The importance of meaning for the study of German foreign policy
What is it about?
The article mainly makes a theoretical argument about constructivist research on German foreign policy. We claim that most theoretical frameworks are ill-equipped to account for foreign policy change and call for an increased focus on discourse as a more adequate analytical concept.
Why is it important?
Although often deemed esoteric, discourse is an important factor in foreign policy, influencing how we come to understand what is going on around us. How we come to understand events like "9/11", actors like terrorist groups and their motives or other states and societies influences which policies we commonly consider adequate - independent of whether they are really the best policy for the problem at hand. For example, if we come to understand terrorist as irrational madmen, it makes no sense to negotiate with them; after all, they're immune to rational arguments. As a consequence, even considering just some of their arguments (let alone negotiating with terrorists) is out of the question. Importantly, although some terrorists might be ideologically blinded, evil or insane, at least some of their supporters might simply resent Western foreign policies (like supporting autocratic regimes in the Middle East), and dismissing these arguments from the start might prove self-defeating. These processes is what a focus on discourse directs our attention to.
The following have contributed to this page: Dr Frank A Stengel