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Creative Commons License
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Preferred Name

Nils Martin

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Department of History

Advisor(s)

Christian Davis

Abstract

This thesis provides a study of the deployment of the German Bundeswehr to Afghanistan and highlights the clash between two conflicting visions of German foreign policy by explaining the different policies supported or opposed by an outspoken segment of the German public and German leaders since the Second World War in regards to the use of military force. While maintaining a focus on German military deployment to Afghanistan, this thesis consists of an analysis of German parliamentary debate, editorials, public opinion polls, speeches and other sources to determine arguments used by German government leaders to try and overcome strong anti-war taboos and shift public opinion in favor of NATO and United Nations sanctioned peacekeeping missions abroad.

The thesis utilizes German parliamentary archives, as well as a variety of digital newspaper and magazine archives. A substantial amount of German historical documents have been digitized and made available online. Public opinion was determined through a mix of public opinion polls from sources like Der Spiegel, through public statements by peace activists, videos of peace protests, and articles and opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines like Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, and Berliner Zeitung. Accounts on the Afghanistan conflict by German soldiers influenced public opinion about whether or not Germany should be deployed in Afghanistan. Speeches by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer are important since Fischer and Schroeder were the two driving forces in Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan. A large percentage of German parliamentary debates since 1949 have been digitized and made available online. These debates opened a window to government level discussions and how public opinion was being addressed.

This thesis concludes that the German government’s attempts at gaining public support for the war in Afghanistan were not very successful. Although the arguments implemented by the government were not wholly ineffective and managed to maintain a high enough level of support for the first few years of the war to justify a continued troop presence, an ongoing drop in support led to eventual withdrawal. The three main themes employed in support of the war--supporting Germany’s allies, atoning for Germany’s past mistakes, and the need for humanitarian aid--fell on increasingly deaf ears in Germany.

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