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Chapitre d'ouvrage

Die Fragmentation nationalstaatlicher kollektiver Erinnerung und ihre Auswirkung auf strategische Narrative: Legitimationsschwierigkeiten deutscher Außenpolitik seit dem Ende des Kalten Kriegs

Abstract : Why do some states not manage to develop stable strategic narratives while others succeed? This chapter deals with the domestic memory conditions that enable the construction of coherent and ‘effective’ strategic narratives by political leaders. The key argument is that in order to be coherent and ‘effective’ (in terms of providing a shared ‘sense of purpose’ for the actors participating in the use of military and diplomatic instruments), strategic narratives need to be in resonance with dominant historical representations in society. Political leaders will have difficulties legitimizing and as a result implementing strategic narratives in societies suffering from “fragmented memories”, that is a lack or dispersal of dominant representations of (national) history. In states in which the conduct of foreign affairs is subject to high public scrutiny, a lack of resonance of strategic narratives with domestic representations of history results in ambiguous strategic behaviour that seeks to appease both international role expectations and domestic constraints. The plausibility of this argument is illustrated using the puzzle of Germany’s foreign policy posture after the end of the Cold War. Having built a strategic narrative around the role of a “civilian power” during the Cold War, Germany has responded to the changing international environment and increased expectations from its Western partners by becoming more and more actively engaged in Western military interventions, including the wars against Serbia (1999) and the Taliban (2001-2014). Nevertheless, Germany has failed to adopt a new coherent and effective strategic narrative during that period. Official discourses have typically avoided to assert any form of strategic leadership that would correspond to Germany’s economic and political weight. Public justification discourses often refer to reconstruction and stabilization and typically avoid any concrete statements regarding the question if and under which conditions military force should be used. And during Germany’s 13 years’ deployment in Afghanistan, military and diplomatic actors never managed to produce an coherent strategic narrative that would have provided guidance on operational and strategic objectives for Germany’s contribution to ISAF. These problems of foreign policy legitimation are at least partially a result of increasingly fragmented domestic memory discourses: whereas during the Cold War, German foreign policy elites were able to construct a stable and effective strategic narrative based on the promotion of a domestic memory discourse promoting consensual lessons to be gleaned from the Nazi past, this legitimatory resource has been increasingly diminished since the late 1980s due to a number of international and domestic factors. These include changing uses of history by political elites in reaction to pressure from Western allies to become more involved in military interventions but also the emergence of dissenting, sometimes revisionist memory discourses on the domestic level, including the rise of right-wing movements actively undermining the public status of the commemoration of the Nazi past.
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Soumis le : mardi 31 août 2021 - 15:20:56
Dernière modification le : mercredi 23 mars 2022 - 15:50:13




Eric Sangar. Die Fragmentation nationalstaatlicher kollektiver Erinnerung und ihre Auswirkung auf strategische Narrative: Legitimationsschwierigkeiten deutscher Außenpolitik seit dem Ende des Kalten Kriegs. Außenbeziehungen und Erinnerung: Funktionen, Dynamiken, Reflexionen, De Gruyter, pp.153-172, 2021, 9783110726879. ⟨10.1515/9783110726442-012⟩. ⟨hal-03330132⟩



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