Changing images of Germany in International Relations

This volume traces changing images of Germany in the field of International Relations (IR). Images of countries are mental representations with audio-visual and narrative dimensions that identify typical or even unique characteristics. This book focuses on perceptions of Germany from the English-speaking world and on the role they played in the development of twentieth-century IR theory. When the discipline originated, liberal internationalists contrasted cooperative foreign policies with inherently aggressive Prussianism. Early realists developed their ideas with reference to the German fight against the Treaty of Versailles. Geopoliticians and German emigre scholars relied on German history when they translated historical experiences into social-scientific vocabularies. The book demonstrates that few states have seen their image change as drastically as Germany during the century. After the Second World War, liberals, lawyers, and constructivists developed new theories and concepts in view of the Nuremberg trials, the transformation of the former enemy into an ally of the West, and Germany’s new commitment to multilateralism. Today, IR theorists discuss the perplexing nature of ‘civilian power’ Germany – an economic giant but a military dwarf. Yet the chapters in this volume also show that there has never been just one image of Germany, but always several standing next to each other in a sometimes compatible and sometimes contradictory manner.

Abstract only
Changing images of Germany

This chapter pursues three tasks. First, it reviews Germany’s impact on the history of the twentieth century and discusses influential examples of scholarly reflection upon Germany. Second, it explains the approach of the book by outlining the generation of images of nations in IR theory. Images are mental pictures of an entity that identify typical or even unique characteristics through audio-visual or narrative representations. Furthermore, the studied images of Germany are tainted by the interests and political projects of others. Hence, it suggests that not historical events themselves but their stylised representation in discourse affect academic theorising. Finally, it provides an overview of the following chapters.

in Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks
Edwin Borchard between New Haven and Berlin

This chapter shows how Germany’s fight against the Versailles peace settlement was intertwined with the rise of realism in the US. It documents how realist accounts of the ever-conflictual nature of IR and the weakness of international law facilitated German revisionism. A case in point is the American international lawyer Edwin M. Borchard, one of the major advocates of US neutrality. In the 1930s Borchard was among the first American scholars to suggest a ‘realist’ approach to IR and law, arguing that international treaties and collective security schemes were unable to accommodate change. He used such arguments in a relentless political campaign against the Treaty of Versailles, the Kellogg-Briand Pact and concerted action against Nazi Germany. The chapter documents that German lawyers who were busy legitimating breaches of the Treaty of Versailles and trying to discredit American involvement in the Second World War happily cited Borchard’s ideas.

in Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks