Dr. Jackson Janes, American Institute for Contemporary German Studies
Dr. Jackson Janes has been engaged in German-American and European affairs for more than three decades. He is the executive director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.
Before joining the AICGS, he served as a director of the German-American Institute in Tübingen and as a director of program development at the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Furthermore, he serves on the advisory boards of the Atlantische Initiative and the Allied Museum in Berlin as well as on the Board of Trustees of the American Bundestag Intern Network (ABIN) in Washington D.C.
Dr. Janes has lectured throughout Germany and the United States and has published multiple articles and op-ed pieces on topics dealing with Germany, German-American relations and transatlantic affairs.
Here he talks about the priorities of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and make suggestions on how Germany could improve the transatlantic relations.
1. What are your current priorities in your work at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies?
AICGS occupies a niche since it is the only think tank based in Washington, DC that conducts research, produces objective and original policy analysis, creates new transatlantic networks, and organizes conferences as well as roundtable discussions aimed at strengthening the German-American relationship.
As we mark our 25th anniversary in 2008, AICGS will foster its commitment to building knowledge, insights, and networks for German-American relations by attracting the best experts and scholars in the business, political, and academic communities of Germany and the United States.
Our research and activities are organized into three major pillars: 1. Business and Economics, 2. Foreign and Domestic Policy, and 3. Society, Culture and Politics. Our research focus is on issues where Germany and the United States are facing common challenges, e.g. international trade and investment, climate change, energy security, the war on terrorism, religion, and immigration.
Looking ahead to 2009, our research focus will certainly include the German federal elections, the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In light of the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, AICGS is currently working on producing a Memorandum on German-American relations for the newly-elected President of the United States and his senior advisors.
As new economic and political powers emerge, the AICGS mission becomes more relevant than ever before. It will be increasingly important for the United States and Germany to work together to defend and advance common transatlantic interests and values. As leaders in globalization, both countries share a mutual interest in advancing international trade, effective global financial policies, accessible energy resources, and sound economic policies at home and abroad. AICGS will continue to foster cooperation and help create a working relationship between the United States and Germany that is based on trust, friendship, and shared leadership.
2. In your opinion, what should Germany do to improve transatlantic relations?
Transatlantic relations would greatly improve if the European Union was more unified, resulting in a more capable transatlantic partnership with the United States. And Germany has the ability to energize the EU to marshal its resources to deal with transatlantic cooperation.
Germany can also exercise responsibility at the national and EU level in fulfilling the role of a leader in the partnership with a new administration in Washington in the next few years. This implies joining the United States in defining what the common challenges are and proposing strategies with which we can maximize our prospective resources - be they political, economical, military, or technological.
Moreover, Germany can assume - through the EU as well as directly - responsibility on the global stage. Germany is involved in every international organization of significance and can use its leadership to revitalize transatlantic relations.
3. What is the single greatest challenge facing the transatlantic alliance today?
The single greatest challenge will be to come up with a new formulation to define the nexus between the values and the interests that the alliance has shared in the past, but which need to be revitalized now in the twenty-first century. The transatlantic alliance will need to rebuild and enlarge its area of stability and security amidst a whole new range of challenges and complex risks that are different from those we have faced before.
The period since the end of the Cold War has left us exploring answers to questions about both what we should do together, and why we should do it together. The answers to these questions are not only important for the political elite, but also for the general public on both sides of the Atlantic. The debates over dealing with terrorist threats, failing or failed states, the effectiveness of international institutions, and the sustainability of our climate are opportunities to review and revitalize our alliances.
Foreign policy decision making is now far more closely linked with domestic policy. As Europe seeks to find its own position on the global stage, the challenge will be to merge our responses to crises that we face at home and abroad with an opportunity to define what we share in both values and interests. This takes the form of dealing with challenges well outside of the transatlantic orbit - whether it be dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, addressing global climate change, or achieving economic and social justice on a global scale.
German-American relations are, in short, about far more today than just German-American relations.
More information about Dr. Janes is available on the homepage of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.