Power and Legitimacy in International Politics: Britain and Germany’s Responses to the U.S.’s Wars Against Iraq in 1991 and 2003

https://doi.org/10.22146/globalsouth.28816

Afrimadona Afrimadona(1*)

(1) Northern Illinois University
(*) Corresponding Author

Abstract


The paper evaluates the constructivist claim that legitimacy embedded in a country’s foreign policy shapes the responses of other countries’ foreign policy. I test the claim using four cases of Britain’s and Germany’s responses to US’s invasion in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. The choice of US’s invasion in Iraq in 1991 and 2003 was made on the ground that the latter was regarded as utterly illegitimate due to a lack of UN’s authorization. Thus, both cases reveal a variation in the extent of legitimacy (positive versus negative cases). My observation of Britain’s and Germany’s foreign policy responses is based on the fact that both countries are US’s allies. Thus, by examining allies’ responses to US’s invasion in Iraq in these two periods, I control for countries’ type of relationship with the US that may affect their behavior towards the country. My observation shows that only one out of the four cases (Germany’s response to US’s invasion in 2003) supports the claim that legitimacy is the main concern underlying states’ foreign policy response. In general, this study also suggests that legitimacy may matter under normal situation. During crises, however, states tend to be more pragmatic and power-based explanation seems more convincing.



Keywords


Britain; Germany; Iraq; legitimacy; U.S.

Full Text:

PDF


References

(1990) A strange and motley army. The Economist, 22 September, p. 46.

(1990) Confrontation in the Gulf; proposals by Iraqi president: excerpts from his address. New York Times, 13 August, p. A8.

(1990) Just like old times. The Economist, 1 September, p. 51.

(2002) America and Germany: the poisoned relationship and one that will be hard to detoxify [Online], The Economist. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

(2003) German economy at a standstill [Online], BBC News. Available from: [Accessed 19 December 2012]

(2003) Germany's not working [Online], The Economist. Available from: [Accessed 19 December 2012].

(2006) Schröder on Iraq "the mother of all misjudgements [Online], Spiegel Online. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

(2010) Memoirs trigger new row over Iraq Bush made empty promises to Schröder [Online], Spiegel Online. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

(2003) Memorandum opposing U.S. Iraq policy. New York Times, 25 February, p. A14.

(2011) ’'I am not convinced' Joschka Fischer on Germany's 'no' to the Iraq war [Online], Spiegel Online. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012]

Barnett, M. & Duvall, R. (2005) Power in international politics. International Organization, 59 (1) Winter, pp. 39–75.

Barnett, M. (2011) Social constructivism. In: Baylis, J., Smith, St., & Owens, P. ed. The globalization of world politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 150-165.

Bennett, A., Lepgold, J. & Unger, D. (1994) Burden-sharing in the Persian Gulf War. International Organization, 48 (1) Winter, pp. 39-75.

Berenskoetter, F. (2007) Thinking about power. In: Berenskoetter, F. & Williams, M.J. ed. Power in world politics. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-22.

Bernstein, R. (2003) For old friends, Iraq bares a deep rift. New York Times, February 2014, p. A1.

Börner, Karl-Heinz. (1996) The future of German operation outside NATO. Parameter, Spring, pp. 62-72.

Clark, I. (2005) Legitimacy in international society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dumbrell, J. (2006) A special relationship: Anglo-American relations in the Cold War and after. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dyson, S.B. (2006) Personality and foreign policy: Tony Blair’s Iraq decisions. Foreign Policy Analysis, 2 (3) July, pp. 289–306.

Erlanger, S. (2002) German leader's warning: war plan is a huge mistake. New York Times, September 5, p. A1.

Erlanger, S. (2002) Iraq speech by Cheney is criticized by Schroder. New York Times, August 28, p. A8

Finlan, A. (2003) The Gulf War 1991: essential histories. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Finnemore, M. & Sikkink, K. (1998) International norm dynamics and political change. International Organization, 52 (4) Autumn, pp. 887-917.

Franck, T.M. (1998) Legitimacy in the international system. American Journal of International Law, 82 (4), pp. 705-759.

Frankel, G. (1990) Britain first to join multinational force. Washington Post, 9 August, p. A37.

Frankel, G. (1991) Britain reclaiming role as top U.S. ally. Washington Post, 19 January, p. A23.

Freedman, L. & Karsh, E. (1993) The Gulf conflict, 1990-1991: diplomacy and war in the new world order. N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Friedman, T.L. (1990) Confrontation in the Gulf: behind Bush's hard line; Washington considers a clear Iraqi defeat to be necessary to bolster its Arab allies. New York Times, 22 August, p. A1.

George, A.L & Bennet, A. (2005) Case studies and theory development in the social sciences. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Gibowski, W.G. (1991) Germans support war against Iraq. New York Times, February 7, p. A24.

Gordon, P.H. & Shapiro, J. (2004) Allies at war: America, Europe and the crisis over Iraq. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Goshko, J.M. (1991) Germany to complete contribution toward Gulf War costs Thursday. Washington Post, 27 March, p. A26.

Guha, K. & Dinmore, G. (2003) War opponents vow to block new UN resolution. Financial Times, 6 March.

Haas, R.N. (2009) War of necessity, war of choice: a memoir of two Iraq wars. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Harnden, T. (2010) Gerhard Schroeder accuses George W Bush of 'not telling truth' in memoirs [Online], The Telegraph. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

Hooper, J. (2002) German leader says no to Iraq war [Online], Guardian. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

Hurd, I. (2007) Breaking and making norms: american revisionism and crises of legitimacy. International Politics, 44 (2-3) March/May, pp. 194-213.

Iraq Inquiry Commission. (2002, July). Powell’s Minute to Prime Minister.

Iraq Inquiry Commission. (2002, March). Prime Minister Blair’s Minute to Powell.

Iraq Inquiry Commission. (2002, September). Manning’s Minute to Prime Minister.

Iraq Inquiry Commission. (2002, September). Ryecroft’s Minute to Prime Minister.

Jepperson, RL., Wendt, A., & Katzenstein, P. (1996) Norms, identity, and culture in national security. In: Katzenstein, K., ed. The culture of national security: norms and identity in world politics. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 33-75.

Kaim, M. (2003/2004) Friendship under strain or fundamental alienation? Germany-US relations after the Iraq war. International Journal, 59 (1) Winter, pp. 127-143.

Kaufmann, C. (2004) Threat inflation and the failure of the marketplace of ideas: the selling of the Iraq war. International Security, 29 (1) Summer, pp. 5-48.

Kinzer, S. (1991) Anti-war protest is staged in Bonn: many avoid singling out U.S. and fault home concerns. The New York Times, 27 January, p. 17.

Kinzer, S. (1991) German are told of Gulf-War role: Kohl Pledges more Israel aid, saying Germany has no ‘safe little corner. New York Times, 31 January, p. A14.

Kinzer, S. (1991) Gulf War sets off crisis for Germans: uncertainty over future role in military confrontations fuels soul-searching. New York Times, 17 February, p. 15.Kinzer, S. (1991) Uniform support and hope for end. New York Times, 25 February, p. A16.

Kissinger, H.A. (2002) No place for 'made in Berlin' unilateralism in this age [Online], Houston Chronicle. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

Klotz, A. (1995) Norms reconstituting interests: global racial equality and U.S. sanctions against South Africa. International Organization, 49 (3) Summer, pp. 451-478.

Krasner, S.D. (1982) Structural causes and regime consequences: regimes as intervening variables. International Organization, 36 (2), Spring, pp. 185-205.

Larres, K. (2003) Mutual incomprehension: U.S.-German value gaps beyond Iraq. The Washington Quarterly, 26 (2) Spring, pp. 23-42.

Matthews, K. (1993) The Gulf conflict and international relations. New York and London: Routledge.

Moore, J.N. (1992) Crisis in the Gulf: enforcing the rule of law. New York: Oceana Publication.

Mueller, J. (1994) Policy and opinion in the Gulf War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nye, J.S. (2002) The paradox of American power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Price, R. & Reus-Smit, C. (1998) Dangerous liaisons? Critical international theory and constructivism. European Journal of International Relations, 4 (3), pp. 259–294.

Reus-Smit, C. (2004) American power and world order. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Reus-Smit, C. (2005) Constructivism. In: Burchill, S., Linklater, A., Richard, D., Donnelly, J., Paterson, M., Reus-Smit, C. & True, J. ed. Theories of international relations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 188-212

Reus-Smit, C. (2007) International crises of legitimacy. International Politics, 44 (2-3) March/May, pp. 157-174.

Royce, K. (1990) Middle East crisis secret offer Iraq sent pullout deal to U.S [Online], Newsday Washington Bureau. Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2012].

Sciolino, E. (2002) As U.S. pursues a verbal war against Iraq, other nations raise their voices. New York Times, 1 September, p. 16.

Webster, P. (1991) Parties agreed on need to destroy Iraqi war machine. Times, 29 January, p. 2.

Sharp, J.M.O. (2003/2004) Tony Blair, Iraq and the special relationship: poodle or partner?. International Journal, 59 (1) Winter, pp. 59-86.

Simons, G. (2004) Iraq: from Sumer to post-Saddam. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Spörl, G. & Wiegrefe, K. (2010) Incompatible interests the truth blurs for Bush and Schröder [Online], Spiegel Online, Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

Springford, J. (2003) ‘Old’ and ‘new’ Europeans united: public attitudes towards the Iraq war and US foreign policy [Online]. London: Center for European Reform. Available from: Background Brief http://www.cer.org.uk/pdf/back_brief_springford_dec03.pdf [Accessed 18 December 2012].

Suchman, M. (1995) Managing legitimacy: strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 29 (3), pp. 571-610.

Tannenwald, N. (1999) The nuclear taboo: the United States and the normative basis of nuclear non-use. International Organization, 53 (3) Summer, pp. 433-468.

Thatcher, M. (1990) Joint press conference with President Bush (Iraq invasion of Kuwait) [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2012].

Van Evera, S. (1997) Guide to methods for students of political science. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Weisman, S.R. (2003) Refusal by French and Germans to back U.S. on Iraq has undercut powell’s position. New York Times, 24 January, p. A10.

Wendt, A. (1992) Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics. International Organization, 46 (2) Spring, pp. 391-425.

Wendt, A. (1995) Constructing international politics. International Security, 20 (1) Summer, pp. 71-81.Wendt, A. (1999) Social theory of international politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Whitney, C.R. (1991) Polls show support for war, even in Germany. New York Times, 29 January, p. A14.

Wood, N. & Bremner, C. (1990) Thatcher hits at Europeans' Gulf efforts. Times, 31 August, p. 1.

Wiegrefe, K. (2010) Berlin efforts to prevent Iraq invasion classified papers prove German warnings to Bush [Online], Spiegel Online. Available from: [Accessed 18 December 2012].

Woodward, B. (2004) Plan of attack. New York: Simon & Schuster.



DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/globalsouth.28816

Article Metrics

Abstract views : 797 | views : 867

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

View My Stats