war-averting >secret= alliance described below. Thus, while H5' increased tensions, it then contributed to H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation and H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict.
According to Edward Vose Gulick, "war talk had become widespread at the congress from October on." The French representative Blacas expected that "Europe would remain in a feverish state, which sooner or later must end in war.39 By November 11, tensions had risen to the point where Castlereagh wrote home:
Unless the Emperor of Russia can be brought to a more moderate and sound course of public conduct, the peace which we have so dearly purchased will be of short duration.40
Despite the talk of war, it was clear that Russia would not budge and eventually (by next May) Russia received the lion=s share of Poland. The prospect of Russia's inevitable success in Poland frightened Prussia=s Hardenberg, as the agreed-upon support from Austria and Britain for his claims to Saxony were conditional on a less lopsided outcome in Poland. Further, a sated Russia might not need Prussia=s support and thus might in turn be less inclined to support Prussia=s position. Having lost its way on Poland, Austria dug in its heals on Saxony and tensions rose between Austria and Prussia. Castlereagh proposed to Prussia that it accept a limited part of Saxony and receive compensation elsewhere. This outcome was unacceptable to Prussia, and Hardenberg and other Prussian representatives began to talk of war. Prussia also readied its armies and fortified Dresden. On December 30, Hardenberg stated that annexation of the whole of Saxony was necessary for Prussia=s reconstruction and that refusal of others to recognize that was "tantamount to a declaration of war." Castlereagh termed this "a most alarming and unheard-of menace."41 Again, this is H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict in action.
These rising tensions made Austria and Britain accept Talleyrand=s December 23 offer of alliance with France. On January 3, 1815 the three powers signed a secret treaty in which each promised to supply 150,000 troops in case of attack. The treaty strengthened the backbones of Metternich and Castlereagh in their continued discussions with Hardenberg, and Hardenberg began to yield. Within one day, news of the secret alliance appears to have reached Alexander who then withdrew Russian support of Prussia=s all-or-nothing position and urged a compromise partition of Saxony.42 Prussia, the weakest of the great powers, was then without allies and was forced to accept a compromise in which it received two-fifths of Saxony and portions of the Rhineland. The quick formation and even quicker leak of the 'secret' alliance was the turning point.
This turning point supports H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict and H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation. Coercion was successful. Plans were changed based on new information whose provision was facilitated by the regime, reducing miscalculation (which would have been the case if Russia and Prussia had persisted with their demands in the face of ever more determined opposition). The regime, i.e. meeting together in a forum, also made it easier to form the secret alliance in the first place. The speed at which this deal took place required the forum, offering clear support for H1: Regimes Provide Transparency.
For its part, Saxony was forced to accept the outcome in terms as stark as those facing Prussia. Britain and France agreed upon their coercive position towards the King of Saxony: "We [Britain] say that we will support the King of Prussia, our Ally, in Saxony until suitable concessions are made to him. France says that she will cease to support her Ally, the King of Saxony, if he refuses to make good the cessions agreed upon."43
AssessmentTo assess the role of transparency in this crisis, one must look at how the two problems that created the crisis were resolved: Russia=s annexation of Poland and Prussia=s claims to compensation. Russia succeeded while Prussia=s claims were clipped back. In both cases B albeit with some risk, power relationships were made clear and then were no longer contested. States changed their behavior when they learned more about their adversary=s commitment or power, or of new alliances. At first, the crisis reflected H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict, which led to balancing. This balancing, when revealed, coerced Russia and Prussia, then offering support for H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict and H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation.
The most crucial turning point(s) were the events leading up to Prussia's diplomatic retreat. Concert diplomacy facilitated the making of the secret alliance and Concert diplomacy also let news of the alliance reach Alexander efficiently. Thus, Concert diplomacy enabled the efforts that ended up clarifying intentions and capabilities. When Prussia then backed down, its hot-headed optimism was revealed to be something of a miscalculation. In sum, H1, H5', H5, and H4 all receive support. The complex dance between rising tensions, balancing, and successful coercion is simply realpolitik, greased by transparency.
The first counterargument is that there are several similarities between this case and the partition of Poland: the great powers squabbled over spoils and successfully ended up carving up smaller powers and thereby fending off larger conflict. These rough similarities between the causes of the crises and ways in which they were resolved suggest that Concert diplomacy may not have been necessary to resolve the Poland-Saxony crisis and that bilateral diplomacy may have been sufficient. On the other hand, the pace at which diplomats were able to respond to increases in the threat of war with clearer and firmer alignments and policies suggests a more positive contribution of the Concert. The path was rocky, but the probability of war would have been higher if the Concert states had not been able to meet in congress. The forum facilitated Type III coercive transparency and this in turn offers support to H1, H5, and H4.44
Schroeder rejects the realpolitik argument altogether. He argues that in this case "balance of power tactics were tried and failed." Yet he also says that Russia prevailed "hands down" with its fait accompli due to its "big battalions," and that power helped "force" concessions from Prussia.45 If that is not realpolitik, what is? Schroeder writes that Russia forced concessions to save the alliance,46 but that boils down to saving the alliance from Russia=s own belligerent policy. Russia reduced the costs of its fait accompli by transferring those costs onto Prussia (by making Prussia accept less than it sought and less than it had been promised). Some credit for the peaceful outcome of this episode is in fact due to the shared moderation of the Concert states. Kissinger and Schroeder agree that no state truly wanted war. That said, moderation certainly does not explain Russia=s fait accompli and accompanying stubbornness. This crisis and its resolution is mostly a story of tough power politics. Concert diplomacy helped clarify stakes and alignments (H5', H5, and H4). The role of transparency was to facilitate power politics, not moderate it.
The Rebellions in Naples and Spain
These two stories are about ideological jockeying over the purposes of the Concert. The crises made Britain=s opposition to joint intervention against liberal revolution even more explicit. This created a schism in the Concert. This history offers some support for H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict.
When a military-led revolution broke out in Spain in January of 1820, the only great power concerned at first was Russia. For years, Russia had been advancing the idea that the alliance should evolve into an anti-revolutionary league47 and Russia soon called for a great power congress to confront the Spanish revolt. Russia=s call languished until another revolt broke out in Naples in July. Naples adopted the same liberal constitution as that taken up by the Spanish revolutionaries. Austria wanted to intervene in Naples to restore conservative order in its Italian satellite. France began to call for a congress as well. As at Aix, Britain opposed any allied steps towards a general policy of suppressing revolutions and it opposed a congress. On the other hand, Britain (and particularly Castlereagh) was willing to grant Austria the right to intervene on the grounds of self-defense. Prussia had little influence on these debates.
What were the interests for each country? Russia, under the eccentric and moody Tsar Alexander, saw itself as the leader of a new Europe. It would be a Europe unified under Christian, somewhat liberal principles. Russia wanted to intervene in Spain and then Naples because it feared military revolts and did not want to legitimize constitutions imposed at gunpoint. Somewhat paradoxically, Russia also wanted the interventions to serve progressive constitutional ends. France was initially unconcerned about the Spanish uprising because of its own domestic turmoil, because it was itself mildly liberal at the time, and because it did not perceive any significant threats arising from the revolt. However, when the Austrians proposed intervening in Naples, it raised the perennial issue of the French and Austrian competition for influence in Italy. In response, France sought a great-power conference in order to restrain and gain leverage over Austria. In October 1821, the French government took a reactionary turn and began to feel more threatened by the ongoing turmoil in Spain.
The revolutions posed the least threat to Great Britain because it was more liberal and more geographically isolated than the other powers. Nonetheless, Britain had interests in Spain where it had recently fought Napoleon and especially in Portugal which it was bound by treaty to defend and where it had long-term ties. Britain wanted to prevent the other powers from gaining influence on the peninsula. In May 1820, Castlereagh issued an oft-cited circular spelling out Britain=s policy on non-intervention.48
Austria was caught between British and Russian policies. Britain was Austria=s closest ally and together they formed a bulwark against Russian influence. Britain privately supported a conservative restoration, but not allied action to do so. Russia wanted concerted allied action, but to install regimes more liberal than Austria - the most conservative of the powers - preferred. But Austria needed Russia=s backing. Without it, Austria feared the sending a large force into Southern Italy and leaving Russia greater freedom of action in Northern Europe. And as Webster noted: [Metternich] "would do nothing until he heard from the Tsar. One word of encouragement from the North and all Italy and Germany would rise. Men must be clearly shewn that Russia was backing Austria, not the revolution."49
According to Metternich, Austria was on the horns of dilemma: "Austria considers everything with reference to the substance...Russia wants above all the form; Britain wants the substance without the form...It will be our task to combine the impossibilities of Britain with the modes of Russia."50 Ideally, Austria had to get Russia=s blessing without causing a break with Britain.
In the end, Russia=s support was more important and Metternich risked a rupture with Britain. In late 1820, a congress was held at Troppau, with Russia, Austria, and Prussia represented by plenipotentiaries and France and Britain by observers. The three Eastern powers issued the Troppau Protocol on November 19 which stated in part:
Any state forming part of the European Alliance which may change its form of interior government through revolutionary means, and which might thus become a menace to other states, will automatically cease to form a part of the Alliance...The Allied Powers...will employ every means to bring the offenders once more within the sphere of the Alliance. Friendly negotiations will be the first means resorted to, and if this fails, coercion will be employed...51
Lord Charles Stewart, the British representative, returned from a visit to Vienna to find himself presented with the Protocol already signed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. He protested this fait accompli. Britain and France refused to sign. This shows how a document which was intended to express and consolidate norms instead ended up highlighting rifts in the Concert. This episode offers some support for H1: Regimes Provide Transparency and H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict in that when states break out or defect from agreements (or in this case, refuse to sign) it sends a signal of malign intent and/or divergent interests. Many agreements increase transparency just by laying out behavioral markers.
Nonetheless, Austria's plans were blessed by the Troppau Protocol and Austria sent troops to crush the Naples revolt in early 1821. In theory, this joint blessing may have reduced miscalculation (combining H1 and H4). In reality, there was little threat of war due to the intervention, blessing or not, hence little potential for miscalculation.
As the Austrian troops were en route, another revolt sprang up in Piedmont. By this time, a mutiny in St. Petersburg and the counsels of Metternich had combined to make the Tsar drop his liberal-leaning ideas and become more reactionary. Ninety thousand Russian troops were called up as a reserve to the Austrians and to deter the French from intervening. In short order, the Austrians prevailed in both Naples and Piedmont.
With regard to the revolt in Spain, Britain again wanted to avoid making it an issue for the Concert powers. Britain wanted to keep France out and avoid further damage to its relations with Austria. Russia offered to lead an 'international army' to quash the Spanish rebellion by sending its troops across Europe and into Spain. This was a scary prospect for the other powers, especially Austria, and preventing Russian intervention was one reason that Metternich so quickly supported action by France. France at first wanted to keep the matter out of alliance hands, but ended up supporting a Congress at Verona which convened starting in October 1822. In order to assuage the British - who again only sent an observer - Metternich persuaded the four conservative powers to send simultaneous notes to Spain in an attempt to peacefully change the liberal Spanish government. France refused to send its note, and with the backing of the three Eastern powers, France invaded Spain and restored Ferdinand VII in April 1823. Canning, Castlereagh=s successor, obtained French assurances that the invasion would be temporary and that Portugal=s independence would be respected.
Compared to Naples, in this case the joint blessing may have helped keep Russia from marching across Europe. If this was a serious offer, such a move might have raised fears and increased the chance of accident or miscalculation. This joint blessing offers some possible support for H3: Transparency Reduces Unwarranted Fears and Worst-case Assumptions, and may have reduced miscalculation (combining H1 and H4). However, the next paragraph indicates that clearest result of the diplomacy surrounding these revolutions was to fracture the Concert. Supporting H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict, the Concert's coherence suffered because of Britain's objections to the interventions and the way these objections were handled.
The revolutions showed that "common action was no longer possible...because the insular and the Continental conceptions of danger had become incompatible."52 When Britain rejected the Troppau Protocol, it started a "doctrinal controversy and propaganda war [that] would last for decades [and produced] the first open break between Britain and the Holy Alliance."53 Canning wrote of Verona: "The issue of Verona has split the one and indivisible alliance into three parts as distinct as the constitutions of England, France, and Muscovy...and so things are getting back to a wholesome state again. Every nation for itself and God for us all."54 According to Temperley, Metternich thought the breach with England "was very fatal to the Congress system"55 Although peacetime conferences and congresses became a routine part of international relations, a number of scholars including Robert Jervis and Richard Rosecrance trace the decline of the Concert back to this period.56
AssessmentConcert diplomacy helped clarify the great powers' intentions and a mild counterfactual argument can be made that, because of this, the likelihood of war was lowered in the Spanish case. However unlikely, Russia's scheme to march a Russian army through Europe to Spain raised tensions and risks of accident and miscalculation. Concerted diplomacy helped dissuade Tsar Alexander from following through with his plan. By clarifying actions (H5), the potential for unwarranted fears was reduced (potential H3: Transparency Reduces Unwarranted Fears and Worst-case Assumptions). With regard to the possible conflict between France and Austria over Italy, discussions, the Troppau declaration, and Russia's backing of Austria all made the small possibility of Franco-Austro conflict even more remote.
However, it is not clear that Concert diplomacy added much to what regular diplomacy could have achieved. Remember that in the Poland-Saxony crisis, a secret alliance was formed on January 3, 1815 and Castlereagh tacitly told Alexander about it the next day. This was a very rapid change of events and a very specific transmission of information that were clearly facilitated by Concert/forum diplomacy. Here though, the value added of Concert diplomacy is much more difficult to discern. I can not identify moments where crisis resolution was greatly speeded-up or where specific information really changed the course of events. In the end, the most threatened powers intervened against the threats and the least threatened power sat out. Thus, despite initial appearances, H1: Regimes Provide Transparency is not really confirmed, further weakening support for any other hypotheses.
To the extent that there was a clear transparency-related result in the Naples and Spain cases, it was that transparency worsened relations. Each time an intervener got permission to intervene by fellow conservative powers, it isolated or angered Britain. By seeking joint blessing and by making explicit their views on the Concert=s purpose (H1), interveners reduced their ability to fudge or finesse the issue with Britain. Concert diplomacy ended up clarifying and increasing tensions between Britain and the continent and showing that the Concert had lost a good bit of its unity and coherence. This offers some support for H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict. However, it would be a mistake to make too much out of these cases. Britain=s liberal position was known before hand, and despite some grave language, Britain came back to the Concert in later episodes. Not much transparency was added, and its effects were not strong. Forum diplomacy lived on.
The Revolt in Greece
This case shows that the Concert facilitated a deception campaign when Britain and Austria used misinformation to persuade Russia not to intervene in Greece. It is one of the few cases I have found of H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation. I did not lay out hypotheses about the possible effects of misinformation, but the effect was to produce a twist on H3; misinformation caused Russia to ignore its otherwise warranted fears. Here, induced miscalculation served peace, or at least Britain and Austria=s view of peace. However, support for H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation is diminished by the fact that the Britains and Austrians mostly seemed to use bilateral means and not the forum for transmitting misinformation.
In early 1821, Christians in Greece and in the Danubian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia rebelled against their Muslim Turkish rulers. By March 1821, over one-third of the forty thousand Turks in Morea (Southern Greece) had been killed. This quickly led to Turkish counter-atrocities, including the killing of the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople on the door of his cathedral on Easter Sunday (April), 1821. Had this been a liberal revolution somewhere else, it might have been simple just letting the Sultan suppress the revolution, perhaps with the help of conservative Concert members. But Russia=s views toward the revolt were far more complicated. Russia had traditionally viewed itself as the protector of the Orthodox faith and was motivated to intervene to protect its fellow faithful. Many of Alexander=s advisors sided with the Greeks and counseled accordingly. Alexander=s most influential advisor on the area, Capo d=Istria, was a Greek noble. In addition to Russia=s religious kinship with the Greeks, Russia and the Ottoman Empire had been competing for influence and control throughout the Balkans and in the Caucasus for years. Russia had long sought control of Constantinople and the Dardanelles and each new chink in the Ottoman=s rusting armor presented opportunity and temptation to Russia.
Austria was the European (non-Turkish) power most threatened by the possibility of Russian intervention. Not only was Austria Europe's the most reactionary state and thus harbored a deep fear of revolution, but the Balkan turmoil was right on its doorstep. Austria favored a weakened but whole Ottoman Empire to a Russia strengthened by conquest combined with land grabs of Ottoman leftovers by the other powers. Austria favored a quick suppression of the revolt by the Turks. Britain shared Austria=s attitude with regard to relative Russian and Ottoman strength. If Russia fought Turkey, "she would gobble up Greece at one mouthful and Turkey at the next."57 Unlike Austria, however, Britain also sought to maintain free trade and access to its colonies throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Although some in France wanted Russia to intervene, breaking up the 1815 order and opening up the possibility of France=s recovery of the Rhineland, cooler heads prevailed. France ultimately favored restraining Russia and foregoing the risks of turmoil and the benefits of possible expansion. Due to their shared Christian heritage and philhellenic leanings, a significant portion of European public opinion supported a Russian intervention.
In July 1821 Russia issued an ultimatum to the Turks insisting that they protect the rights of Christians and broke relations with the Turks. War between Russia and Turkey seemed imminent. Metternich set out to convince the Tsar not to intervene. As British interests were now threatened, Castlereagh rejoined European diplomacy and added his voice to Metternich=s. With Metternich in the lead, they appealed to the Tsar=s pro-Concert and anti-revolutionary feelings. They reminded him of his pledges not to act unilaterally. They gave the Tsar credit for creating the European Alliance and urged him not to wreck it. At the same time, they also tried to convince Alexander that the rebels were not Christian victims in need of being saved by the Muslim Turks. Instead, they painted the rebels as ordinary but dangerous liberal revolutionaries, worthy of being crushed by Turkey. Metternich arranged for numerous diplomatic and police reports to descend on Alexander from around Europe attesting to the spread of revolutionary sentiment and the dangers of revolution.
Here Concert diplomacy and other diplomatic means are being deployed for what is essentially a deception plan. This is H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation in action. However, H1' is undercut because Concert (forum) diplomacy itself should be downplayed. Here is why. The 1822 Congress of Verona took place during the Greek revolt. Alexander had hoped that he could dominate the Congress with the subject of the revolt. He was foiled and the Greek Revolt took a back seat to the situation in Spain (see above) at the Congress. While not completely off the table, "it was a matter of common courtesy not to mention Turkish difficulties at Verona."58
Thus, non-forum diplomacy such as Metternich=s reports influenced the course of events, not the regime as an information exchanger. Much of the diplomacy was bilateral, such as the meeting between Metternich and Castlereagh in Hanover in November 1821 where they concocted to send similar messages to Russia59 or most of Metternich's disinformation campaign. However, this incident is one of the clearest examples of pro-Concert, non-unilateral norms actually affecting behavior and leading to an outcome that wouldn=t have happened in the absence of those norms. Ironically, the norms were part of the deception campaign.
By mid-1822, Alexander had been persuaded not to go to war, however morally satisfying or lucrative it may have been. He acted to save the alliance, his Holy Alliance. This is the turning point in the crisis, and it casts doubt on the value of Concert diplomacy in doing anything other than facilitating the deception that helped stop Alexander.
Schroeder calls Alexander's decision a "triumph of diplomacy over the use of force" and the "easiest and simplest" counter-realist example of a state that has "foregone concrete material advantages for the sake of moral principle."60 In the words of Alexander:
I could have permitted myself to be swept along by the enthusiasm for the Greeks, but I have never forgotten the impure origin of the rebellion of the danger of my intervention for my allies. Egotism is no longer the basis of policy. The principles of our truly Holy Alliance are pure.61
There is no doubt that Alexander at this point embodied elements of visionary idealism. But while Schroeder emphasizes Alexander=s autonomy in choosing to avoid war, Kissinger makes the Tsar out to be Metternich's dupe. If Alexander was an idealist, he was also swimming amid self-interested statesmen whose only purpose in talking about principle was to restrain a Russia who might otherwise act against their national interests.62
Here, the mechanism that is supposed to increase transparency (Concert/concerted diplomacy) is actually being used to pull the wool over Alexander's eyes. This seems tantamount to increasing miscalculation Duping Alexander may well have served the cause of great power peace, but peace certainly was not promoted by increasing transparency.63
After Alexander decided not to intervene, the pro-Greek Capo d=Istria resigned and testified to Austria=s pernicious influence by commenting that "'with friends like Austria, Russia did not need enemies.="64 Metternich cared little for Russia or principle and held Alexander=s pliability in contempt:
After having robbed the world of a few months of peace, the Emperor Alexander takes his head in his hands and presents himself before me with the request that I explain its content to him....[He] wants to find his way in a labyrinth and asks his old Ariadne for yarn.65
On the question of whether or not Alexander was an idealist or a dupe, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. In the words of Matthew Anderson, Alexander was willing to have his hands tied.66
By 1825, however, Alexander was getting frustrated with his allies. The allies had only supported lukewarm and ineffective measures to end the continuing turmoil. He felt he had not received the "reciprocity of services which he had a right to expect," especially in light of Russia=s backing of the respective Austrian and French interventions in Naples and Spain.67 The continued fighting in Greece also led the Turks to request Egyptian assistance and in February a large Egyptian army landed in the Morea. In December, Alexander died and was replaced by Nicholas I - a Tsar with much less commitment to the Concert. Meanwhile, the Russians had been spreading word that the Egyptians planned to depopulate and transplant (ethnic cleansing?) the Moreans and colonize Greece with Africans. The European consensus against intervention began to slip especially as France came to support a generalized European intervention. In sum, a variety of factors made Russian intervention increasingly likely.
As Metternich=s influence over Russian policy ebbed, the burden of restraining Russia fell on Britain. And as war seemed more likely, the only technique left to Britain was to join Russia to restrain it. By cooperating with Russia, Canning also hoped to further his goal of destroying the Congress system. On April 4, 1826, Russia and Britain signed the St. Petersburg Protocol which called for mediation between the Turks and the Greeks with the aim of giving full autonomy to the Greeks. This "diplomatic fiasco" tied Britain to "a vague, indefinitely expansible Russian programme which the Turks were sure to reject and the Greeks had already spurned but also...expressly authorized Russia to pursue its aims [Greek autonomy] with or without Britain and without limits as to time or means." Not only had Britain failed to constrain anything, but continental statesmen were "dismayed at seeing an Anglo-Russian solution in the Near East imposed on them over their heads."68
With Austria ever more isolated, France adopted the goals of the St. Petersburg Protocol by signing the Treaty of London with Britain and Russia in July of 1827. The Treaty had a secret clause in which, if the Turks did not agree to an armistice in Greece, the three powers would impose one by a united naval effort. In October 1827, the allied fleet sunk a Turco-Egyptian fleet in the Bay of Navarino, killing 4000 men. With full-scale war between Turkey and Russia imminent, Britain and Austria rejected a French suggestion that Russia be allowed to occupy the Danubian principalities in order to coerce Turkey. Instead, they occupied Morea themselves and told Russia to go no further. Russia decided to fight the Turks anyway and declared war in April 1828.69 Concert norms and practices had virtually nothing to do with the Greek story after 1925.
AssessmentThe main turning point in this crisis was when Alexander was convinced and duped not to intervene. This episode provides a cautionary tale about the how mechanisms which are supposed to increase transparency may be used to manipulate the truth. It is likely true that anything that either transfers or generates information can also transfer or generate false information. If the efforts of security regimes to increase transparency often do not work or have malign effects, then considerable doubt would be cast on H1: Regimes Provide Transparency and the rest of the benign hypotheses (H2, H3, H4, in particular). However, this is the sole clear example in my cases of H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation.
My research suggests that malign effects of transparency are fairly rare, and that security regimes in general rarely do more harm than good. Even though there are plenty of examples of H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict, increases in tension often end up catalyzing solutions that end a crisis. Still, questions that deserve more research are: when, how often, and under what conditions do mechanisms that increase transparency make deception easier?
The example of the Greek crisis alone is not sufficient to fully answer these questions, but Alexander's dupability suggests a key variable upon which deception depends. Not surprisingly, the degree to which transparency may help or hinder deception likely depends to a large extent on the vigilance of states and their leaders.70 This reinforces the findings of the surprise attack branch of the misperception literature which shows that states often have blinders on. These blinders create vulnerability to surprise attack which persists even in the face of evidence that attack may be imminent (see literature review section on misperception).
Independence of Belgium
As with the Poland/Saxony episode, this episode shows how Concert diplomacy speeded communications, helps states communicate threats, and avert miscalculation. H1: Regimes Provide Transparency, H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation, H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict and H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict receive some support. This support is again reduced by the amount of bilateral diplomacy (instead of Concert/forum diplomacy) involved in resolving the crisis.
For hundreds of years, the area of the Netherlands/Belgium/Luxemburg had been a source of tension and a flashpoint for European wars. For the thirty years prior to its 1830 revolt, Belgium had been something of a European football. During the Napoleonic wars, Belgium had been part of France. The 1815 Vienna settlement attached Belgium to the Dutch Netherlands in order to create a stronger buffer against France. But, in August of 1830, the Belgians began to rebel against Dutch rule. At the end of September, the Dutch had appealed to all the great powers save France for military help in suppressing the revolt. Russia and Prussia, the conservative Eastern Powers, were most favorable to intervention. In October, the Belgians declared their independence and on November 4, all five great powers met in London to discuss the problem.
Remembering Napoleon and aware of France's perennial appetite for Belgium, Europe feared French intervention (and this was why the Dutch did not request French help). France in turn feared the consequences of a British or Prussian intervention. Russia mobilized intervention forces, but would not act unilaterally and was soon hamstrung by more proximate problems when Poland rebelled against it in November 1830. With everyone fearing intervention more than rebellion, the conference agreed in fairly short order to allow Belgium=s separation. By late January 1831, the great powers had issued several joint Protocols specifying Belgium=s new borders, guaranteeing its independence (primarily from the French), and providing for freedom of navigation on rivers.
Unfortunately, the conference left Luxemburg occupied by Belgian troops and this caused a crisis by Summer 1831. On August 2, the Dutch attacked Belgium, and Belgium appealed to France for help. France quickly entered Belgium and convinced Holland to bring its troops home. France then reversed a promise to withdraw its own troops and left its forces in Belgium pending a full settlement between Belgium and Holland and resolution of France=s concerns over fortresses on the Belgian border with France. Britain became alarmed at the French occupation and feared private negotiations between France and Belgium. In mid-August, Palmerston, the new British Foreign Minister, wrote, "It is a question of war or peace." Grey, the British Prime Minister wrote:
The French must not remain in Belgium on any pretext whatever. To insist on the demolition of fortresses before leaving would be inconsistent with policy and justice, as they have a sufficient assurance that they will be dismantled. Public opinion in England is already excited, and any appearance of bad faith on the part of France would kindle a flame which would make war inevitable.71
France=s King Louis-Philippe, a generally pacific leader, waffled in responding to British concerns. Palmerston wrote again "One thing is certain, the French must go out of Belgium, or we shall have a general war, and war in a few days."72 Prussia began to threaten to move into the Rhine Provinces and Russia=s hands were soon to be untied because the Polish revolt was almost extinguished. Britain took the diplomatic lead and (with the support of the Austrian, Prussian, and Russian ambassadors to France) had by September 9 convinced the French to leave Belgium. This was a turning point. The others powers were able to clarify and underscore their desire to have France leave. This supports H1: Regimes Provide Transparency and H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict. Support is tempered by the fact that much of the diplomacy seemed to take place in Paris, not at the London conference.
Even though the French occupation had been dealt with, matters between Belgium and Holland were left unresolved. On October 15 1831, the ongoing London conference put forward another plan for settling the situation. Among its numerous provisions, the Twenty-four Articles called for Luxemburg to be partitioned between Belgium and Holland. By January 1832, the Articles had been accepted by Belgium and rejected by the Holland, and had been ratified by Britain and France. Expressing a wide range of frustrations, the Eastern powers delayed ratification until late Spring. This is a mild example of H5', where making things explicit (having to vote on something) clarified and increased tensions. However, when the Eastern powers did come around and ratify the Articles, they did so in part to keep the Concert together. Voting then was a modest example of H5, where clarity reduced tensions.
By October 1832, the Dutch King still rejected the Articles and was hindering shipping on the Scheldt river. Tensions were high between Holland and Belgium. Holland still occupied Antwerp; Belgium still occupied Luxemburg. To prevent escalation, the Concert powers agreed that the time had come to step up pressure on the Dutch. The Eastern powers wanted to apply economic pressure on Holland, but the British and French thought that these measures were insufficient and would delay things more than resolve them. The French were prepared to act unilaterally to kick Holland out of Antwerp. Unilateral action risked wider war, while inaction risked unilateral Prussian intervention.73 Palmerston and the French chargé d=affaires agreed that the "non-fulfillment [of a treaty] exposes the Peace of Europe to constant and increasing peril."74 This again suggests that breaking of treaties can have a signaling function and thus increase transparency.
On October 22, the British and French agreed to joint sea and land operations to get the Dutch out of Antwerp, free-up shipping, and restore other territories in the low countries to their allotted Belgian or Dutch owners. Russia left the conference, Austria and Prussia protested, but French troops re-entered Belgium on November 15 while the British blockaded the Scheldt. According to Schroeder, this affront to the Eastern powers "caused suspension of the conference and created a war scare more serious than any earlier one."75 It also resolved the crisis.
Metternich tried to coordinate a response by the conservative Eastern powers, but these efforts failed. Prussia was content that Franco-British action put an end to the threat of escalation between Belgium and Holland (and beyond). It is hard to say whether tensions would have been higher or lower without the Concert. Problems in Belgium are problems in the center of Europe, and would drawn in most of the great powers anyway. That said, diplomacy at the London conference, in Paris, and elsewhere did clarify the stakes and stances in the crisis, and prevent unilateral action. To the extent that forum diplomacy helped achieve these results, H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation is supported and we again see H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict leading to H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict.
In the face of Franco-British actions, the Dutch quickly withdrew from Antwerp and the French pulled out their troops. This ended the immediate crisis, but the blockade persisted until May 1833. The Belgian situation was not fully resolved until, after nearly a decade of diplomacy, coercion, and 70 great power protocols, a treaty was finally signed by Holland and Belgium on April 19, 1839.76
AssessmentThere were two turning points in this crisis. The first was getting France to leave Belgium on September 9, 1831. This result was certainly aided by concerted diplomacy, but not necessarily by forum diplomacy. Much of the diplomacy that ended up convincing France to leave took place in Paris, and not in London where the conference was being held. This undercuts some of the support that would otherwise be generated for H1: Regimes Provide Transparency.
The second turning point was when Britain and France joined forces to coerce the Dutch on October 22, 1832. Here, it appears that Britain and France knew of the impending dangers of war and, calculating correctly, took joint action to prevent it (see footnote ?, above). To calculate the danger of war correctly, the French and British had to know of Belgium's intentions to break loose and of Prussian intentions to support the Dutch in case the French intervention crossed onto Dutch territory. Letters between the French envoy to the London Conference (and French Foreign Minister) Prince Talleyrand and a French Foreign Ministry official, the Duc de Broglie, reveal that the French and British exchanged key information about their own intentions and capabilities, and on the dangers of Prussian intervention, both in London and in Paris. Further, the Prussians had made their intentions clear in direct communications with French government representatives in Paris.77
Here, the conference at London (or at least the diplomacy that took place in London) appears to have been helpful, but perhaps not necessarily crucial, in clarifying the situation. This supports H1: Regimes Provide Transparency, H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation, and the procession from H5' to H5 where clarification of problems first increases tensions, then prods a solution. However, the most important clarifier in this episode was the fact of joint British and French action, not the diplomacy surrounding it. This action deterred Prussia and/or at least reduced its incentives to intervene, coerced the Dutch, and obviated Belgian action.
All told, this case adds only lukewarm support for H1, H4, H5', and H5. To a limited extent, plans were changed based on new information whose provision was facilitated by the regime, and crisis bargaining was clarified. While more research might attribute greater importance to communications that took place at the London Conference, the reason support is lukewarm is that it seems that the London Conference at best only reinforced communications that were taking place throughout Europe during this episode.
Looking at the episode counterfactually, it is plausible to imagine that war might have resulted had the powers been forced to undertake the time-consuming bilateral dance that characterized the partition of Poland in the 18th century. Even though the big picture is that the crisis lasted for years, some key aspects of it were resolved with relative alacrity (a secondary prediction that hints at the possibility that transparency was increased). The best example is the speed with which the French were persuaded to leave Belgium in the Summer of 1831, a major turning point. This crisis shows transparency enhancing realpolitik. Albeit modestly and with caveats, the Concert enabled Type III, coercive transparency, which in turn helped reduce miscalculation (H4).
The overall finding is that the Concert moderately increased transparency at some point or points in most of the five crises. When it did, the effect was often to facilitate coercive bargaining. The Concert did have a modest effect as a security regime. But its institutional effects lie not with rules or norms B as the frequent war scares, blunt language, and forceful bargaining make clear. Instead, the Concert sometimes and modestly increased transparency and this helped realpolitik lead to peaceful outcomes. In the one case (Greece) where Concert mechanisms were used to deceive, this too promoted peace. Crises often had to get worse (H5') before they got better (H5). Perhaps paradoxically, increased tension and conflict may be necessary to get states to bargain seriously. Finally, transparency never seriously lessened unwarranted fears, a notable lacunae because this is supposed to be the main >elixir of peace= benefit of transparency.
The main findings by hypothesis are summarized in Table 1:
Table 1: Findings by Hypothesis
H1: Regimes Provide Transparency
Is a transparency-increasing mechanism used in case(s), and is the information is accurate?
*Poland/Saxony: forum enabled and quickened many discussions and deal making, esp. the>secret= alliance passim in case and esp. p. 21
*Naples and Spain: discussion of regime=s functions, passim in case.
*Belgium: threats, discussion of stakes, passim in case.
H1': Regimes Spread Misinformation
Is a transparency-increasing mechanism used in case(s), but the information is inaccurate?
*Greece: disinformation campaign, p. 27
Moderate/Weak (helped peace)
H2: Transparency Promotes Cooperation
Is the promise of verification/monitoring/ transparency important to adversaries when making peace?
*Formation: Castlereagh=s statement about the purposed of a Concert, p. 17
H3: Transparency Reduces Unwarranted Fears and Worst-case Assumptions
Does transparency make threat assessments more benign, reducing tensions and fears?
H3': Transparency Confirms Fears
Does transparency confirm fears about the adversary=s capabilities and general intentions and does this lead to more hawkish or aggressive policies?
H4: Transparency Reduces Optimistic Miscalculation
Are plans changed based on new information provided or facilitated by the regime, thus reducing miscalculation and preventing or toning down a hostile action?
*Poland/Saxony: Russia and Prussia back down, p. 21
*Belgium: France convinced to leave (Summer, 1831), p. 32
*Belgium: France and Prussia from prevented from intervening unilaterally, p. 32
H4': Transparency Helps Plan Aggression
Are plans changed based on new information provided or facilitated by the regime, increasing the likelihood of hostile action?
H5: Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Reduces Conflict
Does transparency help establish the positions and stakes in a conflict and does this reduce conflict?
*Poland/Saxony: quick making and revealing of the crisis-resolving>secret= alliance, p. 21
*Belgium: getting British and French to intervene together, p. 33
H5': Transparency Clarifies Deadlock, Positions, or Stakes and Increases Conflict
Does transparency help establish the positions and stakes in a conflict and does this increase conflict?
*Poland/Saxony: increased tensions and threats, p. 20
*Naples and Spain: clarified Britain=s objections, passim in case
*Belgium: voting on the Twenty-four Articles, p. 32
*Belgium: war scare prior to joint 1832 intervention, p. 32
Implications for Debates about the Concert
By arguing that the Concert sometimes and moderately increased transparency and thereby promoted peace by facilitating realpolitik, this analysis cuts a middle path in an often polarized debate about the Concert. Led by Paul Schroeder, the predominant liberal or institutionalist >Concert optimists= argue that the Concert significantly contributed to peace.79 Concert optimists make some of the strongest claims for the effectiveness of institutions and regimes to be found in any issue area. For example, Paul Schroeder argues that the Concert transformed European politics:
Only in one arena in 1789-1815 can one speak unequivocally of progress, breakthrough, even revolution: in international politics. Here there was unmistakable structural change. A competitive balance-of-power struggle gave way to an international system of political equilibrium based on benign shared hegemony [Britain and Russia] and the mutual recognition of rights underpinned by law.80
If one substituted France and Germany for Britain and Russia, and forgot about all the interventions, troop movements, coercion, and war scares during the Concert, one might mistake the Schroeder=s Concert for the present-day EU. These optimistic assessments nonetheless influenced a number of policy analysts who looked to the Concert as a model for future security structures B usually to replace or supplement NATO.81
The Concert of Europe did not eliminate or even significantly reduce realpolitik. It is not a good place to find idealism, norms, rules, or even much enlightened self-interest. The only significant norm evinced, and the only transformation to persist to this day, was the new practice of meeting together in a forum. However, the lack of norms and rules does not destroy the institutionalist argument because rules and norms are only part of the institutionalist repertoire. None of the optimists have examined in depth the impact of meeting together (transparency), and they may not believe that greased-up realpolitik is an outcome worth reporting.82
While realist accounts go back to Kissinger and beyond,83 two theory-aware Concert pessimists have recently explicitly challenged the optimists= accounts. Korina Kagan and Matthew Rendall look at the Greek case, with Rendall focusing mostly on Russian behavior. Rendall sides with a realist balance of power interpretation, while acknowledging that the great powers were also content with the status quo. Rendall=s is a nuanced and well researched argument.
Kagan=s conclusion is more sweeping: Asince the Concert of Europe is widely hailed as the major paradigmatic case of an effective security regime, these findings deprive institutionalism of its strongest case in the security area.@84 I am not sure that the Greek case is Athe central object of Concert diplomacy@ as Kagan claims, and I do not find support for that claim in her citations.85 I agree with Kagan=s argument that the diplomacy surrounding the Eastern question reveals a paucity of norms, cooperation, and enlightened self interest. Yet, I would not go so far as to use the single case of Greece, which seems to be an easy case for realism, to dismiss all institutional interpretations of the Concert.86
It is fairly easy to cite and falsify the optimists= rather grand claims about norms and transformations. But what of the informational arguments central to institutionalist claims? Could not the new practice of meeting together have an effect on diplomacy?
In a nuanced argument that fairly summarizes realist and institutionalist arguments for the Concert=s success, Lipson tends towards an optimist view, concluding with an allusion to transparency: AUltimately what made the Concert work B and what makes it a useful historical model B was its focus on communication among great powers to avoid deepening conflicts over third party disputes.@ His analysis is too brief to explain exactly why this is so.87
Jervis= much quoted description of the Concert as the Abest example of a security regime@ has gone far to inspire Concert optimism.88 Going beyond that headline though, Jervis is balanced when he gets into details, and often describes incidents involving war threats, coercion, or deception.89 These details are frequently ignored by optimists. Jervis= contribution lies in his theorizing about the possible institutional benefits of security regimes, which he is simply illustrating with examples drawn from the Concert and arms control agreements. Jervis offers one of the best descriptions of the effects of transparency in AFrom Balance to Concert.@90 Yet, most of his historical illustrations about transparency are actually from arms control agreements, not the Concert. My analysis is the first to test his contention that:
Concert systems are fairly transparent in part because of a relatively high level of communication among actors... This reduces B although it does not eliminate B misunderstandings that can cause a breakdown.91
In sum, Lipson and Jervis helped theorize about transparency and security regimes, but did little to explore the topic empirically in their discussions of the Concert. Given that Jervis specifically mentioned transparency in from ABalance to Concert,@and given the overall importance of information in institutionalist arguments, this is a significant lacuna in subsequent analyses of the Concert. The Concert was the first peacetime multilateral crisis management forum in history. The most basic institutional or regime benefit one should expect from the first such forum is increased transparency, just from the then unprecedented fact of meeting together. I hope to have filled some of this gap with this analysis of transparency across multiple cases and with a comparison to previous diplomatic practice.
Implications for Policy
Turning to policy, the optimists make recommendations that would affect the future of NATO, the U.N. and U.S. and international security. Whatever the deductive appeal of a great-power discussion forum or of a mechanism for a great-power condominium, these recommendations lose some of their shine if the actual Concert=s paths to peace were more rough and tumble and less norm-driven than the optimists assert.
Expectations about what forums can achieve should be modest. Forums simply bring leaders together, making it easier to practice realpolitik. Forums do not actively defuse crises or actively help states overcome fears of cooperation the way more formal ways do (such as peacekeeping operations or active mediation).
Policy recommendations for a new concert are also largely unnecessary. The more one believes that the Concert represented a revolution in diplomatic affairs, then the more one must be grateful for the state of modern diplomacy. Today, communications are rapid, the press is almost omnipresent, summits are plentiful, and many fora exist for states to exchange views on all sorts of issues.
For yesterday=s Concert, there is today=s United Nations and its Security Council, the G-7, the O.S.C.E., the Contact Group, the E.U. and so on. Today, consultations between the leaders of great powers in a crisis are quickly achieved and, in late 20th century practice, are almost automatic. A security-only variant of the G-7 of the seven strongest powers might be of some use (the S-7?) and certainly could not hurt. Skepticism toward forums does not imply skepticism about more formal regimes and international law. Clearly, formal rules and institutions have been very effective and beneficial, especially in the realm of international political economy.92
Despite my general skepticism, Concert-like forums or periodic summits may well be useful when states lack the means to communicate on a regular basis, or at all. This is a rare condition today, but when communication is minimal (as between the Koreas), organized summits or forums may be all the more desirable and may be the only way to get adversaries to communicate.93 In testimony before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on National Security, U.S. Army General Gary Luck, commander of both U.S. and U.N. forces in Korea said: "They (North Korea) refuse to meet us at Panmunjom on armistice-related issues, and they refuse to talk to us on the telephone when we've called to protest armistice violations." He went on to argue that "the lack of communication is dangerous because it would inhibit efforts to defuse a border situation."94 Along similar lines, regional variants of forum diplomacy might be of some use.
In sum, the Concert optimists are wrong. The Concert didn't work as well as they argue it did. And when it was successful, it was because it facilitated realpolitik. There is little to be gained in recommending variations of Concert diplomacy in most of today=s world, especially in Europe. Multilateral diplomacy is already happening everyday.