Germany, Afghanistan, and the Process of Decision Making in German Foreign Policy: Constructing a Framework for Analysis
Johnston, Karin Lynn
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Germany's emerging role as a supplier of security by contributing troops to out-of-area operations is a significant change in post-unification German foreign and security policy, and yet few studies have sought to explain how the process of decision making also has changed in order to accommodate the external and domestic factors that shape policy preferences and outcomes. The dissertation addresses these theoretical gaps in foreign policy analysis and in German foreign and security policy studies by examining the decision-making process in the case of Afghanistan from 2001-2008, emphasizing the importance of institutional structures that enable and constrain decision makers and then gathering the empirical evidence to construct a framework for analyzing German foreign policy decision making. The dynamics of decision making at the state level are examined by hypothesizing about the role of the chancellor in the decision-making process--whether there has been an expansion of chancellorial power relative to other actors--and about the role of coalition politics and the relative influence of the junior coalition partner in coalition governments. Results indicate that there are few signs that federal chancellors dominate or otherwise control decision-making outcomes, and that coalition politics remain a strong explanatory factor in the process that shapes the parameters of policy choices. The dissertation highlights the central role of the Bundestag, the German parliament. The German armed forces are, indeed, a "parliamentary army," and the decision-making process in the Afghanistan case shows how operational parameters can be affected by parliamentary involvement. The framework for analysis of German foreign policy decision making outlines the formal aspects while emphasizing the importance of the informal process of decision making that is characterized by political bargaining and consensus building among major actors, particularly between the government and the parliamentary party fractions. Thus, any examination of German out-of-area missions must take into account the co-determinative nature of decision making between the executive and legislative actors in shaping German foreign policy regarding its military engagements around the world.