This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

(Image: Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

Yes, Mr. President, Tuesday was a blue wave

Kevin M. Kruse

The Washington Post

In a combative news conference Wednesday, President Trump claimed that Tuesday’s election returns had been “very close to a complete victory” for the GOP. Because of his personal campaigning for Republican candidates in the final weeks, Trump argued, he had effectively “stopped the blue wave that they were talking about.”

Despite the president’s self-confidence, his assessment of the midterms in general and the blue wave in particular is largely wrong. The midterm results — in which Democrats took control of the House while Republicans narrowly increased their margin in the Senate — was not a “complete victory” for either side. And by historic measures, the House results fit the loose qualifications for a blue wave.

Despite the hopes of some on the left, the pundits’ predictions for a blue wave were always limited to the House. In the struggle for the Senate, Democrats faced the longest odds confronting a party in several decades — maybe more. While Republicans had to defend only nine seats, Democrats needed to protect two dozen — 10 of which stood in red states won by Trump in 2016 — as well as those of two more independents who caucus with Democrats. This was, as veteran election handicapper Stuart Rothenberg noted, “an almost impossible map” for them. And yet, despite the odds, the Democrats will end up with, at worst, a net loss of three seats. (Read more)

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How Nixon Paved the Way for Trump

Livia Gershon

JSTOR Daily

Fifty years ago, on November 5th, 1968, America elected Richard Nixon as president for the first time. In many ways, the gruff, hard-working, and famously untelegenic 37th president was nothing like the reality television star who holds the office today. But an analysis of Nixon’s relationship with his supporters by historian Anthony Rama Maravillas suggests some distinct similarities.

Like Donald Trump—a former Democrat with a history of mixed views on the role of government—Nixon was far from conservative. He was a “Modern Republican” in the mold of his mentor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who wanted to limit the role of government but essentially believed in New Deal programs like Social Security. Indeed, Nixon supported an expansion of the welfare state. In a 1968 interview, he declared himself conservative on economics but a centrist on domestic policy and a liberal on “the race issue.” (Read more)

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The Committee to Save the World Order

Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay

Foreign Affairs

The order that has structured international politics since the end of World War II is fracturing. Many of the culprits are obvious. Revisionist powers, such as China and Russia, want to reshape global rules to their own advantage. Emerging powers, such as Brazil and India, embrace the perks of great-power status but shun the responsibilities that come with it. Rejectionist powers, such as Iran and North Korea, defy rules set by others. Meanwhile, international institutions, such as the UN, struggle to address problems that multiply faster than they can be resolved.

The newest culprit, however, is a surprise: the United States, the very country that championed the order’s creation. Seventy years after U.S. President Harry Truman sketched the blueprint for a rules-based international order to prevent the dog-eat-dog geopolitical competition that triggered World War II, U.S. President Donald Trump has upended it. He has raised doubts about Washington’s security commitments to its allies, challenged the fundamentals of the global trading regime, abandoned the promotion of freedom and democracy as defining features of U.S. foreign policy, and abdicated global leadership. (Read more)

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Concentration Camps for Kids: An Open Letter

Alberto Manguel, Maaza Mengiste, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Colm Tóibín, et al.
NYR Books

In Tornillo, Texas, in rows of pale yellow tents, some 1,600 children who were forcefully taken from their families sleep in lined-up bunks, boys separated from the girls. The children, who are between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, have limited access to legal services. They are not schooled. They are given workbooks but they are not obliged to complete them. The tent city in Tornillo is unregulated, except for guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services. Physical conditions seem humane. The children at Tornillo spend most of the day in air-conditioned tents, where they receive their meals and are offered recreational activities. Three workers look after groups of twenty children each. The children are permitted to make two phone calls per week to their family members or sponsors, and are made to wear belts with phone numbers written out for their emergency contacts.

However, the children’s psychological conditions are anything but humane. At least two dozen of the children who arrived in Tornillo were given just a few hours’ notice in their previous detention center before they were taken away—any longer than that, according to one of the workers at Tornillo, and the children may have panicked and tried to escape. Because of these circumstances, the children of Tornillo are inevitably subjected to emotional trauma. After their release (the date of which has not yet been settled), they will certainly be left with emotional scars, and no one can expect these children to ever feel anything but gut hatred for the country that condemned them to this unjust imprisonment. (Read more)

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Democracy is at risk in Latin America and the far right is moving in – here’s how it went wrong for the left

Pia Riggirozzi

The Conversation

Latin American democracy is in peril, a crisis driven by rising social polarisation and a growing intolerance of dissent. Institutional mistrust is also rising and risks deepening the disconnect between citizens and government.

According to the Latin American Economic Outlook 2018, three out of four Latin Americans have very low confidence in institutions and show little or no confidence in their national governments. Likewise, a recent survey published by Intal/Latinbarometro, found that people believe that the most reliable institution in Latin America is the church (65% confidence); followed by the armed forces (42% confidence) and police (35%). Political parties are viewed as the most disreputable institutions – with just 15% confidence.

Even more disturbingly, the same survey shows that the level of support for democracy (over any other form of government) has dropped eight points from 2010 down to a slim majority of just 53%. Meanwhile, the percentage of those indifferent to the type of political system they live under has grown over the same period from 16% to 25%. Tellingly, 80% think corruption is affecting the quality of democracy, a figure that has increased significantly since 2010. (Read more)

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