Miriam Müller: Between Insignificance and Interventionism - Analyzing the Limits of Foreign Policy along the Tracks of an Extraordinary Case Study: The GDR's Engagement in South Yemen

Miriam Müller's project is the first comprehensive analysis of the German Democratic Republic’s activities in South Yemen, the only Marxist state in the Arab World and at times the closest and most loyal ally to the Soviet Union in the Middle East during the Cold War. Her thesis critically engages with the normative and empirical dimensions of the ‘Limits of Foreign Policy’ based on the unique case of the GDR’s engagement in Aden and presents a dialectic as the major hypotheses: The case of South Yemen may be considered both, an ‘exceptional case’ and the possible ‘ideal type’ of the ‘general’ of East German foreign policy and thus points to what the GDR’s foreign policy could have been, if it hadn’t been for the numerous restraints of East German foreign-policy-making. The empirical side of the analysis rests on archival documents of the German Foreign Office, the German National Archive and the former Ministry of State Security of the GDR. These documents are reviewed and published for the first time and are complemented by personal interviews with contemporary witnesses. The interdisciplinary approach integrates and expands methods of both History and Political Science, applicable to other cases. Conducted research is intended to contribute to academic discourse on South Yemen’s unique history, divided Germany’s role in the Cold War, East German foreign policy, but also the long-term impact of Socialist foreign-policy-making in the Global South which so far has been neglected almost completely in academia.

Institution: Freie University Berlin and University of Victoria, Kanada
Contact: miriam.mueller@fu-berlin.de