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ENGAGING WORLD LEADERS, GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHTS


The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosts many special events providing students, faculty, alumni, and guests opportunities to hear a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world. 'The Recap' captures important events across our three campuses.

Please visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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ENGAGING WORLD LEADERS, GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHTS


The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosts many special events providing students, faculty, alumni, and guests opportunities to hear a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world. 'The Recap' captures important events across our three campuses.

Please visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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From War to Peace in the Balkans, the Middle East and Ukraine


From War to Peace in the Balkans, the Middle East and Ukraine


February 13, 2019

Daniel Serwer, Academic Director of Conflict Management at Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Kent E. Calder, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation and Director of the Reischauer Center at Johns Hopkins SAIS
With commentary by Majda Ruge, Foreign Policy Institute Fellow and David Kanin Adjunct Lecturer at Johns Hopkins SAIS

The Faculty Research Forum hosted Professor Daniel Serwer for a discussion at the launch of his timely new book “From War to Peace in the Balkans, the Middle East and Ukraine.” The book draws on Serwer’s long and distinguished career examining the origins, consequences and aftermath of the 1995 and 1999 Western military interventions that led to the end of the most recent Balkan wars. The study highlights lessons that can be applied to the Middle East and Ukraine, where similar conflicts are likewise challenging sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“[The book] is intended to be an accessible treatment of what makes war and how to make peace that will appeal to all readers interested in how violent international conflicts can be managed,” Serwer told the audience.

His remarks were followed by thoughtful commentary from Foreign Policy Institute Fellow Majda Ruge on the questions raised in the book and the key lessons learned from the Balkans. Like Serwer, she emphasized the utmost importance of political leadership in not only choosing sound policies and implementing them correctly but also shaping public opinion and easing or increasing ethnic tensions.

“It is now almost 25 years since I first arrived in Sarajevo during the war,” Serwer reflected, “…we still face many problems that bedeviled the region at that time. We made a great deal of progress, but we still have a long way to go. Those time dimensions, when we think about the Middle East and Ukraine today, are going to be with us for a long time. That is why keeping the dialogue open about these issues is vital.”

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The Mouse is Mightier than the Sword


The Mouse is Mightier than the Sword


February 6, 2019

Kara Swisher, New York Times technology business columnist and co-founder of Recode
Moderated by Laura Blumenfeld, Senior Fellow at The Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Kara Swisher, technology business columnist for The New York Times and founder and executive editor of Recode joined the school’s community to offer insights on the influence of technology and social media on international affairs.

Swisher opened the discussion by providing context on the rapid changes in technology over the years, with the most recent being the big mobile revolutions. She highlighted the development of super artificial intelligence, self-driving technology, robotics and automation, privacy and assault, continuous partial hacking, and continuous partial attention as the key trends in technology. She noted that the increasing use of internet and mobile data have led to several political and social unrest across the world. Swisher opined that the United States must continuously think about how to regulate the internet without stifling regulation.

Swisher called attention to the impact of technology on massive job disruption, noting that every job on the planet that can be digitized will undergo job disruption from artificial intelligence and automation. She explained that cities will increasingly become autonomous with associated level of complexities. Despite these potential disruptions, Swisher explained that human creativity will remain important and would be used to develop robotic capabilities.

Swisher also raised concerns about the lack of a national privacy legislation in the United States, though the State of California has an existing legislation. She spoke about the influence of other powerful nations on technology such as China’s rising influence in the next internet age and Russia’s interface of US elections using internet data.

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Democracy in Retreat


Democracy in Retreat


February 5, 2019

Michael Abramowitz, President of Freedom House
Karen DeYoung, Associate Editor and Senior National Security Correspondent for The Washington Post
Yascha Mounk, Senior Fellow, SNF Agora Institute and Associate Professor of the Practice, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Elise Labott, former CNN Global Affairs Correspondent

The school hosted a discussion on the latest findings from Freedom House’s flagship annual report, Freedom in the World, assessing the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world.

Michael Abramowitz began by providing a general overview of the findings in the report. He acknowledges that while fifty countries had improved its state of democracy and human freedom within 2018, this number was less than what was seen in the previous year. While countries like Armenia, Malaysia, Ethiopia and Angola have been advancing democratically over the years, Hungary has been sliding down the scale from “free” to “partly free” he noted. Nicaragua was reported to be experiencing the biggest decline of the 195 countries.

Karen DeYoung provided context for the report by discussing what the findings mean for the U.S. She explained that determining the level of threat to the U.S. from countries like Venezuela at the moment would be challenging with its recent change in leadership.

As a political scientist, Yascha Mounk mentioned that it is easy to create assumptions and expectations of the future of the world by assessing the reports, then probed the question of whether democratic values would continue to be instilled in the most affluent countries – a nod to the current situation in Hungary.

Elise Labott mentioned that the challenges to American democracy was testing the stability to its constitution. Abramowitz reassured the audience that American institutions are generally resilient but that they must be cautious and vigilant in the years ahead. DeYoung weighed in by speaking about degradation of political dialogue, which has enabled Americans to freely criticize the current administration, something they would not have done merely years ago. This degradation of tone and a politically polarized atmosphere will be challenges to the U.S.  

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Engaging Underrepresented Alumni


Engaging Underrepresented Alumni


January 31, 2019

As part of continued efforts to advance diversity on campus and improve the dialogue on multiculturalism, the school invited underrepresented alumni, prospective students, and current students to join a discussion on advancing priority areas of recruitment, mentorship, networking and fundraising. In the past few years, the school has consistently implemented diversity initiatives to create more recruitment opportunities for applicants from diverse backgrounds.

Alumni can contribute and join the momentum by helping the school build a pipeline to increase representation on campus. Annual recruitment events, along with many other social events, continue to call for participation from alumni of color. Additionally, Global Career Services launched the long-term mentoring program that includes more representatives from diverse backgrounds.

Overall, by consistently improving its recruiting, mentoring, fundraising and networking efforts, the school strives to project underrepresented voices in international relations and normalize diversity as part of the conversation. The gathering led to many good conversations and inspired the staff to improve and create even more inclusive initiatives to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to apply and engage with every single member in the school’s community.

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A Preface to Strategy: The Foundations of American National Security


A report by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Senior Fellows

A Preface to Strategy: The Foundations of American National Security


A report by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Senior Fellows

December 11, 2018

Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy
Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Advisor
Jim Miller, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Robert Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Senior Fellows joined the school for a discussion on their co-authored paper “A Preface to Strategy: The Foundations of American National Security” that describes how a new global strategic environment should change premises that underpin American strategies and argues for the constant, energetic, and imaginative enhancement of the strengths from which American power derives.

Lead author Richard Danzig shared historical context on the US national security strategy that developed post-World War II. Danzig noted that decision makers began to look at four domains of warfare – the air, sea, undersea and land and military conflict as the core of national security. He also called to attention the shift in technology and economic development and the significant implications it had for national security strategy.  While the US is still a preeminent economic power, strategies of spending in order to dominate strategically and in national security are no longer to be as successful as in the past, he said.

Robert Work offered insight on the changes in the expansion of geography and the domains of warfare. As one of the most open societies in the world, the US has shifted from being one of the most secure nations from within its territories to being one of the most vulnerable, he said. He noted that the US has seen a decline in the traditional powers of its military. Looking at the challenges the US has had in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria shows that the military now has the ability to apply violence more than any other military in history, Work said.

Avril Haines addressed divisions along party ideologies, socioeconomic lines, race, gender, and religion that have led to an erosion of domestic consensus. One example she noted was the US response to Russian interference in the 2016 US election and how the partisan atmosphere limited the nation’s ability to address the issue. The new premises that would underpin a national strategy need to recognize the critical strengths of the US that include America’s values, the settled system of governments and human capital, among others, she said.

Concluding the discussion, Jim Miller emphasized that the two major areas in which the US needs to focus its attention are biosecurity and cybersecurity. Factors of the economy and technology were also discussed.

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SAIS China & HNC Graduation Reception


SAIS China & HNC Graduation Reception


December 11, 2018

Students, staff, and faculty gathered to congratulate the 26 students completing their degrees in December who took part in either the Hopkins-Nanjing Center program or the SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Degree program. The event marked the third annual December graduation and the second time students of the two degree programs were recognized together as one group.

The celebration kicked off with opening remarks from Associate Director of China Studies Madelyn Ross followed by Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Julie Micek, who toasted the students with “Ganbei!” (cheers in Chinese) and mentioned how proud she was of all the graduates. Academic Adviser Brian McEntee also noted that the students should feel a strong sense of accomplishment considering the rigor demanded by their degree.  

As Assistant Director of Student Life Garrett Schlichte read the names of the graduates, they came forward to receive a small gift presented by the HNC Washington Office. In addition to strong comradery, the students also enjoyed Asian cuisine as they celebrated their great achievement at the end of a very busy fall semester.

December 2018 graduates of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA program

December 2018 graduates of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA program

December 2018 graduates of the SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Degree Program in Global Politics and Economics

December 2018 graduates of the SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Degree Program in Global Politics and Economics

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Mexico Under Misplaced Monopolies


Faculty Research Forum discussion of new book by Francisco González

Mexico Under Misplaced Monopolies


Faculty Research Forum discussion of new book by Francisco González

December 6, 2018

Francisco E. González, Associate Professor of International Political Economy and Latin American Politics
Richard Miles, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Americas Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Moderated by Kent E. Calder, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation

The Foreign Policy Institute and the Faculty Research Forum hosted a discussion on the new book authored by Professor Francisco González, "Mexico under Misplaced Monopolies: Concentrated Wealth and Growing Violence, from the 1980s to the Present."

After his first two books surveyed the comparative political and economic systems of Latin America, González took a focused look at Mexico and the transitions Mexican society has experienced over the last three decades, featuring a shift away from autocratic rule toward electoral democracy and a steadily globalizing and more open economy. Despite these important shifts, the benefits have struggled to reach the Mexican people, more than half of whom live below the poverty line. Wealth inequality remains very high in Mexico, ranking near the most unequal countries in the world. To assess progress in Mexico's development, González used the framework of monopolies and competition to analyze the barriers to entry that affect daily life, such as a person's ability to run for public office, use freedom of speech, start a business, gain an education, or enter the labor market.

González found that Mexico struggles to join the ranks of free and advanced economies where access to participate in society is widely shared. Instead, the wealthy and powerful elites have too much control over access and they distribute it to serve their own interests.

Richard Miles of the Center for Strategic and International Studies joined González to discuss Mexico's current challenges of inequality, violence, organized crime, and the path forward for the country to improve quality of life for its citizens.     

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The Commission on the National Defense Strategy of the United States


The Commission on the National Defense Strategy of the United States


November 28, 2018

Ambassador Eric Edelman, Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Moderated by Eliot Cohen, Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs & Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies

Co-chairs of the Commission on the National Defense Strategy held a discussion at the Washington, DC campus to release its Congressionally-mandated report. The commission was created by the 2017 National Defense Authorization act and consists of security experts from across the political spectrum. The group was tasked with assessing the National Defense Strategy (NDS), which was unveiled in January 2018 at Johns Hopkins SAIS by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The commission’s report warned of potential dire consequences should the United States go to war against either Russia or China. 

Eric Edelman discussed how the report will be used as a second opinion for Congress, essentially becoming a template for the stewardship of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He noted that the commission’s progress on the report was not hindered by one-sided politics. “The deliberations were not just bipartisan, they were nonpartisan,” Edelman said. “This was a group of twelve dedicated Americans concerned about the future of the nation’s security, wrestling with some very difficult problems.”

Gary Roughead mentioned that the commission agrees with the overall NDS and sees it as a good description of the challenges faced both today and in the future. Determining what should be invested in and how to drive an increase in technical production with allies will be challenging, but necessary. If the United States makes the right investments and if the government thinks through how to optimize these investments with innovative concepts, the country’s military capabilities will be enhanced, Roughead said.

One surprising finding of the report indicated that the United States may not be able to prevail against China or Russia in war. Both speakers agreed this marks a big change in US military readiness. Had they read this statement ten years ago, they would not have believed such a finding at that time, they said.

The NDS recognizes that the United States is in an era of great power competition, according to Edelman. Trends have become adverse to the United States because adversaries have been developing technology and capabilities that make it harder for the country to come to the defense of its allies. Edelman noted that if these trends aren’t reversed, there may be difficulty ahead.

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A Conversation with Madeleine K. Albright


A Conversation with Madeleine K. Albright


November 28, 2018

Madeleine K. Albright, Former US Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations
Moderated by Professor John McLaughlin, Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies

As part of the Strategic Studies’ Defense Against the Dark Arts series, former US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright visited students to discuss her experience in the field of national security policy.

After an introduction by Leonardo Balieiro, a second-year student in the Strategic Studies program who helped organize the event, Professor John McLaughlin shared opening remarks about Albright’s professional accomplishments to date.

Albright spoke about her journey to the United States and emigrating as a young girl from Czechoslovakia. She went on to complete her undergraduate studies at Wellesley, where she developed her aspiration to become a journalist and to become fluent in Russian.

Albright shared insights from her path navigating through the State Department, White House, United Nations and Congress. She described her journey as one that resulted from pursuing opportunities without an expected outcome, a reminder to the audience of the endless possibilities that may result from taking a chance. When inquired about how she managed to maintain contact with many of her counterparts after her term, she described the importance of developing personal relationships in the field in order to succeed as a policymaker and policy-doer.

Albright also spoke about her experience balancing personal and work life as a mother of three daughters. She encouraged women in the audience to help each other and lean on one another, noting that there is no single formula to accomplishing a perfect balance.

The floor opened up for a Q&A session beginning with questions about Albright’s challenges working with foreign leaders who were not receptive to collaborating with females.

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Service, Selflessness, and Commitment


A Conversation with Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan

Service, Selflessness, and Commitment


A Conversation with Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan

November 12, 2018

Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan
Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Afghanistan Minister of Finance and Chief Adviser for President Ghani in Infrastructure, Human Capital, and Technology
Moderated by LTG (Retd.) David W. Barno, Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow at the Phillip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies

The Strategic Studies Speaker Series hosted a conversation with the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, via video conference to discuss the challenges of coalition-Afghan security cooperation and the future of the partnership.

Professor David W. Barno began with words of gratitude to commemorate Veterans Day and honor those who served in Afghanistan. Dean Vali Nasr then introduced President Ghani by highlighting his academic and professional background and several important achievements of his administration.

President Ghani discussed Afghanistan’s key challenges and issues on the global stage. He celebrated the growing confidence of Afghan citizens, who, emboldened by their relatively new democratic system, are becoming more vocal about their needs and expectations of the government. He said it is a positive sign that in recent elections, more than four million Afghans voted, risking their lives to act for the greater good.

Ghani spoke about the change in national security and how Afghanistan has taken measures to fill the gap in military presence since U.S. troops handed peacekeeping responsibilities to Afghan forces. He talked about measures Afghanistan has taken to become a more secure state, pointing to its foreign policy and its focus on developing stronger relationships with the U.S. and key allies within NATO. Additionally, he explained his South Asia strategy and Afghanistan’s steps to promoting peace in the region.  

The floor opened up to the audience for a Q&A session with guests spanning from current students to independent Afghani journalists based in the U.S.   

Next, Minister of Finance Mohammad Qayoumi took the stage to share more details on the critical issues mentioned in President Ghani’s speech. Additionally, Qayoumi addressed Afghanistan’s shift toward self-reliance economically and the country’s robust budget plan that was well received by the international community.

Questions from the audience covered topics including the energy sector and security issues concerning the Taliban.

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International Dinner


Johns Hopkins SAIS’ annual celebration of cuisine and culture

International Dinner


Johns Hopkins SAIS’ annual celebration of cuisine and culture

November 10, 2018

The school’s Student Government Association hosted its annual International Dinner, an opportunity for students to showcase food and performances from their diverse cultural backgrounds.

The event commenced with the school’s various culture clubs presenting their best, home cooked dishes. Participating students exhibited on behalf of regions including Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, North America, and Latin America. To highlight the event’s authenticity, many students dressed in traditional cultural attire and shared detailed descriptions of their various dishes to curious attendees.

The Latin American table served two Mexican carnitas tacos, with tortilla chips, guacamole, and flan as accompaniments. The group adorned their table with a colorful cloth, representing the types of garments often found in Latin American countries. The Taiwanese table provided a variety of meat dishes. Popular food such as Mhoo Gatiem (fried pork with garlic) and Larb Gai (Thai chicken spicy salad) quickly ran out as news spread across the room of its deliciousness. Georgian food comprised of Khachapuri (an egg and cheese toasted bread) and spinach and beet-flavored Pkhali (chopped and minced vegetable-based miniature dessert balls).

The second part of the evening involved several culture clubs performing traditional dances. Near the end of the evening, a student-formed band graced the stage to give a modern, culturally-blended rendition of “Arirang,” a traditional Korean folk song, and “No Woman, No Cry,” a classic Bob Marley reggae song. 

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United States National Security Policy


United States National Security Policy


November 8, 2018

Dr. Kori Schake, Deputy Director-General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies

On November 8th, Kori Schake visited the school for a discussion on US national security policy at the 14th Annual Alvin H. Bernstein Lecture. Schake said that the United States has always had a “wide margin for error” when it comes to its grand strategy. For this reason, the US rarely uses all of the tools available to it, she said. Citing Thucydides’ three motivations for war—fear, interest, honor— Schake said the US traps itself in honor far more often than a sensible country should.

However, Schake argued that the real constraint on American national security grand strategy is winning the domestic argument. Delineating the past successes and failures of American strategists to convince the public to care about the outside world, Schake made strong arguments that reaching unity on both objectives and means has always been a challenge for the US.

Schake noted that the US rarely has a strategy that is divorced from its politics because the American form of government requires an enormous amount of political action. Fortunately, she said, this is the way to be good at national security strategy.

Questions from the audience covered topics on the future of US-UK relations, the national security objectives that the US has accomplished in Afghanistan, and the current lack of a politically acute US grand strategy.  

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Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey


Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey


November 8, 2018

Lisel Hintz, Assistant Professor of International Relations and European Studies
Moderated by Kent E. Calder, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation & Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies
Comments by Dr. Soner Çağaptay, Beyer Family Fellow and Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute

The European and Eurasian Studies (EES) Program and the Faculty Research Forum hosted a seminar with Assistant Professor of International Relations and European Studies Lisel Hintz to discuss her latest book, Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey.

Hintz kicked off the seminar by first showing two photos of Turkish politician Merve Kavakci, one in 1999 where Kavakcl was jeered for wearing a headscarf in the Turkish Parliament and denied her right to take the oath of office, and then another of Kavakcl in 2013, where she was cheered in parliament while wearing her headscarf. The photos intended to exemplify the stark changes that have taken place in Turkish domestic politics. This, together with Turkey’s “puzzling” shifting of foreign policy that happened during the same time is why Hintz explains she chose Turkey as a case to examine the complex relationship between identity politics and foreign policy.

Hintz drew insights from her book that explain the rise of Ottoman Islamism as an understanding of Turkish national identity that challenges a previously dominant Western-oriented, secularist form of Turkishness, which she called Republican Nationalism.

During the discussion, she analyzed how Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the EU accession process to weaken Republican Nationalist obstacles, mainly the military, which has long deemed itself as the protector of secularism and the judiciary branch which has the power to shut down parties for being unconstitutionally anti-secularism, to their Ottoman Islamist proposal for Turkish identity back home.

Hintz pointed out that the reforms carried out in Turkey are not human rights but civil-military reforms which looked at changing the role of the National Security Council, closing the States Security Courts, reducing the role of the military in politics, changing the configuration of how the judiciary is selected such that the AKP can change the those institutions from inside out. Hintz argued that this approach to identity politics sheds light on otherwise confusing domestic and foreign policy shifts.

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What do the elections mean for American Foreign Policy?


What do the elections mean for American Foreign Policy?


November 7, 2018

Eliot Cohen, Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs & Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies
Eric Edelman, Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies
Sarah Sewall, Speyer Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar and Professor, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs
Charles Stevenson, Acting Associate Director of the American Foreign Policy Program
Moderated by Daniel Serwer, Academic Director of Conflict Management & American Foreign Policy

Experts from Johns Hopkins SAIS joined a discussion to offer insight on the impact of the U.S. 2018 midterm elections on American foreign policy.

Charles Stevenson began by pointing out what he believed were the two big winners in this election, the Republicans in the red states winning more Senate seats and Democrats in suburban areas winning many House seats. Stevenson predicted that the biggest challenge in the 116th Congress will be on domestic, rather than foreign policy issues, as there is a broad consensus across the aisle on being tough on Russia, North Korea, and China, and being supportive to Israel and NATO. However, the two parties have divergence on Iran and the defense budget, he noted.

Sarah Sewall believed the new House could make a difference to the rest of the world. Given that the Trump administration has already damaged the relationship between the U.S. and its allies, she said one good sign of the election is that it delivered a message that the White House’s current approach is not necessarily the way forward and the election put a “brake and freeze” on the “freefall” of America’s commitment to the world leadership, its support for the free trade system, for alliances, and multilateralism.

Eric Edelman saw the election results as proof of the deep division of the nation, citing a sectional difference (which had not emerged since the Civil War) in which the Republicans dominate rural areas while the Democrats win urban and suburban votes. He also reminded the audience not to underestimate the chance of reelection for President Trump, whom he believed to be an adaptive and effective campaigner.

Eliot Cohen said one consequence of the election is that it would become more difficult to implement coherent foreign policies now that each party holds one chamber of Congress. However, he noted that division in the country may be less than people think it is, citing the fact that some red states such as Michigan elected a Democratic governor or that a Republican governor got elected in Massachusetts, traditionally a liberal state favoring Democrats.

Questions from the audiences ranged from how to talk to people with completely different beliefs on foreign policy issues, how to interpret partisan analysis of election results, and whether the voice of progressives will be heard more in the new House of Representatives.

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Walking Blindfolded into the Abyss


Priorities for Brazil's New President

Walking Blindfolded into the Abyss


Priorities for Brazil's New President

October 30, 2018

Monica de Bolle, Director of Latin American Studies and Emerging Markets Specialization, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Peter Hakim, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue
Riordan Roett, Professor and Director Emeritus, Latin American Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Matthew Taylor, Professor, American University School of International Service
Clifford Young, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Claudia Trevisan, Correspondent for Estadao & Master of International Public Policy Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS

The Latin American Studies Program hosted esteemed scholars for an in-depth discussion of the current political, social and economic climate of Brazil in the wake of the recent presidential elections. Their collective expertise provided an opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of Brazil’s current state of affairs.

The event opened with a few remarks by Claudia Trevisan on the new Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, his political views, and the heightened polarization during the election. She introduced some of the country’s most critical problems, namely, its poorly managed public finances, slow economic growth, and a high unemployment rate.

Clifford Young focused on the “hows” and “whys” of Bolsonaro’s rise despite controversial comments Bolsonaro made in the past. He mentioned that the driving factor motivating most Brazilian voters was to eradicate corruption. Bolsonaro’s anti-corruption and anti-crime messaging were effective during the campaign.

Panelists discussed the similarities and differences between Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump while noting that unlike Brazil, the U.S. is not in an economic crisis.

Riordan Roett called attention to lagging education and productivity rankings that have long hobbled Brazil’s competitiveness. Monica de Bolle called on Bolsonaro to make real and substantial proposals on fixing Brazil’s economic crisis and expressed concern that Bolsonaro’s policy positions threaten to worsen the situation.

The event concluded with questions from the audience covering topics such as Brazil’s foreign policy and relations with the US and other nations.

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