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Playing the muscle-man or new self-assuredness? Germany and the Iraq War

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This article describes the catalysing effect of the Iraq War for the coming-of-age of Germany and its foreign policy after decades of having a defensive and pacifist approach in general and of playing the part of a loyal and helpful junior partner to the United States in particular. Germany's political emancipation was a result of the reunification and the disappearance of the threats connected to the EastWest confrontation. Following the Cold War, subordination under the American security umbrella no longer seemed necessary for German survival. Nonetheless, it took a dozen years for Germany to transform from a consumer to a producer of security in Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Kuwait and elsewhere until the RedGreen (Social Democratic and Green Party of Germany) coalition of 2002 was convinced Germany had the right to be consulted by its partners before they undertook far-reaching political and military initiatives and that it had the right to a differing opinion. Since the political convictions and biographies of the initiators of the German Way seem to have had a decisive influence on their handling of the Iraq War controversy, a second foreign policy of similar calibre this time under Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leadership would be necessary to convince sceptics of the irreversibility of Germany's emancipation.

Keywords: German Way; Iraq War; anti-Americanism; coalition-building; political emancipation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: GIGA, Institute of Middle East Studies, Hamburg.

Publication date: October 19, 2007

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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