Continuity and Change in German Security Policy: the Pivotal Role of Unification

Date of Graduation

Fall 1995


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


This thesis looks at the way in which the reunification of Germany changed the formation of security policy in the Federal Republic. Prior to 1989, Germany, lacking full sovereignty, was unable to make foreign policy decisions without consulting its allies, especially the United States. With the fall of communism and the reunification of the two German states came new responsibilites that Germans wre unprepared to face when war broke out in the Persian Gulf in August 1990. Rather than supporting its long-standing allies, the Germans quietly stood alone. Since that time the Federal Republic has attempted to make up for its lack of action in the Gulf by being active in European politics, specifically with the early recognition of the breakaway Yugoslav republics and leading the call for European integration, including broadening security structures to include its neighbors in Central Europe. At home, Germany must overcome decades-old pacifism that has been internalized and now confronts the goal of an expanded international role for the Federal Republic. Legal barriers have been removed, but psychological and historical hurdles remain. Germany will continue to foster a strong trans-atlantic link in order to retain security and to ease its neighbors concerns over growing German power. The Federal Republic will also seek to nurture new and lasting ties with the East, including Russia. Germans have yet to decide just how European security structures will be formed and to what extent the Federal Republic will play a role in the international community, however, it is clear that what ever the Germans decide, the repercussions will be felt by the entire international community.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Michelle Lyn Spencer