in German Foreign and Security Policy
The Participation of the Bundeswehr in Multinational Military Units
Paper prepared for delivery at the 41st Annual Convention
of the International Studies Association in Los Angeles, CA, 14 – 17 March 2000
Panel FB 026 Germany in Theory (Part II)
-- Draft: Please do not cite without permission of the author! --
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When post-unification Germany‘s foreign policy is characterized, multilateralism is among those terms that are rarely omitted.0 Most authors agree that Germany‘s preference for integration and self-binding in international institutions has continued to be a central feature of its foreign policy. Concerning the question of why Germany has resorted to multilateralism (i.e. what motivations have driven this foreign policy behavior), however, the positions diverge. Observers point to material interests as well as to political culture, institutionalized norms and internalized role conceptions. These analyses are grounded in rationalist (realist, institutionalist, or utilitarian-liberal) or constructivist thinking in international relations. Interestingly, proponents of different schools of thought all claim to be able to explain Germany‘s multilateralism.
In this paper, I argue, though, that a key rationale for Germany‘s multilateralism has been mostly neglected in current theory-guided analyses of German foreign policy. German decisionmakers have favored Germany‘s integration in institutionalized multilateral arrangements not least because they serve as confidence-building measures vis-à-vis its neighbors. This policy recognizes that Germany, in light of its history, is still far from being perceived as a ”normal country”. German multilateralism contributes to reducing German neighbors‘ anxieties and thus enhances Germany‘s leeway for action rather than constraining it. Most theoretical approaches currently employed to the study of German foreign policy do not satisfactorily account for this important motivation.
I will illustrate the salience of my argument by studying an empirical example of German multilateralism: Germany‘s participation in multinational military units in Europe. I do not claim that this is a representative case for German foreign and security policy as a whole. Yet, this explorative study will be helpful in identifying characteristics of German foreign policy behavior that may be of more general importance. I am primarily concerned with German security policy in Europe at this point, but my arguments also extend to other issue areas of German foreign policy. As another qualification, it must be stressed that this essay presents work in progress. The scope of this study needs to be both broadened and deepened. As for now, the results discussed here are preliminary.
Before I proceed, the meaning of ”multilateralism” needs to clarified. In the literature, the term is rarely ever defined, but it is clear that most authors refer to multilateralism as a specific institutional form of ordering or coordinating relations among states in international relations. For instance, Robert Keohane defines multilateralism as ”the practice of coordinating national policies in groups of three or more states” (Keohane 1990: 731). John Gerard Ruggie stresses that this nominal definition misses the qualitative dimension of the phenomenon. He posits that it is less the number of parties involved but mainly a specific kind of relations among them that constitutes the institutional form of multilateralism (Ruggie 1993: 6). As opposed to bilateralism, which is prone to exploitation of the weaker by the stronger partner, multilateralism rests on generalized principles of conduct (ibid.: 7-11). Ruggie‘s analysis is insightful, but his suggestion to include the principled character of multilateralism in the very definition of the term is less useful for the purpose of this study. If we want to shed light on why Germany resorts to multilateral cooperation, a nominal definition that does not preclude certain motivations guiding such behavior seems more appropriate. Also, it must be kept in mind that I study multilateralism from a foreign policy perspective. By multilateralism, I do not mean a certain practice of coordinating policies among several states, but foreign policy behavior that is receptive to and making use of such coordination.
In the following, I will begin by briefly presenting the common interpretations and explanations of Germany‘s multilateralism, before I will sketch out my own argument. Next, I will turn to the case of German participation in multinational military units, eventually leading to some conclusions and thoughts about the need for further study.
2. Perspectives on Multilateralism in German Foreign and Security Policy
2.1. Germany‘s Commitment to Multilateralism: Reflexive or Instrumental?
Jeffrey Anderson and John Goodman have distinguished two interpretations of Germany‘s commitment to actively participating in international institutions: instrumentalism and reflectivism (Anderson/Goodman 1993: 59-60). They argued that, while Germany, like its partners, had always instrumentalized international institutions for its own, national purposes, it had also placed value in these institutions themselves. Hence, the international institutions have become ”embedded in the very definition of [German] state interests and strategies” (ibid.: 60). This reflectivist position, which by now has been taken up and deepened by social constructivists, has become very prominent among scholars of German foreign policy in recent years. Instrumentalist arguments can be associated with rationalist approaches to the study of international relations. Realist, institutionalist and utilitarian-liberal approaches fall in this camp.0 In the following, I will briefly discuss instrumentalist and reflectivist arguments about why unified Germany has continued to embrace multilateralism in its foreign and security policy.
Securing German Influence -- The Instrumentalist Perspective
Instrumentalist approaches to multilateralism in foreign policy commonly posit that foreign policy actors utilize multilateral arrangements if it serves their (exogenuously given) interests. For institutionalism, a state resorts to multilateral institutions to the extent that they help to solve cooperation problems arising in an anarchic international system. For instance, multilateral institutions may provide necessary information, secure compliance with international agreements, and reduce transaction costs for states.0 Realists have also stressed the instrumental nature of multilateral institutions for states, but they place greater emphasis on the role of power politics within institutions. Liberalism, finally, criticizes the realist and institutionalist assumption of taking states as unitary actors. It asserts that the domestic policy process of preference formation and interest mediation shapes a state‘s foreign policy (cf. Moravcsik 1997; Bienen/Freund/Rittberger 1999). Yet, utilitarian liberalism, too, takes an instrumentalist view on multilateralism in foreign policy. As state will resort to multilateralism to the extent that it serves the material interests of dominant domestic actors. In any case, according to the instrumentalist point of view, a state like Germany does not prefer entanglement in multilateral institutions for their own sake. They are means, not ends of German foreign policy.
The clearest formulation of the instrumentalist perspective has come from realist theory. The differences between realist, institutionalist and utilitarian liberal arguments notwithstanding, it is worthwile to take a closer look at the realist explanation of unified Germany‘s multilateralism. At first sight, realists seem to have a hard time explaining post-unification Germany‘s continued multilateralist orientation. After all, soon after unification and the end of the East-West conflict, neorealists predicted a change in German foreign policy towards seeking more autonomy and a reduction of Germany‘s entanglement in multilateral institutions (Mearsheimer 1990; Layne 1993; Waltz 1993). Yet, in recent years, a number of scholars have stressed that next to the Waltzian approach, which views multilateral institutions only as constraints to independent state action, there is also a realist tradition suggesting that states take multilateral institutions as fora for influence seeking. This especially holds for great powers (Schweller/Priess 1997), but also for smaller states (cf. Grieco 1995; 1996). According to this line of realist thinking, which has been called post-classical realism (Brooks 1997), neoclassical realism (Rose 1998) or modified neorealism (Baumann/Rittberger/Wagner 1999), post-unification Germany will be ready to sacrifice some autonomy by participating in multilateral institutions in order to secure and extend Germany‘s influence within these institutions. One implication is, of course, that Germany cannot be expected to resort to multilateral arrangements by all means, as its multilateralism is only of instrumental nature. For instance, from a modified-neorealist perspective, it makes perfect sense for Germany to continue participating in Western security institutions such as NATO, since this provides Germany with substantial influence on other (powerful) NATO member states. In its policy vis-à-vis its Eastern neighbors, however, Germany can be expected to prefer bilateral relations, as they can more easily be dominated by the more powerful of the two partners.
Living up to Socially Constructed Expectations -- The Reflectivist Perspective
A perspective different from the rationalist ones has been offered by social constructivism. It maintains that states act in a socially constructed world. They do not pursue exogenuously given interests. Rather, their interests emerge from their identity, which is shaped by norms and values. Thus, states do not follow a logic of consequentiality, but a logic of appropriateness (March/Olsen 1989: 160f.; cf. March/Olsen 1998). They are role players. In their foreign policy behavior, they attempt to live up to socially constructed expectations.
According to constructivism, German multilateralism is reflexive rather than instrumental. Constructivist analyses of German foreign policy have advanced different arguments as to where social expectations shaping states‘ foreign policy behavior stem from. Some have pointed to institutionalized international norms (Boekle/Rittberger/Wagner 1999: 17-24; cf. Kratochwil 1993; Finnemore 1993; 1996a; 1996b). As a member of the transatlantic (cf. Risse 1996; Ruggie 1998) as well as the European value community, Germany has developed an identity that calls for conducting foreign policy through multilateral international institutions (Katzenstein 1997; Banchoff 1999; Risse et al. 1999). Others have complemented this analysis by pointing to Germany‘s political culture. For instance, with regard to German security policy John Duffield has argued that German society in general, and German elites in particular have shared fundamental beliefs and values that, inter alia, lead to ”a pronounced preference for multilateral over unilateral action” (Duffield 1998: 5; cf. Duffield 1999, as well as Berger 1996; 1998). The argument that Germany is a typical civilian power, as put forward by Hanns Maull and Knut Kirste (Maull 1990; Kirste/Maull 1996; Kirste 1998), posits that Germany prefers multilateralism because it is consistent with the role of a civilian power.
Alle these different constructivist approaches have one thing in common: According to them, Germany views multilateral arrangements not as useful instruments for achieving its material interests. Rather, it pursues multilateralism since it is the appropriate thing to do. Multilateralism thus has something of an intrinsic value. Conducting its foreign policy through multilateral institutions, when possible, has become an integral part of German identity.
2.2. Reflexive Instrumentalism: Germany and the Empowerment Function of Multilateral Institutions
My aim in this paper is not to question the usefulness of these perspectives on multilateralism in German foreign and security policy. For instance, scholars influenced by constructivism have been able to explain a great portion of Germany‘s continued support for transatlantic and European security institutions, as the studies by Duffield and Berger exemplify (cf. also Baumann 2000). Rationalist perspectives also provide some insights on German multilateralism. Yet, an element central to the understanding of the multilateralism in German foreign policy has been largely neglected by the analyses discussed in section 2.1. I argue that for Germany an important motivation for pursuing foreign policy through multilateral institutions has been the desire to raise and secure its neighbors‘ confidence in Germany. Decisionmakers are aware of the fact that German foreign policy operates under a specific restriction: Due to the horrible experiences Germany‘s neighbors had to make with a powerful Germany in this century, today there are still anxieties in Europe about a German (re)turn to power politics. Andrei Markovits and Simon Reich (1997) have analyzed this phenomenon by using the concept of collective memory (cf. Halbwachs 1967). They argue that these anxieties among the societies and political elites of Germany‘s partners and neighbors have a profound and constraining impact on unified Germany‘s possible role in Europe.0 German multilateralism can be seen as a response to these restrictions. From the beginning, the Federal Republic resorted to multilateral self-binding in order to gain back respect and trust. With this policy, Germany did not restrict but increase its own leeway for action. While the situation of unified Germany of course strongly differs from that of the FRG in the 1950s and 1960s, it still faces, albeit to a smaller degree, the impact of its neighbors‘ collective memory. Multilteralism in German foreign policy is an adequate response to this restriction. For Germany, multilateralism is less to be seen as self-binding and restraint, but more as empowerment. Given the importance of collective memory, the deliberate resort to multilateral arrangements vastly contributes to the success of German foreign policy. German decisionmakers have been aware of this fact and, consequently, have made deliberate use of multilateralism.
This argument transcends the distinction of instrumentalism and reflectivism. It maintains that instrumentalist approaches underestimate the importance of cognitive factors, especially in the form of intersubjectively shared beliefs. Instrumentalism posits that foreign policy decisions are mainly influenced by material factors, paying little attention to ideational factors such as collective memory. Reflectivist approaches, on the other hand, place a strong emphasis on ideational factors. Yet, as they commonly assume that states follow a logic of appropriateness, to some extent they misconstrue states‘ motivation in foreign policy, failing to notice that even if states are strongly influenced by (socially constructed) ideational factors, they might still select their ends and means of foreign policy in a quite instrumental way. Hence, in order to fully understand why Germany has been so dedicated to multilateralism in its foreign policy, instrumentalism and reflectivism alone may not be sufficient. I propose that German multilateralism can be better understood by taking what could be labelled ”reflexive instrumentalism” as a main motivation of German foreign policy.
At this point, I can neither offer a fully worked out IR-theoretical foundation for such a perspective nor an elaborate empirical analysis that confirms (or refutes) my hypothesis. The main purpose of this essay is to formulate the basic idea. Yet, a brief look at an empirical case may be helpful in illustrating and clarifying the arguments put forward here. Germany‘s participation in multinational military units provides a good example in this respect. It is a case of German cooperation with ist Western partners in existing multilteral institutions, but it also entails aspects of German cooperation with Eastern neighbors such as Poland.
3. German Multilateralism in Action: The Case of Multinational Military Units
3.1. Multinational Military Units in Europe after the East-West Conflict
Multinational military units, as existing in NATO, must not be confused with an integrated multinational army like the (failed) European Defense Community of the early 1950s. In multinational units, the level of integration is much lower. Armed forces of different countries are combined into one unit (such as an army corps), but multinationality does not go below a certain level. For instance, multinational corps are usually made up of national divisions of different states which are stationed in different locations, sometimes in different countries. Yet, the staff of the unit is usually multinational in composition (except for units organized according to the lead-nation principle, in which the lead nation provides the entire staff). Despite these limits to multinational integration, by contributing troops to multinational military units a state accepts restrictions, as it becomes harder to use these troops autonomously (Hallerbach 1991: 23). At the same time, the state gains some control on the use of the forces of the other participating state(s), and it enhances its overall presence in the alliance (cf. Tuschhoff 1994: 382-384). To avoid confusion, it must also be stressed that the term ”multinational military units” also subsumes binational units operating within a multilateral framework. As we will see, there are several binational corps within NATO. As these corps are integrated in NATO‘s military structures, participating in them qualifies as multilateralism rather than as bilateralism.
Multinational military units are not a new phenomenon in Europe. Within NATO, such units have existed for several decades. Still, for a long time they had been of rather subordinate importance. During the East-West conflict, NATO forces were almost soleley oriented toward repelling a Soviet attack. Troops had a high level of readiness and were concentrated at the Eastern front line, i.e. at the intra-German border. Along this line, national corps of different member states covered small sections, forming the so-called layercake deployment. The idea behind this deployment was that, in case of an attack, forces of several member states would inevitably be drawn into the war, so that no NATO member could be singled out and alliance cohesion would not be endangered (Tuschhoff 1994: 367). Military units that were multinational in composition, though, were the exception. Among them were three naval units (cf. Langen 1992), the early warning unit AWACS, the small Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF), and the Danish-German Corps LANDJUT.
After the end of the East-West conflict, the concept of multinational units has greatly gained in importance. Facing a completely changed international environment, NATO decided to change both its strategy and its force posture. In its Strategic Concept of 1991, adopted at the Rome summit, NATO stressed that the threat by the Soviet Union had sharply decreased, giving way to diverse risks and instabilities. As a consequence, it was decided to establish a new force posture based on main defense forces with a lower level of readiness, immediate and rapid reaction forces, as well as augmentation forces not to be permanently stationed in Europe. These changes as well as the reduction of conventional forces resulting from the end of the East-West conflict and from the CFE Treaty put alliance cohesion under pressure (cf. Hallerbach 1991; Lowe/Young 1991). One of NATO‘s responses to this perceived threat to its cohesion was the decision to create more multinational military units. Already at the London Summit in 1990, NATO declared that it will to a greater degree resort to multinational forces. In the same year, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) was tasked by NATO‘s Military Committee to prepare a study on how to make more use of multinational units for land forces in the Central Region (AFCENT), i.e. especially in Germany (Hallerbach 1991: 23). In the following years, a number of multinational units, mostly bi- and trinational Army Corps, were created in the area of AFCENT. Additional multinational units within NATO have been established in connection with the organization‘s new emphasis on military crisis management. The core of NATO‘s immediate and rapid reaction forces consists of multinational units, such as the Allied Command Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). This means that we can distinguish three types of multinational military units in Europe. First, there are naval and air force units within NATO that already existed before 1990. Second, there are multinational units belonging to NATO‘s reaction forces, most of which have been established in the early 1990s. Finally, we have a number of land units, which mainly belong to the main defense forces.
3.2. German Participation in Multinational Military Units
Germany has always contributed substantially to multinational military units in Europe. In the 1980s, West German troops participated in NATO‘s three standing intervention forces that were put under full NATO command already during peace (the AMF as well as two standing naval forces located in the Atlantic and the Channel Region), and they participated in NATO‘s early warning unit AWACS (BMVg 1985: 75; Langen 1992: 667f.).
After unification, Germany‘s readiness to take part in multinational military units has remained very high (cf. Sauder 1995: 267f.). No other NATO member has been engaged in so many multinational units (cf. IHT, Dec 1997). Concerning the first type of multinatonal units distinguished above (naval and air force units that already existed before unification), Germany has maintained its presence. It has also participated in three crisis reaction units, which belong to the second type of multinational units.Those three are the following units:
• Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF): As mentioned above, this unit already existed during the 1980s. With its headquarters in Heidelberg, it is now part of the reaction forces. Germany has contributed a brigade (Bundespresseamt 1995: 17f.).
• Allied Command Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC): Stationed in Mönchengladbach, this unit is the core of the reaction forces. In the early 1990, Germany attempted to obtain the command of this corps. Due to the German lack of experience in military intervention, though, Germany lost out to the UK (Schlör 1993: 58f.). Normally, one German division belongs to this corps, but in case of its deployment, the German contribution may consist of up to four divisions (Vad/Meyers 1996: 33).
• Multinational Division Central (MND(C)): The staff of this unit also resides in Mönchengladbach, and it may be integrated in the ARRC. Multinationality in this unit goes down to the division level. Germany participates in the division‘s multinational staff, it provides part of the division‘s ground forces, and, like Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands, it contributes an air landing brigade (Schnell 1993: 419; Bundespresseamt 1995: 18).
When it comes to the third type of multinational forces, that is, bi-and trinational land units, Germany‘s dedication to participating in multinational forces is even more striking.
• The oldest multinational corps in Europe, created in 1970, was the Danish-German corps LANDJUT, with an integrated binational staff in Rendsburg (Vad/Meyers 1996: 34). In 1995, the German Defense Minister, together with his Danish and Polish colleagues, launched the idea of transforming this corps to a trinational Danish-German-Polish corps after Poland‘s accession to NATO. In 1997, the three countries decided to implement this idea by establishing a Multinational Corps North East with an integrated staff in Stettin (FAZ, 1 Sep 1997). A year later, the three Defense Ministers signed an agreement (Stichworte zur Sicherheitspolitik 9/98: 49). The trinational corps has been operational since September 1999.
• German-Dutch Corps (I. GE/NL Corps): Based on two agreements between the Dutch and the German Defense Minister (NZZ, 1 Apr 1993: 3; NZZ, 23 Apr 1994), this corps has been established in 1995. A major part of the Dutch land forces is assigned to it (cf. Klein/Rosendahl Huber/Frantz 1999: 10-14). It belongs to the main defense forces. The competences of the integrated staff were further strengthened in 1997 (Die Welt, 7 Oct 1997).
• U.S.-German and German-U.S. Corps: These two corps, the II. (GE) Corps in Ulm and the V. (U.S.) Corps in Frankfurt, both of which are also main defense forces, have been operational since 1993. They are organized according to the lead-nation principle, with a national corps staff and forces of the second country assigned to the corps. This somewhat lower level of multinational integration is mainly due to the U.S. desire to maintain the ability to deploy its troops independently (confidential interviews at the German Ministry of Defense and at the Foreign Office, Bonn, June 1998).
• Finally, there is the Eurocorps. It will be included here, although it differs from the corps discussed above, since the corps as such is not assigned to NATO (but German forces belonging to it are). A small French-German brigade had existed since 1987 (Klein 1990). In 1991, Chancellor Kohl and President Mitterand presented the plan to create a French-German corps that should be open to other WEU countries, building the nucleus of a future European Defense Community. Yet, at first, other European states did not follow this invitation. The British and the Dutch governments, and especially the U.S. administration accused France and Germany of weakening the transatlantic partnership. The German government responded that, quite to the contrary, its goal was to bring France closer to the transatlantic alliance (Schlör 1993: 37). To settle this controversy, France and Germany agreed to keep the corps outside of NATO assignation, while the German forces remain assigned to NATO (Denison 1993). The corps has been operational since 1995. By now, it contains the French-German brigade, as well as divisions by Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and a smaller contribution by Luxembourg (Bundespresseamt 1995: 20f.).
Overall, the integration of the Bundeswehr in multinational military units in Europe is remarkably high. Also, it must be noted that there are several other striking features of Germany‘s participation in such units. First, most of these units are stationed on German territory. This, of course, has to do with the fact that during the East-West conflict, a great number of allied forces were stationed in West Germany. In the 1990s, even those NATO members that did not fully remove their troops from Germany undertook substantial reductions. Incorporating the remaining forces in binational corps together with German forces, as in the case of the two U.S.-German corps, provided an answer to the question of what to do with these forces. Yet, the question remains why Germany happily embraced the idea of linking these forces with German ones by creating multinational forces on German territory. According to German government officials, Germany has wanted to keep allied forces in Germany, because it serves the cohesion of the alliance and because Germany did not want to raise suspicions among its partners right after unification by asking them to leave (confidential interviews at the Ministry of Defense and at the Foreign Office, Bonn, June 1998). Government officials also called the German participation in multinational units a ”confidence-building measure” vis-à-vis Germany‘s neighbors that is in Germany‘s very own interest (ibid.).
The second striking feature of German participation in multinational units lies in Germany‘s caution when it comes to obtaining command posts in multinational units. In the bi- and trinational corps with integrated staffs the position of the corps alternates between the participating states every two or three years. Germany never requested to be the first to provide the corps commander: the Dutch-German corps was first headed by a Dutch general, the Eurocorps by a French general, and a Danish general has been selected as the first commander of the Multinational Corps North East. Germany was interested in obtaining the command of the ARRC, but it fully accepted that the UK was chosen to play the leading role in this corps. German claims that, due to the country‘s important military contributions, additional command posts for German officers were warranted (cf. Kuebart 1991: 506), have remained the exception. In general, post-unification Germany has taken a low-key approach toward claiming command posts.
3.3. Understanding German Participation in Multinational Military Units: A Preliminary Assessment
To what extent can the three theoretical perspectives discussed in section 2 cope with German participation in multinational military units? To what extent are their hypotheses about the German motivations for doing so convincing in light of the empirical evidence in this case?
The instrumentalist perspective already fails to cope with important aspects of Germany‘s foreign policy behavior. The fact that Germany‘s strong presence in NATO‘s conventional forces in Central Europe strengthens Germany‘s influence in NATO certainly is in accordance with instrumentalist approaches. In addition, institutionalists can make the point that multinational corps create transparency between the participating states, thus somewhat reducing the uncertainty about the other states‘ intentions, which is a typical function of international institutions. Yet, it is hard to see what material payoffs multinationality could yield. From the standpoint of military efficiency and effectiveness, multinational corps are not a good solution. Experts agree that, due to the increased need for coordinaton, multinational units face more problems in this respect than national units (Schnell 1993: 420; confidential interviews at the Ministry of Defense, Bonn, June 1998 and at NATO HQ, Brussels, February 1999). Their strength seems to lie mainly in the symbolic sphere -- something rationalist theories can hardly grasp. Also, contrary to instrumentalist (and here: especially realist) expectations, Germany has not used its strong contribution to multinational units as a bargaining chip for obtaining more intra-organizational resources, such as command posts. Nor has it increased its military presence in other NATO member states, as German forces participating in multinational units have almost exclusively been stationed in Germany itself. Quite to the contrary, Germany has helped its partners to maintain their military presence on German territory.
Constructivist approaches, which hypothesize that Germany has been guided by ”reflexive” motivations, can better explain German behavior. By actively participating in multinational units, Germany has acted in accordance with the expectations of its NATO partners. It has fulfilled its role as a good Atlanticist and a good European. Yet, if we want to understand the motivation for Germany‘s multilateralism in this case, it appears that the ”reflexive instrumentalist” perspective outlined in section 2.2. provides better ground than the reflectivist one. As Germany has been more active in contributing to multinational forces than any other NATO member, we can conclude that there has been a specific German interest in embracing multinationality. My argument that Germany has had a particular need to undertake confidence building, especially after German unification, points to just such a specific German interest. From a constructivist perspective, the reason for Germany‘s outstanding behavior in this case must primarily be found in societal norms or domestic political culture (international norms as indicated by NATO‘s common decision to give multinational forces a greater role are basically addressed to all member states). Yet, unlike in the case of out-of-area operations, the question of participating in multinational forces has hardly been an issue in German society. Germany‘s participation in multinational forces certainly is in accordance with its antimilitarist political culture (cf. Berger 1996; 1998). Again, unlike as in the out-of-area case, it is not clear, though, in what way this culture should call for such behavior and rule out a less proactive policy. Similarly, proponents of the concept of Germany as a civilian power may stress that participation in multinational units is a good example for a civilian power‘s readiness to give up national autonomy. Yet, this does not answer the question why Germany has acted this way (the answer that it has done so because it is a civilian power only evades the question). Hence, while constructivism is not disconfirmed in this case, there are strong indications that it cannot satisfactorily account for German decisionmakers‘ motivations in embracing multinationality. If we relax the constructivist assumption that state behavior follows a logic of appropriateness and take the ”reflexive instrumentalist” position instead, German behavior can be better understood.
Information the author has gathered in a number of confidential interviews with officials of the German government provide further support for this position. As noted above, government officials called the German participation in multinational units a ”confidence-building measure” that is very much in Germany‘s own interest. The remarks of a German diplomat about the Defense Ministry‘s policy in the case of the creation of the Danish-German-Polish corps are especially telling in this respect. He maintained it had been very clever (sehr geschickt) to approach Poland through a trilateral arrangement, as the inclusion of Denmark would diffuse Polish anxieties vis-à-vis Germany, while Poland would have never agreed to cooperating with Germany in a binational corps (confidential interview at the Foreign Office, Bonn, June 1998).
This evidence may not be sufficient at this point to arrive at a final conclusion, but at least there are indications that in actively participating in multinational military units, Germany has had more in mind than living up to shared expectations.
In this paper, I have argued that the dominant theoretically guided explanations of the multilateralist orientation of German foreign and security policy have serious shortcomings. While rationalists have portrayed German multilateralism as instrumental, serving (exogenuously given) material interests, constructivists have maintained that Germany has instead been motivated by ”reflexive” motivations, trying to live up to (socially constructed) expectations of its societal and international environment. I have argued that an approach that both combines and transcends these two positions provides for a better understanding: German decisionmakers have been aware that the collective memory in Germany‘s neighboring countries still entails anxieties about their powerful neighbor, thus posing difficulties for German foreign policy and creating the need for continued German confidence-building (the ”reflexive” part of the argument). To address this need, Germany has resorted to multilateral binding, which in turn does not create restrictions for Germany but increases Germany‘s leeway for action in light of existing restrictions stemming from collective memory (the ”instrumental” part of the argument). The preliminary findings of the case study on German participation in multinational military units support this argument. Rationalist approaches cannot even satisfactorily account for German behavior in this case. While constructivism is not disconfirmed in this way, there are at least strong indications that it offers only a partial understanding of Germany‘s specific interests in strengthening multinational military units.
The present case study, of course, does not provide sufficient ground to fully substantiate my argument. The scope of this study needs to be both broadenend and deepened. It should be broadened by adding additional case studies on German security policy and German policy concerning European integration (the two core areas of German multilateralism in Europe). But they should also be deepened by taking a closer look at public and elite discourses on multilateralism. As the goal is to tackle the motivations that have driven German multilateralism, the study of discourses promises to be especially useful.
On a final note, the search for the motivations of German multilateralism may not only bear implications for foreign policy analysis and IR theory. The questions addressed here also have relevance for the question of what future direction of German foreign policy we ought to expect. If German multilateralism has been driven by international and societal norms, based on a Europeanized identity, we can expect Germany to continue to be dedicated to strengthening multilateral institutions. If the main motivation has been more in line with what I have called reflexive instrumentalism, there is somewhat less cause for such optimism. It has become popular to depict the move of the German government to Berlin as a transformation of the Bonn Republic to the Berlin Republic. The crucial change in this process is not so much the move eastward of the capital. More importantly, it signifies the beginning replacement of one generation of decisionmakers by a younger one. From the ”reflectivist” perspective, this change should even strengthen, but at least not weaken, Germany‘s Europeanized identity. Alas, the younger generation that has grown up with the norms shaping this identity will have internalized them at least to the same degree as their parents‘ generation. From the ”reflective instrumentalist” perspective, the generational change has different implications: It bears the danger that future decisionmakers, influenced by the desire of German ”normalization”, may underestimate the importance of their neighbors‘ anxieties. As they have not experienced the Nazi time and World War II, there is at least some prospect that they will underestimate the importance of collective memory. In recent years, the idea of and call for ”normalization” has reached the political mainstream (cf. Wette 1996; Hellmann 1999). If ”reflexive instrumentalism” has not only been a main rationale behind German multilateralism but also one of the sources of the success of German foreign policy during the last decades, then it remains an open question whether the new generation of foreign policy decisionmakers will be able to continue the success story of German foreign policy by taking up this legacy. In other words: Constructivists may be too optimistic in expecting the ”Berlin Republic” to remain dedicated to reflexive multilateralism. If the present analysis is correct, then there is a greater danger that German decisionmakers will to a growing extent view multilateral institutions as platforms for inter-state bargaining. For Germany, this would imply a kind of multilateralism that lacks both reflexiveness and reflection.
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Appendix: German Participation in Multinational Military Units
Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF)
Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC)
Multinational Division Central (MND(C))
Eurocorps [B, D, E, F, L]
Multinational Corps North-East [D, DK, PL]
German - Dutch Corps (I. GE/NL Corps)
German - U.S. Corps (II. GE Corps)
U.S. - German Corps (V. US Corps)
Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT)
Standing Naval Force Channel (STANAVFORCHAN)
Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED)
Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)