• The First Campaign Narrative of 2020

    The 2020 campaign is fully under-way. Democrats and even a few Republicans have announced campaigns and exploratory committees, and campaign narratives are beginning to emerge.

    Campaign narratives are central to how candidates engage with the public. They provide a framework for understanding developments because the public, once having internalized a narrative, can sort facts and new developments on their own. The narratives that emerge around campaigns are driven by the candidates themselves, but it’s those stories that take root in the public mind, are confirmed by the crucible experience of the campaign, and harden in voters’ minds that ultimately decide elections.

    • In 2004: the dominant narrative was about fear.
    • In 2008: the dominant narrative was about hope.
    • In 2016: the dominant narrative was about a corrupt system.
    • In 2020: ?

    I don’t know that I fully understood the power of campaign narratives until I worked for John Kerry in 2004. I can recall, vividly, after Kerry became the presumptive nominee, President Bush gave a speech where he said Kerry was a flip-flopper. He warned that in the face of a formidable terrorist threat, America needed someone resolute and firm. The explicit contrast being that John Kerry couldn’t be trusted with America’s security.

    And that is the basic story that the Bush campaign ran on for the rest of 2004. It wasn’t true, but it was savagely disciplined political messaging. When then-Senator Kerry said he was for the funding of the Iraq War before he was against it—a late night turn of phrase that the candidate knew was problematic—the president’s allegations about Senator Kerry seemed to be confirmed.

    In 2016, candidate Trump railed against a system he described as rigged and alleged that his opponent was criminal. When Wikileaks released emails that seemed to confirm rot at the core of the Democratic Party, his story was confirmed.

    So as we head toward 2020, I’m mindful of the way the president—who has been a candidate for reelection since 2017—has been talking in broad strokes, particularly about socialism. At first, I thought it was odd that the president would state in his State of the Union address, “Tonight we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

    But then Trump doubled down on socialism during a speech at Florida International University this past week. After a lengthy denunciation of the evils of socialism he concluded with: “And to those who would try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message: America will never be a socialist country. We are born free and we will stay free, now and forever.”

    In case it wasn’t obvious, the president is planning to brand Democrats and their proposals as, you guessed it, “socialist.” The way Democrats respond will be important. They have to avoid a “Yes-you-are-no-I’m-not” strategy. It will fail. You have to fight story with another story.

    My old friend Sean Bell framed it right on Twitter: Republicans sell a scarcity narrative (if you’re winning, I’m losing). Democrats need a story that is built around abundance (if we help you win, we all win).

    President Obama essentially adopted this approach in 2008 when he said that we are in fact our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. But what Sean was talking about doesn’t rely merely on “good hearts,” but on clear-eyed self-interest—and those are not mutually exclusive approaches. You can do both and the public can fill in its own details if that narrative is well crafted.

    It’s too early to say whether any of the growing number of candidates in the Democratic field will adopt this approach, but I can say with great confidence that the 2020 election is going to be won by the candidate with the narrative that most resonates with the American public. Whoever sets the dominant narrative will win.

  • Pell Center and Rhode Island Center for the Book

    Rhode Island Center for the Book to Reside at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center

    Newport, RI – The Rhode Island Center for the Book will operate from the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University beginning in January 2019.

    Dedicated to promoting reading and celebrating community, the RI Center for the Book sponsors innovative programs each year.  Their signature program—Reading Across Rhode Island—focuses state-wide attention on one book each year, encouraging book discussions and providing thousands of books at no cost to schools and readers in order to spur the widest possible engagement.

    For nearly 10 years, the center has partnered with the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services for a separate summer reading program—Kids Reading Across Rhode Island—focusing on elementary school-aged children.  Other initiatives at the Center for the Book focus on a Library of Congress initiative to encourage young readers to write letters to their favorite authors.  The Living Literature initiative produces live events that bring stories to life for audiences.  The Youth Poetry Ambassador is selected each year in conjunction with the Rhode Island Poet Laureate to encourage more young poets across the state.

    “We are thrilled to provide the Rhode Island Center for the Book a new institutional home,” said Jim Ludes, Vice President for Public Research and Initiatives at Salve Regina University.  “I first got to know the Center for the Book and its leader, Kate Lentz, several years ago.  I was immediately impressed with the quality of their work and the impact they have across the state,” he continued.  “We wanted to do more with them.”

    “The missions of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and the Rhode Island Center for the Book align so well and complement each other so completely, this was really a natural fit,” said Kate Lentz, Executive Director of the RI Center for the Book.

    “When we think about Senator Claiborne Pell’s legacy in the humanities and education,” Ludes added, “bringing the RI Center for the Book—and all of the amazing programming they do each year—to the Pell Center makes perfect sense.”

    While in residence at Salve Regina’s Pell Center, the RI Center for the Book will remain an independent Rhode Island non-profit corporation.


    About the RI Center for the Book:

    As the designated affiliate of the US Library of Congress since 2003, the Rhode Island Center for the Book devotes its efforts to promoting personal and community enrichment by celebrating the art and heritage of reading, writing, making, and sharing books. Programs include a diverse range of events, lectures, partnerships, prizes, contests and awards. The Center provides schools and readers statewide access to books in a wide range of formats, supported by relevant, socially impactful programming, created and curated by an inspired network of teachers, librarians, writers and readers. Please visit ribook.org.


  • Senator Claiborn Pell

    Celebrating the Centennial of Claiborne Pell’s Birth

    NEWPORT, R.I. – One hundred years ago, on November 22, 1918, Claiborne Pell was born in New York City.  In his 90 years, the late-Senator’s life traced the arc of the American experience.  One century after his birth, we can see the familiar milestones of American history set against the Senator’s remarkable life.

    After graduating from Princeton, he witnessed the outbreak of World War II in Europe, first hand, and then joined the U.S. Coast Guard.  During the war, Pell served on escort duty in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.  As the war moved toward its end, Lieutenant Pell was present at the San Francisco Conference where the United Nations was created.

    In the midst of those war years, Pell met Nuala O’Donnell and married her in December of 1944.  They had four children: Herbert Claiborne Pell III; Christopher “Toby” Pell; Dallas Pell; and Julia Pell.

    When the war ended, Pell experienced the early Cold War as a U.S. diplomat serving in Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Washington, DC.  In 1956, as Vice President of the International Rescue Committee, Pell helped aid refugees fleeing the Soviet crack-down following the Hungarian Revolution of that year.

    When Claiborne Pell was first elected to the United States Senate in 1960, his friend, then-Senator John F. Kennedy, described Pell as “the least electable man in America.”  In fact, Pell would win six elections to the United States Senate with an average of 64% of the vote over three decades.  It was in the Senate that Pell left his most enduring legacies: land-mark legislation to create the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Amtrak, and the Basic Education Opportunity Grants—known more popularly as “Pell Grants.”

    Senator Pell once said he was inspired to create the grant program his colleagues renamed “Pell Grants” because he saw the transformative power of the GI Bill after World War II and wanted to extend the power of education to more Americans.  Since 1977, Pell Grants have given more than $631 billion towards the education of 192.2 million students.

    From 1987 to 1995, Pell served as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He championed arms control, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the international institutions he saw birthed in the aftermath of war.  Widely traveled, he favored engagement and dialogue over confrontation, and used the privilege of his seat in the Senate to give voice to those who could not or dared-not speak.

    Pell completed his 36 years of service in the United States Senate in January 1997.  He was succeeded in that office by Senator Jack Reed.

    “A man of principle and vision, Senator Pell is quite simply one of the most distinguished U.S. Senators and finest public servants in modern American history,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. “He enlisted in the U.S Coast Guard months before Pearl Harbor and served all over the world, both in the Coast Guard and as a diplomat.  But his greatest contributions came as a member of the U.S. Senate.  From the arts and education to arms control and transportation policy, Senator Pell’s forward-thinking contributions continue to shape our future.  He saw the importance of America leading the world, not standing apart from it.  His remarkable devotion to Rhode Island and his many contributions to the nation will long be remembered.”

    “Senator Pell is remembered,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “He left lasting legacies and he did it by quietly and patiently sticking with his priorities, which he knew were Rhode Island’s priorities and America’s priorities. When you look back at the legacy that he left that still operates today, it is hard to find somebody of his era whose footprint is larger than that of this shy, quiet, patient, civil, and persistent man.”

    “One century after Senator Pell’s birth, his legacy is found in every student who went to college because of Pell Grants; in every artist and scholar whose work deepens our understanding of humanity thanks to a federal grant,” said Jim Ludes, Executive Director of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.  “He knew how to make legislation happen.  He knew how to work with people from different backgrounds and different perspectives, and America is better for it.”

    The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy is a think tank on the Salve Regina University campus in historic Newport, Rhode Island. Its programs on domestic and international issues are designed to generate new ideas, to expand public understanding of important issues and, ultimately, to help the public and its leaders make better decisions.

    Dedicated to honoring Senator Pell’s legacy, the center promotes American engagement in the world, effective government at home and civic participation by all Americans. We accomplish this through research and publications, public events and media programs that run throughout the year. If you would like to learn more please visit pellcenter.org.

  • Official seal for the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy

    Pell Center Receives Grant to Provide Cybersecurity Training to Tax Preparation Industry

    NEWPORT, R.I. – The Pell Center at Salve Regina University has received a three-year grant for more than $130,000 from the American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights (ACTR) to provide cybersecurity awareness and training to individual tax preparers during IRS Tax Forums across the country each year.

    In recent years, individual tax preparation professionals and smaller businesses with tax information have become a more attractive target of data breaches, cyber intrusions, and various takeovers as state tax agencies and larger tax preparation businesses have continued to strengthen their own cybersecurity posture and make it harder for cyber criminals to infiltrate their networks. Indeed, cyber criminals are changing their tactics and targeting individual tax preparation professionals and smaller businesses, often considered the “low hanging fruit.”

    In July 2017, the IRS launched a campaign directed at tax professionals to increase awareness about cyber threats, and provided guidance and resources to prevent phishing scams and develop information security plans. However, recent surveys have shown that less than 30% of respondents had a written plan in place or required any mandatory training, demonstrating there is still low awareness and compliance of security requirements in the tax professional community.

    “Protecting taxpayers and strengthening the integrity of the U.S. tax system has to be a team effort,” said Pell Center Senior Fellow Francesca Spidalieri.  “While cyber risks, as with all risks, cannot be completely eliminated, they can be managed through informed decision-making processes, careful planning, workforce training, and appropriate allocation of resources. We look forward to helping small proprietors in the tax preparation industry meet this growing challenge.”

    “The Pell Center has established a strong track record of working with businesses, meeting them where they are, and arming them with a working knowledge of the threat and practical steps they can take to act,” said Stephen M. Ryan, counsel to the American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights, a national trade association of tax preparers and financial institutions that offer tax-time bank products.  “We’re delighted to work with the Pell Center to meet the needs of our industry.  ACTR is committed to pro-actively working with the IRS and state revenue departments to strengthen the tax administration system from cyber attacks, and to prevent stolen identity tax refund fraud.”

    The Pell Center at Salve Regina University is a multi-disciplinary research center on the campus of Salve Regina University.  Dedicated to honoring the legacy of Senator Claiborne Pell, the center is a thought-leader in contemporary foreign and domestic policy issues.  For more information about the Pell Center, please visit www.pellcenter.org.

    The American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights was formed in 2011 by the nation’s leading retail tax preparation and tax software companies and financial institutions.  Collectively, ACTR advocates for taxpayer rights and the preservation of our voluntary tax compliance system.  For more information about ACTR, please visit www.americancoalitionfortaxpayerrights.org/about/.


  • Tariffs on steel and aluminum industry

    A 19th Century Hammer versus a 21st Century Nail

    Picks of the Week:

    “Don’t blame China, Mr. President. Blame the robots” | The Washington Post

    “Trump Tariffs won’t bring back steel mills” | The Baltimore Sun

    “How Many American Jobs Could be Lost Thanks to Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Tariffs” | Fortune

    Faced with a profound transformation in the workforce just 18 years into the twenty-first century, the President of the United States has adopted a decidedly nineteenth century tool to meet the challenge: tariffs on steel and aluminum imported by U.S. businesses.  The president’s solution is more than just an anachronism, it is premised on a fundamentally flawed understanding of the current challenge and the enduring link between those who work and the politics of our republic.

    The President justifies his tariffs on steel and aluminum as necessary to defend American jobs from the predatory actions of our trading partners.

    But there’s a problem with all of that: trade isn’t the problem, automation is.  The United States produced as much steel last year as we did 30 years ago, but we did it with about half the people working in steel mills.  The reason is simple: technology and automation.

    The truth is the world is on the cusp of a technological revolution that is going to change our economy, what people do with their lives, and, eventually, our system of government.

    In his classic study, The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith argued that a nation’s wealth is not established by the amount of gold or silver it possesses, but rather in the productivity of its economy.  In other words, if a country has little silver or gold, but whose factories and workers are highly productive, that country would be said to have great wealth.  The source of wealth, according to Smith, was not some natural resource, but a human resource and the product of human labor.

    Smith himself was an early proponent of freedom: free labor—meaning no slavery—and free markets—meaning no government interference in the economy.  Freedom, it was argued, was the best way for markets to mature, for people to achieve their full potential, for economies to prosper for the greatest number of people, and for civilization to advance.

    And for several centuries, governments and societies have been driven forward by the idea that we need to create an educated workforce to enable our economies.  In the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, revolutionaries and reformers from the Middle East to the Americas talked about reforming society based on education and industrialization.  By the start of the 20th century, these ideas had taken root in Asia, too.  Today, these views are largely global and justify the link between education and efforts to keep the American economy globally competitive.

    The centrality of labor in Smith’s view of economics—of people who work for a living, who earn a decent wage, and spend money on goods to further drive the economy—has had tremendous political implications, as well.  Think of the shopkeepers and farmers in Massachusetts who resented the taxes of the British monarch; or the bourgeoisie in Paris in 1789, who believed that the people should be able to decide on what the government spends money.  In fact, much of the global history over the 242 years since the American Declaration of Independence has been a history of the relationship between labor and governments.  It’s not surprising that so many political parties around the world have included terms like “workers” or “labour” in their names.  Until the middle of the 20th century, autocrats and monarchies typically feared the working masses—what Marx called the “proletariat.”

    But according to a growing body of evidence, the reality of “labor” is about to change.  Scholars at Oxford University believe that 47% of U.S. jobs may cease to exist in coming decades because of advances in computers and automation.

    Take, as one example, the disruptive potential of self-driving vehicles.  We know Tesla, and Google, and maybe Apple are all developing them.  And when they arrive, they will put 1.6 million American long-haul truck drivers out of business; along with 800,000 delivery truck operators; 180,000 taxi drivers; 160,000 Uber drivers; 500,000 school bus drivers; and 160,000 transit bus drivers—even the 445,000 people who work in auto-body repair shops.  Anyone, anyone at all, who does anything with cars—whether they’re a parking lot attendant or a meter-maid—is going to feel the ground shift beneath them as our motor vehicles transition to a high tech future.  All told, in the driving economy alone, some estimates suggest that we’re looking at the disruption of 4 million American jobs.

    This revolution in automation and artificial intelligence won’t be an American revolution.  It will be a global revolution and the society that best figures out how to reconcile this new technology with its people will emerge as the dominant political and economic power of the 21st century.  Tariffs and trade wars aren’t going to help us meet this challenge, and to the extent they obscure these real structural challenges in the American and global economy, they waste our time.

  • Timor Sea Map

    Timor Leste, Australia, and the International Order

    Evidence abounds that the international order created by the victors of World War II is under assault.  Current leaders seem to believe that might does, in fact, make right.  Hard power, it seems, is supreme.  In fact, the long-discredited social-Darwinian pursuit of conquest, natural resources, and power again has a following.  But occasionally, positive news breaks through the noise to sustain our faith in the system that has preserved great-power peace since 1945.

    On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, leaders of Australia and Timor Leste met at the United Nations in New York to sign a treaty establishing the maritime boundary between the two nations.  It is the result of difficult negotiations, a conciliation process established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and follows years of dispute over previous agreements, espionage, and vast under-sea oil and natural gas reserves.  The negotiations have not, yet, resolved how to jointly exploit the natural resources—estimated to be worth at least $53 billion.  Discussions will continue, but in the signing of the maritime boundary, Australia and Timor Leste sent an important message to the world: international law and international institutions matter.

    If the dispute had been simply a test of wills between two proud nations, it is likely that nothing would have changed.  Australia could have dragged its feet indefinitely and a military confrontation would have been a lopsided fight, to put it mildly.  Timor Leste has a population of about 1.2 million and a gross domestic product (GDP PPP) of $4.6 billion.  Australia, in contrast, has a population of nearly 25 million people, and a GDP of $1.24 trillion.  Australia per-capita GDP is nearly ten times that of Timor Leste and Canberra spends more than $24 billion on defense each year, compared to Dili’s defense budget of less than $20 million in 2015.

    But this wasn’t about defense budgets or military might; it was about the application of a rules-based approach to international disputes that has long promised a peaceful and just means of resolution.  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres heralded the agreement as a demonstration of “the strength of international law, and the effectiveness of resolving disputes through peaceful means.”  Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop put it this way: “Australia believes the international rules-based order is fundamental to our collective security and prosperity. Our treaty reflects the value and importance of those rules and institutions, and the benefits for states in abiding by those rules. In particular, our treaty reflects the importance of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. As a maritime trading nation, Australia will continue to be a staunch supporter of UNCLOS and its processes.”

    The parallels for other maritime disputes—in the South China Sea, for example—are obvious.

    Last September, the Pell Center was privileged to welcome Timor Leste’s chief negotiator Xanana Gusmao to Salve Regina University.  Over the course of the day, we heard from scholars, retired American military leaders, and U.S. Senator Jack Reed about the importance of Timor Leste’s success as a young democracy.  All agreed that the resolution of the maritime boundary was essential to Timor Leste’s economic development and political stability.

    March 6 was an important day for Timor Leste and for Australia—but it was important beyond the Timor Sea, too, because the agreement signed by those two nations affirms that the rules-based international order can provide a just and durable resolution to international disputes.


  • Russian Hacking

    We Knew Russia Attacked American Democracy Before Election Day 2016

    Picks of the Week

    “Trump-FBI feud over classified memo erupts into open conflict” | Washington Post

    “Dutch agencies provide crucial intel about Russia’s interference in U.S.-elections” | deVolksrant

    “Senator Urges Fellow Republicans to Heed Warnings on Releasing Secret Memo” | The New York Times


    For weeks, one of the trending hashtags pushed by a network of known Russian bots has been #ReleaseTheMemo.

    Top Hashtags of Russian Bot Network

    The memo in question is a summary of classified materials prepared by the Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  It is said to suggest that the FBI’s request of a FISA warrant in 2016 was flawed because it relied on information from the so-called Steele Dossier, which President Trump has called “fake news” while media outlets have reported that elements of the dossier have been confirmed.  The memo is a transparent effort to undermine the many investigations of the President, his campaign, and Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election.

    The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, used a little-known procedure to seek the public release of the memo.  The committee voted along party lines to release the classified memo.  The request was swiftly approved by President Trump, an authority he has as the final arbiter of the nation’s need to classify or declassify information.

    In a remarkable twist on Wednesday, however, the FBI, released a public statement warning of its “grave concerns” over the release of the memo which is characterized as misleading, containing material misstatements of fact, and critical omissions.

    The intention here is as transparent as it is fraudulent.  Devin Nunes has been the President’s lackey for the better part of a year.  In an earlier, ill-fated effort to discredit concerns about Russia’s attack on our democracy, Nunes conspired with the White House to push claims that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice had inappropriately unmasked U.S. citizens in wiretaps of foreign nationals.  Those claims were resoundingly debunked and Nunes, supposedly, recused himself from the Russia investigation.  Apparently, it didn’t stick, and now Trump has seized on the memo as his best hope to discredit the Mueller investigation.  In an early morning tweet on Friday, the President attacked the “top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department” for politicizing the investigation of him and his campaign.

    Of course, the President is talking about an Attorney General, a Deputy Attorney General, and an FBI Director that he appointed.

    Still, the bigger point remains Russia’s attack on American democracy.  The truth is, many national security experts began worrying about Russia in the summer of 2016, long before we knew about the Steele Dossier, before we knew about Carter Page’s wiretaps; while we thought Secretary Clinton was going to win.  I wrote an article that fall, “The Russians Read our Cold War Playbook,” published before the election, that makes the case about Russia’s political warfare against the United States in the online policy journal, War on the Rocks.

    Since then, we have learned more about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to Russian oligarchs; about the exploitation of Facebook and Twitter by Russian intelligence; about the email to Donald Trump, Jr., explaining that the Russian lawyer that wanted to meet with him was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”  But even before all that, three considerations struck me in the autumn of 2016 that provided indication and warning of Russia’s attack on our free institutions:

    1. Emails stolen from the DNC were being released through Wikileaks—which for years people in the national security community were concerned may have had an active relationship with Russian intelligence.
    2. The nature of the released emails seemed to be like a page lifted from an old Cold War playbook. In the emails stolen from the DNC, we saw the underbelly of American politics, confirming a narrative Vladimir Putin had personally pushed: that America is not exceptional.
    3. Reports in the Summer of 2016 were already emerging that Russia was “probing” the data systems of offices in various states responsible for running elections.  (Ultimately, the number of these attacks soared.)

    Finally, we know now because of remarkable reporting out of the Netherlands in just the last week, that Dutch intelligence had hacked the Russian hackers who had been going after high value American networks for several years.  According to a report in the Dutch press, the Netherlands didn’t just get into the network of the hackers, they got into their security cameras and were essentially standing over the shoulders of their targets, watching in real time as the Russians attacked the State Department’s email system; the White House email system; and yes, the DNC’s email system.  If that report is accurate, then there’s, at minimum, video.  Video of who the hackers were.  Video of their key strokes.  Video of who came to visit them.  And there may be more.

    Our task as citizens is simple: we need to see through the sound and the fury.  We need criminal investigations to ferret out wrong doing and prosecute the perpetrators.  And we need our government and our fellow citizens to respond to the threat of foreign disinformation and political warfare with a robust defense of the American republic; an ironclad devotion to truth and the rule of law; and an unbreakable commitment to the free institutions upon which we have built our history, our lives, and our destiny as a people since 1789.

  • Poland Independence Day

    Diversity and Peace vs Purity and Violence

    ‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day | The Guardian

    White nationalists call for ethnic purity at Polish demonstration | Politico

    Poland defends massive far-right protest that called for a ‘White Europe’ | Washington Post

    Poland celebrated its 99th Independence Day last weekend—and a parallel celebration of far-right extremists—almost 60,000 of them calling for “pure blood” and a “white Europe”—marched through the streets.  The celebration attracted white supremacists from across the Atlantic world.  The conservative Polish interior minister, according to the Associated Press, called the march “a beautiful sight.”

    I find this troubling.  Poland was born out of the carnage of the First World War when the statesmen of Europe and America tried to fashion a peace that would prevent another war from happening.  We know they failed, in part because they accepted the rationale of ethnic nationalism—that national boundaries should be redrawn along ethnic divides.  So by 1938, Hitler could use the rhetoric and rationale of the peace makers of 1918 in claiming that the Sudetenland—then part of Czechoslovakia—should be part of Germany.  This same DNA lives in the chants of “pure blood” that rang through Warsaw’s streets last weekend.

    It’s 2017, and ghosts we thought were long dead in Europe and America are alive and well and, frankly, they’re gaining strength.  The choice we have—the choice that leaders have grappled with for the last century—is a choice between a world that is plural, diverse, and at peace and a world that is singular, pure, and violent.  The forces of purity and violence are on the march.

    One of my tasks as a university professor is to get my students to actually read original documents—not just the Wikipedia summary—and tell me what those documents say.  So last week, my students read the Atlantic Charter—the agreement signed by Roosevelt and Churchill on August 14, 1941 (before the United States entered World War II) that described the joint war aims of the United States and the United Kingdom.  They sketched out in very sparse language 8 shared objectives of the war.  They made clear they were not fighting to gain new territories; they wanted to increase the welfare of people everywhere; they wanted to reduce armaments; but they also talked about ensuring free and unfettered access to natural resources all the world over; and they talked about collaboration between nations on “labor standards, economic advancement, and social security.” This is the stuff of free trade.

    In other words, increasing globalization was something we fought for in the Second World War—and the institutions of peace that followed it—the United Nations; the World Bank; the International Monetary Fund; the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; and ultimately the World Trade Organization all draw a straight line to the war aims Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to sitting in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in the summer of 1941.

    The truth is, the world they created was increasingly plural, diverse and peaceful.  Purity had brought war and destruction.  The post-war era was intentionally engineered to bring diversity and peace.

    That’s what’s under assault today.  That’s why I’m so worried.  There are forces kicking at the pillars of post-war stability, seeking to drive us apart, to emphasize our differences both within nations and across borders—and in doing so, ushering in a world of purity and violence.

  • Miller, Segal, Ludes

    Adam Segal on “Story in the Public Square,” October 28, 2017

    For more than 20 years, experts have warned about a “digital-Pearl Harbor” when the West’s dependence on information technology would be exploited at great cost and peril.  Adam Segal argues that the reality of the cyber threat has proven more complex and dangerous than expected.

    Adam Segal is the Ira A. Lipman chair in emerging technologies and national security and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on security issues, technology development, and Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Segal was the project director for the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet. His book The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age (PublicAffairs, 2016) describes the increasingly contentious geopolitics of cyberspace.

    “Story in the Public Square” airs on Rhode Island PBS in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. & 9:30 p.m. ET and Sundays at & 12:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124.

    Story in the Public Square is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate, and tell stories that matter.

  • Cover of Timor Paper Series

    New Paper Series: Maritime Dispute Resolution and the Future of the Asian Order

    After years of tension and disagreement, negotiations over the Australia-Timor Leste maritime boundary line are drawing to a close.  In September 2016, Canberra and Dili agreed to take part in a year-long conciliation process under the supervision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. In so doing, both Asian democracies have demonstrated their willingness to uphold the extant rules-based system. Indeed, the law of the sea is one of the structural pillars of the international order. The complex rules and norms that govern freedom of navigation and maritime economic activity have played a crucial role in the preservation of the global commons. Over the past few years, Asian states have displayed markedly different attitudes toward the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and—more broadly— vis-à-vis the international legal regime.

    These differences have become particularly stark in the field of maritime dispute resolution. Whereas some Asian states such as India have agreed to abide by U.N.-rendered verdicts on long-standing maritime boundary disputes with their smaller neighbors, others—such as the People’s Republic of China—have become ever more hostile toward international arbitration.

    As we approach another landmark verdict, the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy has commissioned—with the aid of the Timor Leste government—a series of short papers and opinion pieces on Maritime Dispute Resolution and the Future of the Asian Order.



    As additional pieces are published, they, too, will be posted here.