to defensive purposes and not as tools in human rights abuses. At the same time, Germany’s reinterpretation of its defence role allowed German combat aircraft to be engaged in NATO operations in Bosnia to enforce UN mandates during 1995-1996, and has been active in peacekeeping operations in Kosovo through 2001. In June 2000, a ruling of the European court also forced a change on policy whereby women can undertake combat roles in the German army.
Through the 1990s Germany still sought to present itself as a civilian power in its foreign policy, as part of a special path (Sonderweg) that set it apart from other Western democracies (Dalgaard-Nielsen 2003, p102; Haas 2002, p152). However, after the Constitutional Court ruled in 1994 to allow 'out of area' multilateral operations directed towards 'international peace and security' (Dalgaard-Nielsen 2003, p103), Germany has cautiously allowed itself a stronger role in peacekeeping and intervention operations of NATO, perhaps as part of its effort towards a stronger role in the UN. Through 2000-2004, Germany has also signalled that it is willing to cooperate in the creation of an independent European security and defence identity, and recent reviews have suggested that Germany might need to shift to a fully professional (rather than conscript) army. It has recently moved to create an independent military command centre as part of cooperation with the European defence initiative. Likewise, with support from the Greens leaders and foreign affairs minister Joschka Fischer (Dalgaard-Nielsen 2003, p104), the German government in recent years it has had up to 10,000 troops active overseas (mostly in the Balkans), and has sent teams into East Timor, and soldiers into Afghanistan, with the death of German peace-keepers (4 dead, 29 injured) in a suicide bombing occurring in June 2003 (Economist 2003). However, Germany requires these activities to be strictly multilateral, in support of NATO, OSCE, UNSC or EDI agenda. Hence, Gerhard Schroeder has been highly critical of the war in Iraq, a move supported by German voters through 2002-2003 (see below).
Nonetheless, the memory of the past had a strong influence on Germany foreign policy, which has in the post-World War II period been strongly supportive of the fledgling state of Israel (as well as trying to aid a peaceful development path in the Middle East through 2000-2004), and has now moved to strong policy of 'atonement', 'reconciliation' and engagement with the East-Central-Europe area (see Phillips 2001; Thompson 2001). On this basis too, issues of German nationalism, of the content of German culture, and the proper place for multiculturalism and different religious values remains highly sensitive, with German parties split over how far Germany should move towards a multicultural system in Germany, with the Green most in factor of accepting that Germany is now in part a country of immigrants (Haas 2002). This flows into the debates of integrations, assimilation, or a multi-ethnic, multi-religious Germany (Haas 2002, p168).
German politics today is very different from the 1930s. The German state now has a very resilient political system. Firstly, the FDR (West Germany) had a complex voting system, half 'winner take all' and half 'proportional representation', which means that parties representing less than 5% of the voter population found it difficult to find parliamentary representation (Steiner 1986, p103). In this system, the citizen voted twice, once for single-member districts (328 electorates whose members should reflect local concerns), and an equal number of representatives drawn from a Party selection list (Roskin 1992, p164-5). This mixed system allowed a closer reflection