Germany in transition: national self-confidence and international reticence

by Ronald D. Asmus

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This paper contains the text of a statement before the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, January 29, 1992. It presents data from a survey conducted in late 1991 as part of an effort to examine those factors that are likely to shape German strategic thinking in the years ahead. The survey focused on German public opinion on three issues: attitudes toward the United States and the U.S. military presence in Germany, attitudes toward the future evolution of the European Community (EC), and attitudes toward Germany's future world role and possible participation in crises outside the traditional NATO realm. The survey results indicate that (1) the United States enjoys considerable sympathy among the German public, but there is clearly an erosion of German public support for a sustained American military presence; (2) the German public supports the expansion of the EC to include prosperous neutral countries and the new democracies of East-Central Europe, but is reluctant to provide defense assistance to these countries and does not want a future European defense identity to exclude the United States; and (3) the German public supports assuming greater international responsibility, including German-supported humanitarian measures and economic sanctions, but is reluctant to support German participation in military actions.

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