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Three days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared in the Bundestag that the war constituted a watershed moment or Zeitenwende for European security and that as a consequence Germany would initiate a fundamental turnaround in its foreign, security and defence policy. This strategic reorientation would entail, among other things, a 100 billion Euro special investment fund for the Bundeswehr and the pledge to finally fulfil the NATO 2% target.
Taking the Zeitenwende rhetoric as its starting point, this presentation will analyse to what extent Germany has indeed initiated a structural reboot of its national security posture, considering a) German strategic culture and changing identity narratives pertaining to Germany’s role in the world, b) the structure, equipment, posture and societal status of the German armed forces, c) expert and media discourses regarding German national security and defence matters in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian war.
In his talk, Georg Löfflmann argues that far from a material dimension alone, the Zeitenwende indicates a reorientation of core strategic narratives, such as military reticence, that have been constitutive for Germany’s post-war historical development and that are now being contested between defenders of the status quo and advocates for change.
Dr. Georg Löfflmann is Assistant Professor in US Foreign Policy at Queen Mary University of London. Previously, he was a Assistant Professor in War Studies and US Foreign Policy at the Politics and International Studies (PAIS), University of Warwick. Prior to this, he was a Research Fellow with a Leverhulme funded project Everyday Narratives of European Border Security and Insecurity. Between May 2018 and April 2021, Löfflmann undertook a three-year Early Career Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust with a research project on the interlinkage of security discourses and populist rhetoric in the United States under the Trump presidency.
Georg Löfflmann earned his PhD at PAIS with a thesis titled: "The Fractured Consensus - How competing visions of grand strategy challenge the geopolitical identity of American leadership under the Obama presidency". Previously, he studied International Relations in Germany at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-University, and the University of Potsdam, and Political Science and History at the University of Erfurt in Germany.