To Fear or not to Fear? An Offensive Structural Realist and Institutionalist Examination of Germany
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A powerful Germany, both militarily and economically, has not always boded well for the continent of Europe. As of today, Germany has the largest European economy in terms of GDP, it has the largest population, and it is a central player within the European Union. Should Germany’s neighbors hold a favorable view of German influence, despite its success? This thesis will test the explanatory power of two international relations theories in regards to German popularity by other states. The two theories are Offensive Structural Realism, which predicts that Germany’s neighbors should not view a rising German influence as favorable, and Institutionalism, which predicts that institutions like the EU do allow German neighbors to view German influence as favorable. The thesis will involve two German test cases: Germany from 1871-1914, and Germany from 2008-2016. This thesis’ concludes by showing that Institutionalism holds more explanatory power than Offensive Structural Realism. Indeed, states will not react to Germany based on German power capabilities alone. Instead, states will react to Germany based on the predictability of German intentions.