Realism and Hegemonic Moralism: Germany and the United States in the Build-Up to the Second Gulf War
International Relations in modernity have undergone phases of nation-state struggle and, more recently, globalized conflict. Theorists have used the paradigms of idealism and realism to explain state actor motivations in such conflicts; yet in the early 21st century, the United States initiated regime change in Iraq with claims of necessity pertaining to morality and security that could not be adequately explained using either framework. This thesis postulates that a paradigm shift in International Relations, as described by John Vasquez via Thomas Kuhn, is occurring as evidenced by the conduct of United States foreign policy towards Iraq.
This new paradigmatic approach, which Edward Weisband has titled Hegemonic Moralism, is analyzed in this thesis, explicating the ontological assumptions and policy initiatives made by the United States administration in the lead-up to the Second Gulf War. Hegemonic Moralism clashes with the realist beliefs underpinning Germany's foreign policy during the same time period: with the threat of Anglo- American neo-liberal dominance in the Middle East a distinct possibility, Germany realigned its allies to forestall and de-legitimize looming U.S. regime change in Iraq. An analysis of realist theory and its assumptions of human and nation-state behaviour leads into an explication of the paradigm of US Hegemonic Moralism, comparing it with the realist behaviour exhibited by Germany. I suggest that descriptions of German sociopolitical discourse after the September 11 2001 attacks on the US and prior to the Second Gulf War convincingly show Germany's social and political readiness to oppose the hegemonic neo-liberal Anglo-American paradigm.