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Conflict-ready? Western Foreign Policy in Times of Systemic Rivalry

It has now been more than nine months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine radically changed the perceived threat in many countries throughout Europe. In Germany, people have had to face up to questions of war and peace that seemed to be consigned to the past – many for the first time in their lives. How would we respond to an attack? Can we deal militarily with a now openly imperialist Russia? What if someone else were in the White House in this situation? And are we at risk of further adversity from China, too? Until recently, such problems were almost exclusively the domain of politicians and academics. Today, they are no longer abstract.

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Conflict-ready? Western Foreign Policy in Times of Systemic Rivalry

  • Editorial

    It has been now more than nine months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine radically changed the perceived threat for many people in Europe. In Germany, too, people have had to face up to questions of war and peace that seemed to be consigned to the past – many for the first time in their lives.

    by Gerhard Wahlers

  • „We Have Completely Lost the Ability to Read Wars“

    Security Policy Culture in Germany and the War in Ukraine

    Military historian Sönke Neitzel talks to International Reports about unrealistic longings for peace and the atrophy of security policy thinking in Germany – and explains why only the US can ensure Ukraine’s survival.

    by Sören Soika, Fabian Wagener

  • Always One Step Behind?

    German Security Policy after the ­­NATO Summit in Madrid

    The war in Ukraine is functioning as a catalyst for the reordering of transatlantic security policy, which has been ongoing since 2014. Germany’s Zeitenwende has laid important groundwork to finally fulfil promises made to allies eight years ago. But even as the German government is preparing to take this leap forward, ­­NATO has raised the bar even further at its summit in Madrid, in June 2022. Further efforts will be needed if Germany wants to avoid breaking its promises yet again.

    by Philipp Dienstbier

  • “Jeffersonians” on the Rise

    Traditional Internationalists in the US Are Running Out of Supporters

    Americans have lost their appetite for “nation building” and being the “world’s policeman” – problems at home are getting ­out of hand. But the US still defends its claim to global ­leadership, either with “enlightened nationalism” or­ “America First”. Europe’s preparation should go beyond addressing Donald Trump.

    by Paul Linnarz

  • Will a Mauling by the Bear Teach Us How to Tame the Dragon?

    Implications of the Russian War of Aggression for Germany’s New China Strategy

    Communist China is increasingly perceived in Germany and the rest of Europe as a systemic rival while, at the same time, German investments in the People’s Republic are rising. For years, China has been the most important bilateral trading partner of both Germany and the EU. How can the China strategy announced by the German Federal Government address these challenges and dependencies – also against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine?

    by Johann C. Fuhrmann

  • In the Clutches of Dictators?

    Why We Must Reduce Economic Dependence while Resisting Isolationist Tendencies

    The fatal dependence on Russian energy supplies has quite rightly catapulted trade and economic policy into the centre of the German debate. But criticism of German energy policy over the last few decades must not encourage isolationist illusions. Harmful dependencies must be identified and reduced, but economic policy focused on broad trade remains central for Germany and Europe.

    by Jan Cernicky

  • Without a Stance?

    Democratic Developing Nations amidst Intensifying Systemic Competition

    Western countries tend to view the war in Ukraine as part of a global conflict between democracies and autocracies. However, in Brasilia, New Delhi, and Pretoria there is much greater reluctance to accept this view, let alone take clear sides. But why are so many developing nations – including democracies – refusing to nail their colours to the mast, and what can the so-called West do to win over key players from other regions in this systemic competition? An examination of Brazil, India, and South Africa.

    by Sebastian Enskat, M.A., Magdalena Jetschgo-Morcillo, Maximilian Römer

Other Topics

  • No Experiments

    Chile Rejects New Constitutional Draft in Referendum – But the Need for Reform Remains

    Elevating a left-wing government programme into the national constitution? Apparently, many members of Chile’s 2021 constitutional convention thought that this would be a good idea. Their draft has now been rejected by a large majority in a referendum. Not because there were no reasons to reform the current constitution, but because the now rejected text was no better than the old one, and the Chilean people have recognised this.

    by Hartmut Rank

  • Approaches to the Future Battlefield

    The Debate on Armed Drones in Israel and Germany as a Case Study

    Notwithstanding certain immutable features of war, some of its concrete techniques do change, notably following new technological developments. Advanced electronic weapon systems, including armed drones, are a case in point. We shall examine how countries handle the opportunities and challenges involved by means of a comparative analysis of Israel and Germany.

    by Idit Shafran Gittleman, Eyal Berelovich

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Dr. Gerhard Wahlers



Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

Head of the Department International Reports and Communication +49 30 26996 3584

Dr. Sören Soika


Editor-in-Chief International Reports (Ai) +49 30 26996 3388

Louisa Heuss

Gerrit Wilcke

Gerrit Wilcke

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Fabian Wagener

Fabian Wagener

Desk Officer for Multimedia +49 30-26996-3943