Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent whose articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him "among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling."
Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. He was the Times bureau chief in Nicaragua during the 1980s, and in Germany during the early 1990s. In 1996 he was named chief of the newly opened Times bureau in Istanbul. Later he was appointed national culture correspondent, based in Chicago.
Since leaving the Times, Kinzer has taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University. He has written books about Central America, Rwanda, Turkey, and Iran, as well as others that trace the history of American foreign policy. He contributes to the New York Review of Books and writes a world affairs column for the Guardian.
Kinzer's research is focused on the way the United States acts in the world. He seeks to understand the cultural and social roots of American foreign policy, as well as the political and economic ones.
Much of Kinzer's work has involved re-interpreting history and exploring episodes that are not well known. His books on the American-led operations that deposed governments in Guatemala and Iran during the 1950s, and his history of American regime-change operations, Overthrow, have sharpened his focus on the long-term effects of foreign intervention.
Kinzer's newest book, which tells the stories of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, CIA Director Allen Dulles, uses the framework of biography to ask: Why does the United States behave as it does in the world?
As tensions have risen in Iran and Turkey, Kinzer has written about their challenges. He is also researching the history of anti-imperialism in the United States, and seeking to discover why it has never managed to win broad popular support.
The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War
Times Books – October 2013
Beyond Military Intervention: A 'Wacko Birds' Manifesto for US Foreign Policy
"Never mind John McCain's jibe at those who challenge the consensus on American 'might is right', the US needs this debate."
The Guardian - March 24, 2013
John Kerry and the Restraint of American Power in US Foreign Policy
"The key issue facing Hillary Clinton's replacement at State is whether he can temper interventionist instincts with new realism."
The Guardian - January 31, 2013
Libya and the Limits of Intervention
"A dose of humility might lead Americans to realize that military intervention always produces unforeseen consequences."
Current History - November 2012
US Inadvertently Creates a Terrorist Haven in Mali
Boston Globe - July 15, 2012
Iran's First Great Satan Was England
New York Times - December 3, 2011
Libya is not 'Another Rwanda'
"The disciplined Tutsi rebel force led by Paul Kagame in 1994 in Rwanda differs greatly from the ragtag opposition in Libya today."
The Boston Globe - April 1, 2011
August 22, 2014
In Al Jazeera Journalist in Residence Stephen Kinzer explains that in paying ransom for it's citizens, the US would be putting a "target" on the backs of future citizens abroad to become victims of a hostage situation.
August 21, 2014
In Al Jazeera, Journalist in Residence Stephen Kinzer commends Obama for evolving into the cautious, "anti-interventionalist" leader he is today.
August 18, 2014
In the Boston Globe, Journalist in Residence Stephen Kinzer writes that the US should use a criterion other than "democratic" when judging which governments are praiseworthy or at least deserve our sympathy. "It is fine to encourage those who seem most likely to be 'democratic' as we define that term," he says. "But we should also ask: Who in this country can establish control, provide security, and improve lives?"
August 1, 2014
Writing in the Boston Globe, Visiting Fellow Stephen Kinzer notes the value of conventional military power, long a strength of the United States, has declined. "For much of history ... victory depended on your army," he writes. Today, "cultural forces and webs of global politics and economics bind nations together in ways that make the exercise of military power more difficult. The idea that a big power can easily stop, win, or decisively intervene in an overseas conflict by applying massive force is a relic of past centuries."
July 21, 2014
In the Boston Globe, Watson Visiting Fellow Stephen Kinzer explains why the US is having trouble gaining the trust of it's allies.
July 7, 2014
In the Boston Globe, Visiting Fellow Stephen Kinzer reminds us that borders between nations have always been fluid, shifting as power ebbs and flows -- witness the Sykes-Picot Line, the Durand Line, and shifting borders across Africa. While it's important to respect the sanctity of borders, he says, it would be dangerous to reject change, especially in the case of Iraq and Syria. "Accepting new borders," he writes, "can be less destabilizing than fighting to defend old ones."
June 23, 2014
Stephen Kinzer, visiting fellow at the Watson Institute, writes that the recent explosion of militant power in Iraq is an example of how U.S. foreign interventions' short-term success can dissolve into long-term failure.