Recent calls from German policymakers and think-tankers for a public security policy debate indicate the importance of discourse for security policy. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Discourse – or how we talk about things – exerts significant power over security policy decision-making; setting the framework for how we define good and evil, identify threats, and which policy options are legitimate (or even thinkable) means of confronting them. Just how powerful discourse can be is demonstrated by Dr. Frank Stengel’s latest analysis on ideational change in German security policy. The concise, well-structured work introduces a novel analytical approach, combining post-structuralist, feminist and post-colonial discourse theory, providing much needed insights into Germany’s often contradictory relationship with the use of military force.
In contrast to Trump’s overt embrace of zero-sum power politics, Germany is often characterized, both internally and externally, as a “Culture of Restraint” regarding security policy. Yet such a culture implies the ability to project power and a reluctance to use it. But what if the perceived culture of reluctance is in fact structural pacifism, which internally inhibits Germany’s use of military force as a political instrument? And what does this mean for German security policy in the context of the NATO alliance?