Author: Daniel W. Drezner

What makes people nostalgic for a past worse than the present?

THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS Elizabeth Omilami, daughter of Hosea Williams, speaks before President Obama delivers a speech before taking a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, marking the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,’ a civil rights march. (AP) By any objective measure, in most parts of the globe life is far better now than it was 50 years ago. Whether one looks at poverty reduction, literacy rates, civil and political liberties, violent conflict, or overall health, the world looks much better now than in 1967. Seriously, it’s not close. Yes, one can point to local backsliding among some...

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Donald Trump will not be draining any swamps as president

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the airport in Kinston, N.C., on Oct. 26. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters) Since Donald Trump won the 44th greatest landslide in American presidential history, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been having a little bit of fun on Twitter: Thank goodness the Clintons, who solicited funds from foreign sources, won’t be running American foreign policy. — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 18, 2016 Thank goodness Hillary Clinton, who was accused of saying one thing in public and another in private, won’t be president. — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 25, 2016 Thank goodness Hillary Clinton, with allegations of corruption at her foundation, will not be in the Oval Office. — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 22, 2016 Thank goodness Hillary Clinton, with all the possible conflict of interests involving her nonprofit foundation, will not be president. — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 22, 2016 Now this has upset some Trump supporters on Twitter. At the risk of incurring the wrath of E.B. White, I thought it might be a good idea to explain its purposes. There were three macro reasons to vote for Trump for president. The first reason is that you self-identify as a Republican, he was on the ballot as the GOP candidate for president. Q.E.D. Fine, I get that, but there’s no...

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Will Donald Trump be the actual decider in his administration’s foreign policy? This one trick will tell you!

Cars pass by a billboard showing President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin placed by members of the pro-Serbian movement in the town of Danilovgrad on Nov. 16. (Savo Prelevic/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images) Over the Thanksgiving break, I wrote something about how foreign actors will try to navigate American foreign policy when President-elect Donald Trump is tweeting blatant falsities at all hours of the day. But there was a hidden assumption I made in that piece that is worth questioning going forward: will Trump actually be the decider on American foreign policy? There are some valid reasons to ask that question. There’s the issue of interest — maybe Trump doesn’t care that much about foreign affairs not involving beauty pageants. By his own choosing, Trump hasn’t received many intelligence briefings since becoming the president-elect, whereas Vice president-elect Mike Pence has been briefed on an almost daily basis. Trump also made it clear during his first week as president-elect that his policy priorities would be enriching his family’s bottom line domestic in nature. There’s the issue of knowledge. Trump might have a coherent foreign policy worldview, but he doesn’t actually know that much about world politics. His sitdown with the New York Times last week simply reinforced that image. There’s also the issue of management. On the one had, there are plenty of reports about how Trump is a micromanager. There are also...

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Trump likes to be ‘unpredictable.’ That won’t work so well in diplomacy.

President-elect Donald Trump greets a crowd in the lobby of the New York Times on Tuesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Once when I was serving in the federal government, in the early 2000s, the Treasury Department was ready to issue an obscure communique. Just before it was set to be released, someone noticed a stray punctuation mark. The picayune typo could have led some to interpret the communique as a U.S. policy reversal on some territory where sovereignty was disputed. This mattered: Historically, foreign officials and the press parse every word that presidents and policy principals say to decipher any changes in policy. Even minute shifts in language can send important signals to the world. In this case, the moment the typo was detected, we fixed the problem before it went public. A minor kerfuffle was averted. Now imagine trying to clean up President-elect Donald Trump’s statements. From both the campaign and the first few weeks of the transition, we know that Trump will pop off at anyone he perceives as crossing him at any moment. Trump didn’t like a tough question from Megyn Kelly in an August 2015 debate, and for months on end he railed about her on Twitter. When Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled against him in fraud litigation over Trump University, he spent the next week openly questioning the judge’s impartiality because of Curiel’s ethnicity....

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WATCH: The three times Donald Trump demonstrated he was unfit for the presidency in last night’s debate

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to the audience as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher) Last night’s third presidential debate was the most substantive of the three (an admittedly super-low bar). Chris Wallace did an excellent job of moderating and made the wise tactical decision to open with policy questions before turning to both candidates’ scandals for a brief spell, and then pivoting back to policy. Donald Trump seemed to have prepped more for this debate than either of the first two, and occasionally got in some sharp attack lines on Hillary Clinton’s record. And yet, nothing in the above paragraph matters, because on at least three separate occasions, Trump said something that made it pretty clear he is radically unfit to be the president of the United States. Let’s just list them here for posterity: 1) Refusing to say he would accept the election results if he lost. If you’re Donald Trump, or a Republican politician who has endorsed Donald Trump, this is not a good look for you: The front pages of America’s largest newspapers after the final debate — Jon Passantino (@passantino) October 20, 2016 I’m not going to belabor this point as it is clearly the story of the day and analyzing it, like almost all analysis of Trump,...

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Why Hillary Clinton’s perceived corruption seems to echo louder than Donald Trump’s actual corruption.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Over the Labor Day weekend, there was quite the chatter comparing and contrasting the news media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s alleged improprieties involving the Clinton Foundation and Donald Trump’s actual improprieties involving the Trump Foundation, his businesses, and his campaign. Trump supporters will complain about bias in the previous paragraph, to which I say, hey, go to town. None of the news stories about the Clinton Foundation (as opposed to her handling of emails at the State Department) demonstrate anything truly disturbing. Consider: -The Associated Press suggests Clinton’s meetings with non-state officials were biased in favor of Clinton Foundation donors. Vox’s deconstruction of the AP’s report, however, showed there was no there there. -The Los Angeles Times suggested ties between a Nigerian billionaire donor to the foundation and Clinton favors, but Kevin Drum eviscerated it in Mother Jones to the point where he asked, “Am I missing something? How did this end up as the lead story in today’s LA Times?“ -The New York Times ran a story with the headline, “Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept.” suggesting that Clinton aide Huma Abedin looked into getting a Clinton Foundation aide a diplomatic passport for a trip to North Korea. The problem, however, as Vox noted, is that, the passport was never issued. So the question was answered, and the answer was, “nothing untoward happened.” –ABC...

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What is the core dilemma of U.S. immigration policy?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks about immigration and refugees during an Aug. 10 campaign event in Sunrise, Fla. (CRISTOBAL HERRERA/European Pressphoto Agency) The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts is luxuriating in a schadenfreude bath watching Donald Trump try to pivot away from his hard-line immigration position. In fact, the staff here can’t decide what best part of this awkward pivot: The way that Trump has morphed into Jeb!, the way in which a certain Trump supporter publishing a book this week is left slowly twisting in the wind because of this flip-flop, or the way in which Trump’s switch reveals his fundamental lack of policy knowledge. Stagecraft of the Trump yakety sax pivot is like they just thought through the logistics of deporting 10M people four or five days ago. — Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) August 25, 2016 This post, however, is not about whether Trump’s supporters will tolerate this shift or whether it plays well with the voters Trump needs. No, it’s about an interesting aside in Byron York’s Washington Examiner column detailing the mess that Trump has made on this issue: Trump’s deportation mess is troubling to some of the best-informed conservatives on the immigration issue because it creates a huge and damaging controversy over a matter that is not at the heart of solving the larger immigration problem. “The disposition of the 12 million illegals...

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have very different relationships with the truth.

This combination of file photos shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton(L)on June 15, 2016 and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on June 13, 2016. AFP/Getty Images The latest polls from CBS/New York Times and ABC/Washington Post show Hillary Clinton with a secure lead, but they also show that voters believe her to be roughly as honest as reality-show veteran Donald Trump. This has clearly nettled close observers of this presidential race. Over the weekend two prominent columnists have attempted to outline the relationship between the major party nominees and the truth. On Sunday, the New York Times’ Nick Kristof argued that when comparing Trump and Clinton as liars, Trump wins and it’s not close: [T]he idea that they are even in the same league is preposterous. If deception were a sport, Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y…. Let’s investigate. One metric comes from independent fact-checking websites. As of Friday, PolitiFact had found 27 percent of Clinton’s statements that it had looked into were mostly false or worse, compared with 70 percent of Trump’s. It said 2 percent of Clinton’s statements it had reviewed were egregious “pants on fire” lies, compared with 19 percent of Trump’s. So Trump has nine times the share of flat-out lies as Clinton…. If Clinton declares that she didn’t chop down a cherry tree, that might mean that she actually...

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