Danish Defence Research Database


The Test of Strategic Culture: Germany, Pacifism and Pre-emptive Strikes

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Germany was the first country to issue a categorical refusal to support
the US-led war in Iraq. Some have interpreted this as the result of a
clash between the strategic cultures of Germany and the USA, others
as a sign that a more nationalistic and assertive Germany is emerging.
This article explains the apparently contradictory aspects of
Germany’s stance on Iraq by identifying two competing strands
within Germany’s strategic culture. It concludes that the German
refusal signals neither a reversion to a pacifist stance nor that
Germany is in a process of shedding the bonds and alliances that have
so far framed the reunified Germany’s military policy. Iraq simply
showed that Germany, like most other countries, has conditions that
have to be met – in Germany’s case, conditions flowing from the coexistence
of two competing schools of thought within Germany’s
strategic culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Issue number3
Pages (from-to) 339-359
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2005
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