In this chapter, I have discussed methodological issues and argued that stra- tegic cultural studies need to shift the focus from epistemology to ontology in order to be able to incorporate better the aspect of change to the study of strategic culture. In effect, a focus on the ontological question ‘what there is to know’ serves as an encouragement for us to move beyond the ‘observable realm’ of strategic culture. Indeed, the main argument regarding strategic cultural change posited was the notion that, besides of grasping strategic cul- tural change in terms of both processes as well as outcomes, we need to go beyond the observable if we aim for an explanation of strategic cultural change that takes into account the socio-cognitive features of (strategic) cul- tures.
In terms of the proposed analytical framework, the primary mechanism of change can be identified as ‘experience of warfare’ which is the causal mech- anism through which sources of change (external shocks, threat images, cri- ses, conflicts and wars etc.) are filtered and which may result in fundamental changes in strategic cultures (major changes in the normative/ideational structure of strategic culture; introduction of new strategic practices which become institutionalized as patterns of behaviour).
In the case of German strategic culture, the process of ‘coming to terms with the German past’ is a crucial part of this mechanism, because it deals directly with how Germans have dealt with the question of peace, war and the use of military force in terms of the lessons drawn from the (Nazi) past i.e. the historical experience of warfare. However, since the end of the Cold War, as Germany has increasingly taken part in international crisis management, these out-of-area operations provide for new experiences of warfare which, in turn, are gathered, filtered and mirrored against the lessons drawn from the past. In this sense, the ‘experience of warfare’ is not a static mechanism but one that is in constant flux operating in the mix of the experiences drawn both from the past and the present.
While the main argument in this chapter is that the experience of warfare is key in unravelling what strategic cultural change in Germany is all about, there are contrasting (or complementary) arguments to be made. For in- stance, the Wendtian account of cultures of anarchy points to the order of interstate relations on the system level that go beyond the notion of ‘experi- ence of warfare’ to the question of ‘order’ and hence refer to the multiple logics of interaction at play on the system level that may affect the function- ing of strategic cultures.
In the next chapters, the thesis provides a detailed elaboration of the development of German strategic culture since the end of World War II in order to provide the relevant contextual and historical frame for the rest of this study. The narrative spans from the early Cold War years to the fall of the Berlin Wall and beyond the unification of the Federal Republic of Germany. It depicts the political trajectory of Germany’s security since 1990,
covering primarily the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo (UNPROFOR, IFOR/SFOR, Operation Allied Force), Afghanistan (Enduring Freedom/ISAF) and Iraq as well as some of the more recent cases; Lebanon (UNIFIL), Libya (Operation Unified Protector) and Ukraine. Although there are a number of other cases that can be considered relevant to the debate on German strategic culture after the end of the Cold War, such as Cambodia (UNTAC) and Somalia (UNOSOM II), or Congo (EUFOR RD Congo), the Balkan wars, together with Kosovo, Iraq and the long mission in Afghanistan form the backbone of the debate within Germany from 1990 to 2015 concerning the changes and continuities in German out-of-area military deployments and in the attitudes, beliefs and practices on the use of military force. These cases also address issues that cover the whole strategic cultural spectrum, including the image of peace and war, the use of military force, security threats as well as civil-military relations and alliance commitments. However, it is also important to address the more recent developments because they are indicative of further evolution in German strategic culture.
First, the narrative is presented in analytical form, i.e. it will systemically assess the post-Cold War German discourse on the mentioned cases in chronological order, utilizing the Bundestag debates as the primary empirical source. This is supplemented by drawing on the wider German and international discourse surrounding German out-of- area operations, such as media coverage, speeches, defence and security policy documents and secondary literature. The analysis aims to identify and interpret the key shifts in the German discourse regarding the use of military force since the end of the Cold War. Second, by applying the analytical framework developed in this chapter to these cases, the analysis aims to showcase how the primary mechanism of change in German strategic culture, i.e. ‘experience of warfare’, functions and shapes German strategic culture.
The analysis follows certain principles that are characteristic of discourse analytical methods in general. First, I take discourse to mean ‘a system of signifying meaning’. Hence, the idea of the analysis is to ascertain how the meanings given to peace, war and the use of military force are constructed and how and why they change. This is crucial in uncovering the potential tensions between key strategic cultural tenets. Second, the analysis covers the aspect of discourse productivity, i.e. how discourse produces policy choices (e.g. military participation vs. non-participation). This relates to the discussion in this chapter regarding ‘norms’ as ‘reasons for action’. Third, the study acknowledges that discourses are contingent and open-ended (they require effort in terms of discursive actors to reproduce them).205
205 For a discussion on the principles of discourse analysis in IR, see e.g. Milliken, Jennifer 1999, ‘The
Study of Discourse in International Relations: A Critique of Research and Methods’, European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1999, pp. 225-254.
One small but important remark is in order regarding the content of the next chapters: while the issue of military deployments is often at the pinnacle of strategic culture for a good reason, it does not mean that strategic cultural continuity/change would manifest itself only via the issue of the (non) use of military force or that the (non) use of military force would pose the most ap- propriate way to study continuity/change in strategic cultures at all times. This will become especially evident when we turn to discuss the issue of com- ing to terms with the German past in Chapter 5, which covers a ‘small cos- mos’ of issues, which deal not only with the question of the use of military force, but also the very foundations of strategic culture in socio-cognitive terms.