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This Note analyzes the factors shaping German foreign policy during the Persian Gulf crisis and assesses the longer-term effects of the Gulf War on German foreign and defense policy thinking. The Gulf War reinforced a growing sense in Germany that a reassessment of both the scope and the means of German foreign and security policy is necessary in light of the changed political and strategic environment in which Germany must now operate. Although the objective changes that have compelled such a reassessment were largely independent of the Gulf crisis — unification, the regaining of full German sovereignty, and the collapse of Soviet power in Central Europe — the Gulf War was nonetheless a crucial catalyst in highlighting the need to rethink German policy. Still, there is currently little vision or consensus among German leaders or the populace on the direction or shape of a new German foreign policy. The author examines factors that contributed to the political backdrop against which German policy was shaped before and during the Gulf crisis, the subsequent evolution of German thinking, and the lessons that German leaders have drawn. Finally, he describes the issues in the emerging debate over German foreign and security policy.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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