Szabo, Stephen F.

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Szabo, Stephen F.


Education: American University, School of International Service, B.A., M.A.; Georgetown University, Ph.D.


Office—Transatlantic Academy, German Marshall Fund of the United States, 1744 R St. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20007. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, editor, foreign policy expert, and educator. German Marshall Fund of the United States, Transatlantic Academy, Washington, DC, executive director; Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Baltimore, MD, professor of European Studies, served as academic and interim dean; U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute, Washington, DC, chairman of West European studies; National Defense University, Washington, DC, professor of national security affairs. Served as a faculty member Georgetown University, University of Virginia, and the National War College; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and American Academy (Berlin, Germany), fellow; Alexander von Humbolt Foundation, fellow.


Research Support for Political Scientists: A Guide to Sources of Funds for Research Fellowships, Grants, and Contracts, Departmental Services Program (Washington, DC), 1977.

(With Willard Allen Fletcher and Stanley R. Sloan) United States-German Relations, Past and Present, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), 1984.

(Editor) The Bundeswehr and Western Security, foreword by R. Gerald Livingston, preface by William Y. Smith, Macmillan (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England), 1990.

The Changing Politics of German Security, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.

The New Germany and European Security, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington, DC), 1990.

The Diplomacy of German Unification, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1992.

(Editor, with Douglas T. Stuart) Discord and Collaboration in a New Europe: Essays in Honor of Arnold Wolfers, foreword by Paul H. Nitze, Foreign Policy Institute (Washington, DC), 1994.

(With Louis W. Goodman and Kay King) Professional Schools of International Affairs on the Eve of the 21st Century, Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (Washington, DC), 1994.

Parting Ways: The Crisis in German-American Relations, Brookings Institution Press (Washington, DC), 2004.


Stephen F. Szabo is a writer, editor, and foreign policy expert. He is the executive director of the Transatlantic Academy, a collaborative venture between the German Marshall Fund and the Zeit Stiftung Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius in Hamburg, Germany. The academy "provides a forum for research and dialogue between scholars, policy experts and authors from both sides of the Atlantic," noted a biographer on the Globalist Web site. As an educator, Szabo served at Johns Hopkins University, in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where he was professor of European Studies. He has also been involved in education at the U.S. government level, working as a professor of national affairs at the National Defense University and serving as chair of West European studies at the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute.

Szabo is a fluent speaker of German and an expert in both German and European politics. He often writes on topics in German political history, and the majority of his books address broad areas within this subject. In The Changing Politics of German Security, published in 1990, Szabo examines the domestic origins of the defense policy of the former West Germany. Rather than focusing on governmental policies or the attitudes of elite members of German society, Szabo aims this book at exploring the role of defense and security within the general realm of domestic policy debate. Szabo offers both detailed interviews and survey results to support his analysis. The Diplomacy of German Unification, published in 1992, contains Szabo's detailed account of the historical reunification of Germany in 1989-90. The author looks carefully at the international elements that helped solidify the reunification effort, with a focus on the efforts of important German, Soviet, and American officials who helped put together the final plan. Szabo also covers the critically important diplomatic negotiations that shaped the reunified Germany's economics, politics, and security. Controversial areas are also explored, including the issues surrounding the new Germany's admittance to the United Nations; the resolution of Germany's Polish-German border debate; and more. Szabo also includes a detailed chronology of the reunification.

The Bundeswehr and Western Security, edited by Szabo, also considers issues of security in West Germany, collecting works that examine "public attitudes and the security policies of the major West German parties," noted Gregory F. Treverton in Foreign Affairs. The essays in the book revolve around the Bundeswehr, the German Army, and look at strategic matters and larger matters involving the German military and the country's security.

In Parting Ways: The Crisis in German-American Relations, Szabo delves into the international political aspects of the tumultuous relationship between the United States and Germany as it has developed in the wake of the Iraq war. "The German-American split was a part of a larger crisis in transatlantic relations that began with the end of the Cold War, increased with the current Bush presidency, and erupted with ferocity in the fall of 2002 over the war in Iraq," commented Wolfgang G. Schwanitz in a Middle East Policy review. "This short, readable book should be of interest to policy makers and academics alike, because it presents the actions of German policy makers in the Iraq crisis in the context of the changing transatlantic relationship generally," observed reviewer Dorothee Heisenberg in the Political Science Quarterly. In Szabo's assessment, the crisis in German/U.S. relations reached a peak in 2003, when the political relationship that had been vitally important to both countries since the end of World War II finally snapped under the strain. "What began as a temporary tactical shift of the German chancellor toward Paris and away from Washington, maintains Szabo, came to possess a strategic significance: Europe had taken priority over Germany's transatlantic tie with the United States, and American power was regarded with suspicion, rather than as a stabilizing force in international relations," Schwanitz reported. In total, "Szabo argues that the golden age of German fealty to all American policies is formally over," Heisenberg stated.

Szabo provides detailed background information on the issues and troubles that led to the split. He looks at the political origins of the trouble and recounts the diplomatic developments that led up to the Iraq war. He notes how German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had originally hoped to align British and French allies into opposition to the war. When Schroeder realized that Britain and France were more likely to support the United States, he placed Germany on its own in its opposition to the war, a move that Szabo notes probably allowed him to be reelected, but which further eroded German and American relations. He compares and contrasts shifts in cultural and foreign policy concepts in both Germany and the United States, and describes how these changes caused deeper conflict between the two countries. Szabo also looks ahead at potential results of the trouble between Germany and the United States: in the ongoing evolution of European status and identity, and with Germany, Europe could become a very real and powerful competitor against the United States.

"Parting Ways is very well researched and written. It offers profound lessons from failures in leadership on both sides, on unilateralism and on deeper currents of change," remarked Schwanitz.

Szabo told CA: "Reading first got me interested in writing, especially reading history, which gave me an interest in trying to explain contemporary Europe and its relationship with the United States. My father was a writer and this made it seem natural to be writing books.

"I have always preferred clear writers who are concerned about the real world implications of their subject matter, writers like Tony Judt, Michael Howard, and David Calleo. I am influenced by contemporary issues and hope to provide some political and historical context to understanding them. When Germany suddenly and surprisingly unified in 1990, or when it broke with the U.S. Administration over the Iraq war, I was energized to write about what happened as close to the events as possible, thereby offering a first draft of history while the memory of the participants were still fresh.

"I normally write for two to three hours a day, going through the first draft of the entire piece before going back and revising.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that it is the best way of learning a subject. Writing tends to stick with me more than reading.

"My first edited volume, The Successor Generation, is my favorite because it created an life-long interest in the impact of generational change on history and politics. I am also fond of the two studies in contemporary history, The Diplomacy of German Unification and Parting Ways.

"I hope that my books give the reader a better understanding of the context of contemporary politics and that they find them to be readable and clear."



Choice, April, 1993, C. Clemens, review of The Diplomacy of German Unification, p. 1387.

Foreign Affairs, winter, 1990, Gregory F. Treverton, review of The Bundeswehr and Western Security, p. 189; winter, 1990, Gregory F. Treverton, review of The Changing Politics of German Security.

International Affairs, April, 1991, Jay Wagner, review of The Changing Politics of German Security, p. 354; March, 2005, Victor Mauer, review of Parting Ways: The Crisis in German-American Relations, p. 444.

International History Review, February, 1994, review of The Diplomacy of German Unification, p. 221.

Middle East Policy, spring, 2006, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, review of Parting Ways, p. 161.

Political Science Quarterly, fall, 2005, Dorothee Heisenberg, review of Parting Ways, p. 531.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2005, review of Parting Ways, p. 40.

Times Literary Supplement, May 14, 1993, Roger Morgan, review of The Diplomacy of German Unification, p. 13.

West European Politics, October, 1994, Geoffrey K. Roberts, review of The Diplomacy of German Unification, p. 202; January, 2006, Gary Anderson, review of Parting Ways, p. 198.


Globalist, (March 17, 2008), author profile.

Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Web site, (March 17, 2008), author profile.