10 episodes

The Zeitgeist delves into topics affecting Germany, the United States, and the transatlantic relationship. Hosted by AICGS President Jeff Rathke, the show welcomes guests from the policy, academic, and think tank communities, as well as in-house AICGS experts. Produced by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

The Zeitgeist AICGS | American Institute for Contemporary German Studies

    • Government

The Zeitgeist delves into topics affecting Germany, the United States, and the transatlantic relationship. Hosted by AICGS President Jeff Rathke, the show welcomes guests from the policy, academic, and think tank communities, as well as in-house AICGS experts. Produced by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

    Overcoming Social Divisions

    Overcoming Social Divisions

    In recent years, the United States and Germany have both experienced growing social divisions, more extreme ideology, and a trend toward existing in our own echo chambers—that is, seeking out voices and opinions that align with our own.  In this climate, AICGS launched a project focused on the social divisions in our two countries, focusing on a number of factors that are underlying the divisions, including social, demographic, economic, geographic, and identity dynamics. Sixteen participants are part of this project and they have been active, professionally or on a voluntary basis, in the service of communities that have experienced societal division and/or marginalization in the U.S. and Germany. Two participants, Alex Baker and Teresa Eder, join this episode of The Zeitgeist.

    The goal of the project is to address common challenges of diverse communities, including questions of identity and the polarization of societies, and to find a way toward compromise and consensus in overcoming the existing divide. The group first visited Akron, Ohio, to learn more about the challenges facing many Midwestern cities. Mr. Baker and Ms. Eder discuss their experiences in Akron, some of the issues they discovered, and what they’ll be looking for during the group’s second site visit—this time, to Chemnitz, Germany.

    On this episode of The Zeitgeist, Alex Baker and Teresa Eder talk with AICGS’ Jeff Rathke, Susanne Dieper, and Elizabeth Caruth in an effort to help us take a fresh look at the challenges our societies face, discover to what degree these are common challenges, and to see what we can learn from each other.



    Learn about project

    Ideas for boosting political participation



    Host

    Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS

    Guests

    Alex Baker, Atlantic Council

    Teresa Eder, Journalist

    with

    Elizabeth Caruth, Research Associate, AICGS

    Susanne Dieper, Director of Programs and Grants, AICGS



    This episode of The Zeitgeist is generously funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany with Funds through the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy (BMWi).

    • 25 min
    Renewal or Reversal in the Transatlantic Trade Relationship

    Renewal or Reversal in the Transatlantic Trade Relationship

    The trade relationship between the United States and the European Union has been called into question during the Trump administration, despite research showing that U.S. trade with the EU is, on the whole, balanced. Why is that contrary to the intuitive understanding of many Americans? One factor is that the trade relationship is not only about trade in goods; it is also about trade in services. In services, the U.S. economy has a comparative advantage. In fact, overall in 2018, the U.S. ran a current account surplus with the EU of $14 billion—a surplus that has been going on since 2009. The economic relationship is essentially balanced.

    There is also the question of singling out Germany—which is problematic because Germany is part of the European single market. In looking at U.S.-German statistics, there is essentially no services trade in the bilateral relations because it’s all in Germany’s trade relationship with Ireland, within the EU, where many U.S. companies base their subsidiaries.  In short, we cannot understand transatlantic trade without looking at the entire trade relationship.

    On this episode of The Zeitgeist, Jeff Rathke and Peter Rashish speak with Professor Gabriel Felbermayr, one of Germany’s leading trade economists whose contributions to the transatlantic debate on trade deficits have gained wide attention.



    Other episodes in the Allianz Geoeconomics Speaker Series

    Episode 6: Competing Visions for a New Era of Globalization

    Episode 11: Inequality and Social Division: An Economic Perspective



    Host

    Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS

    Guests

    Gabriel Felbermayr, President, Kiel Institute for the World Economy

    Peter Rashish, Senior Fellow and Director of the Geoeconomics Program, AICGS



    Prof. Felbermayr also spoke at AICGS about “The United States, Germany, and Global Trade: Renewal or Reversal?” as part of our Geoeconomics Speaker Series, kindly supported by Allianz.



    The Geoeconomics Speaker Series is supported by

    • 30 min
    A European China Strategy

    A European China Strategy

    In this episode of The Zeitgeist, AICGS President Jeff Rathke talks with Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the EP’s Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China. They look at the impact of China on the international community, European responses to China’s evolution, and the possibility of U.S.-EU partnership on a China strategy. They also look at some of the specifics of current issues on the agenda regarding China, including the role of Huawei and 5G and broader human rights concerns.

    Finally, the conversation turns to the future of the German Green Party, the durability of its success, and the possibility of the Greens becoming a new Volkspartei.



    Host

    Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS

    Guest

    Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament

    • 39 min
    Adapting to a New Foreign Policy Approach

    Adapting to a New Foreign Policy Approach

    Following the Bonn International Security Forum, AICGS President Jeff Rathke sat down with the hosts of the popular German-language podcast Sicherheitshalber to discuss the evolving dynamics of foreign and security policy across the Atlantic. They discuss the need for the U.S.’ traditional allies to find ways to adapt to the Trump administration’s new approach of engaging in the world, the tensions between perceptions of NATO and the European Union (particularly among Americans), and lingering differences in concepts of the use of force. They also look at the political dynamics in both countries ahead of the 2020 elections in the U.S. and the planned 2021 federal election in Germany.



    Host

    Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS

    Guests

    Ulrike Franke, Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations

    Carlo Masala, Professor for International Politics, University of the Bundeswehr Munich

    Thomas Wiegold, Journalist

    • 25 min
    Elections Reveal New Trends in German Political Scene

    Elections Reveal New Trends in German Political Scene

    Voters in two eastern states went to the polls on September 1, with perhaps surprising results: they kept their long-governing parties in place despite threats from the far right and far left. In Brandenburg, the SPD held on to power with 26.2 percent of the vote while in Saxony, the CDU came out ahead with 32.1 percent. In this episode of The Zeitgeist, Jeff Rathke and Eric Langenbacher discuss the real winners and losers from Sunday’s election, what it all means for the German political system more broadly, and what impact political and demographic shifts could have in the eastern German states, including in October’s election in Thuringia.

    Host

    Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS

    Guest

    Eric Langenbacher, Senior Fellow and Director, AICGS Society, Culture & Politics Program



    Twilight of the Merkel Era: Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election, edited by Dr. Eric Langenbacher

    • 34 min
    Memorializing Afghanistan: German and American Experiences

    Memorializing Afghanistan: German and American Experiences

    The United States, along with Germany and many U.S. allies, have been at war in Afghanistan for 18 years. It is the longest-running military operation in either country’s history and has had dramatic impacts on both the United States and Germany.

    The war has created a legacy in both countries. The U.S. is accustomed to using force in extreme circumstances to confront security threats and challenges. It has an abundant infrastructure that addresses some of the consequences of the conflict and memorializes it in the public consciousness: federal programs to care for and support veterans; public recognition through military recognitions and awards; and most recently, legislation to build a “Global War on Terrorism Memorial.” At the same time, public support for the ongoing U.S. deployment in Afghanistan is waning. Some refer to Afghanistan and Iraq as “forever wars,” which encapsulates the problem: there are limits to what U.S. power can achieve. Regardless of those doubts, the U.S. public is overwhelmingly supportive of the troops deployed abroad, regardless of how individual Americans feel about that military action.

    For Germany, sending troops to Afghanistan is a development unique in its postwar history. The country is not used to sending large numbers of soldiers into situations where there may be combat or loss of life. How German society and politics understands and memorializes these actions is also a new challenge, given a general public reluctance to support interventions abroad. In Germany’s political system, leaders have repeatedly had to justify the country’s involvement in military operations.

    How does Germany memorialize its experience in Afghanistan? What does that memory say about German society, its media, and the political system? On this episode of The Zeitgeist, Jeff Rathke talks with Dr. Axel Heck about how the conflict has shaped political discourse in Germany and the lasting impact it will have.



    Host

    Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS

    Guest

    Axel Heck, DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow and senior lecturer in International Relations at Kiel University

    • 34 min

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