John G. Stoessinger

John G. Stoessinger

John G. Stoessinger, Ph.D. (Harvard), a prize winning author of ten leading books on world politics, has been the recipient of the distinguished Bancroft Prize for History for "The Might of Nations", and has served as Acting Director for the Political Affairs Division at the United Nations. On the eve of World War II, Dr. Stoessinger fled from Nazi-occupied Austria to Czechoslovakia. His family was saved by a Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara, who issued three visa to transit Russia. He escaped to Shanghai via Siberia and Kobe. Dr. Stoessinger is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, lecturing extensively throughout the world, and serves as Distinguished Professor of Global Diplomacy at the University of San Diego and is a visiting lecturer at the University of California, San Diego.

In 1976, Stoessinger pleaded guilty to concealing fraud totaling at least $260,000 committed by Anne Lament, who used letters of recommendation from him which she addressed to overseas banks and governments.cite news|publisher=Time Magazine|title=Love and Leverage|url=,9171,911860-1,00.html|date=December 6, 1976|accessdate=2007-12-22] He subsequently received a full Presidential Pardon from Ronald Reagan, thereby nullifying the original offense. []

Theories on International Relations

Stoessinger was only a child when Adolf Hitler invaded his home of Austria in order to obtain Anschluss. As a Jewish family, they felt the need to escape from the Nazis. They received a visa to Shanghai, China from a kind Japanese diplomat by the name of Chiune Sugihara who was interested in helping victims escape from the Nazis. These were the beginnings that shaped Stoessinger's world view and interest in 'why nations go to war.'Much like the scholar Thucydides in the days of the Peloponnesian Wars, Stoessinger believes that war is neither impersonal nor inevitable. One cannot blame merely events for the start of a war, as it eventually comes down to the decisions made by men and women. A strong defender of diplomacy, he asserts that many wars (including the most current Third Gulf War) could have been avoided or solved without the use of violence.One of the main theories that can be contributed to him is the idea of perceptions and misperceptions. He believes that on the eves of most major conflicts, the political leaders involved make critical judgments (often misplaced) which send their country into the conflict. These misperceptions occur on four main levels. The first is a misperception of themselves, their role in the world, and their loyalty to an outcome. George W. Bush made the transition from pragmatist to crusader during his terms as President and therefore has taken many misperceptions to a completely new level in the Middle East. With a more healthy view of his place in the world, this conflict could be on its way to pacification. The second level is misperceptions of the adversary. Often this includes demonization and a lack of understanding and objectivity in a situation. The third level is misperception of the intentions of the adversary and the last level is misperception of ability of the adversary. Stoessinger also states that two countries on the brink of instability cannot afford for each political leader to anticipate an attack. In this case, war is almost a certainty.These strong assertions about the importance of personalities of political leaders and how they play in to International Relations offer a new view on the world stage. Without the excuse of events beyond human control, Stoessinger puts into the hands of leaders a powerful tool, the ability to keep the world at peace.

Partial Bibliography

*"The Refugee and the World Community" (1956)
*"The Might of Nations: World Politics in Our Time (1962)
*"Financing the United Nations System" (1964)
*"Power and Order" (1964)
*"The United Nations and the Superpowers" (1965)
*"Nations in Darkness: China, Russia, and America" (1971) (Note: The sixth and most recent edition was retitled "Nations at Dawn: China, Russia, and America")
*"Why Nations Go to War" (1974, 10th ed. 2008)
*"Henry Kissinger: The Anguish of Power" (1976)
*"Night Journey" (1978)
*"Crusaders and Pragmatists: Movers of Modern American Foreign Policy (1979)


cite book | first=John | last=Stoessinger | origyear=1974 | year=2007 | title=Why Nations Go to War, Tenth Edition

Stoessinger, John G. Crusaders and Pragmatists: Movers of Modern American Foreign Policy. New York City: n.p., 1979.

External links

* [ "Memorial Lecture by John G. Stoessinger" (Japanese)] at the Holocaust Education Center in Hiroshima, Japan
* [ "University of San Diego"]


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