Setting Foreign Policy Priorities in an Era of Political Polarization

Jackson Janes

President Emeritus of AGI

Jackson Janes is the President Emeritus of the American-German Institute at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, where he has been affiliated since 1989.

Dr. Janes has been engaged in German-American affairs in numerous capacities over many years. He has studied and taught in German universities in Freiburg, Giessen and Tübingen. He was the Director of the German-American Institute in Tübingen (1977-1980) and then directed the European office of The German Marshall Fund of the United States in Bonn (1980-1985). Before joining AICGS, he served as Director of Program Development at the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (1986-1988). He was also Chair of the German Speaking Areas in Europe Program at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, DC, from 1999-2000 and is Honorary President of the International Association for the Study of German Politics .

Dr. Janes is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Atlantic Council of the United States, and American Purpose. He serves on the advisory boards of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee, and the Beirat der Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (ZfAS). He serves on the Selection Committee for the Bundeskanzler Fellowships for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Dr. Janes has lectured throughout Europe and the United States and has published extensively on issues dealing with Germany, German-American relations, and transatlantic affairs. In addition to regular commentary given to European and American news radio, he has appeared on CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, CBC, and is a frequent commentator on German television. Dr. Janes is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Education.

In 2005, Dr. Janes was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany’s highest civilian award.

Ph.D., International Relations, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, California
M.A., Divinity School, University of Chicago
B.A., Sociology, Colgate University

Transatlantic relations, German-American relations, domestic German politics, German-EU relations, transatlantic affairs.


As part of the 2018 Munich Security Conference, AGI was pleased to cohost a breakfast program with the American Council on Germany.  The theme of the discussion was “Setting Foreign Policy Priorities in an Era of Political Polarization.”

Participating in that exchange were: Niels Annen, Member of the Bundestag (SPD); Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO); Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX); John Emerson, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany; Jane Harman, Woodrow Wilson Center; Andreas Nick, Member of the Bundestag (CDU); Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; and Representative Michael Turner (R-OH).

The challenge of populism raised the initial question of what it is, and how it takes hold in society. The consensus of the politicians was that meeting the challenge requires understanding the perspectives of those who feel threatened or left behind by trends beyond their reach. Explaining and making foreign policy choices involves linking the bottom-up and top-down views of citizens and policymakers. Without support at home, any government will be unable to sustain a successful policy abroad.

That requires defining the parameters of common goals and shared benefits across borders. Polarization within a country can be as dangerous as cross-border tensions. The current atmosphere of zero-sum thinking on both sides of the Atlantic is a major problem in dealing with problems much larger than any single actor, no matter how small or large.

Photos from the event:

All photos by Jens Oellermann/ MSC

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.