Joffe, Josef 1944-

views updated

Joffe, Josef 1944-


Born March 15, 1944, in Lodz, Poland (now Lithuania); married Christine Brinck; children: Jessica, Janina. Education: Swarthmore College, B.A., 1965; Johns Hopkins University, M.A., 1967; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1975.


Office—Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Sendlingerstrasse 80, 8 Munich 2, Germany.


Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, research associate for Center for International Affairs, 1975-76; Die Zeit, Hamburg, Germany, senior editor, 1976-82, publisher-editor, 2000—; fellow at Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, 1982-83; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, senior associate, 1983-84; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, professorial lecturer for School of Advanced International Studies, 1983-84; Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, Germany, began as foreign editor, became columnist and editorial page editor, 1985-2000. Hoover Institution, Marc and Anita Abramowitz Fellow in International Relations; Stanford University, Payne Distinguished Lecturer, 1999-2000; has also lectured at Dartmouth College, University of Munich, and the Salzburg Seminar; trustee of the Atlantik-Brücke, Berlin, Germany, and Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany.


International Institute for Strategic Studies, American Council on Germany, Goldman Sachs Foundation, German Children and Youth Foundation, European Advisory Board.


Theodor Wolff Prize, for journalism; Ludwig Börne Prize, for essays/literature; Federal Order of Merit, Germany; recipient of honorary degrees from Swarthmore College, 2002, and Lewis and Clark College, 2005.


Teheran, Eine Revolution Wird Hingerichtet: Dokumente Und Reportagen Aus Die Zeit, Heyne (Munich, Germany), 1980.

Das Waren Die 80er Jahre, Rogner und Bernhard (Munich, Germany), 1980.

The Internal Fabric of Western Security, Allanheld (Totowa, NJ), 1981.

The Limited Partnership: Europe, the United States, and the Burdens of Alliance, Ballinger, 1987.

(With Lincoln Gordon and others) Eroding Empire: Western Relations with Eastern Europe, Brookings Institution, 1987.

The Great Powers, Phoenix (London, England), 1998.

Gulliver Unbound: Can America Rule the World?, Centre for Independent Studies (St. Leonards, NSW, Australia), 2003.

Nations We Love to Hate: Israel, America, and the New Antisemitism, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (Jerusalem, Israel), 2005.

Überpower: The Imperial Temptation of America, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Foreign Affairs, National Interest, International Security, Foreign Policy, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, U.S. News and World Report, London Times, London Prospect, Times Literary Supplement, Commentary, New York Times Book Review, and Los Angeles Times Book Review. Contributing editor of U.S. News and World Report. Member of the editorial board of journals, including American Interest, International Security, Internationale Politik, National Interest, and the London Prospect.


Josef Joffe is a prolific writer on the relations between the United States, Europe, and the world. Joffe was raised in the western side of a divided Berlin before moving to suburban Michigan to finish high school. From there he remained to study in the United States, obtaining a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in 1965, a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University a few years later, and then his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1975. Joffe's professional career volleyed between academic positions and journalism in the United States and Germany. In an interview on the University of California, Berkeley Web site, Joffe explained this back-and-forth. "I always came back to the academy. And why? Why would I do that? Because journalism is a dumbing-down exercise. You live out of your intellectual suitcases and the batteries are being slowly run down, and you have to go back to activities where you can read whole books again rather than the introduction or the book review. And so you try to do this by working at home, by doing footnotes in the privacy of your bedroom. But that's not the academic experience, because the academic experience is more than just footnotes. It has to do with interaction, meeting people, talking to people, testing ideas, having them challenge your ideas. And that's why I've always gone back."

Regardless of his career hat, Joffe has always focused on international relations. Joffe told CA: "Born in Europe but trained in the United States, I was always fascinated by America's postwar role in Europe—at first reluctantly undertaken and then gestating into a ‘permanently entangling alliance.’ A kind of ‘benign empire,’ that entanglement is the greatest postwar success of American foreign policy, and it has accomplished more than the obvious, which has been to hold the balance against Soviet power. America's lasting intrusion has also transformed the international relations within Europe—to the point where the traditional fountainhead of international conflict (for example, two world wars) has become an island of ultra-stable peace. Hence, I wrote The Limited Partnership: Europe, the United States, and the Burdens of Alliance, which analyzes the new European state system at a time when the old signposts are vanishing and the distances between the two shores of the Atlantic are growing.

The Limited Partnership was widely received by the academic community and the book review critics. The central concern of the book is the role the United States has played in Europe's defense through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Many scholars argue that NATO, to the extent that the United States was involved, was a waste of U.S. money and that Europe should take a larger responsibility for its own defense. Joffe disagrees, citing the importance of a politically, economically, and defensively secure Europe and its benefit to the United States. Joffe further argues that when the United States largely took control of Europe's defense, it removed individual governments' responsibility for managing their own militaries, and thus, the root cause of previous wars on the continent.

Another of Joffe's widely acclaimed books is Überpower: The Imperial Temptation of America. Since the fall of the Soviet Union as a counterbalance to singular U.S. global supremacy, Joffe argues that the United States has become influential, if not domineering, in virtually all global issues. Due to the lack of an alternative superpower, and the political and economic actions taken by the United States against non-conformist governments, a strong, sometimes violent, stream of anti-Americanism has grown throughout the world. Joffe analyzes the cause for this hatred and suggests a return to policies of international bridge-building and embracing both old and new allies.

Reviews for the book were mixed. Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times, thought that the book "is at its best in dissecting the nature and roots of anti-Americanism, from the spreading moral contempt of Europeans for American capitalism … to the ‘vicious, sustained, and direct expressions’ of anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic worlds." Suzanne Nossel found Joffe's proposed solution to anti-Americanism to be the book's strongest point in a review in the American Prospect, stating: "Joffe is most convincing when he used the historical experiences of Britain and Germany to analyze how the United States can fashion a type of superpower leadership that the rest of the world will follow." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that Joffe's understanding of the U.S.-as-sole-superpower role "is more insightful than many and less unflattering." In a Foreign Affairs article, Walter Russell Mead called many of Joffe's arguments "largely persuasive." A critic reviewing the book in Kirkus Reviews concluded that "Joffe's model is plausible, his arguments persuasive."



American Political Science Review, December, 1988, Wolfram F. Hanrieder, review of The Limited Partnership: Europe, the United States, and the Burdens of Alliance, p. 1416.

American Prospect, July 1, 2006, Suzanne Nossel, review of Überpower: The Imperial Temptation of America, p. 54.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, July, 1988, Philip B. Taylor Jr., review of Eroding Empire: Western Relations with Eastern Europe, p. 137.

Booklist, June 1, 2006, Brendan Driscoll, review of Überpower, p. 11.

Brookings Review, fall, 1987, review of Eroding Empire, p. 40.

Choice, April, 1988, review of The Limited Partnership, p. 1309.

Christian Century, December 12, 2006, Walter Brueggemann, review of Überpower, p. 47.

Commentary, June 1, 2006, Bret Stephens, review of Überpower, p. 69.

Current History, November, 1987, R. Scott Bomboy, review of Eroding Empire, p. 382.

European Affairs, spring, 2007, Joölle Attinger, review of Überpower.

Foreign Affairs, spring, 1988, Gregory F. Treverton, review of The Limited Partnership, p. 870; May 1, 2006, Walter Russell Mead, review of Überpower, p. 138.

Journal of International Affairs, summer, 1988, Austin D. Johnston, review of The Limited Partnership, pp. 470-471.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2006, review of Überpower, p. 392.

Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1987, review of The Limited Partnership, p. 6.

New York Times, July 14, 2006, Roger Cohen, review of Überpower.

Prairie Schooner, fall, 1988, review of The Limited Partnership, p. 553.

Publishers Weekly, May 1, 2006, review of Überpower, p. 54.

Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2006, review of Überpower.

Times Literary Supplement, September 16, 1988, H.G. Nicholas, review of The Limited Partnership, p. 1010.


Hoover Institution Web site, (June 2, 2007), author biography.

University of California, Berkeley Web site, (June 2, 2007), author interview.