German Foreign Policy Rules for Action during the 2011 Libya Crisis

in German Politics and Society
Hermann Kurthen Sociology, Grand Valley State University, USA

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This article presents the conceptualization of fundamental foreign policy beliefs of 62 German decision-makers and experts from the executive branch, parliament, think tanks, media, and academia concerning the March 2011 un Security Council resolution on Libya. The actors’ perceptions were abductively inferred from qualitative interviews using the reconstructivist theoretical framework. Four types of respondents were identified: Realists, Normalizers, Traditionalists, and Pacifists. While they shared the general imperatives of military restraint, alliance solidarity, multilateralism, and upholding values, their specific partisan-ideological interpretation of the application of those rules for action in the case of Libya differed. Both Normalizers and Traditionalists perceived Germany's un vote abstention and non-participation in the nato-led intervention as a break with German foreign policy and a costly mistake, whereas the Realists and Pacifists were in support of the German center-right coalition government's policy of military restraint, although for very different reasons.

Contributor Notes

Hermann Kurthen is a Professor of Sociology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He previously taught at Stony Brook University in New York, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Freie Universität Berlin. His research interests include transatlantic relations, comparative migration, ethnocentrism, and hybrid online teaching. He was an Associate Editor and Editorial Review Board Member of International Sociology and also co-edited Immigration, Citizenship, and the Welfare State: Germany and the United States (1998), Antisemitism and Xenophobia in Germany after Unification (1997), and Safeguarding German-American Relations in the New Century: Understanding and Accepting Mutual Differences (2006). See and

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