Episode 95: German Security Policy’s Balancing Act

Constanze Stelzenmüller

The Brookings Institution

Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller is the Director of the Center on the United States and Europe and the inaugural holder of the Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. A German native herself, she is an expert on German, European, and transatlantic foreign and security policy, as well as international law and human rights. From 2019-2020, Dr. Stelzenmüller held the Kissinger Chair on Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress and from 2014-2019 served as the inaugural Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Prior to joining Brookings, she directed the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and later served as Senior Transatlantic Fellow with the organization, heading the Transatlantic Trends Program. Dr. Stelzenmüller’s work in the think tank sphere follows a distinguished career in journalism, including the role of Defense and International Security Editor in the political section of DIE ZEIT from 1994-2005. She has contributed to a variety of publications, writes a monthly column for the Financial Times, and is a frequent commentator on American and European news outlets.

Jeffrey Rathke

Jeff Rathke

President of AGI

Jeffrey Rathke is the President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC.

Prior to joining AICGS, Jeff was a senior fellow and deputy director of the Europe Program at CSIS, where his work focused on transatlantic relations and U.S. security and defense policy. Jeff joined CSIS in 2015 from the State Department, after a 24-year career as a Foreign Service Officer, dedicated primarily to U.S. relations with Europe. He was director of the State Department Press Office from 2014 to 2015, briefing the State Department press corps and managing the Department's engagement with U.S. print and electronic media. Jeff led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he was deputy chief of staff to the NATO Secretary General in Brussels. He also served in Berlin as minister-counselor for political affairs (2006–2009), his second tour of duty in Germany. His Washington assignments have included deputy director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs and duty officer in the White House Situation Room and State Department Operations Center.

Mr. Rathke was a Weinberg Fellow at Princeton University (2003–2004), winning the Master’s in Public Policy Prize. He also served at U.S. Embassies in Dublin, Moscow, and Riga, which he helped open after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Rathke has been awarded national honors by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as several State Department awards. He holds an M.P.P. degree from Princeton University and B.A. and B.S. degrees from Cornell University. He speaks German, Russian, and Latvian.



Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller joins this episode of The Zeitgeist to discuss Germany, transatlantic defense, and the West’s response to today’s challenging security order. Are Germany and the United States doing enough to support Ukraine amidst ongoing Russian aggression and geopolitical ambition? What domestic political debates are driving foreign policymaking and impacting defense spending? How does Germany view its role as a leader in European defense? And as Germany’s chapter of Women in International Security marks its twentieth anniversary, how has the role of women in German foreign and security policy transformed?


Jeff Rathke, President, AGI


Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Director of the Center on the United States and Europe, Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations, The Brookings Institution

This podcast is supported by the United States diplomatic mission in Germany.

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