286 Items

Flags stand arrayed

State Department Photo/Public Domain

Analysis & Opinions - Economist

America’s foreign service

| Nov. 20, 2020

Joe Biden, the president-elect, wants to end his country’s “forever wars” and believes diplomacy should be “the first instrument of American power”. He promises to reinvest in America’s hollowed-out diplomatic corps, the better to nurture alliances and tackle the global issues of the future, such as climate change and great-power competition. But how to make the foreign service fit for the future? Two new reports, one from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a think-tank, the other the result of an extensive project at Harvard University, offer thoughts.

Both say the State Department is in crisis. Its problems stretch back well beyond the Trump administration but have deepened dramatically under it. Morale is low, budgets are squeezed and the foreign service is suffering from an exodus of talent. Diplomats’ careers are stymied by the politicisation of senior posts. For the first time in a century, not one of the 23 Senate-confirmed assistant-secretary positions is a serving career official, and 43% of ambassadors are political appointees, also a modern record. The story on diversity is dismal: in March the Senior Foreign Service was 90% white and 69% male. Only five of 189 ambassadors are African-American (over their two terms, Barack Obama appointed 46 African-American ambassadors and George W. Bush had 44). Under Donald Trump, a quarter-century trend of rising female ambassadors has gone into reverse.

Jim Braude (left) interviews Nicholas Burns (right)

GBH

Analysis & Opinions - WGBH

Former NATO Ambassador Nicholas Burns On Trump Installing Loyalists At Pentagon

| Nov. 11, 2020

President Trump this week replaced top Pentagon officials with people personally dedicated to him, starting by firing defense secretary Mark Esper on Monday and continuing by installing more loyalists in high-ranking positions there on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Fox News interview Tuesday that he is telling world leaders that the election is not over yet, as Trump continues to refuse to concede. To discuss, Jim Braude was joined by former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the U.S. State Department and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, who worked on the Biden campaign as a foreign policy advisor.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, participates in a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Tia Dufour / Official White House Photo

Analysis & Opinions

The US before the Elections: American Democracy at a Crossroads? [In German]

| Oct. 05, 2020

American democracy is facing pressure from all sides: For months, there have been partly violent protests against systemic racism and police violence of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The COVID pandemic has already claimed over 200,000 lives and has extreme economic consequences. Coupled with a polarized media landscape and the growing influence of social media, the pandemic has further exposed deep social divisions along ideological, economic and ethnic fault lines. In addition, the Trump administration is stepping up its escalatory description of the integrity of the American electoral system - what some consider to be a rigid electoral and party system in need of reform. How will the social conflicts affect the understanding of (American) democracy? How is the political establishment contributing to alienation from the Constitution?

European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the EU-China leaders' meeting

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Analysis & Opinions - Internationale Politik Quarterly

Bonding over Beijing

| Oct. 02, 2020

Over the past few years, China’s rise has become a top priority in Washington and in many European capitals—and a big-ticket item on the wider transatlantic agenda. However, the United States and Europe have so far not been able to capitalize on this convergence by building anything resembling a coherent agenda to address jointly shared challenges from China. This task will be among the most pressing on the transatlantic agenda over the next four years. 

Analysis & Opinions

Isolationism and the American Experience: Is the U.S. Destined to Retreat from the World?

| Oct. 01, 2020

Unilateralism and isolationism are making a comeback in the United States. Are Trump and his America First approach to the world a cause or a symptom? What are the ideological sources of the intimate connection between isolationism and the American experience? Will the COVID-19 pandemic undercut or deepen globalization? What impact will it have on U.S. grand strategy? The United States seems headed for an inevitable pullback of its global commitments. What should retrenchment look like? Can Americans find the middle ground between doing too much and doing too little?

Analysis & Opinions - Deutschland Funk

"Trump wants to go back to America in the 1950s"

| Sep. 27, 2020

The US has many problems, including Donald Trump, says political scientist Cathryn Clüver-Ashbrook. If Joe Biden wins the election, he'll have to fix a lot first.

The US is facing a presidential election, the outcome of which will not necessarily be accepted by the current president. The corona pandemic is hitting the USA as hard as few other countries worldwide, also because of government decisions. Racism is more pronounced than it used to be, and environmental and climate protection provisions are being withdrawn.