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Constanze Stelzenmueller


Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller has been a senior transatlantic fellow with GMF in Berlin since 2009. Before that, she served as the director of the Berlin office from 2005-09. From 1994 until 2005, Stelzenmüller was an editor in the political section of the Hamburg weekly DIE ZEIT. There she served as defense and international security editor and covered human rights issues, humanitarian crises in Africa and the Balkans, and international criminal tribunals.

Stelzenmüller holds a doctorate in law from the University of Bonn (1992), a master's in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (1988), and a first state examination in law from the University of Bonn (1985). From 1988-89, she was a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School. She was a GMF Campus Fellow at Grinnell College in Iowa, a Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar in Washington, DC, and a member of the Remarque Forum (a conference series of the Remarque Institute at New York University).

Stelzenmüller's dissertation ("Direkte Demokratie in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika") was published in 1994 by Nomos. Her essays and articles have appeared as GMF publications, as well as in Foreign Affairs, Internationale Politik, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, and Süddeutsche Zeitung. She is a regular guest on U.S. and European TV and radio shows, e.g. in Presseclub (ARD), National Public Radio, and the BBC.

Stelzenmüller chairs the academic advisory board of the German Foundation on Peace Research (DSF). She is chairwoman of the German section of Women in International Security, WIIS.de. She is a member of the advisory board of the Protestant Academy of Berlin-Brandenburg, and a governor of the Ditchley Foundation. She has worked in Germany and the United States, and besides her native German, she is fluent in English. She also speaks French and Spanish.

Blog Contributions
Click here for all of this author's GMF blog posts

News Articles

Revelation at the heart of US-German spying sagaJuly 09, 2014"The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.” This was Oscar Wilde on fox hunting. Spying is hunting, of sorts.
Defend the peaceful European order!June 30, 2014In difficult times, say it straight.
Germany’s first female defense minister has won some big fights, writes Constanze StelzenmüllerDecember 19, 2013Equality of the sexes will be achieved when mediocre women can land plum jobs – just as men can, or so we have all been led to believe. The nomination of Ursula von der Leyen as Germany’s first female defense minister is not a case in point; the lady is formidable.
We Have Good Cause to Abhor the Surveillance StateJuly 17, 2013Constanze Stelzenmueller, GMF's senior transatlantic fellow, writes on the alleged US-UK surveillance activities in Germany.
European Relief and JittersNovember 09, 2012Americans and Europeans need each other now more than ever. And, frankly, it’s time for Europeans to step up and say: “Yes, we can, too.”
Liberal Democracy is Here to Stay, Thank You—But it Needs to be Tended and AdaptedJune 05, 2012

“Bull—!“: this was the blunt rejoinder of one Japanese policymaker in Tokyo to the question whether the “rise of the rest” marks the demise of the Western liberal order. Indeed, he has a point.

The West Runs Out of PowerApril 09, 2012

The challenge of the 21st century is not the weakness of others, but the weakness of the West.

Constanze Stellzenmueller: EU Playing Game of Chicken with Reform Measures (video)December 02, 2011

On December 2, 2011, GMF Senior Fellow Constanze Stelzenmueller spoke with France 24 about the ongoing eurozone crisis and the prospects for progress.

Gates was far too nice about Nato’s failingsJune 15, 2011Last week Robert Gates gave a valedictory “shock and awe” speech in Brussels in which he excoriated the military weaknesses of Nato’s European members. But matters are a lot worse than he thinks, says Constanze Stelzenmüller
Germany’s unhappy abstention from leadershipMarch 28, 2011“The world knows it can rely on us,” said Guido Westerwelle in October, when Germany had secured its goal of a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. But can the world rely on Germany when it counts?
Recalibrating the Transatlantic Relationship for a Multipolar AgeJanuary 26, 2011GMF's Constanze Stelzenmüller and Tomas Valasek co-author a new report with Fabrice Pothier on the Transatlantic Relationship in a Multipolar Age.
Stopping the Transatlantic DriftJanuary 25, 2011

You might call it the Obama paradox: Atlanticists on both sides of the ocean were certain that this president, inaugurated two years ago, would renew the trans-Atlantic alliance. Yet two years later, the United States and Europe seem further apart than they have ever been in their policies as much as in public attitudes.

Russia must be part of the European utopiaAugust 15, 2010Two years after the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, it is time for the US and Europe to realise that this was a watershed moment for the west. Of course, it was a disaster for Georgia, but it also sent a shock wave across the post-Soviet space.
Walk, But Learn to Chew Gum, TooAugust 10, 2010The Russo-Georgian war was a defining moment for the United States and Europe, showing the flaws of Western policy for the region. The challenge of crafting a coherent and effective policy for Eastern Europe remains unresolved on both sides of the Atlantic.
From Stalwart To Skeptic, Germany Rethinks EU RoleJuly 13, 2010The financial calamity of the European Union's sovereign debt woes has shaken the pillars of the postwar ideal of a united Europe. Germany, long a postwar champion and financier of European integration, is flexing its muscles more independently. And more of its citizens are questioning the country's leading role in the European project.
Duck Soup (1933): An IntroductionJune 30, 2010Constanze Stelzenmüller introduces the movie Duck Soup in advance of a screening for the Junge DGAP’s Foreign Policy Movie Series. Duck Soup, she says, is a political satire despite the protestations of the Marx Brothers themselves, who claimed they were just "trying to get a laugh," according to Groucho Marx.
Berlin, the Euro and Europe: It?s German Question Time?AgainJune 19, 2010

Is all this criticism justified? Is it true that the Germans still have a special debt to Europe—and that they are neglecting it? Is it accurate to say that Germany has departed from its earlier pro-European stance, and is becoming more nationalist? Or are we in fact being held to a higher standard than other countries? And if so, is that fair? Are we really failing to answer the Question, or are our friends and neighbors asking the wrong questions?

Hands Off Our Shackles, PleaseMarch 01, 2010

The momentous decision made by a German colonel in September to call in a NATO air strike on fuel trucks hijacked by the Taliban could become a test of Germany’s maturity 20 years after regaining complete sovereignty. But this incident, and its handling, has already turned a harsh spotlight on the shortcomings of German security policy

The Self-Chained RepublicJanuary 01, 2010The lonely decision by a German colonel in Kunduz to call in a NATO airstrike on Taliban forces who had hijacked a pair of fuel trucks may yet become a maturity test for Germany's political culture, twenty years after the fall of the Wall. A specially created investigative committee in the German federal legislature will now examine who was responsible for the many weaknesses and flaws apparent in the incident itself, as well as in its handling. But it is unlikely to examine the fundamental issues at the heart of German security policy: Does Germany even have a security policy which deserves that name? Does it have a strategy? How effective are the actors, institutions and instruments of German security policy?
Analyze DasNovember 01, 2009

Ninety years after 1919, seventy years after 1939, twenty years after 1989: Could it be it time for Germany to declare normalcy, for Germans to stop obsessing about their history and start living in the present? After all, we Germans have accomplished what is today broadly reckoned to be an honorable and complete accounting of the guilt amassed in the Holocaust and two world wars (admittedly, with some early prodding from outside, including the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Eichmann trial).

Germany shoots first and thinks againSeptember 09, 2009The night a German army colonel by the name of Georg Klein called in a massive Nato airstrike on two fuel trucks hijacked by Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan was a watershed moment. Although the exact number of casualties is still unknown - estimates suggest more than 50 died - it seems likely that it will prove to have been, as one American newspaper put it, "the most deadly operation involving German forces since World War II".  But will we also remember it as the night Germany grew up and started to call a war a war?
Angela Merkel: The World’s Most Powerful Woman?August 23, 2009You're a woman: that's nice, it does make a cabinet meeting look better these days. You have the brains, experience and b... er, guts for a top-echelon political job? Good, good. And you're - German. Oh dear. In politics (make that: in the workplace), German women remain about a decade behind their American, French or British counterparts. America, Sweden, Spain, Norway and Turkey, to name a few, have all had or currently have women as national security advisers, foreign ministers, defence ministers. Germany has had none of the above. You grew up in East Germany? (Pregnant pause.) You do realise that very few of you have made it into top politics at all since 1989, and most have disappeared again without a trace?
Germany’s Russia Question: A New Ostpolitik for EuropeMarch 03, 2009Now that Obama is president, will Germany respond to the call and join the United States as a key European partner in addressing global challenges and threats? Is Germany able and willing to use its considerable political resources to change Russia's behavior and to stand up to Moscow when necessary?
Germany’s Russia QuestionMarch 01, 2009Last July, more than 200,000 people flocked to a public park in Berlin to hear Barack Obama, then the Democratic candidate for president of the United States, deliver a speech calling for renewed transatlantic partnership and cooperation. The choice of Germany’s long-divided capital as the backdrop for his only public speech in Europe was deliberate.To the Germans listening to him that summer evening in the Tiergarten,Obama made a special appeal, citing “a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people,” the same “dream of freedom” that was the basis of the relationship between the United States and West Germany during the Cold War. Now that Obama is president, will Germany respond to the call and join the United States as a key European partner in addressing global challenges and threats?
We’re quick to damn the US but slow to see our own faultsJuly 20, 2008President Obama is finally coming to Europe! All right, the Americans haven't elected him ... yet. But that's a mere technicality as far as we're concerned. We made up our minds long ago: our President is Barack Obama.
The Dalai ObamaJune 03, 2008

Barack Obama drums up admiration in Germany as only the Dalai Lama can do, but the end of this euphoria is foreseeable. As America chooses, the world looks on. The next man at the helm of America will determine global politics like none other. In this sense, won't he in fact become the world's President? He's pretty much there, at least that's so far the case in Germany.

German voters peek through the looking glassJanuary 25, 2008

The incumbent campaigning for re-election in this weekend's German election is one of his party's heavyweights, an ambitious and confident bruiser with a talent for scorching populist rhetoric. His challenger is a woman, a diffident speaker in a party with few women in top leadership positions; her peers would mostly have preferred another man as their candidate. It seemed an easy win for the incumbent. Now, polls show the race is too close to call.

Failure as a ChanceAugust 28, 2007

Hilary Clinton's rise to become most promising female presidential candidate stems from her husband's mistakes, when she rediscovered herself and learned from her mistakes as First Lady.

Missile HysteriaApril 02, 2007

Germany has been celebrating Europe's 50th birthday, and itself: Hooray, we're a normal country again, with a normal foreign policy! Indeed, Germany has come a long way in this half century. And Angela Merkel has done much to reestablish it in its old role as a balancer and mediator in Europe, as well as within the transatlantic relationship.

War or PeaceMarch 27, 2007

Germany wants to be a "normal" country, with a "normal" foreign policy. But recent debates on the use of force in Afghanistan and on missile defence in Europe are anything but. Article in original German.

Gesucht: Magischer BundNovember 25, 2006

At this year's NATO Summit in Riga, coalition partners are debating how to best modernize NATO, but it is a moot question, especially when coalition partners are stumbling in the military campaign in Afghanistan. This article is in written in German.

World Cup: Germany wins – just not the CupJuly 07, 2006So we lost the World Cup. But we Germans seem to be coming out as winners in all sorts of other odd ways.
Merkel’s coalition will be lucky to survive two yearsOctober 11, 2005Germans heaved a collective sigh of relief on Monday when they heard that the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats had finally cut a deal to form a grand coalition government, to be headed by Angela Merkel. Germans do not much like uncertainty, and they certainly do not like it in their politics. After three weeks of wrangling following the inconclusive September 18 poll, it seemed any news would be good news. But just how good is it, and for whom?
Leidenschaftslose 51 GradSeptember 07, 2005

Distanz zu den USA, Skepsis gegenüber Ankara: Was die Deutschen über die Außenpolitik denken, bestimmt auch den Spielraum der nächsten Regierung.

A U.N. Seat for EuropeFebruary 20, 2005What do Europeans want from the United States? As President Bush prepares for his first trip to Europe since his reelection, what is the single most important thing Mr. Bush could do to reinvigorate trans-Atlantic relations.
Transatlantic Thaw?February 14, 2005It is a truth universally acknowledged that meteorological metaphors in political commentaries are to be abhorred; and yet they continue to infest editorials on the Transatlantic Relationship. But what can one commentator do against the weather? Fact is, this weekend’s usually snow- and icebound Conference for Security Policy, the strategic community’s Davos, took place amid unmistakeable signs of thaw.
The Disaggregation TemptationNovember 19, 2004Just what kind of relationship does the U.S. wish to have with the EU?  Not that that’s a new or original question. As a matter of fact, it’s been around for a while, and the U.S. foreign policy establishment was always of two minds (or more) on this one. But it does seem more urgent now than it did for a while. Iraq on the brink of civil war, Arafat gone, the latest accusations of Iranian mullahs working on nuclear missiles – surely here are challenges, opportunities and dangers even a lone superpower would not want to tackle on its own unless it had to.

Publications

What is at Stake in UkraineMarch 19, 2014

This policy paper explores repercussions for the West following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Transatlantic Majorities Oppose Domestic SurveillanceNovember 12, 2013

This piece describes European and U.S. attitudes toward wire-tapping and other surveillance.

New Power, New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing WorldOctober 17, 2013

This special paper discusses Germany’s role in the international order and in Europe, its strategic relationships and its security policy, and makes recommendations for future policy.

Transatlantic Trends 2013January 01, 1970

The 2013 edition of the preeminent source of U.S. and European public opinion on a host of transatlantic issues.

International Trends: Korea 2012October 04, 2012

This survey captures perceptions about how South Korea, Europe, and the United States are responding to global power shifts.

Transatlantic Trends 2012September 12, 2012

The 2012 Transatlantic Trends paints a picture of a complex relationship between the United States and Europe, and how they respond to global challenges.

Europe On its OwnJune 14, 2012

This paper sketches out three ten-year scenarios for European strategic reactions to current events.

End of a HoneymoonMarch 22, 2010

GMF author Constanze Stelzenmüller analyzes Obama and Europe, one year later. She assesses lukewarm European responses and asks if the honeymoon is over. In order to prevent deterioration of the transatlantic relationship, she argues, Europe must become a more active partner.

Germany’s Russia Question: A New Ostpolitik for EuropeMarch 30, 2009

Last July, more than 200,000 people flocked to a public park in Berlin to hear Barack Obama, then the Democratic candidate for president of the United States, deliver a speech calling for renewed transatlantic partnership and cooperation. Now that Obama is president, will Germany respond to the call and join the United States as a key European partner in addressing global challenges and threats?

Transatlantic Power Failures: America and Europe Seven Years After 9/11March 01, 2008

This paper examines the massive failures of that occurred after 9/11 on both sides of the Atlantic. It analyzes the notion of power, and the ideas and policies that stemmed from the attack by asking the following questions: What failed, and why? What remains valid, and worth preserving? And what is the way forward for the transatlantic relationship?

Staring At False ChoicesApril 01, 2007

Much of Europe's malaise is caused by staring at a battery of binary choices. Choices about our future structure as a Union: integration or enlargement? Choices about whom to consider as citizens: include or exclude? Choices about our foreign relations: values or interests?

European Defence – Myth or Reality?October 02, 2006

GMF's Constanze Stelzenmueller talks about the myths and realities of a common European Defence force, in particular five myths surrounding pragmatic integration and future consequences for the EU.