Category: Faculty/Experts

The Past Shapes the Future: The German Constitution at 70

Germany is celebrating three important events this year: The 100th anniversary of the Weimar Constitution, 70th anniversary of its Basic Law and 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate these occasions, the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD) in Bologna and The SAIS Observer are partnering for a series on the future of German constitutionalism. This article is the first of eight.

By Stephen F. Szabo

The Federal Republic of Germany celebrates its 70th  birthday this year. Much has changed since 1949. Today, the FRG encompasses all of Germany and not just the West, as it did at its founding. No longer the eastern border of the West, the FRG is now at the center not only between east and west but between north and south. Furthermore, it is once again Europe’s largest power both in terms of population and economics, although not so large as to be a hegemon. What remains unchanged, however, is that it still lives under the constitution of 1949. What are the implications of this constitution for contemporary Germany?

The Grundgesetz was written by Germans who did not trust their country. The founders, with the assistance of American authorities and German emigrés, created a constitution which was not even called a constitution but a Basic Law (Grundgesetz), as it was meant to be temporary until the country was reunified and an all-German constitution could be written. It was written with both the Weimar and Hitler experiences seared into German memory. Both the failure of democracy in Weimar and the mass support for Adolf Hitler meant that the framers believed that the German public could not be trusted to be democrats and had to be restrained within a democratic context. Consequently, a number of “never agains” were built into the constitution which was not a constitution.  

The Basic Law contains a ban on anti-democratic parties and speech both to prevent a return of an extreme right nationalist party like the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), as well as to prevent the Communists from taking power. The Communist Party (KPD) was banned in 1956 by the Constitutional Court and only reemerged under a different name in 1968. Strict laws on hate speech including those pertaining to social media are a current manifestation of this concern. The numerous checks and balances built into the political system including a vigorous federal system of strong state governments, a Constitutional Court, the limits on a federal police force to prevent a new Secret State Police (Gestapo) and a liberal asylum clause all stem from this aim. The restrictions on militarism and the military was another goal, and the Grundgesetz limits the autonomy of the German military and its missions by requiring it to operate in a multinational coalition and expressly for territorial defense. The Bundestag must approve any deployments of German forces and the Chancellor is not even granted the power as commander-in-chief.

In addition to the bans on extreme parties and speech, the electoral law passed after the constitution includes a 5 percent clause which limits the number of parties in the federal parliament with the hope of avoiding the ineffective multiparty system of Weimar. The office of the President, which was held by Paul von Hindenburg in Weimar and led to Hitler being appointed Chancellor, was downgraded to a figurehead role. The Constructive vote of No Confidence (which requires a parliamentary majority not only to remove the Chancellor but also to elect his or her replacement) was designed to maximize executive continuity and prevent revolving door governments. The limited use of referenda, which had the misuse of referenda in Weimar in mind, limits direct democracy and has spared Germany from a Brexit type quagmire.  

In addition to the legacies of Weimar and the Third Reich, the reunification of the country in 1990 has been influenced by the Constitution. When Germany was able to get the agreement of the Allied Powers to reunify under the Treaty which followed the Two Plus Four negotiations, Germany had two ways to constitutionally unify. It chose the Article 23 accession route, which simply extended the constitution to the eastern states of Germany rather than the Article 146 route, which would have called for a new all-German constitution. By doing so, the Grundgesetz remained in force. This has had a number of consequences, most notably the lack of a feeling of agency in the former East Germany (GDR) and the failure to consolidate the Länder (states). This left 16 state governments in a country the size of Tennessee and Oregon combined. The Final Treaty also banned German production and possession of atomic, biological or chemical weapons and limited the size of the Bundeswehr.

A constitutional success story with limits

There is no doubt that the Grundgesetz has been a very stable and successful constitution. It has avoided the excessive personalization of power found in presidential systems and has promoted consensus-oriented, centrist coalition governments. Its federalism has both reflected and strengthened a polycentric society which has avoided the centralization of power and wealth in the capital, thus limiting the sort of populist backlash evident in more centralized countries like the U.K. and France. The requirement of the wealthier states to make transfer payments to the poorer ones, based on a concept of solidarity, has also limited the number of economic and political losers. To live in Munich, Leipzig or Hamburg, for example, is quite different than to be in Lyon or Manchester. The concept of an armed democracy, which proactively combats extremism, has allowed Germany to better defend itself against extremist speech and groups, as well as against the abuses of privacy by American social media companies.

All successes contain the seeds of demise and Germany is no exception. The consensus-oriented centrist politics of coalition governments has limited the role of opposition, and of the Bundestag. Grand coalition governments, as is also the case in Austria, have opened the door to the extremes which argue that there is an elite consensus which prevents real change. Despite the five percent clause, the voting system set up by the electoral law is essentially one proportional representation which has ensured a multiparty system. As a result, Germany now has a six-party system which includes a far-right extremist party as the largest opposition faction in the Bundestag. The fact that much of the former GDR, despite receiving close to $1.5 trillion in funding since unification, has been left behind, has opened the door for the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and other extremist groups.

The anti-militarism of the past has not only produced a culture of strategic restraint but a Swiss style parochial mentality which avoids taking responsibility and providing larger public goods. Rather than restraint, there is a tendency for free riding in post-unification Germany. The need for parliamentary approval of all military action and the limits on the Chancellor in this field have hindered Germany’s role as an alliance partner and provider of security beyond its borders. The fear of a Gestapo and the decentralization of the security services have hindered Germany’s ability to counter terrorism and extremist groups at home.

These are, however, largely problems of political leadership rather than of a constitution, which in comparison to others in the West, still looks to be a model.

Dr. Stephen F. Szabo is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and Adjunct Lecturer in European Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS.

“The Only Solution for Europe is Enhanced Cooperation”: A Conversation with President Romano Prodi


It was about 6:30 pm in Bologna, with the sun finally showing signs of setting. Another long Tuesday had taken its toll on a group of tired Bolognesi.

Nonetheless, they packed the auditorium for a rare conversation presented by  the Bologna Institute of Policy Research last week.

The conversation began with a simple question from a student in the audience:  “Do you think this is the end of the Euro?” President Romano Prodi, the former Italian Prime-Minister and President of the European Commission, gave an unequivocal answer.


After an illustrious career, Prodi has settled in Bologna, though he continues to serve as the U.N. Special Envoy for the Sahel and teaches economics at the University of Bologna where people affectionately refer to him as “Il Professore.”

On the evening of April 4, BIPR invited Mr. Prodi to engage with SAIS students in a conversation related to the future of the Eurozone. He sounded a hopeful, if overly optimistic stance on the present state of European affairs. Largely, he drew on his experience with migration from Sahel as a microcosm through which to consider the rise in populism both in Europe and across the globe. The SAIS Observer sat down with President Romano Prodi shortly before his conversation to discuss these issues in more detail.

The SAIS Observer: What is the state of the European Union, seeing as we have had the triggering of the Article 50 in the U.K. and the continuous discussion over political populism?

President Romano Prodi: The European Union in the last years has been losing strength and speed. The steps taken by the union have always been difficult. However, the differentiation of the member states had been increasing until the first breakup that was Brexit. And such a development is important because half of the world was looking through Europe with “British glasses”.

Britain has always been trying to get increasing differentiation from the EU. I am very sad for the Brexit. It was unexpected but not a surprise, if perhaps we can put it this way. Then we had Trump; for the first time, an American president puts himself openly against Europe.

Nonetheless, in my opinion it is the start of the European recovery, in the sense that Angela Merkel, who is the leader of Europe in this moment, agreed on the proposal of different speeds in Europe: multiple speeds and enhanced cooperation. “We cannot be altogether, because it is a moment that international policy mix-ups are different, but we go on forward with the countries that want to be together.” And, this is important.

TSO: During your presidency, we witnessed the further integration of countries into the European Union. Has this deeper cooperation and integration been betrayed in recent months by the apparent lack of confidence in the union?

PRP: Europe right now is not at its best. At the time [of my presidency] you had the idea of integration that was important, but now you have this strange unsettlement between Russia and the US — that I hope will change — that influences the countries. To this international phenomenon, the reaction cannot be the same for all countries. The reaction of the Baltic states is not going to be the same as the reaction of Italy. But in regards to a further disintegration process, I do not believe that Brexit will be an example for more countries to follow.

TSO: You have played a big role in incentivizing the EU in regards of the Sahel countries. Could the EU help the Sahel and the southern Mediterranean countries?

PRP: The south Mediterranean countries were regretting that my attention was only to the North and Northeast and this was my biggest nightmare. My answer was honest and in good faith: ‘look, this is a historical necessity, the empty space from the fall of the Soviet Union obliges us to act immediately’.

Most of my personal proposals in favor of a systemic policy to the South were met with the denial of Northwestern European countries, claiming that initiatives towards the South would have been money wasted. I am convinced that we have an obligation to both the Sahel countries but also with the countries struggling with immigration at the moment.

Considering Sahel in particular, we need to have a systemic plan for development and cooperation, because the reasons for immigration are irresistible. In addition to that, the biggest countries in Europe, population-wise, are facing significant problems with their birth rates. The rate is close to 1.39 births per person in Europe, while in Sahel it is much higher. The people in the Sahel countries are facing vast problems, so they are trying to find a way out.

An additional problem is the Libyan war, which makes migration unpredictable and less manageable. Even if the war were to stop tomorrow, the problem would still exist. Europe is afraid of the domestic political aspect of migration, and it is seen only in a national perspective.

TSO: Can the Europe hope for further cooperation to combat the challenges?

PRP: If you ask me whether all the European countries are willing to do that then I would answer no. But I believe a partial agreement among countries and a partial plan on immigration can be placed forward.

TSO: Can the European Union look to China in order to further relations that would help its economic situation?

PRP: It all depends on the American policy. If Trump implements the policies he claims, then the EU is obliged to look to different outlets for economic cooperation, such as China, India or Africa. In terms of quantity, China is the most feasible alternative. Already the trade between Europe and China is increasing more than the Atlantic one. I honestly cannot think that the American policy will follow the declaration.

But in any case, the new paths for trade will not be created by new trade agreements. The era of TPP, TTIP, NAFTA, EFTA is over. The new agreements will come through bilateral agreements. You saw how difficult the agreement between Europe and Canada was. The agreements will be on limited and targeted economic policies.

TSO: Given the G7 talks, will these talks about trade and cooperation be brought up to the discussion?

PRP: Having participated in ten G7s, I can say that nowadays the influence of the institution is withering. It is no longer, as you know, a G8 summit. The world is changing, and the G20 is more important than the G7 or G8. So no, I don’t think that the G7 will make decisions. Perhaps, it could show orientations, or a clearer American view, but I do not believe that any kind of formal decision will be taken.

TSO: Could we see, in regards to seeking alternatives as you mentioned, Europe reengaging with Russia in the near future?

PRP: There is a strange event in the last weeks: an increasing distance between Russia and Europe. It had never happened in the past that the Russian President would meet with such disruptive leaders as Le Pen or the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the leader of the Northern League. If you take the latest events together as a whole, you have a Europe that is unsettled from East to West and does not have a sense of togetherness. Again, I was absolutely shocked by the fact that the leader of the populist parties was so warmly received in the Kremlin, because in Russia these kinds of initiatives are not random in nature. They have their own political meaning. It was a signal from Russia that perhaps “we can damage you more than you can damage us with the sanctions”. It is a sign that Russia wants to go in the interior policy of Europe. Putin is a rational player in terms of foreign policy.

TSO: As a last note, are you optimistic about the future of the Euro and the European Union?

PRP: I think that there will be no other disruption, in regards to any other country wishing to leave [the union]. Optimistic is a strong word for the Euro; I‘ll simply telling you that the elections in France and Germany will help Europe. We never had, in France, a candidate with such a strong European platform, such as Macron.

In Germany, the increase in strength of the Social Democratic Party has shown that the two traditional parties in Germany, which clearly have a European agenda, are stronger than they were a few months ago. I do believe that this year will be a year of non-decision due to the elections in both countries. We could also see some enhanced cooperation in Europe, but it would be difficult to see it as a Europe of solidarity. Europe has changed, with Germany having a greater influence in the EU, while on the other hand there isn’t a supranational body that can leverage the power of the nations, like the European Commission was in the past.

The European Council dominates Europe and in the Council, of course, the stronger states have greater influence. If you take the Greek case, for example, it wasn’t a negotiation between Athens and Brussels, but a decision between Berlin and Athens, to delay the final decision due to the North Rhine-Westphalia elections.

This is not the paradigm of a traditional Europe. It was the concept of a decreasing power for us in Europe. After Great Britain decided to hold a referendum to leave the European Union, the only “umbrella” that was left open was Berlin. So, the balance between the European powers became uneven due to this change. With enhanced cooperation, perhaps we could move forward from this problematic situation. For example, in the case of defense cooperation among European states, France could play a vital role, as it is the only country with nuclear capability and a veto right.

Brexit changed the internal balance of Europe.

Utpala is a staff writer for the SAIS Observer. She is an MA student concentrating in International Law and Organizations at SAIS Bologna.

Ilias is also a staff writer for the SAIS Observer. He is an MA student concentrating in Conflict Management at SAIS Bologna. You can find him on Twitter at @IliasKalotychos.

Alumni Continue Giving Back to the HNC by Transitioning to Staff

by: Caroline Yarber

NANJING–The Hopkins-Nanjing Center provides a unique opportunity for SAIS students. Not only do students receive an immersive perspective on US-China relations, but also become a part of a tight-knit community of likeminded people. A significant portion of the current staff are former students of the Center who wish to remain a lasting part of this community. We spoke with two young alumni of the Center to find out why they chose to start their careers at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and what they have learned about the Center from the staff perspective.


Niu Xiaohu (left) and Lauren Syzmanski (right). Source: author

Lauren Szymanski and Niu Xiaohu both joined the HNC staff in 2012. Based in DC, Szymanski is the Deputy Director for the HNC Washington Office. She graduated from the HNC Certificate program in 2012 and joined the admissions side of the Center two weeks after graduation as an Admissions Coordinator. She was drawn to the position after speaking with another alumna working in recruiting. Lauren shares, “When I was graduating from the HNC I thought to myself that if I could just share my own experiences as a student with those considering the HNC for the first time, maybe it could make their application process a bit less stressful than mine!”

Niu Xiaohu is the Assistant to the Deputy Director for Academic Affairs at the Center in Nanjing. He completed the Certificate program in 2011 and graduated from Nanjing University with a Master’s in Acquired Linguistics the following year. Like Szymanski, Niu decided to join the HNC staff soon after graduating because of his strong connection with HNC community. Upon graduating, Niu realized he had no desire to work in a regulated office environment. Feeling at home at the HNC, Niu decided to continue giving back to the HNC family.


Szymanski with roommate Fan Xuejiao in 2012. Source: Lauren Syzmanski

Szymanski’s experience as a student has directly influenced her decisionmaking as a staff member. I am able to bring forward some of the challenges I personally faced as a student, and hopefully try to coordinate some ways to make those challenges less trying for new students. For example, when I was considering the HNC I remember hearing over and over about the dreaded learning curve, and even though eventually everyone overcomes it there didnt seem to be any steps I could take beforehand to try and lessen that adjustment period. However, Im happy to announce that starting this last year we have started including actual readings from HNC classes on our admitted student website so that new students can try to get a jump start on that learning curve. She aims to help “more students can really get a feel for what it’s like to study at the HNC” and uses her experiences as a student to reach this goal.

Similarly, Niu draws on his experience as a student to assist incoming students adjusting to the Center. He knows that the first two months at the Center are what he calls a “honeymoon period” in which students are excited to be in this new environment. The real trouble comes in the third month, according to Niu, when students can get tired and stressed. Niu’s advice to students currently experiencing this shift: “don’t worry; no one is perfect.” Szymanski imparts a similar reassuring message to students as we approach the end of the semester: “Just take a deep breath, and take every day one at a time!”


Niu (far left) with classmates in 2011. Source: Niu Xiaohu

Both alumni urge students to embrace their time at the Center. Niu emphasizes the importance of education as the key to one’s future. He encourages students to focus on what they are doing here and now at the Center and to not get distracted by prospective opportunities for after graduation. Szymanski also encourages students to take advantage of the resources at the Center, naming her biggest regret as not seeking out professors outside of class.

Niu and Szymanski share a passion for the exceptional environment offered at the HNC. As an international student, Szymanski emphasizes the importance of leaving the Center and embracing life in China. Niu recognizes the value to be gained within the Center, encouraging students to actively engage their Chinese or International counterparts in dialogue. “Our students come here because they want to know about the world, and [through this exchange] they can make a real difference.”

Looking ahead, Niu and Szymanski both aim to make a lasting difference at the HNC. Despite the geographical distance between Szymanski and the HNC, she stays engaged by reaching out to ever prospective student to ensure their transition to the HNC is a positive experience. Niu draws inspiration from former HNC Chinese Co-Director Huang Chengfeng. He describes the personal connection she had with each student and the lengths she went to in order to truly consider the needs of students. Due to her reputation among students as a great person and effective educator, the Huang Chengfeng scholarship fund was created in her honor. Niu admires her connection with students and aspires to live up to her example, hoping that after graduation students will remember him as someone who made a difference in their HNC experience.

Interview with Marie-Lucie Spoke, founder of the CSR Consulting Company “Community Roots China”


NANJING–Community Roots China works with underprivileged children in 12 provinces around China. Their programmes include the One Heart Gift Bag, which gives bags to primary aged children, the Bookworm programme, which provides books for schools, and the Educational Sponsorship, which pays the fees for students to attend high school or university.

Spoke Photo
Marie-Lucie Spoke speaking at the HNC. Source: author

Anna: Hello Marie-Lucie. To start, I wanted to ask you about how you became interested in the social welfare or non-profit sector? Was there an event or experience in your life that convinced you that this was what you wanted as your career?

Marie-Lucie: I started doing charity on my own. We were in Brasilia [where Spoke’s husband was a diplomat for the Canadian government] and everyone had a seamstress, because there were no stores to buy ready-made clothes. I helped my seamstress, I helped her to build a house, just settling the children, she had 8 children. And I then thought to myself, I could do that with a passion. I was doing that by myself in Brazil.

In Canada, I got into an NGO in Canada and learned all the laws – so you’re talking taxation law, the legal setup, how to run meetings. I ran an NGO.

The opportunity came up to move to China in 2003. So we said, okay, we’re moving to China. I started working as a volunteer just to learn. And naturally the country is very different from the Western world. The laws are not in place – the legal system, the banking system, the charity registration system. So I just did what I had to do with my friends as volunteers. Within 3 years, what we were doing was so big that my husband said, “You have to register.” We had no website, no database, no salaries, no employees.

A: The reason Community Roots China is set up as a consulting company is due to the Chinese government regulations on foreigner-run NGOs in China [they are not allowed]. Could you elaborate on how you decided to set it up as a CSR consultancy, and advantages and disadvantages that have stemmed from that?

M: I don’t mind the consulting company because then you ensure yourself that you have a service to deliver that the community wants to purchase. You get public funding as an NGO. But maybe this is a different country, maybe the country does not realise that they need your service, maybe they outright don’t want your service, but because you keep being funded, you’ve got the money to keep going without the check and balance that the private sector brings to you. If you have a service to sell and no one wants to buy it, there’s a message there. What are we doing wrong or what prevents us from being sustainable?

We are selling our services on a consulting basis. The companies need us, they are buying our service, because they don’t know how to reach the children who need their resources. The corporations want to do CSR, [but] they don’t have time to go digging into the countryside: where are the children, what’s the process, understanding all that. So we are their service agency.

A: What about the disadvantages?

M: The law is changing so that none of the international NGOs, as of January 1st, if the law comes into effect then as it is supposed to, none of the international NGO will be able to operate in China unless they are registered with the police and they will not be able to receive funding from overseas. You cannot depend on money coming in from anywhere else, to do the purpose for which you set up this NGO.

You know, we want to bring resources to the children, but we have a double purpose, we also want to trigger the buy-in by the Chinese companies to the CSR mode, pattern. We want to integrate the Chinese company to think and operate with a CSR programme. Which they don’t right now, in the greater majority [of cases].. If you look at the direction the government is going, they’re basically sending the message that “You in China, you’ve got to put Chinese money in your Chinese bank account to do Chinese CSR in China.” They’re saying, don’t count on your foundation in the United States. I think the country is making a concerted effort to get their own nationals to step up to the plate.

A: How are you going about marketing CSR to Chinese corporations?

M: The stealth or personal relationship approach. You talk to the people who are already convinced, knowing that they have relationships of which you don’t know anything about. The people we know, they might be the wife of somebody, they might be the colleague at Fudan University, and we do have Fudan University as one of our sponsors, they sponsor the Bookworm Project. You just have to let it go. So all we can ensure, is that we do it well, we are a good role model for others, at the end of the day we want them to see the benefit for the community and we want the children to have resources. It will take a while. Sometimes, an idea takes a long time to gain traction, and all of a sudden there’s incremental pace. So we’re not yet at the incremental pace, we’re just at the trying to gain traction. Especially in the Chinese sector.

There’s hope. Actually, as a company, we’re treading a fine line, because we have to stay in the market in order to influence it. We’re treading this fine line of having to work, deliver, and yet also pitch the bigger picture to those who are not yet on board. We show, there is a display. Because after five years, we did deliver 42,000 or so gift bags. Nobody can say it’s just a gift bag to a primary school child, it has no consequence. When you deliver 42,000 gift bags somebody somewhere is being encouraged with the bigger picture of what life can be and what communities can be, of what helping each other can be. It does make an impact. After those five years maybe some corporations will say, you guys have done this for five years, we could do that. The bigger perspective is that it’s going to take time.

A: Many SAIS students will be looking for satisfying, fulfilling jobs in the near future. Do you have any advice on students looking for work in this area?

M: If you’re passionate about something, there’s a little something that tells you. When I did my second year of my MBA, I thought to myself, do I want to work with Volkswagen, Whirlpool, no that’s not where my passion is. But when I thought would I like to administer women’s shelters or after school programme – oh yes I would, I could put my whole passion into that. So if a person says I could get excited about saving the environment, anything that has to do with the environment, that person has to stick with their passion. Start little, be very humble, build their profile and their CV, based on small accomplishments that add up to a lot. First, you serve as a volunteer. Then, a position becomes open and you enter into that position. Then, you’ve been there for two, three years and you can become a director. Gain that expertise. Be willing to make the effort over and above what your salary range is, or what your managerial level is at, in order to be seen as wanting to go up, and having the skills to go up in management.

A lot of things are self-driven. You go to a conference, or you read a book, or you do a course online to add to your understanding. The big picture is always where I start: what’s the big picture. To understand the full scale of where the impact of CSR is. If you put your eyes on the big picture, you read about the big picture, you read about interesting people, you read the criticism, and then you read the counter-criticism, so then you don’t go in there thinking you’re going to save the world on your own. You stick with your field, eventually you find your position.

Focus, be ready to enter at a lowly level or in a lowly manner, but if that’s your passion, it will quickly flourish. There is space. And in that space, there is need.

A: If you’re already employed, is it worthwhile to raise CSR as a potential activity to your employer?

M: There’s a guy who works for Morgan Stanley. He’s 100% sold on the idea of CSR. He’s the head of the IT department. He says, the best way to improve your profile with the head of the company is to do CSR, and then go knock on his door and ask him for money. We created CSR Social Group, we did five evenings in a restaurant with beer and things like that, and we invited all the top managers that we knew, including some pretty big managers, VP, GMs, etc. To talk to the young people, we divided them by table, topics. It was very well attended.

We’ve been talking about CSR, and social enterprise, and there is a third element. That is leadership. To be bold enough to go and knock on anybody’s door. That is a tell tale sign of a leader. You’re proactive, you don’t wait for anybody else to do it before you do it. Then you say to the others you could do the same thing as I did. I knocked on the president’s door, and he didn’t fire me because of it, and I talked to him, and he gave me $200, $500, and now he knows me by name. Someone who will go and ask. To step up and take initiative is a characteristic of a leader.

Eating for Your Country: The Irresistible Rise of Gastro-Diplomacy


You only have to spend a few minutes in the streets of Bologna to see that food around here is serious business.

The city has always had a foodie air about its image, and since the financial crisis, the opportunities for eating out have multiplied like mushrooms after rain. As a form of comfort and consolation, food has always been a great unifying resource for this city – and for Italy in general – in good times and bad.

A recent conference at Nomisma, a leading economic think-tank based in Bologna, revealed just how big the stakes are in the production and marketing of food in Italy. Diplomats, businesspeople and experts described the effort that the country’s food brands and key ministries are investing in building influence and fortunes in the world’s wine and food markets.

This year, the sector brought €37 billion into the economy. A new, integrated public-private drive presented at the conference hopes to lift this figure to $50 billion by 2020. Food and wine exports have grown 69 percent over the last ten years. Here in Bologna, a giant new food fair will feature 50 food producers, 25 restaurants and countless events for enlightenment and entertainment of the edible sort.

The Nomisma meeting came right after the ‘World Wide Week of Italian Cuisine’. Italian embassies and consulates in 105 countries around the world organised over 1300 food-oriented events: tasting sessions, presentations from celebrity chefs, cooking shows and mini-courses, fairs, films, exhibitions and so on.

This crusade was one of the many spin-offs from the Expo World Fair of Milan, in 2015, dedicated to the theme of ‘Feeding the planet, energy for life!’ Over six months, more than 20 million visitors explored 150 national and company pavilions, giving a much-needed boost to the self-confidence of both the city and the country.

The success of this venture prompted a qualitative leap forward in the attention that authorities at every level give to food and wine not only as a key currency of business, but also as the sort of export which advertises the nation’s creativity, territories and values: an identity narrative that expresses the synthesis of tradition and modernity.  

Alongside a distinguished functionary of the Foreign Ministry at the Nomisma meeting, the CEO of Eataly – the global food business founded in 2004 and now worth €400 million – insisted that quality and culture were key to the success of Italy’s gastronomic brands around the world, independent of price. Good, healthy food should be available to those spending  €10 just as it is to those spending €100. On that note, French diplomats present at the meeting acknowledged that popular Italian foods like pizza and pasta are economical assets which French traditions – all revolving round haut cuisine – could not match.

The Nomisma organisers explicitly applied the label of “soft power” to what they think the new activism on food and wine means for Italy’s world presence.

The standard definition of soft power presents it as tool for leveraging a nation’s cultural and moral assets so that they might serve conventional objectives of foreign policy. However, the notion can only be taken seriously if it is seen as an expression of prestige and leadership in areas that rarely, if ever, have anything to do with geopolitics.

Food is an example of an issue that broadens the scope of foreign policy. Producing and selling food in a global market connects agriculture and the environment, health and education. Matters of trade, investment and regulation are involved.

Furthermore, every nation with a unique gastro-heritage expects to see it on display around the globe.

A nation can only become a serious player in the game of soft power when it tells stories that others can admire and trust, or sets standards which others choose to follow.

France, with its Michelin stars for the finest restaurants in the world, provides a classic example of an established soft power asset. As such, they were often quoted in the Nomisma gathering.

However, today’s demotic food culture – with its celebrity chefs, vast T.V. audiences, countless cookbooks and new restaurants on every block – demands eating experiences that are authentic and accessible, yet evoke exotic places and traditions. In this soft power competition, Italy looks like it will be a clear winner.

David Ellwood is a faculty guest writer for the SAIS Observer. He teaches Soft Power at SAIS Europe.

U.S. Ambassador Baucus Visits the Hopkins-Nanjing Center


NANJING – U.S. Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, visited the Hopkins-Nanjing Center on Thursday, October 13, 2016. Before President Barack Obama nominated Baucus for Ambassador to China in January 2014, Baucus served as the longest Senator for Montana in U.S. history. During his tenure as senator, Amb. Baucus served on several committees including finance, taxation, deficit reduction, foresting and infrastructure. He also helped the United States push through Free Trade Agreements with several countries, permanently establish a relationship with China in 2000 and actively support China’s entrance to the World Trade Organization in 2001. During his time visiting the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Amb. Baucus shared a dinner with current students before giving a speech to the student body.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus take a selfie during a tour of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Source: Saul Loeb/Pool Photo vai AP (China Daily), Creative Commons

Kathryn Miles, a second-year Master’s student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center says, “I really appreciated the opportunity to eat with the ambassador, Consul General, HNC administrators and students. The ambassador was eager to answer students’ questions and was very optimistic about the future of the U.S.-China relations, and he stressed the importance of working together to resolve differences. He spoke fondly about his travels throughout different parts of China, and at the end of dinner the ambassador showed that he was in touch with Chinese culture — we started a WeChat group and everyone at the dinner joined! I think a lot of my fellow students and I hope to have a career in influencing U.S.-China relations in the future, so this chance to meet the ambassador and ask questions about his experiences was a fantastic and rare opportunity.”

Beginning his speech, Amb. Baucus commented how impressed he was with the quality of students at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center after meeting and conversing with several students over dinner. He then highlighted the importance of the U.S.-China relationship in world affairs, stating that, “all of us are privileged to be here at this moment in time and history, and as such an obligation has been given to us to not just think, but to act. A lot of life is action. And, sometimes, this may involve taking risks,” he reflected.

Amb. Baucus reflected on taking a risk as an undergraduate student by staying overseas for a year from 1962 to 1963 hitchhiking around the world with just a knapsack, a sewing kit, and the shirt on his back. During that time, he remembers meeting the terrific people and seeing the most wonderful things. While staying at the YMCA in New Delhi, a man told him that if you call up the Prime Minister of India on Thursdays, he regularly meets with foreigners. Amb. Baucus was only 21 years old at the time, but decided to see if it was true, called, and got an appointment to meet Prime Minister Nehru! Though their half hour was spent making small talk, the meeting left a big impression on Amb. Baucus. After their meeting ended, Amb. Baucus watched Prime Minister Nehru as he spoke and met with several dozen Indians from Bangalore, India. It was not until in the Belgian Congo, however, that he realized his calling was public service. The world was developing and getting smaller. It is our job to protect things and make them better. Even if you make mistakes, Amb. Baucus maintains that this is good; you are doing something and your next choice will be a better one after learning from experience.

Amb. Baucus commented that rising China is an exciting country to be in because of its “pragmatic, energetic and practical” people. He is always struck by how much China has progressed from the Open-Door policies initiated in 1979 by Deng Xiaoping. “I try at my job to encourage as many exchanges as possible in China,” Amb. Baucus says. Besides supporting all kinds of exchanges from environmental protection to healthcare programs, he also encourages as many congressional representatives as possible to come over and visit China. However, he is disappointed that more American students do not come to China to study. He believes it is critical for students to learn here given the increasing need and responsibility for both countries to cooperate on global issues.

Amb. Baucus now questions whether China and America will be able to cooperate for both countries’ mutual benefit. Amb. Baucus holds that “a lot in life is not inevitable; a lot in life is what we do with it… [Therefore, we] have no choice but to try our best.” He wants to remind students how lucky we are to live in this time; he believes we have not only the ability, but the obligation given that ability, to serve in a way that facilitates the positive progression of our countries’ and societies’ relationships as stewards to the planet. It is important for both Chinese and foreign students to take advantage of our time studying and working together. The main takeaway, he says, is that “we are here for a speck of time…[and with this] incredible opportunity an obligation has been given to us; when we leave this place [we must] leave it in as good of shape or better than we found it.”

An Interview with John Pasden


John Pasden is the founder and head consultant of AllSet Learning in Shanghai, China. Over the years, John has led and worked for many successful Mandarin language acquisition outfits, such as being the international host of ChinesePod for many years and publishing Mandarin learning resources through his own consultancy and Mandarin Companion. John received his Master’s in applied linguistics from East China Normal University in 2008.

Can you provide an overview of your career path so far?

Sure… I should start by saying that my career was not really planned. I initially majored in microbiology at University of Florida, then switched to Japanese after studying a year in Japan. Despite getting fairly fluent in Japanese over my four-year college education, I basically jumped ship and went to China after graduating. I had studied three semesters of Chinese as an elective before going to China, so I already had a basic grasp of Mandarin. The plan was just to teach English in Hangzhou, learn Chinese, and basically have a good time exploring a very interesting, new culture. The problem was that China was just too exciting of a place (I arrived in 2000), and I was loving the challenge of really learning Chinese. I couldn’t stop! So, I ended up moving to Shanghai and doing my master’s degree in applied linguistics in an all-Chinese program at at East China Normal University. I started working at ChinesePod soon after that. I became the main academic guy and I stayed there for 7 years. I started my own learning consultancy, AllSet Learning, in 2010. We specialize in deep personalization of individualized study material, but have also created some of our own products, such as the Chinese Grammar Wiki. Leveraging AllSet Learning’s insights, I’ve also created the Mandarin Companion Chinese graded readers with another business partner.

Having lived in China for the past 15 years, have you witnessed any changes in Chinese society or work culture?

Definitely! When I first got here, the kids in Hangzhou were using “BP-ji” (beepers). I got my first cell phone in Hangzhou (a Nokia). I practiced my Chinese grammar by chatting with strangers on QQ (the ubiquitous IM choice at the time) and seeing how long I could go without being discovered as a foreigner. Since then, I’ve seen the rise of Kaixin Wang, Weibo, and now WeChat. Also, sometime around 2008, I had to start using a VPN basically all the time. This is probably one of the biggest in-your-face downsides to living in China.

OK, obviously, changes in Chinese society are not all about tech developments. I’ve been married to a Chinese lady since 2007 and now have two kids, so I have a bit more insight into Chinese families now. But, in some other ways, I’m a bit too close for a good macro view.

Two of the main developments I have witnessed in Shanghai are: (1) insane real estate price increases, which have a very real effect on young people trying to get married down and settle down, as well as on their parents, and (2) massive inflation, especially related to food. This is also tied to food safety issues. One very real change is it used to be when I visited the States from China, (especially from Hangzhou) I felt so poor. Everything seemed so expensive compared to what I was used to in China. But now, when I visit Florida from Shanghai, a lot of things actually seem cheap! Not everything, mind you… but to give a very simple example, Starbucks coffee, after converting the currency at the market rate, is literally cheaper to buy in the States. Automobiles (I mean new ones) are dirt cheap in the States compared to China. As you can imagine, these two economic changes have very real consequences within both Chinese society, and also on how the Chinese interact with the outside world.

How has your perception of China changed?

Well, I have to admit that the excitement of living in China has worn off a bit. I think that the chaos and energy of China is better-suited to a twenty-something single kid than a father of two pushing 40. On the other hand, I never could have pulled off starting my own company without having lived in China for a number of years. I never intended to become an entrepreneur, and since I’m fairly cautious by nature, it took me ten years to get there! But being an entrepreneur changes your outlook as well… China is not an easy place for small businesses to take off, although the Silicon Valley startup model is becoming more popular.

China is now less exotic than it was, for sure. Since I’ve got a family now, issues like air quality, food safety, and education are growing in importance. So even though China is changing fast, my own life priorities are changing too. I guess you could say that for me, the honeymoon is very much over. But China is still a great place to live and do business for the right people.

Have you encountered any notable challenges founding a company in China?

I’m guessing you mean related to the bureaucracy? Like do I have to hand over red envelopes of cash every month, or take government officials out for baijiu booze-fests? If that’s what you mean, then no. Things are pretty simple as a small business. The trick is to be clear on all the regulations, tax law, labor law, etc. Fortunately my wife has both a degree in Chinese law and an MBA. She helps me with legal and human resources issues, enabling me to focus on our company direction and products.

As a linguist and language consultant, given the growth of apps, online resources, and new pedagogical methodologies how do you see the future of Mandarin language acquisition?

Apps are over-hyped. They’re just a channel for learning, and to be honest, not much has been done with them yet. Skritter is the most impressive, combining “learn anywhere” with actually useful touch-based input. Apps like ChinesePod and HelloChinese (similar to Duolingo) are pretty cool, but they’re not revolutionary; they simply offer convenience by porting the learner experience to a mobile device.

The future of all learning is deep personalization, made possible by cloud-based linguistic analysis, combined with spaced repetition. You can see this happening already in all kinds of ways, but Chinese pedagogy is a little slow to catch on. AllSet Learning has contributed the Chinese Grammar Wiki to this movement, which allows grammar points to be studied and tracked in a modular way. There is still much work to be done, however.

What advice would you give to an expat deciding whether or not to work in China? To start a business in China?

Why China? You better have a good answer. “The Chinese market is big” is not an answer. I’ve lived in China for almost 16 years, and I don’t try to sell to the Chinese market. It’s really not easy.

You can get lots of great work experience in China, and of course I believe that knowing Chinese will will be a huge boon to anyone’s career, but definitely think twice before opening a business here, and certainly don’t do it without living here for a while.

What’s next for you?

As I mentioned before, the future of all learning is deep personalization. That’s precisely what we’re working on at AllSet Learning, and we have lots of great projects underway, which will help all learners of Mandarin. The future is bright!

Professor Gary Sick: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Iran Nuclear Treaty

(Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia)


In this United States election cycle, the issue of Iran has loomed large. The Iran nuclear treaty in particular has figured prominently into the two candidates’ sparring over foreign policy, with Hillary Clinton generally defending the treaty and Donald Trump pledging to tear it up upon arriving in the Oval Office.

However, to what extent does this focus actually reflect the country’s knowledge on the subject? What influence does this treaty, which represents a relatively distant and obscure set of international weapon and energy interests, have on American foreign policy, both during the election and after?

In order to begin to answer some of these questions, the SAIS Observer consulted SAIS Europe visiting professor Gary Sick, who is teaching a mini-course entitled “United States in the Persian Gulf: From Outlier to Empire.” When not in Bologna, Professor Sick is a senior research scholar at Columbia’s Middle East Institute and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs. He has served on the National Security Council as a White House aide for Iran and as a U.S. Navy captain.

We sat down with Professor Sick last week to take a look at the role of the Iran Nuclear Treaty in the context of the U.S. election and its potential impact on foreign policy going forward.

The SAIS Observer: Generally, what is your opinion on the Iran Nuclear Treaty?

Gary Sick: The key thing that made it all possible was that the United States said, in those secret negotiations, that we were prepared to accept the fact that Iran would have a full nuclear fuel cycle, that they would have the right to actually produce their own nuclear fuel. And from Iran’s point of view, that was critical. That’s what broke down the talks previously – the U.S. said even one centrifuge turning was one too many. That perspective was a mistake in my view but that’s where we were.

The Obama administration decided that Iran’s potential nuclear fuel cycle would be acceptable and so that broke the ice. I think they thought the talks would be easy, but it turned out to be a lot harder than they thought. It became extremely technical and, from a diplomatic and technical point of view, the U.S. really deserves a lot of credit.

They were playing four-dimensional chess: they had to worry about the objectives of Iran, the UN Security Council, the U.S. Congress and even the American people. And so the bottom line is that they cut a deal that is extremely complex, but I think is the best deal anyone could have possibly hoped for. The reasons it’s now under attack are basically political.

TSO:  So, how has this complex treaty become such a politicized part of the election today? Does anyone even know what they’re arguing about?

GS:  The Republicans made the treaty a politicized issue in the run-up to the agreement. They basically criticized it as intensively as they possibly could. Trump has run with those arguments, but they would still be a part of the conversation if Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or even Jeb Bush were the nominee. It became a Republican issue basically because it came from Obama, and that’s all it takes to say they’re against it. Also, the treaty was strongly opposed by Netanyahu and Israel. And when you put the Republicans together with the Israeli lobby, which is very significant in the U.S., it means that they’re just absolutely committed to opposing this.

I’ve actually seen something like this before with regard to the Executive Agreement that the U.S. had with Iran after the hostage crisis [from 1979-1981]. That was highly unpopular with Ronald Reagan, who was running for president at that time. The agreement was actually negotiated in the interim period between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

So if Hillary Clinton is elected, I think [the terms of the treaty will definitely be upheld]. With Trump, it’s impossible to predict. However, if he’s doing his job, he would have to come to the conclusion that the only thing to gain by doing away with this is to show bad faith not just to the Iranians, but also to all of the other states who negotiated this with us and whose signatures are on it. So he would be starting his presidency by saying to the world, “you cannot trust the U.S.” How we would gain anything from that, I have no idea.

TSO: While we witness a breakthrough in U.S.-Iran relations under Obama, the Iran deal strained U.S.-Israeli relations. Under the Obama administration, no progress was made in terms of Israel-Palestine peace settlement. Is it possible to advance on these two goals or are they mutually exclusive?

GS: I don’t think these two goals are mutually exclusive. John Kerry was actually very active on both files and tried very hard to negotiate a peace settlement on the Israel-Palestine issue while the Iran deal was in the making.

The two issues are linked. Israel has been using the Iran threat for years in order to deflect attention from the Palestinian issue. While the deal – by halting the advance of nuclear Iran – is ultimately beneficial to Israel’s security, it takes the argument away from Netanyahu that Iran should be seen as an existential threat. Since Netanyahu’s political platform is to be tough on security, it’s natural he opposed the deal.

Israeli politics does influence U.S. politics though, notably through political and financial pressure in Washington. Israel’s strongly-voiced opposition, which culminated in Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. Congress in March 2015, emboldened Republican opposition to the deal.

TSO: The Iran deal could be seen as a landmark that would usher a new period in the U.S.-Iran relationship. Yet, this policy of ‘opening’ is coming under pressure in both Iran and the U.S. Will this policy survive after the Obama administration?

GS: The deal was a technical agreement on a security issue: it was about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. That’s all it was about and that’s all it was intended to be about.

However, it did open up a channel – which meant there was the possibility to settle old disputes. American journalists held in Iran were freed and the U.S. repaid one outstanding debt to Iran (which had been contracted after the fall of the Shah when the U.S. stopped shipping military equipment that Iran had paid for). The opening up of communication meant both issues became ripe and were settled at the same time.

The deal does not mean that the U.S.and Iran are going to be best friends, but it symbolizes a breakthrough in U.S.-Iran relations. For the first time in forty years, the two countries are now able to talk to each other. Kerry and Zarif have developed a very business-like relationship and have set up a direct channel of communication which can be useful.

It is not clear whether this channel – based on a personal relationship – will translate in the next administration. In the event that Hillary Clinton gets elected, Kerry will not be Secretary of State. However, there are other people who could step in to maintain the U.S.’s channel of communication with Iran, like perhaps [former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State] Bill Burns. It will depend on whether Hillary Clinton wants to protect this relationship.

Professor Hua Tao on Islam in China

Hua Tao Image
Dr. Hua Tao, professor of Chinese Studies at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (Photo Courtesy: Professor Hua Tao)


Hua Tao earned his Ph.D. in History from Nanjing University’s Department of History in 1989. He currently serves as a professor of Chinese Studies at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and professor and doctoral advisor at Nanjing University. From 1992-1993, he was a visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute. His research interests include the history of ethnic minorities in Northwest China and the contemporary development of China’s ethnic minorities. He has taught at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center since 1994.

During your time studying China’s minorities, in what ways has your focus changed?

When I started out at Nanjing University and also during my year at the Harvard-Yenching Institute, I was a historian of northern Chinese minorities during the medieval period. I focused on the inhabitants of Northern China, the Mongolian steppe, Central Asia, as well as on the interaction of these regions with agricultural areas to the south and the process of Islamization that took place throughout the Central Asia and Northwest China. However, the HNC is focused on modern issues, so when I started teaching here, I shifted my academic focus to the present day. This turned out to be an excellent opportunity for me to become more informed about the present condition of ethnic minorities in Chinese society.

You spent a lot of time working on a “civilization dialogue” between the Chinese and the Islamic civilizations. What spurred your interest in this subject and how did you go about this work?

Just like outside China, the September 11th attacks sparked a lot of interest within China in studying Islam. Chinese people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, wanted to understand the meaning of the attacks. Many people were interested in Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” theory as an explanation of what had happened. Much of my previous research had involved studying the history of Muslims in China, so this topic tied into my own work. Just at that time, Tu Weiming, Harvard professor and the then-director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, introduced me to his dialogue with the Islamic civilization. He is a leading Chinese-American scholar of Confucianism and did some dialogue with Muslim scholars around the world and in the United States, for example, Hossein Nasr, a famous Muslim scholar who is the father of Vali Nasr, the current dean of SAIS. Therefore, I worked with Professor Tu since 2001 in the dialogue between the Chinese and Islamic civilizations in China. Many Chinese Hui Muslim scholars joined us. Through the dialogue we reached a common understanding of the history of Islam in China and its relations with the Chinese civilization. The Hui people in China, for example, use Confucian terms and concepts to describe their Islamic beliefs.

The Hui are distinctive as a Chinese minority group that seems to be defined by religion and not ethnicity. How did this come about?

The history of the Hui in China is quite interesting. There have been Muslims in China since the Tang Dynasty, but the biggest period of immigration was during the Mongol Yuan period. During and after their conquest of China, the Mongols brought along with them a large numbers of Arab and Persian Muslims as soldiers, traders, government officials and so on from West and Central Asia where they conquered earlier. Over time, these Muslims intermarried with local Chinese to the point where they became indistinguishable from Han Chinese, but they preserved their religion and some cultural character up to the present day. This heritage means that they are quite dispersed throughout the country when compared to most other minorities, though they are most concentrated in Northwest China.

Some scholars of Islam in China have talked about a process of “re-Islamization” where the Hui people have become more strongly attached to their religion in recent years. What factors are contributing to this trend?

During the early stages of the People’s Republic of China and even more during the Cultural Revolution, religious designations were seen as being unimportant compared to class distinctions you were a landlord, a farmer, an intellectual and so on, rather than a member of a specific religious or ethnic group. Strong religious belief was frowned upon. However, after the Cultural Revolution ended, the Hui people gradually began to pay more and more attention to their Islamic beliefs. They made pilgrimages to Mecca, participated in foreign trade with Arab countries and other Muslim countries and sought to better understand Islamic scholarship.

How is Islam seen in Chinese society?

The majority Han Chinese population does not have a very clear idea of the history and customs of Islam. Just like in many other countries, many people form their impressions of Islam as a religion based on what they hear in the international news media.

For students or individuals interested in learning about China’s ethnic minorities outside the classroom, what sorts of means are available?

It’s quite difficult, because most foreigners living in China reside in big eastern cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing that are overwhelmingly Han Chinese. Even when they live further to the west, they will not see or interact with that many minorities in the big cities. Two years ago, thanks to generous support from Johns Hopkins, Professor Simon, my American colleague at HNC, and I organized an academic visit of our HNC students to Muslim areas in Ningxia province. We visited mosques, madrassas, and interacted extensively with the local people in the area. It was an excellent experience for everyone involved. I believe, with the support of Nanjing University and JHU, our students will have more chances in the future.

Eliot Cohen and the Fight Against Trump


Dr. Eliot Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies (Photo Courtesy: SAIS Website)

Donald Trump is careening towards the Republican nomination, with the conservative establishment left watching in horror as the failed meat salesman and former reality television star hijacks the party. A last-ditch movement to stop Trump before the convention has materialized to prevent this reality. The SAIS community has played a significant role in these efforts, as Strategic Studies program director Eliot Cohen helped organize an open letter for this purpose. Signed by a diverse set of leaders from throughout the Republican foreign policy spectrum, the letter remains a key moment of dissent crystallized within the campaign.

We sat down with Dr. Cohen to discuss the letter, the public reaction to it, and what the broader significance of Trump’s rise might be.

Can you describe the the process of how the letter came together?

It originated the way things often do. I was emailing a bunch of friends including the letter’s co-writer Bryan McGrath. A bunch of friends, all identifying as conservatives, and we all were profoundly alarmed by Trump. Not only on foreign policy grounds but on domestic policy grounds as well. Someone said that there should be some kind of letter. McGrath, an enterprising guy and former destroyer skipper, decided to go ahead and write the letter with me. It was very much a last minute thing. We emailed 50 or 60 people, just going through our rolodexes and off the top of our heads. About 50 people immediately signed…We got 70 more and actually just decided to cap it now.

That you find Trump exceptionally disagreeable is well known. Were there any broader motivations in this effort?

Different people have different motivations. For me, I have grandchildren. I have this image of my four-year-old granddaughter asking me, “Grandpa, what did you do when Donald Trump was running for president?” on a spring break 15 years from now. I wanted to have a good answer. We did not hold any illusions that this would sway a single vote. I think the people who signed it felt that it was very important to put their thoughts on the record.

What do you think a potential Trump presidency means for American foreign policy and power?

There have always been populist and neo-isolationist wings in both parties. Trump is a particularly repellent manifestation of it on the Republican side, but it’s there within both parties. For a variety of reasons, those wings of both parties have gotten stronger over the past 15 years. It’s now more important than ever to reaffirm the basic bipartisan foreign policy consensus that we have had since World War II. What I am fearful of is that we are going to go through a number of years of turmoil. In the old days that would have been okay since we did not have a larger role to play in sustaining world order. But now we do. A lot of bad things can happen in the world if we have four or eight years of the United States being out of the game because we’re engaged in our own internal politics.

In your mind, as this process unfolds, what is the future for the Republican party and for the American political system as a whole?

My own view is that if Trump is the nominee, it really tarnishes the Republican brand. Not just him, but all the officials who will line up behind him. That is, to my mind and to others, unacceptable. There have been deep divisions brewing within the Republican party for quite some time, over things like taxesthings that became litmus test issues which never should have. Issues such as the Second Amendment. These splits are coming to the surface, and I could definitely see a third party is emerging. The [political] rules could change, could get blown up. We could see the same sort of changes amongst the Democrats as well, as they have moved towards the left.

If there is a third party, even though I am not a libertarian at all, I would like to see it have a basically libertarian attitude on social issues. I think you can come up with things that fit the temper of the times. I don’t see why you can’t have two parties, three, four. I don’t think anyone really knows. I think we’re in uncharted territory.

Dr. Cohen’s letter, “Open Letter on Donald Trump from GOP National Security Leaders,” can be found at