Global disorder and distrust – Trump as a symptom

Global disorder and distrust – Trump as a symptom


hello good morning everybody my name is
Ole Jacob Sending it’s a pleasure to welcome you all here to this event I
should remind everybody that the event is streamed so my colleague Morten
Bøås and I decided just before Christmas that we wanted to have a
seminar series on the issue of distrust and global disorder and developments in
in world politics Morten had an event here on the Middle East in January today
we are fortunate to have Dan Drezner from Tufts University then we will have
a series of seminars in May we’ll have an event on China in June on Russia and
later on in the fall on on European politics now first of all welcome so
much Dan Drezner is professor at Tufts the author of many many books and also
regular contributed to the Washington Post and let me before I kick up with
the first question we will start with a focus on American politics then we will
scale up a little bit to talk about the implications of political developments
in the u.s. for u.s. foreign policy and then turn to the issue of the effects of
that on global governance and global order if we could get the I have a graph
that I want to show as a to segue into the first question so this is from Pew
Research that demonstrates the or shows the the level of trust in the u.s. in in
the US government and and what is interesting here is that one may argue
that it tracks basically economic development so steady economic growth in
the 1990s on the Clinton you see there is an
increase in trust we will deal with this graph perhaps a little bit later but
then you see a steady decline from Bush jr. under Obama continues on the Trump
now this raises a question of the election of Donald Trump as a symptom
rather than a course so is this a structural phenomenon and what are the
underlying factors that produces that structural phenomenon or is it perhaps
cyclical there have been debates in the US as it has been in European countries
that are quite similar to the ones that we are experiencing today where there is
a lack of trust with various populist mobilization so the first question
basically to you that is what do you see as the structural factors and possibly
also triggering factors in the political situation that we now have in in the
u.s. so a few things before I answer that first question first thank you very
much totally a cover for having me come I would also like to thank the former
Norwegian Justice Minister for stepping down and thereby not having you all
check your phones about whether or not there was going to be a government by
the end of this talk the other thing that and I can’t stress this enough this
is possibly the most important thing you need to understand about the United
States right now which is that occupied season two just dropped on Netflix last
week so I haven’t watched all of it so no spoilers please if you haven’t seen
it now that said back to the graph I think you can argue that on the one hand
it is cyclical but cyclical implies you know when we
talk cycles we often talk about in the form of years and really this is a kind
of cycle where you’re talking almost centuries or at least many many decades
which is you know if you read books like Richard Hofstadter’s
anti-intellectualism in American Life a lot of people misinterpret that book
and assume that what the book is arguing is that there’s this long streak of
anti-intellectualism in the United States the United States is never
embraced intellectuals or or trusted elites and that’s not what Hofstetter is
in that book what Hofstadter is saying in that book is that there is a cycle in
fact that there have been periods where in fact Americans put great trust in
elites think the Progressive Era for example indeed the Progressive Era
was in many ways a reaction to the idea that American government had gotten too
corrupt and that plutocrats had too much power and so on and so forth
but on the other hand they’re all are also these counter waves of rejection of
elites and I think that’s what we’ve seeing and in that sense I completely
agree that the Donald Trump is much more a symptom rather than a cause of the the
erosion of trust in institutions in the United States as to why that erosion of
trust I think they’re to be fair valid reasons for that in some ways you can
argue that that too much trust in elites is equally problematic it’s not a
coincidence that the the sort of spike in trust starts or is it the peak is in
the mid-60s and then in the next decade after that you have the wider escalation
of the Vietnam War and then the Watergate scandal so you know those twin
scandals are not you know nothing and you would expect there to be a decline
of trust in the best and the brightest as it were after shocks like that and
then you know again you do see it spike again after 9/11 and you can argue that
was after a decade of relatively robust economic growth and a situation in which
it seemed like both the system was working and there was a sort of rally
around the flag effect post 9/11 and then we go to what happened after 9/11
and again you cannot blame Americans for suddenly not trusting elites anymore
because after 9/11 you then saw war launched in Afghanistan that has not
ended you then saw another war in Iraq that had nothing to do with the war in
Afghanistan and nonetheless has not ended and then the greatest economic
crisis in a century you know at least in the first year far worse than than the
Great Depression so again it’s not a shock that you see this kind of erosion
of trust and there are a few other factors kicking which I think I won’t
spoil the previews I think we’re going to talk about that a little more later
but but yeah they’re they’re valid reasons for why Americans and and
I guess the other thing I would say is that particularly in in foreign and
economic policy you can argue there has been a gap for decades between what
elites think is the sort of best set of policies to pursue and what the public
thinks so if you you know the Chicago Council on global affairs has done
polling on elites and and ordinary sort of the mass public of Americans for
quite some time and for quite some time ever since they started doing it in the
1970s there is this gap between what elites feel with respect to attitudes
about let’s say globalization or u.s. alliance commitments or what-have-you
versus what ordinary Americans think and the gap is is that elites are far more
enthusiastic and internationalist than ordinary Americans now ironically that
gap is closing for a few interesting reasons but if that gap persists for
decades you can’t blame ordinary Americans for being somewhat skeptical
about what their elites are thinking one aspect of this is is that is the issue
of economic inequality and relative deprivation so if you consider for
example the argument by Clinton’s labor secretary right so he’s making the
argument that from the 1970s the economic conditions of middle-class
Americans have steadily deteriorated right well the the means by which they
have been able to maintain the position yeah I mean more and more work double
work and then and debt and that on their house and all of that right so how does
that factor in you think in in the big picture here know that factors in it I
think one of the other drivers is the widening of economic inequality in the
United States and that again in some ways is paired with the sort of great
wave of globalization you can argue that begins in 1980 because that’s the moment
at which at least in the United States middle-class incomes
start to stagnate now that didn’t necessarily that was you could you could
see that in the data but it wasn’t necessarily immediately calamitous for a
couple of reasons first Americans that own their homes weren’t necessarily
worse off because even if their incomes weren’t going up their home you know the
home equity prices were going up so in some ways they were almost sitting on an
ATM where they could continue to live a you know an increasingly affluent
lifestyle simply by borrowing against their house and indeed that was one of
the sources in the end of the the 2008 financial crisis that you had more and
more people not just having mortgages but taking out home equity loans to try
to finance current consumption so that’s so in some ways there wasn’t as much of
a gap in consumption but the way that gap was being financed was equally
problematic so yeah that’s that’s undeniably true and then the other thing
and in some ways we’re still seeing this play out right now is that the other
thing that’s happened that’s shift in the United States is almost cultural in
terms of the way the economy has shifted you know you see this with debates about
trade and and we just had a special election and in the House of
Representatives in Pennsylvania and was all about steel and you know the
president among other things has said if you don’t have steel you don’t know the
country the myth in the United States is that we don’t have a steel industry
which we have a very large steel industry we produce 70% of the steel we
consume well we don’t have any more steel workers and the reason is is
because the steel industry has followed most of manufacturing and that it’s
become so productive that you don’t need nearly as many workers as you used to
and so there’s been a shift I think in terms of workers in the United States
leaving what used to be considered you know good union jobs you know on a
factory in Detroit or in Pittsburgh and now they’re working in places like Home
Depot or Costco they’re working on service sector jobs they don’t pay as
well and are seen as not dignity as dignified and and so in that
sense it’s almost a question of identity as much as it is of economics yeah so a
little pause here for this thing to go up so I can start with my next question
which is basically a follow up on on the issue of trust because you you wrote a
book quite recently on the I DS industry where the argument is that there is
something has happened with trust not in government per se but in other important
institutions for example the idea of expertise and knowledge producing
institutions and what that has meant for the quality of public debate you can see
some of the same dynamic in in many European countries including here in
Norway so it would be very interesting I think to hear the the core argument but
also some examples of who the actors are and how that effects actually the
framing of public debate in the US so in the book the ideas industry I make the
argument that there’s sort of three core factors underlying why the marketplace
of ideas has changed to where it is now the first as you say is is the erosion
of trust in not just the government it’s the erosion of trust in almost any
authoritative institution in the United States so both pew and Gallup and the
General Social Survey have all of these surveyed surveys asking Americans not
just their confidence in the government but the confidence in business in the
media in labor unions and teachers in any sort of major institution and all of
these data trends showed the exact same thing which is that with the exception
of the United States military trust in all of these institutions has trended
downward significantly now part of that is because and this goes back to the
previous answer I would say it’s not just that the government has screwed up
I mean you can understand why their trust in government would be lower
because of policy scopes there’s also distrust in other authoritative elites
because there’s been a variety of scandals that have been revealed in
which these institutions are not quite as aboveboard as we have
as a book author I hate to do this but I need to cite another book which is I
would highly recommend Chris Hayes book twilight of the elites which is an
outstanding book that talks about how if you look at the Catholic Church or you
look at universities or you look at other institutions that you would
ordinarily have thought were a beyond reproach they’re no longer beyond
reproach and indeed this is reflected in trust in what we would consider
institutions that would be considered knowledge based whether it’s
universities or hospitals or religious institutions the General Social Survey
which is run at the University of Chicago asked Americans you know trust
in these kinds of institutions back in nineteen seventy two fifty percent of
Americans had a great deal of trust in these institutions and by 2012 it was
down to 30% again in no small part because there have been controversies
involving things like vaccines not you know like the swine flu one back in the
70s or again religious institutions in terms of the Catholic Church or
universities in terms of you know corruption and athletics programs or
research scandals that have you know our plagiarism scandals that have affected
the Academy or even you know so again I want to be clear on this I I don’t think
the erosion of trust is a healthy thing but I do think it’s an understandable
thing and I you know so in the sense that that when you see you know people’s
doubting social science well if you’re a social scientist there’s some valid
reasons to doubt aspects of social science research at least in terms of
things like replicability so you know we’re having these debates within our
field it’s not surprising that that’s spreading to wider wider parts of the
country the second trend and this is one where I don’t know how much it
generalizes beyond the United States because of different political systems
but it does play a large role I think in the United States is the dramatic
increase in political polarization in the United States and and this comes
through if you take a look at things like congressional voting patterns or
you know general surveys that pew and others have done in terms of party
activists and what-have-you essentially all of the data show the
same thing which is since 1970 Democrats have moved further to the left and
Republicans have moved way way way further to the right and this is
particularly concentrated among people who are politically active so there was
the more likely or a party activist the more likely you were at the extreme of
either party now there are a couple of arguments within the United States about
why this is taking place one could be that people are actually getting more
ideologically extreme there’s another argument that basically explains this on
something called partisan sorting which is to say that essentially for a variety
of historical quirks you had some Democrats in the south
we’re much more conservative than let’s say Republicans in the Northeast for a
long time but after the civil rights era in the 1960s those Democrats realized
they were actually Republicans and so basically switched parties and similarly
you had what were called Rockefeller Republicans in the Northeast sort of the
George HW Bush types realizing oh wait I’m actually way to the left of my
relative arty and so it’s not that these people became more ideologically extreme
they just joined the party they probably should have been part of for a longer
period of time and that matters because it means that if it’s a partisan sorting
it might be that Americans haven’t become that much more radical it’s just
be that the parties have become more ideologically pure but the real problem
is that even if it’s due to partisan sorting essentially you’re seeing this
creation and inculcation of in-group identities which means that in essence
disliking someone for their political ideology is the last legal form of
discrimination in the United States which is to say that if you take a look
at survey work Americans are more likely to discriminate based on high rate you
know hiring people based on someone’s political affiliation than on their race
or gender or religious orientation or sexual orientation and indeed if you
poll party elites you know and you ask them what is their opinion of members of
the other party you know you would see increases in the number of people who
think that the other party is no longer as intelligent
you know or trustworthy or they don’t want their children to marry outside of
their political persuasion and so these are all you know these are incredibly
problematic because essentially now you have a situation where and there’s been
great work on this done by Elizabeth Saunders and Alexander good singer it
shows that if an issue is politically polarized in other words if an issue
becomes sort of one that that’s defined by partisanship expert consensus has no
effect so there’s if you take a look at you know if you ask Americans what’s
your opinion on climate change climate change is an issue that has clearly
become politically polarized which is say Democrats really think it’s a real
problem Republicans insist either it’s not a
real problem or we doubt the science or what have you if you then present people
with well we have an expert consensus that says this is what’s going on it
doesn’t move anyone’s opinion if you do introduce them to an issue where let’s
say there hasn’t been a partisan division let’s say I don’t know one of
them know I’m having a hard time coming up with one let’s say let’s say policy
in the Arctic for example actually that that’ll you know we’re you know most
Americans simply don’t know and if you then present them with expert consensus
that will shift opinion so but the problem is is that we’re in a situation
where we have the polarization of everything essentially every issue even
cultural you know issues have now become so politically polarized that it becomes
impossible to sort of believe in neutral expertise everyone clearly must have an
agenda or something and so that makes it harder to have a productive debate and
then the third trend that I talked about and is linked is this rise of economic
inequality and wealth inequality there are obvious socio-economic issues with
that but the reason it affects the marketplace of ideas is that we now see
this sort of new plutocratic class that essentially have billions of dollars and
it turns out that if you have that much money and you have everything you could
possibly want to buy in the world then what you wind up doing is going back to
college except you don’t go back to college what you do is create your own
intellectual salon and you bring in thought leaders
or you know provocative thinkers too you know and I put provocative in quotes you
know to sort of tell you stuff except that if you think that if speaking truth
to power is really hard try speaking truth to money that’s even harder
because essentially if you’re a billionaire you wind up becoming and
this applies to the President as well if you’re a billionaire or billionaire you
genuinely will tend to believe that you’ve gotten to where you are in life
entirely based on your own self worth and self value and therefore you are not
going to want to hear from people who tell you that the reason you got to
where you are is that you were born on third base which is an Americanism which
is say that you were born into privilege anyway that it doesn’t matter that yes
you might have you know done a few things but really they’re they’re sort
of these structural inequalities and so as a result they wind up funding and/or
taking much more interesting thought leaders who will tell them what they
already want to believe you know here anyway
or tell them what they already believe which is to say disruption is good and
you know founders are good and you want to constantly shake up the system and
and other buzzwords that do not come to mind right now on that I mean there are
plenty of very wealthy individuals and groups in the United States that seems
to be advancing a progressive type of agenda so I’m just wondering about
whether there are environments where so in Europe you have you know George Soros
who invested you know the Central European University and all that an open
society foundation but how does that look in the United States given all the
tech billionaires for example in California so if you take a look at the
survey there’s not a lot of great survey work of billionaires it’s really hard to
get them to to answer questions but that said there is some research that’s been
done on this and I think the way to put it is the following there is a fair
amount of heterogeneity among the sort of plutocratic class when it comes to
views about let’s say social policy so about gay marriage for example or you
know other sort of cultural issues however when you start asking them about
economics or economic policy there is much greater degree of homogeneity among
the plutocratic class now you will you will have the occasional Tom Styer or
George Soros who spends a fair amount of money because of environmental causes or
you know believing in promoting civil society but even the Silicon Valley
types are very libertarian when it comes to attitudes about economic policy they
are extremely suspicious of the role of the state in terms of providing public
goods indeed Silicon Valley is is extremely problematic because Silicon
Valley tends to look at the state not as ironically the the very source of the
internet that they have exploited because it was originally a invention by
the Defense Department to deal with communications in the wake of nuclear
war they see it as a faulty piece of code that needs to be bypassed so indeed
to be fair Silicon Valley you know plutocrats genuinely believed in civic
activism I don’t mean to to to caricature them but they also don’t
believe necessarily the state will they see the statement as an outmoded 19th
century institution that can’t help them now to be fair some I think some of
these people are actually beginning to move down the learning curve and
realizing oh I guess the algorithm that we thought that would solve this sort of
problem is not actually going to do it maybe we need to rethink these things
but again there’s a fair amount of arrogance going on in Palo Alto when it
comes to these sorts of issues and so it’s going to take a long time for that
learning curve to kick in let’s shift gear a little bit to Donald Trump as
president and so we talked a little bit about economic policy etc now security
and foreign policy certainly there is a fair amount of debates about President
Trump’s Twitter feeds and and all of that
but then you see underneath that perhaps more stability then then people tend to
think in in foreign policy so but still I mean it’s a mixed picture right so on
so there is now so there was a lot of debate of course about the uncertainty
created with regards to article 5 in NATO an apparent withdrawal from key
international organizations now with the Terrorism on steel and aluminum but then
again maybe maybe some some progress can be made on North Korea it remains to be
seen but what what’s your reading of the changes relative to actual stability on
Trump’s foreign policy so I think when it comes to foreign policy you need to
actually there’s a nice neat divide between the security sphere and sort of
everything else on the security sphere I tend to agree with you which is say that
while Donald Trump Donald Trump has not helped matters by let’s say in his first
big speech to NATO not reaffirming article 5 he did eventually reaffirm
article 5 and you know I had the good fortune of attending the Munich Security
Conference a couple of weeks ago and was striking to me about the conference was
the degree to which the American participants there were two things that
were interesting to me the first is the American participation was a little more
marginal than it apparently normally was so the secretary defense did not give a
speech which is unusual but that said when they did speak you know HR McMaster
spoke I saw kurt volker on the you know on a side panel who’s the the US special
envoy for Ukraine there were you know members of Congress really you could
have taken five percent of what they said and deleted it and it would have
looked like the exact same thing that the Obama administration would have said
in 2016 which is to say that I think on security issues there hasn’t been nearly
as much of a it actually has been largely status quo if you ignore the
rhetoric which is kind of a big if I mean that’s that’s not nothing
on the economic side of you know foreign economic policy or attitudes towards
multilateralism or what-have-you no I actually do really think this is a
big change and part of it is that and we’ve even seen this in the last couple
of weeks which is say that you know last year there was this you know argument
that there was an access of adults in the Trump administration that while
Trump himself might be sort of a an unguided missile when it comes to policy
that there were grown-ups in the room whether it was Jim mattis who was
Secretary of Defense or Rex Tillerson who’s the Secretary of State or John
Kelly who became the chief of staff or Gary cone or what have you and that they
would prevent Trump from acting out on his worst impulses I have some bad news
for you all that’s gone I don’t know really how powerful it ever was but the
scary the thing that should scare you is that Donald Trump now actually he thinks
that he’s got the hang of this job he’s been at it for a year and so he really
in his own mind he thinks that he can that he actually knows better than then
than his advisers and to be fair I’m not gonna defend Rex Tillerson as a
Secretary of State I really do think he was the worst Secretary of State in 150
years at least he was not a good Secretary of State I do I was somewhat
more sympathetic to his impulse to his foreign policy impulses than I were than
I was to Trump but Trump wasn’t wrong and necessarily wanting to fire him I
think the way Trump thinks about this is twofold first he has he does
fundamentally reject the sort of liberal internationalism that animated post-war
president since Harry Truman which is Donald Trump legitimately thinks that
the liberal international order is screwed over the United States if the
United States has gotten a raw deal from this and that elites on button and both
sides have have embraced it and that that needs to be changed and the other
thing that he thinks is that he’s been told repeatedly as president you can’t
do this impose steel tariffs or you can’t do
that you know announce a summit with Kim jong-un because that will lead to really
bad outcomes and the bad outcomes haven’t happened yet I don’t need to say
that the steel tariffs are a great idea they’re not they’re a horrible idea
they’re gonna cost more jobs than then then they’re going to create but
some ways part of what forced Trump to hold off on this was that you had people
like Gary Cohen and Steven Oken telling him that if he imposed steel tariffs the
stock market would freak out and that would wipe out you know which he’s
obsessed with and sure enough you know when he announced the steel tariffs when
Gary cone stepped down the stock market fell for a little bit but it’s now fully
recovered you know all of its losses and did someone like Trump the message he
gets from that is no I can actually do all this and there won’t be any serious
ramifications so I think on security he will still he still defers to Jim to
Secretary of Defense mattis he still defers to generals to some extent on the
security sphere you saw that with the Afghanistan policy as well that is still
an area where I don’t think he has any confidence but on other stuff on the
foreign economic policy no I think he thinks he knows best and so I think
you’re going to continue to see you know the next month there’s going to be more
tariffs placed on China we’ll see how the NAFTA debate plays out
every time Trump does something and there isn’t an immediate and negative
response he feels emboldened to do more stuff and so I think that’s the way you
need to think about it on that front I mean this brings up another issue which
is if you think about u.s. hegemonic position would last decades it has I
think it could be argued rested on the premise that the u.s. bears a large
share of the costs of certain you know goods and that what you see with Trump
is this focus on so the privilege of economics and the idea of costs and the
u.s. being you know getting a bad deal is now also affecting security
cooperation so that that is what was underneath the NATO uncertainty etc
right so it’s all about focusing on what does this cost the US and not seeing the
broader picture which is well if you want that
session you have to bear the cost that is the basis on which your leading
position risk so that brings up the issue right of how that can undermine
the position over time but also how this this is now happening at the same time
as you see a new type of tactics from or strategy from Russia and also of course
from China beefing up its investments within international organizations and
also building alternatives to it yeah so a few things on this the first is is
that in some ways what Donald Trump is doing Tom shrub really is like a you
know we talked in in public opinion about the idea of rational ignorance of
voters which is not meant as an epithet it means that voters at least in the
United States are very uninformed about questions about foreign affairs and it
is also incredibly rational for them to be uninformed because for most Americans
most foreign policy does not affect them at all these are busy people they they
have jobs they have mortgages they’ve got season to have occupied to catch up
on so you know they’re not going to pay attention to to these other you know
these more arcane questions about foreign policy which means that they’re
incredibly uninformed about this if you poll Americans in this is always the
standard way of representing this and you ask Americans what percentage of the
federal government’s budget do you think is devoted to foreign aid the median
answer you will get from Americans is about 20% of Americans budget when in
fact it is 0.5% so it’s one of these things where you know inevitably in
presidential campaigns president you know candidates will talk about well the
way we’re going to balance the budget is by cutting foreign aid which is an
absurd way of thinking about it except if enough Americans believe that that we
spend a lot on foreign aid they’ll buy this – they’ll believe this to be true
in some ways Donald Trump has exploited that and also might actually believe it
himself but he seems to think that somehow you know if we if you rebalance
NATO contributions and or that that countries start paying more for us for
the right to base US soldiers which is a truly odd concept that somehow that will
improve America finances and even a quick glance at the
numbers shows that that that’s not going to be the case but the other thing and I
agree with you on this is that what what Donald Trump doesn’t realize is that a
lot of what is sustained what we would consider American leadership or American
hegemony is the note it is two things the first is is that America has borne a
disproportionate share of the burden in terms of military spending to some
extent and to be fair that also served American interests one of the best
benefits of us hegemony for a long time was not just at the United States you
know had a large military but because of our line system it meant that countries
like Japan or Germany did not have large militaries and that was generally
thought to be a good thing from the perspective of the United States and
also a good thing for because it meant that South Korea was less worried about
Japan or France was less worried about Germany or what-have-you
Trump doesn’t realize that at all the second thing and again this is gonna
sound corny but but one of the reasons that I think US leadership worked was
not just because the liberal international order served US interests
it was that also the us could’ve Vince a higher set of ideals that the liberal
international order was supposed to appeal to that there was a higher social
purpose that it wasn’t just good for American interests it was good for
American values the values being promotion of democracy promotion of free
markets promotion of human rights and so forth and Donald Trump doesn’t believe
in any of that he has if there is one thing that’s and this is where the
rhetoric does matter if there’s been one thing that this administration has been
catastrophic ly bad at its articulating that kind of higher set of principles
and so if the United States who just winds up looking like a different kind
of China you know which is to say not you know we’re in it furred for the buck
well then that’s going to cause allies to start you know looking around and or
casting about for alternatives or at least not you know looking at the
relationship if Donald Trump looks at foreign relations as a transactional
arrangement then allies are going to start looking back in the same kind of
transactional way and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for u.s. foreign
policy the larger issue here I guess is is
whether the liberal international order will will be maintained re-established
can we put the genie back in the bottle or is what we will see in the coming
decade or so be something significantly different from what we have been used to
living with in terms of multilateralism a rules-based order and all these higher
ideals to which many countries were striving I think there there’s sort of
two known unknowns out there that will that will answer that well I guess maybe
three known unknowns it’ll answer that question the first is what does China
think about the current order and we fear it’s but it’s very ambivalent you
know I don’t think it’s you know the the current rage now is talk about China is
developing those alternative institutions and through things like the
belt and road initiative or buying Greece’s largest port or what-have-you
it’s it’s you know exercising this malevolent influence I’m not gonna you
know obviously you know if you look at China’s internal politics they’re clear
they’re clearly going from semi-authoritarian to really really
authoritarian but to be fair China you know and I argue this in my book this
isn’t work China did play a was a responsible stakeholder in the wake of
the 2008 financial crisis China at least on the economic side does buy into these
kinds of you know principles of the benefits of globalization I mean it’s
globalization with Chinese characteristics but there is a fair
amount of overlap between that and what the West is generally promulgated the
question is whether China feels emboldened to rewrite the rules of the
game even more in favor of China and I to be fair I’m not I think that’s still
unclear you might think with time they’ll they’ll grow more confident but
I think that masks the degree to which China’s internal economy is going to be
facing some significant challenges in the next couple of years and the
question is how does it navigate those challenges the second no no no none
known is what happens in American politics so you know we’ve been talking
about all these sort trends about erosion of trust and so on
and so forth and Trump is president and will be probably until 2020 what this
masks is the degree to which Trump himself has wound up generating vigorous
antibodies to trump and I think this might I don’t know how much outside the
United States this is quite appreciated which is you know in all likelihood
Democrats are gonna do extremely well in the midterm elections that are coming in
in the fall you’ve already seen them you know a Democrat won a Senate seat in
Alabama you know for non-americans this doesn’t
happen anymore that’s not a normal thing there was just a special election in
Pennsylvania where a Democrat want to cede the Trump won by 20 percentage
points 15 months ago this all suggests that while Republicans at this point
control all three branches of government it is not clear if that will be the case
going forward so it’s possible the Democrats might take back the house in
2018 I would put better than 50/50 chances of that at this point which does
not say it’s a slam dunk but in Miami and then the real big question is is
Donald Trump a one-term president or not so first if the Democrats want of
controlling at least one branch of Congress suddenly Trump will face far
greater constraints in terms of implementing some things that he that he
might have thought he was going to be able to do before and he’s also going to
be facing the subpoena power of Congress in a way that he wouldn’t have he hasn’t
had to deal with he has had to deal with but not nearly as much as he would have
if Democrats are in control and then it’s whether Donald Trump gets reelected
you know Donald Trump getting elected once as a fluke him getting elected
twice as another question altogether and you know the problem is is that
Americans have been in the habit of electing reelecting the incumbent for
the last three go-around so it is entirely possible the Trump could win in
2020 particularly if by the way you have a Democratic Congress the ones are
backing in an taken antagonistic way but what is striking to me I guess is the
degree to which you have a u.s. by any sort of conventional metric in terms of
the US economy the US economy is doing pretty well right now you know we have
pretty low unemployment we’ve got pretty decent and uninterrupted economic growth
for the last almost ten years now inflation doesn’t
look to be that big of a problem you know the economy seems to have be
occupying the sweet spot right now and yet Donald Trump has an approval rating
of only 40 percent that shouldn’t be happening he should be at 60% with that
kind of economy and so it suggests that Trump himself is genuinely toxic enough
so that you might see this sort of political blowback to him and if you
have Democrats elected they’re you know part of what’s going on is they do
embrace the liberal international order a little more than and then the Trump
does and indeed what’s weird is that if you take a look at polling attitudes in
asking Americans about attitudes like free trade or immigration or alliances
Americans have suddenly become Donald Trump has made liberal internationalism
great again which is to say that that he’s made Americans more enthusiastic
about these ideas than they were three or four years ago and it might be that
weirdly what Trump is doing is showing what happens when the counterfactual
actually gets implemented you know it’s easy to criticize the liberal
international order you know by saying well they’re these problems and there
are these problems I don’t mean to say it’s a it’s a perfect system but what
Trump is done is demonstrated okay this is what happens if you deviate from that
and it looks bad America soft power has been eviscerated you know there’s a
whole host of other Pro sort of ugly aspects and so it’s possible that
Americans realized oh this was not we prefer the way things used to be
actually crap so we’ll see how that goes a couple of more questions and then
we’ll open up for questions and comments from the audience now I want to return
to this issue of trust again you made a very good point I think which is that
people have good reason not necessarily to trust their government and in
particular institutions and so on now that brings up the question of of what
groups the liberal international order has served the most right
and the other question of of the zone for cooperation and the prospect of more
international cooperation as things look today so in the US but also in many
European countries the zone for international cooperation seems to be
shrinking in the sense that state leaders hands are much more tight there
isn’t all that great appetite for more ambitious international cooperation so
states don’t make treaties that much anymore for example nothing is happening
on the WTO there is deadlock in in the Security Council at Iran etc etc now the
flip side of that if you like is that there are a lot of important challenges
in many countries that are not necessarily solved by more international
cooperation so many of us that study international politics and in the
context of globalization tend to think well the solution to this is more
international cooperation right but if you take issues like well welfare
distribution issues etc that is something best addressed at the national
level so there seems to be an interesting paradox if you like that the
the idea of more international cooperation seems to be now at some
inflection point so what what’s your thought on that so I would say a few
things on this the first is if you’re asking who you know cui bono who
benefits from from the liberal international order the the glib answer
is workers in the developing world and owners of capital in the developed world
you know I mean this is sort of a classic stopple Shane Samuelson theorem
which says and and I would stress that’s not nothing you know you’ve had the
greatest degree of poverty reduction in the world over the last twenty to thirty
years and that’s nothing to scoff at but to be fair voters in Europe in the
United States also might respond with yes but how does that benefit us and I
think that’s the the valid question to ask because the beneficiaries in
you know in the developed world are those people who already you know we’re
at the top of the income spectrum those who could exploit the sort of global
opportunities and so that has led to the kind of widening inequalities that we’ve
seen and so that’s where I do think part of the problem is is that even if the
cause of some of these issues is international as you say one of the one
of the problems is that traditionally the solution has been domestic and so
there’s a genuine question of to what extent do you need to bolster social
safety nets to do this except even here in some ways even answering it that way
gives the impression that the solution is economic and I think the problem is
is that we are now in a period where the political problems are not just about
the economy in fact the economy isn’t even the main culprit it’s a background
condition and I think that’s part of it this is about identity and that’s much
more problematic you know it’s about identity in the form of the refugee
crisis in the European Union and in the United States is in the form of a wave
of immigration that went happened from 1986 to about 2006 and so you know if
you if you take a look at things like the brexit referendum or the 2016
election in the United States you know most polling and sort of
political science analysis that looks at this and says well were there political
science you know economic factors or cultural factors that explain why people
vote it’s all culture I mean economics play some supporting
role in this and I don’t mean to belittle it but it is primarily the
people who voted for Trump are people who feel like the United States is not
the way that was when they were growing up and they don’t like that and indeed
what’s particularly interesting is you know hostility and immigration for
example in the United States it’s rooted almost primarily in areas that don’t
have any immigration or it or just beginning to experience it whereas if
you’re living in Florida or Texas or California it’s a it’s been a
multicultural society for you know Jennifer for generations there’s much
far less agita there on these questions so one of the interesting questions is
whether this is literally a sort of phase transition where once people get
used to this and to be blunt the people who don’t like it die
do you see this kind of shift in attitudes that winds up not generating
these kinds of things or is this going to be a continued disruption I went off
on a rant there and I can’t remember if I answer the second part of your
question that’s one just one final one I mean
what is what you what you say now combined with the argument from your
book godís industry and and the marketplace of for these would suggest
that it’s going to be difficult to get back or out of this cycle No
so yeah the here’s the the good news part of the story which is we’ve been in
this situation in the United States we’ve been in this situation before you
know the last time we had a period where there was this degree of distrust
institutions this high degree of political polarization and this amount
of economic inequality was the end of the 19th century and the good news is is
that there was then a progressive era and you know you wound up the cycle
turned you know and eventually you wind up with a situation where elites played
a larger role that’s the good side of the story the bad side of the story is
that while the progressive era played a role in that so did two world wars in a
Great Depression that you had really serious shocks to the system that caused
people to realize oh okay we’ve we’ve got to change the way we do things and
what does terrify me is the notion that we need to have that kind of that degree
of shock for the situation to change and I honestly don’t you know that’s a very
gloomy way of ending but it’s nonetheless the reality I think on that
note no let’s let’s get some questions and comments from the audience and I’ll
ask you please to identify yourselves and and be brief so that we can have
many questions starting in the front here thank you
you Livingston I’m a senior research fellow here I had one two quick
questions first one you said that the there’s a lack of trust to all
leadership apart from the military and the generals could you explain
there’s trust in them then secondly I’m interested in the relation to the
liberal international order and the return of people who believe in that and
I would like you to elaborate a bit because there are different versions of
how to support this liberal international order and I’m I’m a Russia
Studies person and I would say that you know the diversion of spreading the
liberal international order through military intervention is in a way a new
a new version of it which has been escalating in the past 15 years and it
creates a lot of problems for Russia for example the liberal international order
wasn’t so problematic before this trend started so is there another camp who
would promote liberal liberal international order through more
peaceful means is there any thinking on that in this alternative camp thank you
so to answer your first question on the military part of it I think is that
there were a few reasons for this the first is just the first is simply we’ve
been at war now for 15 years and there are ways in which you know there’s just
a general respect for the troops that I think there there wasn’t necessarily in
the post in some ways that was the reaction of the post-vietnam period and
the fact that the military then responded to that by essentially you
know by ending the draft and becoming an all-volunteer military it changed the
relationship between I think American society and the military it was no
longer seen as you might get conscripted to serve but rather that you had
volunteered and therefore that was a form of service and related to that I
think part of the reason the military still has high levels of trust despite
the fact that there have actually been a fair number of scandals within the
military as well is that the military represents ideals that both liberals and
conservatives can like so in terms of conservatives conservatives like the
military for all the standard reasons you would expect conservatives to like
the military it represents you know belief in in you know patriotism and
national service in a hierarchical you know command structure
all of these kinds of things but the military in the United States has also
been in some ways a trailblazer for a variety of social you know for forms of
social change that means that liberals like it too so I mean when when the
military desegregated that was that was a head of rather than behind the civil
rights movement in the United States the treatment of gay marriage and and gays
serving in the military it was remarkable how seamless that was in some
ways you know in the late 2000s an early part of this decade and so in some ways
the the the military represents an aspect of society that which is
disturbing in some ways but but in some ways the military represents a way in
which society functions that I think a lot of Americans would wish that the
rest of the country operate alone now the problem of course is that that then
leads to some disturbing implications which is do you really want the rest of
the country to function like the military but that said there are Admiral
you know they’re all they’re extremely Admiral ways in which the military is
handled a variety of sort of social changes in the country which you can
argue the rest of the country has had more difficulty dealing with on the
liberal international order so it’s funny when I think liberal international
order I don’t necessarily think about the security side of things as much
partly is because I’m I do globe you know I’m my original training is in
global political economy so when I think liberal international order I think the
economic rules of the game or the environmental rules of the game or you
know to some extent this sort of ideals about human rights and democracy that
that are being promoted but you’re right eventually there’s a security fear of it
do I think that the liberal international order can be divorced from
that completely no but is it possible to talk about defending the liberal
international order in a way that focuses primarily on non-military means
as opposed to military means yeah I think absolutely and in some ways this
goes back to the thing I’d forgotten to talk to you about when we talk about the
liberal in our international order and the sort of institutions that make it up
I think there’s a danger in confusing stock with flow by which I mean that the
stock of international institutions that we have now is far thicker than it was
even years ago and certainly 40 years ago or
during the Cold War the problem is is that the flow is stopped what what you
haven’t seen is the creation of really sort of vigorous new multilateral
institutions instead they’re much more informal things like the g20 or the p5
plus one or so on and so forth and it’s interesting to ask whether that’s a
whether that’s a problem or or a solution and I think the jury is still
out on that it might be that it’s it’s concerning because we don’t have the
sort of hard treaty organizations that you know that the demonstrated degree of
durability that presumably a contact group like the p5 plus one doesn’t on
the other hand the reason you’re seeing a shift to those groups is because
they’re less rigid they’re a little more flexible I think you ideally in terms of
global governance want a mix of those kinds of you know hard law institutions
but you also want the kind of soft law ones and in some ways much as in the
United States what we’re concerned about is not the erosion of the rule of law
but rather the erosion of norms that we previously didn’t realize we had taken
for granted that now are suddenly becoming much more important because we
have administration that doesn’t necessarily adhere to them I think
that’s also true at the international level that the problem is in you know
just the WTO is collapsing or anything like that it’s that some of the norms
are more informal regimes that we took for granted no longer seem to be
operable and so in some ways is the question is how do we cope with that hey
um Hilda rested Bjerknes University College thank you for being here
professor Dresner this is really fun and depressing at the same time I’m glad you
you addressed identity at the end because I think what political science
is finding about the what what Trump was the symptom of was much more identity
than economics and I have two questions one is about you mentioned the effect of
immigration in the US which is related to the demographic change in the US
right so in many ways can you reduce what Trump is a symptom
of to the reaction to the fact that in 2045 the US will be a minority majority
society where white people will no longer be the menu are talking about
identity what you’re talking about is also status and this feeling that white
males once they are no longer the master race let’s say of the u.s. these I don’t
like using these words that I understand what you’re trying to yeah no it’s Trump
brings out the worst in all of I’m sure that makes me a little uncomfortable
it makes everyone uncomfortable yeah and the second question is about the
partisan makeup of distrust because you guys are talking about the gen the
general levels of distrust in American society but I would argue that one party
has been more active and telling its voters to not trust elites even as
President Ronald Reagan you know said that the the problem is the government
it’s not the solution and the scariest words and English languages I’m the
government I’m here to help you and since then it’s sort of been downhill in
terms of the Republican Party telling its voters not to trust elites or the
government so I’m also wondering about the the partisan makeup may I suggest
that we group them a little bit so that we have time for for everybody there and
then I’ll just make this yeah my name is Jim Frasure I have a just a short
question when you show the chart you showed with the ups and downs of trusts
in government or in elites it seemed to me that they tend to be on the low when
it’s Democrats in power in the White House is this a correct observation or
what is the reason behind it if so it or is it just coincidence
okay I’ll answer that question first no I don’t think that’s correct which is to
say if you take a look at the chart you actually saw rising levels of trust
when Clinton was president when Obama was president you saw low levels of
trust but to be fair I don’t think that that it’s something to do with Obama and
a hell of a lot to do with the 2008 financial crisis
so I don’t think it’s linked to that’s not linked to party what you generally
see happen is that when what it might be is that when a Democrat takes you know
the power of the presidency it’s remarkable how suddenly Democrats have
much greater faith in the government and Republicans heav’nly have much greater
distrust of the government or and then their occasional moments where you know
like for example there was a lot of talk about how in 2017 Americans had never
felt better about the economy well that was truly a partisan effect
because basically Democrats had been pretty had been feeling pretty good
about the economy for a while because it had been doing reasonably well into the
Obama period and so there was no reason for them to change their minds what
happened was that Republicans had been down on the economy for a long period of
time and then once Trump got elected they suddenly felt much better so that’s
that’s that’s a artifact of partisanship but I don’t think it’s it’s it’s not the
case that when Democrats are in power trust in government has gone down period
I don’t it’s there’s something more complicated going on there okay with
respect to Hilda’s questions so the first on on the sort of my joy you know
what happens when America no longer becomes a majority white country first
of all this is gonna sound weird I’m going to question your premise I know
the demographic trends but the demographic trends are driven extremely
heavily by Hispanics and this is going to be a fascinating question of the
identity of Hispanics of second generation and third generation
Hispanics which is I can easily conceive of a scenario where third-generation
Hispanics don’t think of themselves as Hispanic they think of themselves as
white and indeed the very category of white belies the fact that if we were
talking about this a hundred years ago we’d be talking about all the dirty
Irish and Jews and and you know Eastern Europeans that are coming into the
United States and you know ruining the the master race in that level which I’m
not be able to be clear don’t endorse any of that but I’m but I’m saying you
would have had that kind of debate happen then so in some ways the
categories are almost defined in some ways by the other and the question is to
be blunt do you still see darker skinned Americans as the other in twenty four
five and I I want to say no but I’m this is one area where I’ve grown more and
more depressed over time one of the one of the best books that I’ve read over
the last couple of weeks has been how democracies die by livets ginza blood I
don’t know if that’s gotten here yet but one of the the one of the things I will
give them credit for is they point out very plainly that part of the reason
there were higher levels of trust in the country in previous areas was that they
didn’t pull black people and because African Americans did not have any
political voice and so in the 1950s you could talk about there being a sort of
you know much more constrained degree of political difference because you know
you were only talking about white people and so as you start widening that that
aperture it’s not surprising that you have you know much higher degrees of
distrust and there was a second part of your Co the the whether the GOP is
particularly responsible for this I mean obviously the GOP has campaigned more
heavily on distrust of government but to be fair there have been periods where
Demick Democrats start distrust in government to george w bush being behind
the 9/11 attacks or for that matter the trump administration or Donald Trump
being a puppet of Russian you know plutocrats one of the things I can’t
stand about this administration is the degree to which it forces a
conspiratorial mindset I can’t stand conspiracy theories period but I’ve
talked to a lot of experts who you know normally study the Middle East the sort
of Gulf shakedowns and what they keep telling me now is that what bothers them
is that they have to apply that kind of mindset to explain what’s going on in
the United States right now so that’s not good so over here yep my name is
Phaedra thank you so much I have one just remark and then to choose more
question the first is I think that what you described as a trust crisis in the
u.s. it’s not only a u.s. crisis a lot of the things that you say is also
related to what’s going on in Europe so so that’s and I think that the
stressing on important policy failures but also an identity politics I think is
really important now two questions very simple one first one how to restore
trust and how to restore trust in foreign policy in economic policy how to
overcome political polarization and how to address the identity challenge it’s
not the easy one but they do be interesting so if it is worth preserving
how to restore it and that’s the and then the second comment relates to
distrust in their leads and Trust in knowledge because currently there’s a
big discussion in the US about misinformation and fake news and
basically a lot of that discussion is based on the premise that somebody else
is somehow misinforming otherwise we will be in we’d be be in harmony and we
might make enlightened decisions so and and then there’s this academic
literature on motivated beliefs basically saying that people tend to
believe what they believe and they ignore the rest so how do you view this
misinformation and this discussion into this highly polarized political space
that you described and how does it fit in somehow
thank you so these are very easy questions that I can answer and just
probably oh yeah sure well first I’m gonna agree with you and say the
polarization is on this side of the pond as well we have a tweet that almost took
down a duly elected government here in the last few days
that’s and another quick calm the way I’m sorry this is where I’m uninformed
did the Justice Minister get in trouble by something she tweeted it was a
Facebook post okay all right good so it’s pretty extreme here and another
quick comment on the the military I said and beam former military in the US and
and maybe globally it’s thought of – it’s probably one institution in the US
that is still probably without you know here and they’re highly regarded and
trusted I mean once the political people send them somewhere I think the military
itself is very trusted to do a job and do it you know a
political and that sort of thing I would say the shock to the system as
far as the election was the reason for Trump being there and through a lot of
things that you said and because institutions and a lot of things
structurally in the country have just deteriorated to a lot of people’s
perceptions and you know we’ll see you over the next couple of years how Trump
does and straightening that out but as some what the occur to comment and I
want you to comment on this comment the other day were a politician who was
saying a lot of very interesting things he said one issue of misunderstanding a
lot of people are having with with Trump and the way he’s doing things is they
said Trump is not a diplomat not a politician he deals with things on a
business man kind of level and he’s using his policy tweets and his rhetoric
to start debates on things and to push the bar on these debates to try to
accomplish you know his his agenda and this is just a sort of way of doing
things disruptive or not the question is if
these things are achieving results do you think that’s still going to be a bad
or a good thing or still he will just be perceived as disruptive in the long term
even if this policy gets enacted okay I’ll answer them in reverse order so
Trump is a so first on Trump Trump is a businessman but let’s be clear he’s a
particular kind of businessman Trump is a real-estate guy so not even
businessmen normally do business the way Trump does it and so in that sense I
want to stress that to argue this is certainly a Trump person would make that
case but I think he’s a particularly unique kind of businessman someone who
thinks that the way that you get ahead in bargaining is to take an extreme
position with the idea that you know if it forces others to make you know to
accommodate you then if you only get like half of what you originally asked
for then the incentive is to always ask for the most extreme in that way you get
what you want how to put this that’s a bargaining 101 sort of approach to the
world and the problem is is the world politics is more like bargaining a 301
and bargaining 301 says if you start with an extreme negotiating position you
are equally likely to piss off so many of your bargaining partners that they
will conclude that you’re not serious you’re not actually bargaining in good
faith and therefore there is no point in having serious negotiations and so I
think to some extent Trump has done this whether it’s a question of the tariffs
or whether it’s a question of renegotiating NAFTA or what have you now
you’re asking if he gets significant concessions will that cause a rethink I
think the answer would be yes if he does gets any of the concessions I think it
would cause a lot of people to think oh well maybe he actually knows something
maybe he really you know as an instinctive bargain or is getting what
he wants to put it generously he hasn’t gotten anything yet
I haven’t seen any evidence that that you know he’s gotten any of these kind
of fabulous deals you know you see the the Saudi Arabia you know trip I mean he
got a great orb out of that don’t get me wrong and and we all got great pictures
of that orb but for all the announcement of like all these these actual deals
that were made if you actually look under the hood there was no actual new
money committed by Saudi Arabia in any of these kinds of arrangements
similarly you know he apparently had this great summit at mar-a-lago with Xi
Jinping I haven’t seen any concessions whatsoever from the Chinese after that
summit I don’t think the Europeans are gonna make any concessions when it comes
to steel I don’t think either Canada or Mexico are gonna make any concessions
when it comes to NAFTA so I’m not convinced that we’re gonna get you know
the question becomes what is the deliverable and I don’t think he’s
delivered anything on that point on the so on the on the question of elites and
Trust and how to restore that but with the 30 second answer so the quick answer
is oh sorry wait I did want to say one last thing on this point I’m sorry on
the first point which is on on Trump winning as sort of representing a rebuke
of elites in some ways this gets to your point I do think there is a danger of
over interpreting Trump’s victory as sort of this general rebuke of all
elites for a few reasons first again I hate to you know beat a dead horse on
this Trump got three million fewer voters than then Hillary Clinton did so the
idea that this was some popular groundswell in favor of Donald Trump is
crap it’s just wrong the second thing is that and again I can’t stress this
enough there has been one time since 1945 that a political party has won the
presidency three times in a row and that was you know Ronald Reagan and George HW
Bush you know at the end of the 1990s Bill Clinton oversaw what would look
like a really robust and great economy and Al Gore loses that election in 2000
it is not shocking that a Republican won in 2016
what’s shocking is that Donald Trump became the Republican nominee and you
can argue that Donald Trump became the Republican nominee in part because of
this sort of populism but also because he was running against fourteen other
Republicans and with a diverse field if you got you know a loyal 130 we’re gonna
vote for you no matter what you could run the table so you know in that sense
I think there’s a tendency to over interpret what Trump’s victory meant
that said how do we restore trust one way is weirdly Trump being president as
I said we now get to see what the counterfactual looks like very often you
know elites have have often said if we go down this wrong policy choice bad
things will happen and so you know but the problem is if you avert the
counterfactual you don’t know if that’s actually true
well we now have a genuine populist you know nationalist in the White House so
to some extent the degree to which we’ll actually see what we get in terms of the
economy and in terms of foreign policy will be a way in which you can realize
okay maybe we don’t trust the old elites but we know we don’t like this so maybe
we’ll have to go back to that but that said how do you you know build trust in
elites and knowledge that qualifies that I’m gonna give it a slightly glib answer
that qualifies under what I call a yacht question which is to say if I had the
answer to that question I wouldn’t be talking to you I’d be on my yacht
somewhere because I would have made billions of dollars from it that that
said I do think there are two things that can you know potentially contribute
steps forward the first is transparency which is not something we normally talk
about but it trans in the sense of the acknowledgement by
elites that mistakes have been made that one of the things that you occasionally
need to do is to traffic some candor in terms of saying we screwed up in the
past and therefore you know and and furthermore we have been somewhat
humbled by those mistakes one of the one of the concerns that legitimate concerns
that I do have about Trump is that Trump hasn’t just made liberal
internationalism great again he’s also made elites like me arrogant again
because you look at his administration you can think yeah I can do better than
that you know despite all of the the various you know policy music use that
have happened in the past so I I do think that while let’s say Democrats are
out in the wilderness or while even sort of it’s mainstream Republicans are out
in the wilderness some some introspection would be a good thing and
some acknowledgement going forward the second thing we clearly need to get a
grip on although here this is again more of a symptom than a cause is the
question of social media and what role it’s played in all this now I honestly
think that what social media has done is make visible what had always been
invisible you know the idea the conspiracy
theories you are unique to the 21st century is absurd
you know this has always existed in the past what is different is that we can
now all observe it in a way that we couldn’t before and so partly I think
elites need to get used to the fact that in some ways it’s not that the distrust
has gone up and in some ways the factors that play into that are not new they’ve
always been there we just didn’t really pay attention to it before so the idea
that we’re gonna suddenly have this massive shift back in trust I don’t
think that’s possible but really we don’t need that what we need is a
moderate shift towards more trust and that’s fine you know that actually would
would in and of itself make a large difference and as I said before there is
such a thing as healthy distrust or healthy skepticism I don’t think that
the conclusion to draw from all this is oh we were wrong we should you know
totally trust what what elites say cuz we don’t know everything and we’re
arrogant enough sometimes to think we do let’s face it if you’re in this room
you’re an elite so in the back there and then the in the back over there Daniel
my name is Luke owed me I’m over here in away for two little Norwegian Americans
and I’d like to place my question is a white anglo-saxon Protestant American
male not necessarily supreme insignificant part we America’s elected
Trump to stop the neoconservatives kick the amount of power get out of the
Mideast get out of this dangerous nuclear
confrontation with Russia Trump appointed Mike Flynn Tillerson he had
Steve O’Bannon he had that portrait of Andy by got Jackson above his desk now
you support Tillerson being kicked out of power but and you’ve supported Mike
Pompeo saying he could actually moderate Trump but Senator Rand Paul says Mike
Pompeo is pro war and so I’m concerned about that I’ve got another question
about distrust of intellectuals like Bernard re Levy who you appeared to
defend but I’ll save that for later so is Mike Pompeo going to lead us to help
lead us to World War 3 my name is Jung Revell first of all
thank you for an excellent discussion early on you brought up that a lot of
people a lot of very safe industrial jobs with a high degree of unionization
and relatively high status and wages simply disappeared that there are no
longer there and that they can’t possibly be there and a lot of those
people would have moved into retail jobs so just like but and I’m not sure to the
extent which is it is true but you keep seeing headlines about retail more or
less disappearing and dying and also becoming ottoman eyes and I would like
to hear if you have some comments on what the consequences of that are and
what potentially can be a political solution to overcoming that problem
thank you so again I’ll do the reverse order thing
so your question is a really good one yeah I mean obviously there you know
there’s there’s a new phenomenon the United States about retail deserts and
you know sort of abandoned malls and really in some ways with what this is
coping with is that for the longest time there had been you know there’s always
been a protectionist element within the United States because trade was thought
of as a policy choice you know and if you opened up to trade it would create
new winners and losers it would redistribute things and while there’s
certainly a good economics argument for the the you know that on the hold there
will be a net gain you can understand why there were there was political
resistance to that in some ways what we’re beginning to see now is this
question of what is what should be government policies towards innovation
because that’s what you’re talking about and you know this goes back to this
Schumpeter concept of creative destruction the notion of innovation is
that it always creates creative destruction it destroys you know certain
sectors as well as creating many now one of the ways in which America has I would
argue been exceptional in the past is that Americans are far more enthusiastic
about techno logical innovation I think in most other
countries even most developed countries and the general norm in the United
States has been yes even if you you know have a technological innovation that
destroys some old sectors it doesn’t matter because you create all these new
ones as a result so it’s ok if for example upstate New York is devastated
because Kodak and Polaroid go out of business because you’ve created this
whole new digital photography thing and and the consumer benefits are obvious I
think it’s going to be very interesting going forward whether things like
automation of let’s say long-haul trucking or you know which is by the way
the largest source of blue-collar jobs in the United States or as you say
retail jobs I don’t have a great answer to this I honestly don’t the the only
thing I will say is that in some ways again this gets bound up in identity
questions because it’s this notion that what made the United States great was we
were a manufacturing powerhouse then we made things and the truth is that was
never completely true but it’s really not true now because America’s you know
comparative advantage is actually in services we’re really good at that we’re
also really good at consuming but that’s a whole separate conversation and the in
some ways and this goes back in some in some ways to the the last question I
think one of the ways that you can actually change the debate in the United
States is if weirdly you start valorising services more in other words
you don’t just lionize the factory worker you lionize the nurse or the
teacher or the other sort of service professional that actually you know that
if you add dignity to those kinds of jobs and those jobs do have a fair
amount of dignity already I would say but you know if you actually add dignity
to those things that actually does change the conversation a little bit but
that’s a hard thing to do and it takes time on Mike Pompeo so let me be clear
what I was trying to say about that Rex Tillerson had as I said foreign policy
instincts that I was probably more simpatico with I didn’t think the United
States should pull out of Paris I don’t think we should pull out of the Iranian
nuclear deal I don’t think we should necessarily trigger a war in North Korea
I’m pretty sure Rex Tillerson believed in all of those things but it didn’t
matter because Rex Tillerson was the least competent Secretary of State in
history it doesn’t matter if you believe those things if no one
listening to you and again what I was genuinely impressed by was the fact that
Tillerson managed to alienate every major power center in the United States
that you would care about if you’re a secretary of state the only person who
was on his side by the end of it was the Secretary of Defense which is not a
significant thing but the president didn’t trust him the building didn’t
trust him Congress didn’t trust him and if that’s your situation it doesn’t
matter what you believe because no one’s gonna listen to you anyway
Pompeyo on the other hand is undeniably more hawkish and I am concerned to some
extent about whether or not that means the United States will pursue a more
hawkish course of action but that said Trump trusts him in a way that he
doesn’t trust Tillerson or never trusted Tillerson which means that if Trump were
to support you know propose something like let’s say I don’t know a bloody
nose strike on North Korea that someone even as hawkish as Mike Pompeo might
stop for a moment and think well I’m not sure I like where that’s gonna go and if
someone like Pompeo says I don’t think that’s the right course of action Trump
will listen to him in a way that he would not have listened to Tillerson so
live for this way I don’t know what’s going to happen if Pompeo gets confirmed
as Secretary of State for that matter I don’t know if Pompey was gonna get
confirmed to Secretary of State because among other things as you point out Rand
Paul opposes him and him plus 49 Democrats equals a real serious problem
now it might not go that way that said there are moments where a hawk if there
a responsible Hawk can actually stop even worse impulses and at this point
all I’m concerned about with the Trump administration is preventing the worst
case scenario thank you so much I don’t see any more questions so oh here’s one
all that I don’t from from New P here thanks for coming one question we
haven’t really talked that much about as international trust and the question is
really goes back to United States though to what extent do you believe the elites
in America have realized that for at least for Europeans and for many others
as well Donald Trump is not a bug he’s a feature over the last five elections
three times you elected two times you elected George Bush jr. and one time you
elected Trump and so did you to what extent have American
foreign policy elites or lay leads more generally acknowledged not to outsiders
I mean the u.s. is not just not trustworthy I mean I mean parties tend
to change and they’re if the Republican Party tends to nominate people like this
you move from a position where the United States could lead and have a sort
of well I don’t like the word soft power but you had sort of transactional costs
were low because you were trusted I mean a lot of people just by gut reaction
trusted United States if you move to a situation where everything is interest
based from the other side as well from the European side as well the costs for
America of doing foreign policy are going to be sort of rising all the time
so do people realize this or it’s just sort of you do people actually believe
that if you like someone else things are going to be just hunky-dory and fine question the million-dollar question my
name is Ben techno Union will Trump have the guts to fire Robert Miller okay so
I’ll answer the second question first which first of all saying have the guts
is the wrong way to frame it because it would be and it would be an episode of
rank stupidity if you did that I think if Trump has any degree of introspection
I don’t know if he has any he would acknowledge that his biggest mistake in
his first year of office was firing James Comey as FBI director because that
move triggered the appointment of the special counsel which is then led to
where we are now if he fires Muller you know we have pressed it partly depends
on how much longer this is going to go on when does he do it but the fact is is
that you know the Muller investigation has actually been as special prosecutors
or special counsels go it’s been a remarkably productive one he’s been it’s
worth remembering he’s been in office less than a year
he’s already what indicted five mean ERT has indicted something like 20 people
he’s gotten plea deals for a couple of them there’s gonna be a trial of Paul
manna for coming in the fall he’s made a fair amount of progress
and indeed if you take a look at polling most Americans do trust the Muller probe
more than they trust the Trump administration so if he does it’s worth
remembering that when Richard Nixon tried this during what was called the
Saturn at massacre when he ordered his Attorney General to fire Archibald Cox
at that point with a special prosecutor Cox refused he and then Nixon fired him
his deputy refused his deputy got fired as well and then finally the Solicitor
General fired Cox that was called the Saturday night massacre in the United
States and in some ways it was the beginning of the end for Nixon because
it indicated the degree to which he was willing to abuse his power I suspect it
would play out that way there was he would ask rod Rosenstein to fire Muller
my guess his Rosenstein would refuse at which point he would have to fire
Rosenstein and then find a subordinate who would do it and it would be as
problematic because it you know it’s been the one tripwire for congressional
Republicans I mean when you saw that over the weekend where you even had
people like Marco Rubio actually pretended like they have a spine or
something so you know that was so I don’t I
actually don’t think in the end he’s going to do it and the other reason by
the way is that he’s clear he’s wanted to do it for quite some time and it’s
been the one area where his own staff has said no we know that Don McGann has
refused twice to you know intercede to try to fire Muller I don’t think I think
this is one of the areas where his staff would actually refuse to follow his
orders on that back to the question on on the United States more generally so
let me let me act as this proud American and and and give a response which is on
the one hand look I’m not going to deny what you’re saying we’re like the worst
relationship Europe has ever been in right we’re like the most volatile
significant other you must have ever been involved with
sometimes we’re great sometimes we’re abused it’s it’s a real problem but that
said the same country that voted Donald Trump in george w bush president also
was the first OECD country to vote in ethnic minority to be at the president
in the form of Barack Obama so you know were we’re a mixed bag that way and
that said I think in some ways it goes back to this question of Elections
having consequences so for example American or European attitudes towards
the United States they weren’t thrilled with george w bush getting elected it
was 2004 that was really the problem it wasn’t that we elected george w bush the
first time because that was a really close election and again george w bush
lost the popular vote it was that we reelect them so I think the answer your
question is what happens in 2020 if Donald Trump gets reelected
then yeah things are gonna get really bad and the real district the the other
disturbing thing is that American attitudes about this I went to a saw a
conference on soft power where we debated this and and part of the problem
is is that the American attitudes on this is well yes we’ve been in moments
like this before in fact we were in this moment in 2008 where if you looked at
all like the sort of public opinion polling and so and so forth American
soft power had been eviscerated and what did we do we elected Barack Obama and we
all work it all recovered you know if you looked at the polling data if you
looked at any of it things looked much better and so I think the belief that a
lot of America you know even American elites have is well we can recover and
this is where I start to get a little worried because Barack Obama was a
unique case you know he was different in a variety of ways he was genuinely
charismatic he was a minority and so as a result that the election because of
who Barack Obama was and because of how he acted we wound up recovering in a way
that I’m not sure if we elect let’s say a Joe Biden or you know sort of
garden-variety Democrat you’ll have the same effect but I think the real issue
here is not the things don’t look good now the question becomes 20/20 if Donald
Trump gets reelected then that I’m actually legitimately worried about
there being a permanent divorce thank you so much than for a very interesting
discussion and your analysis of US domestic politics in u.s. foreign policy
I want to say again the just mentioned professor Shi Yinhong of Renmin
University is coming May 3rd to discuss similar issues with our colleague
Hans Jørgen Gåsemyr, and Fyodor Lukyanov who is the
of the council for foreign and defense policy. We’ll talk with Lukyanov
on June 14th about the similar thing but for now thank you so much for coming Dan
and thank you all for for coming thank you

4 thoughts on “Global disorder and distrust – Trump as a symptom

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