From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? : Change in German Strategic Culture after the End of the Cold War

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Title: From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? : Change in German Strategic Culture after the End of the Cold War
Author: Seppo, Antti
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic and Political Studies
Publisher: Unigrafia
Date: 2017-05-19
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation
Abstract: This study focuses on aspects of change in German strategic culture, i.e. on the changes in ways of thinking about and pursuing security and defence policy and the views on the questions of peace, war and the use of military force, in particular after the end of the Cold War. The overarching aim of the study is to provide a novel reading on German strategic culture, and this has been done by shifting the focus of research on strategic culture from the study of continuity to the study of change. This enables us to tell better stories about strategic cultures both in terms of how internal and external challenges leading to questions about the continuity of strategic cultural patterns and how strategic culture is shaped by the social and political reality of the strategic actors. The first main contribution of the study is to question the mantra of continuity that has been the primary object of study in the existing strategic culture research. This mantra has ultimately led to a rather stale and static state of affairs in terms of the contributions that strategic culture research is able to make in the field of International Relations. Instead, the study argues for a research agenda that identifies the nature, mechanisms and outcomes of strategic cultural change. The study achieves this by critically assessing the existing accounts of strategic cultural change and creating an analytical framework that stresses both the processes and outcomes of strategic cultural change. This framework is informed by critical realist metatheory since it enables us to move ahead of the epistemological impasse of the existing studies by focusing on the ontological aspects of strategic culture. This framework identifies the experience of warfare as the primary mechanism of change in strategic cultures. The second key contribution of the study is to apply this analytical framework in the study of German strategic culture. The empirical case studies cover the German strategic cultural track record since the end of World War II, with a clear focus on the developments after the end of the Cold War. These case studies show, firstly, how shifts within the normative structure of German strategic culture have shaped German views on the use of military force, and, subsequently, how they led to shifts and changes in German strategic practices. Secondly, the case studies underline the role of external shocks (e.g. the massacre at Srebrenica) in triggering change within German strategic culture. Thirdly, the case studies also provide a basis for a critique of some of the more widely accepted claims regarding German security and defence policy, such as the notion of normalisation or Sonderweg (special path). Finally, the analysis also suggests that counterfactual argumentation can be a useful analytical tool in assessing the importance of some of these developments in the evolution of German strategic culture. The third primary contribution of the study is a critical assessment of the process of coming to terms with the German past and how this affects German strategic culture. The study stresses the importance of socio-cognitive factors in the evolution of strategic cultures and identifies the shift from guilt to responsibility as one of the key changes in post-Cold War German strategic culture. Furthermore, the study recognizes the continuing impact and relevance of the German past on the further development of German strategic culture, even though the focus of the German debate has partly shifted from whether Germany can use military force to a discussion on the means and ends of the use of military force.From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? käsittelee muutoksen teemaa Saksan strategisessa kulttuurissa kylmän sodan jälkeen. Tutkimus kattaa Saksan strategisen kulttuurin kehitysvaiheet aina toisen maailmansodan päättymisestä nykyisiin konflikteihin Euroopassa ja Lähi-Idässä. Tutkimus tarjoaa uuden näkökulman strategisen kulttuurin muutoksen tutkimiseen kyseenalaistamalla strategisen kulttuurin tutkimuksessa yleisesti hyväksytyn ajatuksen kulttuurin jatkuvuudesta. Lisäksi tutkimuksessa viritetään uudenlainen analyyttinen viitekehys strategisen kulttuurin tutkimiseen. Tämä kehys pohjautuu teoreettisen näkökulman fokusoimiseen kriittisen realismin painottamiin ontologisiin kysymyksiin epistemologisten kysymysten sijaan. Ehdotettu analyyttinen viitekehys painottaa sitä, että strategisen kulttuurin muutosta on tutkittava sekä poliittisten lopputulemien että yhteiskunnallisten ja poliittisten prosessien kautta. Siten varmistutaan siitä, että strategisen kulttuurin tutkiminen ei palvele ainoastaan teoreettisia lähtökohtia vaan pyrkii ottamaan huomioon myös yhteiskunnallisen todellisuuden moninaisuuden ja sen ilmentymät. Tutkimuksesta nouseva pääargumentti on se, että strategisen kulttuurin tutkimuksessa pitää kiinnittää huomiota ideationaalisen/normatiivisen rakenteen ohella sekä strategisen kulttuurin syvärakenteeseen, eli niihin sosio-kognitiviisiin prosesseihin, jotka ovat osa strategisen kulttuurin perustaa, että strategisen kulttuurin käytäntöihin, jotka ilmenevät esimerkiksi strategisen toiminnan institutionalisoituneina muotoina. Tutkimus tarjoaa uuden Saksan strategisen kulttuurin muutosta selittävän mallin, joka pohjautuu muutoksen ensisijaisen kausaalisen mekanismin korostamiseen. Tämä mekanismi on 'sodan kokemus', jota ei kuitenkaan voi redusoida uuspositivistiseen ajatukseen kokemuksesta. Tutkimuksessa esitetäänkin, että tämä kokemus on havaittavissa nimenomaan sosio-kognitiviisen tason muutoksina. Saksan strategisen kulttuurin tapauksessa tämä on usein tarkoittanut muutosta menneisyydestä kumpuavasta syyllisyyden tunteesta vastuuseen nykyisyydestä ja tulevaisuudesta.
Subject: international Relations
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