Contesting state identity and foreign policy: German anti-militarism in shades of red and green

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Audie Klotz


Identity, Balkans, Germany, Foreign policy, Discourse analysis, Antimilitarism, State identity

Subject Categories

Political Science


This study is an inquiry into the controversial yet widely shared view of "Germany's anti-militarism" and its implications for German foreign policy. By focusing on two "pacifist" political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party, it sets out to examine German inter- and intra-party debates during three foreign policy episodes--the Bosnian War, Kosovo War and the Macedonian Conflict--to see (a) how political parties, particularly ideologically similar ones, contest the value of pacifism, (b) how different representations of German identity shape foreign policy preferences, (c) to what extent identity discourses are stable over time.

This study delineates the key terms and concepts of German foreign policy debates over the conflicts in the Balkans and German foreign military deployment. It also reveals the borders of what is tolerated, even discursively and symbolically. What emerges is a more complex image of German politics than that portrayed by a literature that expects either an "abrupt change" or "continuity" in post-unification period. Furthermore, it shows that German anti-militarism continues to establish the boundaries of possible foreign policy despite being highly contested. I find the concept has different connotations for different political groups in German domestic politics, which leads to their different policy preferences. The framework developed here helps track the trajectory of German anti-militarism, and reveals the changing parameters of German identity as expressed in meticulously crafted partisan discourses. As a result, the terms "anti-militarism" and "pacifism" came over time to stand for much more than the standard definition of "restraint use of force." This comparative analysis of domestic discourses shows that it is the parameters of identity, not the identity itself, that change as intra- and inter-party debates provide rhetorical sources for proponents of gradual policy change.


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