I never thought that I would write the phrase “President Trump,” let alone link it to IR theory. But the former is a great opportunity for the latter. Scholars of international politics bemoan the fact that our sub-field cannot draw on the experimental method. Well, now we can. Although Trump’s election was not a random event, nevertheless much about America’s external environment will remain the same after January 20, 2017 while the country will have a president who has espoused foreign policy views radically different from those of any of his predecessors. Once in office, will he really try to carry out such radically different policies? Or will domestic and international constrains prevail? We are about to run an experiment, and even if the results are not likely to be entirely unambiguous, they should provide us with real evidence. One (analytical) problem, however, is that Trump’s statements in the first weeks after his election indicate that his substantive views may be only weakly held, making any continuity that occurs only a weak confirmation of theories that stress constraints.
Category: Policy Series
The election of a new President typically offers an opportunity to reflect upon the state of international relations and America’s role in the world. This would have been especially true of the 2016 election no matter who won: as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recently claimed, many believe that for the first time since 1945 the United States’ relations with the world are unsettled. The unexpected election of Donald Trump only heightens the sense of uncertainty about the future of America’s global role. While much is unknown about President Trump’s foreign policy views, many of his campaign statements are at odds with long-standing American traditions and policies.
Even if the 2016 Presidential election had not produced such an unexpected outcome, United States nuclear policy would be at historical crossroads. The incoming administration will be presented with at least five tensions that will present difficult choices for the future of American nuclear strategy.
Sixty years ago, on 23 October 1956, an international conference at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York adopted the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The document is almost as long as the UN Charter and remains the legal foundation of ‘the Agency,’ as the world nuclear organization is widely called. This H-Diplo/ISSF policy roundtable uses the anniversary as an opportunity to discuss the IAEA’s mandate and role in history and current affairs. Does the IAEA Statute, which was written in a very different context, stand up to scrutiny today? What does the answer suggest about the IAEA and institutions of global nuclear governance more generally? How can the IAEA be strengthened?
When British voters chose to leave the European Union in a 23 June 2016 referendum, they unleashed an intense and ongoing national debate over the consequences. Not surprisingly, the debate has largely surrounded the economic, political, and social consequences of “Brexit.” Those in favour of leaving emphasized the benefits of independence from what they saw as a sclerotic and undemocratic EU. Those opposed warned about the economic consequences of withdrawing from a common market, and feared that the vote was evidence of creeping nativism in British society.
When released in July 2016, The Report of the Iraq Inquiry elicited the familiar reactions to other government post-mortems about a controversial policy. People noted its size and demanded to know what was new. When few ‘sensational’ details emerged, most observers concluded that the report confirmed what they already believed–good and bad.
A Note from the H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Roundtable Editors
Imagine the best panel discussion or listserv conversation, where experienced professionals strip away academic jargon and get to the heart of debates over current security controversies.
H-Diplo wants to capture the essence of these conversations in a new series, the International Security Studies Forum Policy Roundtable. The ISSF policy roundtable is an opportunity for policymakers and scholars to discuss important issues in a format that is somewhat less formal than a journal correspondence. We want experienced professionals to help readers make sense of complex events, identifying the big issues that are sometimes obscured. And as with our other ISSF publications, we encourage writers to use history to illuminate and add context to current controversies. We believe that readers will find these roundtables useful for understanding the fundamental issues at stake.
Joshua Rovner, Frank Gavin, and Diane Labrosse