Clashing Traditions: German Foreign Policy in a New Era

Gaskarth, Jamie and Oppermann, Kai (2021). Clashing Traditions: German Foreign Policy in a New Era. International Studies Perspectives, 22(1) pp. 84–105.



A series of crises over the last decade have put pressure on Europe's fundamental ordering principles. In response, German policymakers have scrambled to reinterpret Germany's foreign policy for a new era. To understand this process, the authors utilize an interpretivist approach, analyzing the discourse of German foreign policymakers through the lens of four traditions of thought informing debates: regionalism, pacifism, realism, and hegemonism. The article suggests that despite serious challenges, prevailing patterns of belief centered round regionalism and pacifism, supported by a particular civilian understanding of hegemony, persist. Yet, Germany's allies are challenging this framework and calling for it to accept more responsibility for regional and global security. As a result, a realist tradition is reemerging in Germany's discourse. The taxonomy provided here allows a richer understanding of these debates as well as an appreciation of how policymakers mobilize ideas to resist or enable policy change.

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