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Huhnholz, Sebastian and Fischer, Karsten (2010): Amnesie und Antizipation. Ein politiktheoretischer Versuch zum Problem von Nachkriegsordnungen Amnesia and Anticipation., A Political Theory Perspective on the Problem of Postwar Orders. In: Behemoth, Vol. 3, No. 1: pp. 49-74 [PDF, 698kB]


In modern postwar orders (and disorders) the concept of democratic peace prescribes that losing parties remember defeat and accept blame in order to redeem themselves and receive amnesty. In addition, the winning side’s position is to be accepted as rightful, morally just, and inherently peaceable. However, the historian Reinhart Koselleck remarks that throughout history succeeding postwar transitions were creatively framed through three alternatives: first, noting down what really has happened (documentation); second, embedding war experience into larger historical frameworks in order to integrate and minimize the defeat (contextualization); and, third, denying the defeat by rewriting it (annihilation/reinterpretation). But groups who are likely to be defeated are already able to anticipate the modern constrictions on these alternatives during wartime. Our thesis is that the recent limiting of options for postwar arrangements is one key factor for both the emerging permanence of asymmetric, or so-called ‘new wars’, and the multitude of notoriously unstable postwar architectures.

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