What is a unipolar world

German foreign policy

Werner Link

To person

Dr. phil., born 1934; since 1992 chairman of the scientific directorate of the Federal Institute for Eastern and International Studies in Cologne.

Publications including: The reorganization of world politics. Basic problems of global politics on the threshold of the 21st century, 2nd edition Munich 1999.

How is Germany classified as an integrated European central power in the multipolar world? How does it function as a co-leading power in Europe and in global informal top groups?

I. Preliminary considerations

If one follows the discussion about the determination of Germany as a location in Europe and in the world as well as about the greater "international responsibility" of the reunified Germany, it becomes apparent that German politicians, publicists and scientists do not use the power-political categories of balance and hegemony. It was with astonishment or even horror in Germany that people in Germany took note of the fact that abroad - in France and Great Britain in particular - the basic problem of power and regulatory affairs has been and is repeatedly discussed. It reads: How are Germany and Europe to be organized so that Germany can exist and develop in Europe without gaining or exerting a decisive influence in Europe; without creating a German hegemony in Europe?


In world politics, after the end of the "balance of terror", the basic problem of hegemony and equilibrium has become topical in a new way because, after the collapse of one superpower, the remaining superpower USA as "hyperpuissance" (Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine) has an outstanding position in international power politics System and its hegemonic policy creates a balance tendency among other great powers. This tendency is clearly formulated above all in France, while in Germany the beautiful and well-intentioned talk of the transatlantic "partnership" and the Atlantic "community" prevails [1].

The neglect of thinking in terms of balance of power in the field of foreign policy has a twofold tradition in Germany. On the one hand, it stands in the line of tradition in the history of ideas that understands politics as administration, which makes it appear purified in terms of power politics and thus does not even pose the problem of balance. On the other hand, the opposing line of tradition of a crude, untamed power politics eliminates the idea of ​​balance even more. By distancing themselves from the excesses of power of the Third Reich after 1945, the Germans wanted to get out of the previous history of modern times, which moved in the field of tension between balance and hegemony (Ludwig Dehio) [2]. Inevitably, the Germans took part in the formation of countervailing powers against the Soviet Union, but in Western Europe European integration was seen as the radical alternative to hegemony and equilibrium. After the division of Germany and Europe has been overcome, the continuation of European integration and its geographical expansion to the east is seen all the more as an insurance against the return of history. In other words: Integration operates as the opposite of hegemony and equilibrium [3].