Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Simon Serfaty

Committee Member

Peter Schulman


Recent changes in German foreign policy behavior have led to questions about Germany's European vocation. At the center of this inquiry is Germany's struggle to resolve the intersection between historical memory and present day international responsibility, especially in cases involving the use of force. This dissertation examines how and when historical memory has influenced, shaped, and informed contemporary German foreign and security policy and rhetoric by examining cases within two policy areas: out of area operations and nuclear nonproliferation. Focusing on the case of Libya, this dissertation also considers the cases of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Nuclear nonproliferation, a global policy issue, highlights Germany's role as an international actor by focusing on Germany's voice and actions during the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. This dissertation hypothesizes that Germany has a ritualized foreign and security policy and rhetoric determined by historical memory. The argument is made that historical memory and ritualized rhetoric is used depending on policy area, allowing Germany to present reason, argument, and justification to a variety of international security challenges, either to support or oppose military involvement. This dissertation finds support for questions regarding Germany's European vocation. However, Germany exercises self-interests precisely within the institutions of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. What has changed is that Germany is increasingly using rhetoric of memory and guilt in order to obscure that it is actually acting in its self-interests. German policy choices, as they relate to the future use of force will be critically guided by this rhetoric.


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