Summary ± strategic cultural change from 1945 to the war in

In document From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? : Change in German Strategic Culture after the End of the Cold War (Page 135-143)

To conclude this chapter, I will now elaborate more closely the different cases in terms of the analytical model presented in Chapter 2.3. The purpose of this exercise is to knit the analytical framework more closely together with the individual cases as well as to provide a synthesis of the process of strategic cultural change in the given period. I will also briefly contrast this analysis with Wendt’s conception of cultures of anarchy in order to bring a con- trasting / complementary system-level view to the table.

Cold War

In terms of fundamental/incremental change, the most comprehensive change during the Cold War undoubtedly came in the form of a reformation of German strategic culture and of Germany turning towards the West. This was due to the external shock of the collapsing strategic culture of the Third Reich which was essentially caused by German defeat in WW II. The refor- mation of German post-WW II strategic culture stands out as a comprehen- sive change due to the process of rethinking and reconceptualizing German strategic thought and potential role in international security and defence pol- icy. However, during the Cold War German strategic culture was poised to- wards maintaining the status quo firstly, due to the external constraints put on German armed forces and German ability to project military power and secondly, due to the socializing effects of Europeanization and Westerniza- tion on German polity. The reformulation of German strategic thought in the form of ‘never again’ was to ensure not only that Germany upheld its com- mitments to NATO and its allies but also to ensure that Germany would nev- er again play the role of the aggressor in initiating war and conflict. The foundation of ‘never again’ also served the purpose of solidifying German

335 See ‚Rühe warnt vor hohen Risiken bei Mazedonien-Einsatz‘, die Welt, 19.8.2001; ‚Mazedonien:

SPD: Zustimmung für Einsatz sicher‘, der Tagesspiegel, 28.7.2001; ‚Parlament streitet über Marschbe- fehl‘, Handelsblatt, 19.8.2001. Available at: ( gegner-eines-mazedonien-mandats-waechst-parlament-streitet-ueber-marschbefehl/2091012.html).

international role image as a civilian power, which was well established in German strategic culture throughout the Cold War. However, it is important to point out that these fundamental changes at the level of strategic thought did not materialize in fundamental change at the level of strategic action, be- cause they principally underlined the notions of anti-militarism, restraint in all things military as well as German boundedness to NATO, UN and EC, i.e. the Western political institutions. Overall, the Cold War decades paint a ra- ther static view of German strategic culture that had to operate carefully based on the fact that Germany was considered a front-line state in a nuclear, bipolar world.

Regarding Wendt’s model of culture of anarchy, the early Cold War dec- ades can be argued to be a transition period from a devastating war (5-6 years of Hobbesian anarchy?) back to a Lockean system where war certainly was an option, but not a logical means of interstate interaction given the de- structive power of nuclear weapons. We can certainly argue that Wendt’s ma- jor variables regarding structural change seemed to be increasing at a sys- temic level given the formation of collective institutions of security such as NATO, EC and the UN, which all underlined the importance of interdepend- ence and expressed common fate among their members. However, and in contrast, self-restraint at the system level was internalized only to the degree that the existence of nuclear weapons forced states toward self-restraint. Al- so, states did not collectively renounce conventional warfare as a form of in- ternational interaction despite the fact that treaties were formed to express the contrary (e.g. the CFE Treaty).

In terms of the hypotheses made about the links between Wendt’s model and strategic cultural change, we can argue that the early Cold War decades seem to confirm the first hypothesis, namely, that changes in German strate- gic culture (formation of a new strategic culture) were conditioned by struc- tural changes after the end of World War II. Interdependence and common fate certainly played a key role for Germany, whose policies were firmly di- rected towards the West and its collective institutions. In addition, military self-restraint was not only accepted but was also established as a German

raison d’être. These developments in the early decades after World War II

seem at least partly to confirm the second hypothesis made regarding Wendt’s model. Strategic cultural change, i.e. the formation of a new strate- gic culture after the end of World War II, was necessary for Germany’s sur- vival, but it was largely dependent on external constraints imposed on Ger- many. However, I would also argue that the process of domestic internaliza- tion of the principal lessons of never again played a crucial role in how that new strategic culture was established and more importantly, sustained throughout the Cold War decades. Even though it could be argued that this process was forced upon Germany externally since Germany was basically left without a choice, it would be far-fetched to argue that Germans would have learned different lessons from their past in the absence of external con- straints given the devastation and ‘total war’ of World War II. Hence, system-

level features only partly explain German strategic cultural change during the Cold War. The experience of warfare (German defeat and the devastation of World War II) functioned as the primary causal mechanism in the refor- mation of German strategic culture.

Reunification, first Gulf War and Bosnia

The end of the Cold War did not specifically alter the content of strategic thought in Germany – ‘never again’ remained the cornerstone upon which it was built. However, the end of the Cold War functioned as an important stepping stone in facilitating the later changes in German strategic culture. Significantly, it provided the external conditions for an expansion in the scope and depth of German strategic action. But perhaps most importantly and somewhat paradoxically, the end of the Cold War and the structural changes with the destabilizing effects that came with it also brought ‘war’ back to Germany. This was immediately detectable during the first Gulf War during which Germany remained on the side-lines and received a lot of in- ternational flak for doing so. This conflict also revealed the extent to which the Cold War tenets of German strategic culture (antimilitarism, culture of restraint) seemed to be at odds with the emerging new world order. As ar- gued above, in Germany, the situation after reunification and the end of the Cold War was politically very delicate. The Gulf War struck a chord in Ger- many since Germany was now faced with the external pressure that demand- ed exactly the opposite of Germany’s decades-long commitment to self- restraint. In a way, the Gulf War could be seen as some sort of a wake-up call for Germany to the post-Cold War political reality, which seemed to reaffirm the Lockean logic of rivalry of the long Cold War years, even though in itself it did not present an external shock forceful enough to facilitate tangible change in strategic culture. Rivalry still remained the prevalent logic of post- Cold War international politics at the system level, which did not sit well with Germany’s nascent strategic culture that at the time was built strongly on the notions of antimilitarism and self-restraint.

In essence, the shift from bipolarity to multipolarity meant that power was distributed more evenly among the units in the system which theoreti- cally need not necessarily have anything to do with the logic of how states interact with each other. Indeed, while the end of the Cold War prompted the shift from bipolarity to multipolarity and led to the cessation of the rivalry between the two superpowers (US and USSR), rivalry between the US and Russia continued. However, with the Maastricht Treaty, the EU established

itself as one of the poles in the multipolar system336 – the EU (and NATO)

are perhaps the best examples of nascent Kantian cultures of anarchy be- cause the interaction among their members is based on friendship.

Nonetheless, if we contrast the argument regarding the continuity of German strategic culture with the Wendtian model in the immediate after- math of the Cold War, it was precisely the domestic developments and the institutionalization of the ‘never again’ normative framework which made German strategic culture substantially more progressive than the culture of Lockean anarchy that was driven at the system level. If we project this against Wendt’s model, its explanatory power becomes questionable in terms of strategic cultural change and we have to reject the hypotheses made in Chapter 2.4. Firstly, strategic cultural change would seem improbable for Germany because in Wendtian terms, it would in effect mean cultural re- gress, not progress (if anarchy evolves from Lockean to Kantian as Wendt has claimed and if we accept the notion that the nascent German strategic culture after the end of the Cold War aimed to sustain a more progressive Kantian logic). Secondly, Wendt’s model does not take into account that Germany’s relative power vis-à-vis the system level and other units had grown considerably with the end of the Cold War and German reunification. Germany was hence able to resist the external pressure of the systemic logic better. Indeed, it was clear at the time that Germany was neither willing nor ready to abide by the Lockean logic of anarchy (if abiding by the logic in ef- fect meant that Germany would periodically have the potential to use mili- tary force). Importantly, however, if we were to frame the issue in systemic terms, we could argue that it was precisely Germany’s evolving relationship with the reality of the prevailing logic of Lockean anarchy that would cause problems for Germany and its strategic culture in the course of the 1990s. This particularly came to the fore in the break-up of former Yugoslavia and the wars that erupted as a result.

In contrast to the Gulf War, the war in the former Yugoslavia and particu- larly the massacre at Srebrenica in Bosnia stands out as an external shock that has had the most profound impact on German strategic culture since the end of the Cold War. Firstly, it facilitated the normative change in the ‘never again’ framework – from ‘never again war’ to ‘never again Auschwitz’. Sec- ondly, the escalating war in the Balkans basically led to the sanctioning of Bundeswehr out-of-area operations with the Constitutional Court’s ruling in 1994337, hence representing a major break from the Cold War credo of terri-

torial defence. Thirdly, Bosnia not only problematized the Germans’ relation-

336 Van Langenhove describes ‘poles’ as “states endowed with the resources, political will and institu-

tional ability to project their interests at the global level”. See Van Langenhove, Luk 2010, ‘The EU as a Global Actor in a Multipolar World and Multilateral 2.0 Environment’, Egmont Paper 36. Brussels, Egmont Royal Institute for, International Relations, March 2010, p. 6. Multipolarity describes a situa- tion at the system level in which power is relatively equally distributed across three or more poles.

ships to peace and war, but it also questioned German strategic behaviour, i.e. ‘never again alone’. This could not only be detected in the alleged German ‘unilateralism’ regarding its recognition policy towards the secessionist Yu- goslav republics, but also in the re-emerging debate regarding German ‘nor- malization’ and ‘Sonderweg’. Most importantly, though, Bosnia and Srebren- ica in particular questioned the continuity of the strategic foundations of German security and defence policy and scrutinized the position of ‘ethical pacifists’ in Germany.

Indeed, the developments since the Gulf War and particularly beginning with Bosnia and especially the massacre at Srebrenica brought into light the normative discrepancy which basically pulled German strategic culture in two different directions which were not compatible in political terms. I will argue about the causal relevance of Srebrenica in terms of German strategic cultural change in detail in Chapter 5 and it is therefore not necessary to delve into that discussion here. For the purposes of the argument and related to the claims of the Wendtian model of anarchy, let us here instead proceed with the claim that it was a causally significant event in bringing about the observed outcome, i.e. the change in the normative structure of German stra- tegic culture (which then enabled the introduction of a new strategic practice – the use of force to prevent genocide, ‘never again Auschwitz’).

This is a hard case for the Wendtian model. The main reason is the fact that the Wendtian model implies that changes at the unit level regarding the use of military force are relatively unimportant unless they somehow drasti- cally affect the process of change on the system level (otherwise they just contribute to the status quo / continuity of the given logic of anarchy). Hence, it is the argument of the Wendtian model that the prevailing logic at the macro level, not the individual logic at the micro level, ultimately decides how states react to issues that deal with the use of military force. The fact that the logic in the relationship between the Western coalition (NATO) and the Serbian government could be seen as based on something other than friendship (enmity, rivalry) at the time doesn’t tell us very much about why Germany chose to reconsider its position in terms of the use of force. Neither does the fact that the interaction within NATO is based on friendship suffi- ciently explain why Germany took part in the conflict management opera- tions militarily (even though it explains it to a degree since it aligns with ‘never again alone’). Rather, as described above, these changes were not brought about by systemic variables, but by external shocks that fed directly into the German national experience of warfare. Hence, the above analysis on Bosnia and Srebrenica does not lend any particular support to a system-level explanation of strategic cultural change in Germany at the time, even though the structural change within the international system that was brought about by the end of the Cold War was a necessary precondition for the expansion of the scope and depth of German strategic action. In summary, while Bosnia and Srebrenica showcased the difficulty of maintaining continuity within German strategic culture and the fact that Germany was struggling with the

prevailing logic of Lockean anarchy, Germany did not change its stance to- wards the use of force due to a systemic logic of interaction.


The significance of Kosovo in terms of strategic cultural change in Germany lies in that it principally highlighted the effects of the normative shift after Srebrenica, that was now realized in terms of strategic action as Germany took part in the NATO bombing campaign. It seems plausible to argue that the normative shift after Srebrenica was a necessary precondition for Ger- man involvement in Kosovo. However, the fact that the Schröder government was under considerable pressure and seemed to go against the grain of the left supporter base seemed to indicate that other external factors actually played a crucial role in facilitating German participation in Kosovo. In terms of our analytical model, peer pressure stands out as one of the more im- portant mechanisms as it was bolstered by ‘never again alone’ at the norma- tive level, which seemed to surpass the very real problem of the potential Red-Green coalition break-up.

The case of Kosovo seems at first to be a rather solid case for probing Wendt’s claims on anarchy. Firstly, German strategic behaviour in Kosovo seemed to correspond with how states are assumed to coalesce against a norm breaker in the system, according to Wendt. While this can also be ar- gued to have been the case in Bosnia to a degree, the West acted much more cohesively and robustly in Kosovo. Secondly, the political consensus within the German government had shifted from ‘never again war’ to ‘never again Auschwitz’ which gave the political elite leeway in legitimating the decision of German military participation. Moreover, while especially the Greens had a hard time with the decision over Kosovo (as indicated by the debates during the party conference in Bielefeld in 1999), the argument can also be made that they moved due to external pressure since it is more than likely that the newly-elected Red-Green coalition would not have survived a Green com- promise on the issue. The Green ‘Realo’ foreign minister Fischer clearly por- trayed Milosevic and his regime as a ‘rival’ that had to be dealt with military force if necessary.

Importantly, however, as argued, NATO air war was deemed illegitimate in terms of the UN Charter because it wasn’t based on a UNSC mandate, which was one of the reasons why the political debate surrounding Kosovo was controversial. The German Left (PDS/Die Linke) was consistent in its argumentation that the NATO’s air war was illegal, which has basically been the position of the party on international interventions ever since it has been represented in the Bundestag. Moreover, Russia was vehemently against the NATO military intervention, a fact which was of great concern especially for German social democrats. In a sense, the West was breaking its own norms by coalescing against a norm breaker without the approval of the UNSC.

The NATO air war was clearly a violation of international law and the sov- ereignty of one of the members in the system, and was on one hand a blow to the credibility of international society to maintain its own principles, while maintaining international peace, on the other. These developments ham- pered the path towards a Kantian system because it seemed that the states system wasn’t ready for a wide acknowledgment of self-restraint. The argu- ment can also be made that Kosovo was the first litmus test for whether and to what degree German strategic culture would comply with the logic that it faced at the system level. The degree to which this would have occurred had the German polity not reinterpreted the meanings of the German past the way it did is uncertain. I will return to discuss this in Chapter 5.4.

To summarize, in terms of the causal mechanisms presented in the ana- lytical model, the evolving experience of warfare stands out as the most cru- cial one in bringing about tangible change in strategic culture. However, it is crucial to point out that the actualization of this change did not manifest it- self only in terms of the shift from ‘never again war’ to ‘never again Ausch-

In document From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? : Change in German Strategic Culture after the End of the Cold War (Page 135-143)