What makes leaders think war? Foreign military intervention decision making in post-cold war Germany

by Martinson, Jeffrey D

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation’s focus on “what makes leaders think war” or the decision making behind foreign military interventions in the post-Cold War era addresses important questions in IR scholarship on several levels – from the general problem of war through the more specific issues of its manifestation in the post-Cold War era in major power foreign military interventions to the still more niche puzzle of German behavior in this area. As it stood, previous attempts to explain German post-Cold War foreign military intervention policy left many scholars unsatisfied, leading some to conclude the phenomenon is either “inexplicable” or has some “irrational” cause. This research surmounts this impasse by focusing on decision making rather than decisions per se, as well as by employing a problem representation framework, which emphasizes the process of option generation rather than option selection. Four broad approaches drawn from both the International Relations and German Studies literatures (realism, institutionalism, universalism and historicism) were tested in this manner, with the conclusion that German decision making vis-à-vis foreign military interventions is indeed systematic and theoretically structured, with different approaches each accounting for a portion of the behavior. Specifically, the two most relevant approaches are institutionalism and universalism. Institutionalist thinking explains all parties to some degree, while universalist thinking mainly explains leaders on the left. Conversely, realist thinking mostly explains perceptions of two right parties, especially the Christian Democrats. Historicist ontologies are exceedingly minor portions of the decision making equation. Disaggregating “culture” into the conceptually distinct components of institutionalism, universalism and historicism moreover provides better insight into decision making and clarifies distinctions about “which culture” different members espouse. Finally, leaders change in their ontologies over long periods of time, but tend to be consistent in their ontology scores within individual decision making occasions. In terms of the latter (changes over long periods) one can see an interesting pattern of increased support for war as complexity increases among universalists – contrary to the decision making literature’s established wisdom. In terms of the former (stability intra-decision occasion) one can see that decision makers are not cynical or pragmatic, but seem to adhere to principles in their rhetoric.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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