11 Sep

“The Politics of Military Force” reviewed in Perspectives on Politics

“The Politics of Military Force” has been reviewed as part of a Critical Dialogue with Professor Wolfgang Wagner (VU Amsterdam), in which we discuss our respective books. Here’s (the positive part of) what he had to say:

“Stengel argues convincingly that the changes in German security discourse and practice are not inevitable adjustments to any functional requirements of a changing security environment. … Stengel’s book contributes to a growing body of literature that—correctly in my view—treats security policy change not as inevitable adjustments to a country’s changing environment, but as the result of political decisions that reflect value commitments, worldviews, and the expectations of the domestic public as well as allied states. Stengel’s contribution is theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich.

Wolfgang Wagner

Doi: 10.1017/S1537592721001808

04 Jun

Article ““Militarizing Antimilitarism” accepted for publication

My newest co-authored article (with David Shim, University of Groningen) “Militarizing Antimilitarism? Exploring the Gendered Representation of Military Service in German Recruitment Videos on Social Media” has been accepted for publication in the International Feminist Journal of Politics.

Abstract: This article analyzes the gendered representation of military service in the German YouTube series Die Rekruten (DR), a popular web series produced on behalf of the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) for recruitment  purposes, which accompanies 12 navy recruits during their basic training. The article is situated within research on masculinity and the military, in particular military recruitment. It supplements current scholarship by studying a previously neglected case that is of particular interest given Germany’s antimilitarist culture, which should make military recruitment and military public relations more difficult. The article asks how military service is represented in DR, what its discursive effects are, and what role (if any) masculinity plays in this process. We find support for recent feminist research on military masculinities (including in military recruitment) that emphasizes ambiguity and contradiction. What distinguishes the construction of military masculinity in DR from, for example, recruitment advertisements in the United States or the United Kingdom is its markedly civil character. This not only broadens the military’s appeal for a more diverse audience but also increases the legitimacy of the military and its activities. It does so by concealing the violence that has for the past two decades also been a very real part of what the Bundeswehr does.

Kewyords: gender, social media, German foreign policy, YouTube, military recruitment, militarization, military masculinity, hegemonic masculinity, antimilitarism Bundeswehr

The article will be published open access and will be available soon here: 10.1080/14616742.2021.1935289

14 Nov

“The political production of ethical war” published in Critical Studies on Security

My newest article “The political production of ethical war: rethinking the ethics/politics nexus with Laclau” has been published in Critical Studies on Security as part of a special issue of Maja Zehfuss’s War and the Politics of Ethics.

Abstract: Taking Maja Zehfuss’s War & the Politics of Ethics as a starting point, this paper thinks through the ethics/politics nexus from the perspective of ‘Essex School’ poststructuralist discourse theory. Specifically, it asks how ethics – or, rather, morality, the temporary, contingent and context-dependent normative framework that regulates what is commonly seen as good or bad within a given society – is produced. From a discourse theoretical perspective, notions of the moral good are the result of political struggles over meaning. Here Laclau and Mouffe’s conception of hegemony can provide significant insight into how this process works, that is, how some claims about what is morally right become widely accepted as the (only) right thing to do while others fail to do so. The paper illustrates the theoretical argument with a brief case study of the changing articulation of the threat and use of military force in the German security discourse after unification. This case is of particular interest because Germany’s allegedly deeply engrained antimilitarist culture should, from a conventional constructivist perspective at least, stand in the way of any arguments about ethical war ever becoming accepted. Nevertheless, this is precisely what happened.

Keywords: ethics, morality, war, politics, the political, discourse, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Critical Security Studies, German foreign policy, out-of-area debate

The article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1080/21624887.2019.1690861

Free author copies are available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/DEJB4IYRYYKZRUSJNIGN/full?target=10.1080/21624887.2019.1690861

A pre-print is available here.

29 Sep

Chapter on “Non-state Actors and Foreign Policy” now online

My co-authored chapter on non-state actors and foreign policy (with Rainer Baumann) has finally been published online. The official version is available here, for a pre-print see my Publications page.

Here’s the summary:

The rise of non-state (international, private, and transnational) actors in global politics has far-reaching consequences for foreign policy theory and practice. In order to remain able to explain foreign policy also in the 21st century, foreign policy research needs to take into account the growing importance of nonstate actors. A good way to do this would be to engage the literature on globalization and global governance. Both fields would benefit from such an exchange of ideas because their respective strengths could cancel out each other’s weaknesses. Foreign policy research on one hand has a strong track record explaining foreign policy outcomes, using a broad range of theoretical concepts but almost completely ignores non-state actors. This is highly problematic for at least two reasons: Firstly, foreign policy is increasingly made in international organizations and intergovernmental and transnational governance networks instead of national institutions like foreign ministries. Secondly, also the latter increasingly open up to, and involve, non-state actors in their policymaking procedures. Thus, if foreign policy research wants to avoid becoming marginalized in the future, it needs to take into account this change. However, especially systemic approaches like neorealism or constructivism have difficulties adapting to the new reality of foreign policy. Not only do they explicitly stress the importance of states at the expense of non-state actors, which are only of marginal interest to them, as is global governance. Moreover, they also conceptualize states unitary actors which forecloses the possibility of examining the involvement of non-state actors in states’ decision-making processes. Agency-based approaches such as Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) fare much better, at least in principle. FPA scholars stress the improtance of disaggregating the state and looking at the individuals and group dynamics that influence their decision making. However, while this commitment to opening up the state allows fro a great deal more flexibility vis-à-vis different types of actors, FPA research has so far remained state-centric and only very recently turned to non-state actors. On the other hand, non-state actors’ involvement in policymaking is the strongsuit of the literature on globalization and global governance, which has spent a lot time and effort analyzing various forms of “hybrid” governance. At the same time, however, this literature has been rather descriptive, so far mainly systematizing different governance arrangements and the conditions under which non-state actors are included in governance arrangements. This literature could profit from foreign policy research’s rich theoretical knowledge in explaining policy outcomes in hybrid governance networks and IOs.
Foreign policy researchers should take non-state actors seriously. In this regard three avenues in particular are relevant for future research: (1) comparative empirical research to establish the extent of non-state actors’ participation in foreign policymaking across different countried and governance arrangements (2) explanatory studies that analyze the conditions under which non-state actors are involved in states’ foreign policymaking processes and (3) the normative implications of increased hybrid foreign policymaking for democratic legitimacy.