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The European Union and Beyond

Coping with External Demands to Participate in Military Interventions - Does German National Identity Mediate International Relations’ Effects on Domestic Attitudes?

Matthias Mader
Universität Mannheim
Matthias Mader
Universität Mannheim

In the last twenty years Germany has increasingly sent its troops on military missions abroad. Justifications for these decisions to use military force have not only alluded to advancing traditional security policy goals but also to Germany’s responsibilities as a member of international organizations, especially NATO. Thus, because of new demands from external actors two central principles of German foreign/security policy (restraint to use military force and multilateralism) have come into conflict. While policy makers have at least in part given in to these demands and thereby given multilateralism precedence over the strict restraint to use military force, it is an open question whether the public has followed suit.

Individual level evidence for the (changing) foreign/security predispositions and the determinants of citizens’ support for specific military missions remains scarce. The paper addresses this research gap by analyzing German citizens’ national identities with respect to security policy and their role in shaping domestic public attitudes towards specific military interventions in the time period 1990-2010. Social identity theory predicts that when group leaders argue for new constitutive group norms, members’ convictions will change as well (e.g., Turner, Hogg, Oakes et al. 1987: Rediscovering the Social Group, Oxford, Basil Blackwell). Thus, citizens with a strong attachment to the nation should follow national leaders’ arguments that Germany has to live up to its responsibilities as a member of collective security systems more readily; their general willingness to use military force should increase, and they should rely more heavily on their multilateral predispositions when forming attitudes towards specific military missions. The hypotheses are tested with data from annually conducted surveys from the Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut der Bundeswehr (1996-2010) and the Federal Ministry of Defence (1990-2008).
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