Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Shaping German Foreign Policy: History, Memory, and National Interest

Anika Leithner
Shaping German Foreign Policy: History, Memory, and National Interest
ISBN: 978-1-935049-00-5
2008/179 pages/LC: 2008033609
A FirstForumPress Book
“An outstanding book.... Leithner's study advances our knowledge about the complex, dynamic process through which political elites craft and justify foreign policy—using language to mold national identity and perceived national interests—in Germany and elsewhere in the contemporary world.”—Francis A. Beer, University of Colorado


Reconciling the imperatives of Germany’s national identity and its national interest has been a challenge for the country’s policymakers since the end of the Cold War. Anika Leithner explores how (and how much) the past continues to shape Germany’s foreign policy behavior in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Leithner argues that, while German foreign policy is still heavily influenced by the memory of World War II, the exact nature of that memory is slowly changing as the lessons of history are being reinterpreted. Focusing on the military interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, she deftly illustrates the ways in which the lessons of history have been manipulated in the pursuit of an assertive foreign policy—one that can appease audiences at home while securing a leadership role for Germany in Europe and beyond.


Anika Leithner is assistant professor of political science at California Polytechnic State University.


  • Introduction: Historical Memory in German Foreign Policy.
  • Has Germany Crossed the Rubicon?: The Case of NATO and Kosovo.
  • A Trajectory of Change?: The Case of Afghanistan.
  • Defender of Peace and of the United Nations: The Case of Iraq.
  • Germany’s Future in Europe and Beyond.