I’m not going to assume that all of our readers are non-Trump fans, but let’s be honest, Trump support in the social science academy is probably slim. And, if you are like me, you are dismayed by what transpired with the election and continue to try to figure it out, both personally as a human being and as a citizen of whatever country you are from.
At moments, you think, maybe it won’t be so bad, but then he tweets or says something and you fear it will be worse. I think Americans are often preternaturally disposed to thinking things will work out, but events of late make me wonder.
So, in the meantime, I think many are coping as best they can, spending more quality time with family and friends, starting that fitness routine up again, going camping or getting outside, vegging out with some escapism (the Ghostbusters reboot, a little Westworld), or finding community service projects to donate to or serve in. There is some collective on-line therapy happening with friends and colleagues or groups like Pantsuit Nation. There is the temptation to retreat from the public sphere and to cut out unpleasant news. I think some unplugging and going offline for a bit is warranted. I tried that for like 12 hours.
I think it is important though that we gradually pick up the pieces and re-dedicate ourselves to fight the good fights ahead, whether that be public service inside the government, citizen advocacy (I’ve called my legislators to let them know about a few choice appointments I’m not happy about), or possibly other forms of public protest if and when they are warranted.
In the meantime, let’s celebrate with some gallows humor.
In the end, I come back to this to get ready for the next chapter.
This post is a co-authored piece:
Heather M. Roff, Jamie Winterton and Nadya Bliss of Arizona State’s Global Security Initiative
We’ve recently been informed that the Clinton campaign relied heavily on an automated decision aid to inform senior campaign leaders about likely scenarios in the election. This algorithm—known as “Ada”—was a key component, if not “the” component in how senior staffers formulated campaigning strategy. Unfortunately, we know little about the algorithm itself. We do not know all of the data that was used in the various simulations that it ran, or what its programming looked like. Nevertheless, we can be fairly sure that demographic information, prior voting behavior, prior election results, and the like, were a part of the variables as these are stock for any social scientist studying voting behavior. What is more interesting, however, is that we are fairly sure there were other variables that were less straightforward and ultimately led to Clinton’s inability to see the potential loss in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, and almost lose Minnesota.
But to see why “Ada” didn’t live up to her namesake (Ada, Countess of Lovelace, who is the progenitor of computing) is to delve into what an algorithm is, what it does, and how humans interact with its findings. It is an important point to make for many of us trying to understand not merely what happened this election, but also how increasing reliance on algorithms like Ada can fundamentally shift our politics and blind us to the limitations of big data. Let us begin, then, at the beginning.
December 1 is World AIDS day. Throughout the 2000s, AIDS received unprecedented attention and resources, particularly to support ten of millions of people’s access to life-extending anti-retroviral therapy. Attention and resources peaked in recent years, and while the problem in some respects has gotten better, it hasn’t gone away. More than 35 million people have died from AIDS already. And yet, there are still more than 35 million people living with the virus that causes AIDS, only half of whom have access to ARVs. While new infections and deaths have come down from their peaks, there are still more than 2 million new infections a year and more than a million deaths from AIDS. We still have never gotten very good at AIDS prevention strategies, as changing risky behavior is hard.
AIDS funding largely held steady after the financial crisis, and with the U.S. the world’s largest source of foreign aid for AIDS, that reflected the durability of the bipartisan consensus to address AIDS that emerged under President George W. Bush. However, for the first time in five years, we saw a significant drop in resources for AIDS, and we’re starting to see negative signs in some places and some countries as new generations grow up without as much safe sex messaging.
With a Trump administration, we have almost no signs of what it intends to do on global health, as Jeremy Youde suggested here and Laurie Garrett wrote about yesterday.
Below, I’m going to embed some tweets from Jennifer Kates from the Kaiser Family Foundation who has done tremendous work in tracking AIDS finance over the years. I’ll try to say more what’s needed going forward in a separate post, as there is a need hold the line on efforts in the AIDS space but also do wider health systems strengthening. Accomplishing those twin tasks without adequate and even more resources is impossible so global health advocates will need to make their case on why doing the right thing now will avoid unnecessary deaths and expense later.
Finally, two books are worth your attention. David France, director of the Oscar nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague, is out with a print version of the story of US AIDS activists from ACT UP who made the cause a national issue in the era of Reagan and hastened the faster development of anti-retrovirals and wider changes in AIDS policy. There may be some lessons learned about civil disobedience and speaking truth to power that will be important in the years to come.
LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones, who was close to the gay activist Harvey Milk, is also out with a memoir on his life and advocacy including his work in founding the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Continue reading
Thankfully, The Disaster that was 2016 will soon be behind us. I’m sure hoping 2017 will be better! With all the uncertainty of 2017, I am assured of one thing: ISA 2017 is right around the corner and will be AMAZING.
My favorite part of ISA for the last several years is the Online Achievement in International Studies Reception and Awarding of the Duckies! This year, the event will be held on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:30 pm. I’m excited about our Ignite speaker lineup – more information will be released on this soon. The ISA Online Media Caucus (OMC) is very thankful to have the support of Sage in hosting the reception.
Now is the time to submit your nominations for the 2017 Duckies. All nominations can be sent to email@example.com. We’ll be awarding Duckies in the following categories:
Best Blog (Group) in International Studies
Best Blog (Individual) in International Studies
Best Blog Post in International Studies
Best Twitter Account
Special Achievement in International Studies Online Media
As before, these awards are intended for English-language international studies blogs and bloggers whose online output has significant scholarly content. Award nominees or their designated representatives MUST be present at the Duckies.
January 1st, 2017 is the deadline for nominations. The Online Media Caucus and Sage will then judge the nominations and determine finalists for public voting as necessary. Self-nominations are encouraged.
This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Gizem Zencirci, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Providence College. Her research interests include political Islam, neoliberalism and social policy, and Middle East politics.
The rise of the AK Party in Turkey and its consolidation of power is a case with generalizable lessons about the rise of populist nationalism elsewhere.
I’ve been asked by some reporters about the significance of Donald Trump’s victory for the agenda of climate and security, the emergent concern that climate change is likely to produce consequences that rise to the level of security challenges for the United States and rest of the world (some background here and here). Some of my initial thoughts were quoted today in Scientific American and I’ve expanded on them here. As I noted in my last post, we’ve already seen considerable speculation about what the Trump administration might yield on climate change and wider environmental policy.
We’re kind of entering in to Kremlinology territory here. We don’t really know what is going to happen, and I think assuming the worst might actually be strategically counter-productive. Donald Trump has already signaled that he was going to walk away from a number of his previous hardline policy commitments like the border wall.
To the extent that he does possess an inner pragmatist as President Obama has suggested, then those baby steps in the direction of the light out to be encouraged. True, it is easy to read too much in to ambiguous statements like Trump’s apparent open mind on climate change policy in his New York Times interview last week.
My general sense is that yes we have reasons to be concerned, but we should also wait to see what Trump intends to do, who he actually appoints to key positions,and whether some of the more out there ideas — like zeroing out NASA’s earth science efforts — actually get taken up in policy. I also think we need a theory of how to influence Donald Trump personally and the Trump administration broadly. Let me speak to both issues and the significance for the climate and security agenda.
After Donald Trump won the elections in the US, Twitter was abuzz with the picture of potential UN Security Council country leaders that included Theresa May, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Marine Le Pen. After Brexit and Trump all eyes are on France and its upcoming presidential elections. The possibility of ‘Frexit’ in case of Le Pen’s win is alarming enough, but Russia is also on the agenda. Russian-French relations have been strained since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, but have got even worse after President Hollande accused Russia of war crimes in Syria that purportedly prompted Vladimir Putin to cancel his trip to France. While in American elections Russia had a clear favorite, and did not really have a plan B for Hillary Clinton’s win, French elections seem to be much more comforting.
In the recently finished primaries on the right, the losing candidate Alain Juppe criticised the winner Francois Fillon for leaning too close to Russia. Fillon did defend Russia’s actions on a number of occasions and even wished for a Putin-Trump alliance. Putin admitted himself that he cultivated a good relationship with Fillon in 2008-2012, probably because they both belong to the J. Mearsheimer’s ‘I don’t give a damn about small countries’ sovereignty’ school of thought. On top of that, Fillon fits well with the conservative turn of the Russian government, being a vocal supporter of la Manif Pour Tous (anti-gay marriage movement in France), whose ‘traditional family’ poster has also been adopted by Russian anti-gay activists.
Marine Le Pen managed to shift Front National further to mainstream by purging some of her father’s most racist friends and allies and settling on a more conventional anti-migrant xenophobia. After all, Nicolas Sarkozy’s government expelled Roma migrants and closed borders way before the refugee crisis. Ms. Le Pen has been a welcome guest in Moscow and received a large loan from a Russia-affiliated bank for her party. Eurosceptic, pro-Trump and anti-NATO, Le Pen would be a perfect partner for Putin and the worst nightmare for the EU. At the same time, Sputnik News, a pro-Russian propaganda outlet, puts Fillon and not Le Pen into their IR dream ménage à trois with Putin and Trump. [dirty joke edited]
Two years ago, more people probably knew that Stephen Breyer is on the Supreme Court (hint: it’s a really low number) than had even heard of the Zika virus. I certainly hadn’t, and I make my living studying global health politics. The entirety of published research on Zika could fit in a shoebox. Since the first reports of the virus appeared in Brazil, though, Zika has grabbed international attention, leading to travel warnings and even causing some athletes to pull out of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Zika’s emergence changed the dialogue on global health and forced states and organizations to get involved. On 1 February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika-related microcephaly to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Nine months later, WHO ended the PHEIC for Zika, arguing that the organization should shift to a “robust longer-term technical mechanism.” Is WHO’s decision a reflection of the changing strategy necessary to tackle Zika, or is it evidence that the organization is waving the white flag and admitting defeat?
What is the role of political science and political scientists during contentious social and political moments? This question seems foremost in the minds of many political scientists (read Jeffrey Issac and Jennifer Victor). Political scientists are uniquely positioned to understand the institutions of government, processes of democratic consolidation and decline, and the power and influence of civil society, social movements and advocacy. Political scientists study populism, civil rights movements, xenophobia, nationalism, autocracy and democracy; we have invaluable insights to add to the conversation. My position is that in our roles as political scientists, our job is to educate our students, our communities and the general public. Doing so does not compromise our objectivity or make us partisan advocates. Continue reading
This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Phil Arena, a Lecturer at the University of Essex. He has previously held positions at the University of Rochester and the University at Buffalo. His primary interests are interstate conflict and the links between domestic and international politics. His research has appeared in International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Political Science Research and Methods, International Theory, Journal of Theoretical Politics, and elsewhere. He used to maintain a blog at fparena.blogspot.com, which he hopes to revive someday, and has previously contributed to The Duck of Minerva.
I am not an alarmist by nature. I have offended people in the past by not being visibly concerned about matters they thought should trouble me. Yet I am deeply worried that the next world war will break out in the next few years. I admit that I could be wrong, and very much hope that I am, but all the conditions seem to be in place for a tragedy of epic proportion.
‘I want to ride around Moscow with an American flag in my car. If I find one. Join me! They have earned it‘. If you were wondering who else was celebrating Trump’s win, it was the Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today Margarita Simonyan. Overnight, a deep-seated Russian Anti-Americanism and disbelief in American democracy was turned into almost unending love, although Russian Prime-Minister Medvedev still finds the name ‘Americano’ too unpatriotic for coffee and proposed to rename it into ‘Rusiano’.
The US election results came as a big surprise in Russia as well. According to many sources, most Russian TV talk shows had already prepared panels of ‘experts’ that were supposed to prove how democracy in the US is dead, how the elections were rigged, how American mass media were unfair to Donald Trump and how Clinton cash bought everything. Sound familiar?
There are many reasons to be concerned about world politics. Over the coming weeks and months the Duck of Minerva will run a series of posts from regular contributors as well as guests on the state of the world and our possible futures. We will explore the implications of the rise of nationalist populism on international relations, international political economy, foreign policy, global institutions, and comparative political systems. Daniel Nexon has already posted on the need to buttress domestic and international institutions; other posts will follow in the coming days.
We invite academics working in these (or other related) substantive areas to contribute guest posts on these themes to the Duck. We hope to provide a forum where a wide set of scholarly viewpoints can be shared and discussed. These may be standalone posts or provide a “first draft” of arguments that are expounded upon in later articles or op-eds. There are no specific length requirements. We are interested in theoretical, empirical, and conceptual posts, as well as those that view the contemporary environment through a comparative or historical lens. If interest warrants we will pursue opportunities for webcast discussions and/or podcasts, and future publication possibilities may be explored.
If you are interested in contributing please reach out to me directly via Twitter (@whinecough, my DMs are open), e-mail (wkwineco (at) indiana (d0t) edu), or in comments to this post (least preferred but I will periodically check). I will respond with a query regarding your proposed topic and timeframe.
Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor
Yesterday, Russia became the fourth country in recent weeks to announce its intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court. In doing so, it joins South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia in expressing concern about the institution’s functionality and legitimacy as an international institution. The Philippines is also reportedly contemplating departure. Continue reading
By and large, world leaders have gone from being taken aback about Donald Trump’s unexpected victory to being outright alarmed. Exceptions to this rule are Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, both of whom expect Trump to be far better to deal with than Secretary Clinton. Yet, while it still is not remotely clear what a Trump Doctrine will strategically comprise, his coming moves in Syria do not bode well.
Russia and the Syrian regime look to be the chief beneficiaries of the coming shifts in U.S. policy toward the 5-year old conflict that has weaponized half the country as refugees, killed half a million people, and continues to mete out suffering en masse in Aleppo and elsewhere.
Trump has said—erroneously—that Aleppo has already fallen, and he has described the opposition forces “as worse than Assad.” Trump will immediately remove support for the moderate opposition forces fighting Syrian/Russian/Iranian/Hezbollah forces, both overt and covert. To boot, the UN’s efforts to broker peace will be thoroughly undermined. At one point early on in the campaign Trump spoke favorably of a safe/no fly zone, but that is not on the cards at this point. He will avoid acting contrary to Russian interests.
The upshot of the coming Trump Administration’s moves in this space will be to strengthen the Russian hand, and give it a free one in and around Syria. As such, Putin is unlikely to test Trump in the manner some have speculated. Effectively he has no need to see how far down the road of harming U.S. national security interests he can go, when his partner in this potentially dangerous diplomatic dalliance is doing the work for him. Continue reading
Much has already been written about the significance of Donald Trump’s victory for the environment, with particular emphasis on climate change. There is some speculation that Trump, based on campaign promises, will try to undo some of President Obama’s signature achievements, namely some scuttle that he’s looking for a fast exit from the 2015 Paris climate agreement that recently entered into force.
The noted climate denier Myron Ebell was named to lead Trump’s transition at the EPA. President Obama in his press conference today made a vigorous case for why his efforts to green the economy could and should live on under a Trump administration. Most analysts fear the worst, though a few see some of the changes, like the fading role of coal, as more long-lived and less subject to presidential influence. I’m going to focus on climate change here. Continue reading
This is a guest post by Eric Grynaviski, an Associate Professor of Political Science at International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of Constructive Illusions (Cornell, 2014) .He studies sociological approaches to cooperation and conflict, and international ethics.
Over the last few days, protestors have taken to the streets to combat what they believe is an evil power that will soon occupy the White House. The problem of evil has featured in rhetoric about this election, in fact, for months, as featured in the Washington Post commentary on the election. The tropes “politics is evil,” “Hillary is evil,” and “Trump is evil” have a new significance when people are confused and disoriented by Trump’s surprising win.
Well, that was unexpected.
But it’s happened. The question now is, how will the election of Donald Trump change international relations?
There is a lot to think about in the aftermath of Trump’s win. Lots of early hot talks will be wrong. One of the first reactions has been to wonder about the value of political science (which is not the most important thing to think about but we have plenty of time and bandwidth to cover this and everything else):