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Foreign Policy: Home Alone

Author: Benjamin Weinthal
September 24, 2013

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"As the main economic engine of Europe, can -- and should -- Germany remain aloof from worldwide power politics in the coming years?"

With her third federal election triumph on Sunday, Sept. 22, German Chancellor Angela Merkel demonstrated that her preferred foreign policy direction is, well, inward -- or at least one of non-intervention. Current crises around the globe -- from the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons to Iran's nuclear program to Egypt's military coup -- were scarcely mentioned in the campaign, and the German electorate awarded her introspection with nearly 42 percent of the vote. In short, in Germany today, domestic issues trump foreign policy. But as the main economic engine of Europe, can -- and should -- Germany remain aloof from worldwide power politics in the coming years?

Traditionally, Germany's foreign policy of non-interventionism is a form of hardcore political realism mixed with the population's desire for pacifism at all costs. Hitler's defeat near the halfway mark of the last century helped inculcate a particular exprsesion of pacifism in German society. The post-World War I Weimar-era slogan "Never again War" (Nie weider Krieg) took on an even greater urgency after World War II. And the post-Berlin Wall period added a new lawyer, as Germany turned inward to rebuild the dilapidated former East.

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