Cold War Revisited? Germany and the renaissance of alliance defense

06. März 2018, 13:00 Uhr

GESIS, Mannheim, B2,1

Prof. Markus Steinbrecher

Abstract

With the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and the Civil War in Ukraine mutual defense efforts have once again become an important task for all NATO member states. Germany is the lead nation of the NATO Battle Group in Lithuania which is part of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence in Central and Eastern Europe. The German Air Force is also protecting its allies by regular participation in NATO Air Policing over the Baltics. While Germans have been skeptical of troop deployments out of area, e.g., in Mali or Afghanistan after the end of the Cold War, a stronger emphasis on NATO and joint defense tasks should match Germany’s strategic and military culture better.

However, it is an open question how German public opinion will react and has reacted to the increasing importance of defense tasks in the NATO framework. Hence, the paper looks at attitudes of Germans towards different aspects of collective defense within NATO and their explanation. The analyses will include a host of possible explanatory factors, among them attitudes towards Russia, foreign and security policy postures, as well as threat and security perceptions. The analyses show high levels of support for NATO in general and its principles, but skepticism towards specific measures (e.g., more NATO deployments) which might raise doubts about Germany’s reliability among its Central and Eastern European allies. These attitudes are mainly driven by multilateral orientations and perceptions of Russia.

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About the speaker

Markus Steinbrecher is a researcher at the Bundeswehr Center for Military History and Social Sciences (ZMSBw) in Potsdam. His work focuses on political behavior (voting, turnout, political participation), political attitudes (attitudes on foreign and security policy), and political psychology (personality traits, decision-making). He got his PhD from the University of Bamberg in 2008 and held positions at the University of Bamberg (2003-2008), the University of Mannheim (2008-2011, 2013-2015), and Northwestern University (2011-2013). He was part of the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES)-team between 2007 and 2011 and is currently one out of three speakers of the DVPW working group on elections and political attitudes. He works at ZMSBw since 2015 and is in charge of the annual population survey on foreign and security policy attitudes in Germany.