Wolfgang Ischinger on Trust, Truth, and Transparency

November 24, 2020

Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger is Chairman of the Munich Security Conference since 2008. Ischinger has a long diplomatic career including his role as State Secretary in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and posts as German ambassador in Washington D.C. and London. His latest book is World in Danger: Germany and Europe in an Uncertain Time (Brookings Institution Press, 2020).


In 1993, he was named Director of the Policy Planning Staff and in 1995 Political Director. In that role, Ischinger led the German delegations during the Bosnian Peace negotiations in Dayton/Ohio in 1995, the negotiations on the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1996/1997, and during the Kosovo crisis in 1998/99. In October 1998, he was appointed State Secretary (Deputy Foreign Minister) of the German Federal Foreign Office. From 2001 to 2006, he served as German Ambassador in Washington, DC, and, from 2006 to 2008, in London. In 2007, he also represented the EU in the Troika negotiations on the future of Kosovo.

Ambassador Ischinger has received a number of honors and awards, including the German Bundesverdienstkreuz. He is a Commander of the French Legion of Honor and was the 2008 recipient of the Leo Baeck Medal awarded by the Leo Baeck Institute, New York. In 2015, Ischinger was the recipient of the Manfred Wörner Medal. He has received honorary doctorates from the universities of Pristina and Yerevan. In 2018, he was the recipient of the prestigious Nunn-Lugar Award.

He speaks with Aida Baghernejad and Tom Zoellner about trust, truth, and transparency as the three pillars of any functioning democratic society.


Aida Baghernejad (co-host) is a (pop) culture and food journalist based in Berlin. Her work has appeared in a number of regional, national and international media outlets, among them the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the San Francisco Chronicle, tipBerlinIntro MagazineSpex and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. She has previously taught at King’s College London and the Humboldt Universität Berlin.


Tom Zoellner (co-host) is the New York Times bestselling author of eight nonfiction books, including Island on Fire, Uranium Train, and The Heartless Stone. He teaches at Chapman University and Dartmouth College. A former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, he is the politics editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.