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The dangers of German history: Lessons from a decade of post-cold war German foreign and security policy

Marsh, Steve ORCID: 2002. The dangers of German history: Lessons from a decade of post-cold war German foreign and security policy. Perspectives on European Politics and Society 3 (3) , pp. 389-424. 10.1080/15705850208438843

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Historically, Germany's progress has been intimately entwined with past experience. It has been a tale of reinvention: Imperial Germany, Weimar Germany, National Socialist Germany, and Divided Germany. On each transition, the historical shock was sufficiently traumatic to force/enable subsequent leaders to steer Germany upon a new path. This article examines whether this positive linkage has continued in the context of post‐Cold War German foreign and security policy. In doing so it steps back from the popular ‘normalisation’ debate about whether or not Germany should, or has, maintained its civilian power status. Rather; it argues that attempts to maintain FRG foreign policy traditions produced increasingly difficult role conflicts and that the efforts of successive German governments to address these were compromised by the enduring power of historical memory, regardless of whether or not normalisation is desired. And as a consequence Germany became awkwardly placed between the predictable attritional multilateralism of the FRG and a ‘normal’ power and between its rhetorical commitment to exercising a leadership role and its practical ability to deliver such, especially in terms of military interventionism.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1570-5854
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 07:58

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