What follows is a fictitious scenario, a "thought experiment," meant to project a particular future for Germany if certain assumptions hold. Scenarios are hypotheses that rest on a set of assumptions and one or two "wild cards." They can reveal forces of change that might be otherwise hidden, discard those that are not plausible, and describe the future of trends that are relatively certain. Indeed, scenarios create a particular future in the same way that counterfactual methods create a different past. Counterfactual methods predict how events would have unfolded had a few elements of the story been changed, with a focus on varying conditions that seem important and that can be manipulated. For instance, to explore the effects of military factors on the likelihood of war, one might ask: "how would pre 1914 diplomacy have evolved if the leaders of Europe had not believed that conquest was easy?" Or to explore the importance of broad social and political factors in causing Nazi aggression: "How might the 1930s have unfolded had Hitler died in 1932?" The greater the impact of the posited changes, the more important the actual factors that were manipulated. Assuming that the structure of explanation and prediction are the same, scenario writing pursues a similar method. But, instead of seeking alternative explanations for the past, scenarios project relative certainties and then manipulate the important but uncertain factors, to create a plausible story about the future.
Germany's growing weight on the world stage is indisputable, and its foreign policy is exceptional among powerful states. This article argues that while the original vision of cooperative security and multilateralism guiding German policy was shaped by occupation, division, and weakness, it has shown astonishing resilience, even as Germany has regained sovereignty, unity, and power. For a weak and divided Federal Republic, a vision that eschewed the exercise of power ensured survival; for a strong united Germany, a vision that minimizes the role of power is revolutionary and controversial. I argue that this revolutionary policy is now the most effective one to meet the challenges of a transformed world marked by new and unconventional threats and risks—a world in which traditional measures of power have lost much of their usefulness in securing the national interest. Ironically, however, while the policy vision that downplays the role of power persists, Germany's material power has grown. Germany's renewed power position makes it an influential actor in an international system where perceptions of power still matter. And the old policy vision makes German foreign policy the most appropriate for solving new global problems whose solution defies power politics. This paradoxical combination of power and vision in Germany's postunification foreign policy has introduced a new and effective form of "normative power" in global politics.
A Cautionary Tale
Beverly Crawford Ames and Armon Rezai
Kindleberger’s theory of hegemonic stability states that fixed exchange rate regimes require a leader that will provide it with disproportionate resources to ensure stability. Applying his theory to European monetary cooperation, we argue that, like the tools of Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” European Monetary Union was constructed as a “self-regulating system,” and it threatens to run amok without a hegemonic leader. Germany has exercised “soft hegemony” in Europe, providing the European Union with disproportionate resources to stabilize the single market. It has the capability to be the Eurozone’s leader. But, by 2017, blinded by its ordoliberal ideology, it refused to do so, instead placing the burden of cooperation on the weak. If Germany continues to refuse to play the role of the hegemonic leader, European Monetary Union faces collapse.