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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Post-Election Day Perspectives

David Birdsell, Mitchel B. Wallerstein, Thomas Main, Carla Robbins, Baruch College
New York, NY
November 9, 2016


MODERATOR: (In progress) – and so we appreciate your flexibility and adjustments to everyone’s schedule and even our technologist, so we thank you for that.

This is our first briefing following our historic Election Day yesterday and I’m grateful to our panelists who are making time this morning to talk through so many of these important issues. I’ll just make brief introductions and then we’ll go into comments.

We’re delighted to have Dr. Mitchell Wallerstein here who is the president of Baruch College and previously was former deputy assistant secretary of defense for counterproliferation policy, senior defense representative for trade security policy under President Clinton.

Next to him is Dr. David Birdsell, who is the dean of the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. Dr. Birdsell has extensive and thorough knowledge of the 2016 election and past elections, GOP and Democratic candidates. He will be able to speak on the transition to the White House and the challenges that the newly selected president will face.

To his left is Dr. Carla Robbins, who is a clinical professor at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs and adjunct senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations. She spent six years with the New York Times as deputy editorial page editor and assistant editorial page editor, and she spent 13 years in Washington covering diplomacy and national security for the Wall Street Journal. She’s reported from Europe, from Russia, and the Middle East and Central and South America.

And at the end of the table we have Dr. Martin – Thomas J. Main, sorry – Dr. Thomas J. Main, professor at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public Affairs and International Relations and adjunct senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations who can speak on politics and urban city policies and bureaucracy amid the American Constitution and extreme ideologies, to include the alt-right movement.

Each panelist will open with a few minutes of comments and then we will open it up to Q&A. We’ll have microphones available for that. And just as a reminder, comments from our panelists are theirs alone and do not reflect the official views of the U.S. Government, but we’re thankful for their time and I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Wallerstein.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Good morning and welcome. As members of the foreign press, I can only imagine how hard you have been working over the last few months and probably right up through the wee hours of the morning last night. And I’m sure that many of you were up late reporting on the election for your readers in Afghanistan and Ghana and Vietnam and the dozens of other countries that are represented here today. Of course, in view of the surprising outcome of last night’s election, I’m highly curious to know what you’ve written, but we’re not here for you to talk to us. We’re – you’re here to question the panel.

To say that this has been a grueling campaign season is something of an understatement. Things were said, attitudes and proclivities were revealed, particularly regarding the individual who won the election, that were deeply disturbing. But the election is now behind us and the president-elect has the duty and obligation to put aside all of the hyperbolic rhetoric and begin the hard work of putting together an administration and determining the priorities for the first hundred days of his office.

So it is appropriate and very timely that members of the Foreign Press Association gather here this morning to hear perspectives and insights that are offered by this expert panel from Baruch College. My appreciation for the value of the event also stems from my own time in Washington – 18 years, which included, as you heard, five years as a senior official in the Department of Defense. In that capacity, I quickly came to recognize the importance of and rely on the analysis of journalists, both U.S. journalists and foreign journalists, that helped me to gain a better understanding and synthesis of the most complex national security issues that the United States was facing.

But as we learned once again from last night’s shocking election outcome, the need for immediate and intelligent and balanced reporting is absolutely vital, especially in today’s 24/7 media market. The new president will face unprecedented challenges when he is sworn into office at noon on January 29th – January 20th and it is vitally important that the president of the United States as well as leaders of other countries around the world have an accurate and fairly reported information on which to base important decisions.

So our purpose here today is to give you a head-start in understanding and researching the complex and often interrelated issues that will be confronted in the first hundred days and beyond, in addition to the monumental task of trying to heal this country from such a divisive and rancorous campaign.

So since you have already been introduced to the panel, I will not take any more time on that, but simply say that each of the panelists along with myself will comment for about two to three minutes and then we will open it to questions, as has been indicated.

So with that, let me call on Dean David Birdsell, the dean of the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, as the first speaker. David.

MR BIRDSELL: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. I suspect that there are probably fewer than eight hours of sleep collectively in this room right now, so – and I joined you in that depravation, so bear with me if I need some extra clarification.

I’ll just open with three remarks, one sort of how did we get here; second, what does this mean for how we understand our ability to predict the behavior of electorates; and number three, to get some sense of what we might look for both during the transition and in the first hundred days of the administration to get a sense of how policies might change.

Let me first go back up to the top with this idea of why we’re here this morning. We know that the polls got things badly wrong, but what we know in terms of the exit polls and what we believe to have been the support for the two candidates respectively – that Trump was able to solidify all of the sources of support that we thought all along he was going to get: massive support among men, particularly among white men; and surprisingly, actually, making inroads with women, which we had not expected.

And that turns me to the flip side. The real story here, it seems to me, is not so much how well Trump did getting his voters to the polls and darkening black spots for him; it was how poor a job Clinton’s operation did of getting those same people in to darken those black spots for her. If we look at every single category that Barack Obama carried in 2012, she underperformed. She underperformed with African Americans; that was expected. She underperformed among men; that was expected. But she also underperformed among Latinos. She also underperformed among Asians. She underperformed among low-income people. She underperformed among high-income people. And most surprising, she underperformed among college-educated women and women overall.

And that is a startling indictment of what may be one of several things that we’ll spend a long time trying to discover: the appeal of the candidate in some kind of native sense, the ability of the ground operation to mobilize people in a constantly changing electoral environment where social media and breaking news have different ways to make impressions on people who are formalizing and finalizing their opinions in the last moments of the campaign cycle. We’ll be talking about this for a long time to come, I guarantee you, but that, it seems to me, in a very quick nutshell, is what got us to this point this afternoon.

Number two, this has been, without question, a massive setback to the business of polling, to social science research more generally, I would argue, and to what we believe that we know about electorates. And I want to just spend a couple of seconds talking about first the depth of the failure here but also suggest one and only one reason why this might be happening right now. As you saw, we had six – there are 16 organizations that are sort of the high-flying aggregators, and I’m thinking about services that you’ve probably been looking at attentively every day like Nate Silver’s 538, the New York Times Upshot, the Princeton Election Consortium, Larry Sabato’s operation at the University of Virginia, and 12 others that are sort of the high-flying pieces.

But there are also the online betting markets, there are also the financial market parallels to what’s happening in the election. We’ve looked – for example, one of the marks has been the Mexican peso and whether it’s been devaluing or going up in value against other currencies, which have varied really with remarkable precision with Donald Trump’s rises and falls in the polls. Everything except the peso got it wrong, okay? Everything except the peso got it wrong and even the peso got it wrong on Monday.

So the question is: What don’t we know? What did we get wrong? Is this a weighting question – that is, the way that we weight populations, subsamples, within an overall population? Is it a problem of the way that we ask questions? Is it a problem of whom we’re reaching? Because now, of course, many people aren’t tethered to landlines. They’re on cell phones. Cell phones are harder to call. And it becomes more and more technically difficult to actually do the work of polling. This is not a United States problem alone. Think about the 2015 Israeli parliamentary elections where we had an unpredicted result on very much the same kind of dimensions with the same spreads that we saw yesterday. Think about Brexit this June and now, of course, the Trump election just yesterday.

We’re losing the capacity to describe disgruntled populations in advanced Western democracies and this is something of a concern. Now, here’s the reason that I want to suggest may play into this: We’re witnessing at this point – and now I’m back to a U.S. perspective at least initially – in this country, the lowest level of trust in public institutions that we have ever had. At the height – the Gallup Organization has been measuring this phenomena since the 1960s and the – pardon me, the 1950s, and the question they ask is: Do you trust government to do the right thing all of the time, most of the time, some of the time, or none of the time? Asked that question in June of 1965, Americans said we trust government to do the right thing all of the time or most of the time to the tune of 82 percent of the population. Less than a fifth were willing to say that I only trust government some of the time or none of the time.

Today, those numbers are reversed. 81 percent of the American population believes that government cannot be trusted more than some or none of the time and, again, fewer than one in five believe that government can be trusted all or most of the time. And what we see is that people – and think about this just as a way that you are trying to predict behavior. If you’re angry and you don’t see that you have a stake in the institution that you are voting – whose leadership you are voting on at that moment, so if “They don’t work for me, they don’t serve my interests, they’re not like me,” you’re much more likely to take a risk. You’re much more likely to vote for blowing things up, for a different political party, for a Brexit, for a Donald Trump than you might be if you believe that government is out there working on your behalf every single day.

So I think from my point of view, what I’m going to spend a lot of time over the course of the next year or two looking at is the relationship between this disassociation from cynicism about government and the way that that might shape people’s behavior when they move to the voting place.

Last point is on policy changes. I think that we should expect to see pretty prompt and pretty massive policy changes. As we saw during the Obama Administration, presidents can do a lot through executive order, and one of the great problems of executive orders is that they are fragile instruments. They’re fine as long as the president who issued them is in office, but the next president could come along and undo them with the stroke of a pen. And I do expect on January 20th, right after lunch following the inaugural address, you will see Donald Trump on camera nullifying just a laundry list of executive orders.

What do those executive orders cover? Many of them cover environmental regulations. Some of them cover government reporting. Some of them cover the use of certain kinds of fuel. And there, again, is a very long list of things that Barack Obama did unilaterally that Donald Trump – and by the way, all of the Republican primary candidates – promised to undo unilaterally in the first day of office.

We also know that this president is coming into office with a majority in the Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives. So there’s not necessarily a legislative break on his behavior – not only in the first hundred days, but going forward, at least until the 2018 midterm elections when we’ll have at least potentially – I’m not saying this will happen, but potentially a new House and a new Senate.

Now, there are two sources of potential friction and I want to take them. The first is actually that very same Republican Congress. Remember that Donald Trump ran against the Republican establishment. He belittled and humiliated Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. He was – he said that he does not agree with the agendas, many of them very near and dear to the Ryans of this world, of shrinking the size of government in certain areas, of changing entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security – quite the contrary. He promised not to do anything with those – well, with those programs. So one of the breaks may be a revolt within his own party if he tries to expand the debt and the deficit.

The final point is popular opinion. We believe that one of the first targets he goes after is the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and every Republican primary candidate and Trump said that they would go after that particular piece of legislation. We don’t know what they’re going to put in their place, but we do know that many aspects of Obamacare, though it is unpopular as an umbrella term, are very popular themselves – notably, the ability not to lose your insurance when you get sick, and the ability to cover your children until they’re 26 years old.

So if those things come out of the legislation, how long does this honeymoon end? We’ll soon find out. Thank you.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Thank you very much, Dr. Birdsell. Let me turn now to Dr. Carla Robbins and ask her to make her comments.

MS ROBBINS: Thank you. So, what’s a Trump foreign policy? This is a great puzzle to all of us beyond the term “America first,” and even that term, when he’s used it, it was a rather chilling term for us in America. That is – goes back to the days of isolationism and almost neo-fascism in the United States itself. So what does Donald Trump stand for in international relations? Very little, to be perfectly frank. This is a man who has no experience in foreign policy. This is a man who has no track record in foreign policy. And this has been a campaign because of the nature of one candidate, and the nature of the political debate, and the nature of the frustration that we see with this election, that really never discussed the substance of policy itself.

Yes, there was a talk about how, well, maybe we’re going to make the Saudis pay for oil or we won’t protect them anymore; or maybe – or we’re going to build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it; or if allies in NATO don’t pay their fair share, we won’t protect them anymore; or we’re going to pay out of NAFTA. Can he do all of those things? In the realm of foreign policy and national security, the president has perhaps more leeway than anything else. Dr. Birdsell was talking about how so much of what President Obama did on domestic policy was on executive order. There are no constraints, almost, on foreign policy itself. Certainly, there is a constraint about how much you can spend because the Congress has to go along with that, but even there, the Congress probably will go along with the idea of spending more on defense, which Donald Trump has said he wants to do. But what he would actually do with the military we really don’t know, because he truly has no track record and there was truly almost no debate on national security or foreign policy issues.

So instead, I suppose what we’re going to have to watch very closely is who he chooses to advise him and who he chooses for his cabinet. And of course you’re going to see lots of lists that are going around. How seriously to take them? Obviously, they’re going to have to make a decision soon. But one has the impression, looking at this campaign up until now, that I don’t think they really expected to win. I think they were as surprised as the rest of us were.

So if you look at the short lists that we see are floating around today, you will be shocked at how limited they are. And one of the reasons for that as well is that most of the most experienced foreign policy and national security members of the Republican Party came out this summer and said that the man was not fit to be commander-in-chief. Now, will some of those people decide that for the sake of the republic that they will change their mind and come in and perhaps advise him? I don’t know what sort of a decision I would make if I were in that situation. There are some people certainly who were traditional Republican foreign policy, national security people who were never Trump people, and they will never come back.

Mr. Trump, President-elect Trump has a long history of not taking slights well. Is he going to accept any of those 50 people who signed the letter and said, “Okay, you can come back in now because I need your expertise?” So there are – as I said, it’s very hard to tell where he stands, so we’re going to have to look at who he chooses. And once again, he has a very limited group of people who have endorsed him who do have experience on foreign policy.

So who are some of the names floating around right now? Some of them are traditional internationalists. I mean, you see names like Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House. He used to be a traditional internationalist, but he has been endorsing all the “Make America great, shut it down” rhetoric during this campaign. What does he stand for? Not sure. We’ve seen other names out there, including the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker, who was sort of a hawkish, big spending on defense itself, but more of a traditional internationalist. I – it’s sort of hard to imagine he was advising, once again, Donald Trump during the campaign. Where does he stand at this point? Very hard to tell.

Another name that’s floating around is former ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Now, that’s a guy who would blow things up completely. He is a man who really hates alliances and talks much more the way that President-elect Trump talks himself.

On defense, once again, the only name that you’ve ever seen out there during the campaign is the former director of defense intelligence Mike Flynn, General Flynn. Under our laws, it’s – he’d have to get a waiver from Congress to become the defense secretary because it’s – you have to have seven years out. Highly unlikely that’s going to – that they’re going to push that, because we have this tradition of civilian control of the military. Much more likely that he would be in the White House.

So once again, probably expect him to go to a senator or a former senator. Their positions will be spend more on defense – interestingly enough, spend more on defense, but for what? Because at the same time, President-elect Trump has said he wants to do less. He wants to confront ISIS, but beyond that, make a deal with Putin, be less confrontational in Europe, not defend NATO allies – very hard to tell how much of this is rhetoric and how much of this is actually going to become policy.

So we will see.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Thank you very much, Carla. Let me now call upon Dr. Thomas Main, who is our third panelist.

MR MAIN: Okay. Well, I have a narrower focus than the other panelists. I mostly look at American intellectual politics and changes in – trends amongst political intellectuals. So – and what I’ve been looking at is the rise of a particular ideological tendency. It’s known as the alternative right, or the alt-right. What – so – and briefly put, my theme is that this new, more radical right, a right that is further to the right of the political spectrum than traditional conservatives have been – this is a rising tendency, and traditional conservatives are being displaced.

So what is the alt-right? Well, it’s mostly an online movement. It – for the most part, it’s not represented by magazines; it’s represented by websites. Probably the best known of these websites is Breitbart News, which perhaps ought to be called alt-light rather than alt-right. It’s the least radical of the sites and it’s the biggest of the sites. And the alt-right came into the presidential election when Steve Bannon, who was the editor of Breitbart News, left to become a CEO of the Trump campaign. And at that point, Hillary Clinton made a speech about the alt-right, and this was part of her strategy to try to depict Donald Trump as being too extreme to be fit to be president.

So I had been following the alt-right for a while, and for a long time I had trouble getting anybody to pay attention to me because they said, “This is so weird; these people are so far to the right. Is it possible that you – maybe you should just pay no attention to them whatsoever.” But now with the election of Trump, it seems that perhaps they’ve got their foot in the door.

So I spent a lot of time these last few days trying to come up with evidence to prove, as a matter of fact, the alt-right is bigger than you might think and more important, because I was anticipating a Clinton win. So – and I came in with all sorts of numbers which I can show you, and I guess I will show you, to try to prove to you that this is a real movement. Folks, it’s a real movement. How can you tell? The alt-right was behind Donald Trump from the beginning, whereas the traditional conservatives, like National Review, Commentary, the Weekly Standard – they were all NeverTrumpers.

So let me just – I’m going to move very quickly through this, because the main thing I want to do is – all right, here’s a – what I did is I got data on visits to political websites, okay. Now, what’s a visit? A visit is just when – well, it’s not a unique visitor. Any time you go to a website, that’s a visit, right. The same person goes to the website 100 times, that’s 100 visits. So – but we don’t have data on unique visitors; all we’ve got are data on visits.

So the key thing to look at here is – look, these alt-right sites – and I tried – developed them objectively from interviews and so forth, and this is how I classify the most important alt-right sites – their visits have grown by 86 percent over the last six months. Why didn’t I go back further? Didn’t have access to the data for more than six months back. The biggest site by far is Breitbart, which, as I say, is alt-light. One way to think about this is if you remember the politics of the late ‘60s, there were hardcore radicals like maybe the Weather faction of the SDS, who were revolutionaries, right. And then there were Yippies like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who said crazy and wild things, and you couldn’t be sure half the time if they really meant them; they seem to be getting a charge out of saying crazy and wild things.

Well, Breitbart is kind – they’re kind of like the Yippies, right. But magazines like the American Renaissance, and VDARE, and Radix Journal are the hardcore. And they’re doing pretty well. Now let me – now I’m just going to come over here. Let’s see. So if you take a look at the American Renaissance, they’re up by 36 percent. And on average they’re getting 700,000 visits over the last six months. That’s larger than a lot of mainstream magazines. That’s in the vicinity of, for instance, Commentary, which is a very mainstream conservative – neoconservative magazine.

So my point here is simply that the alt-right, we’re talking about six-month average, more than 82 million visits on average over the last six months, monthly average, with an 86 percent growth. Is that significant? Well, it’s significant if you consider that – let’s see, we’ll just move on here – okay, so here we have conventional mainstream conservative sites. And again, I came up with some kind of objective methodology to define what was a mainstream conservative site that I won’t bore you with.

What’s the point here? 13.6 percent increase over the last six months – much less of an increase than the alt-right. And you see even some websites – let’s see, for instance, Commentary Magazine is down by about five and a half percent. And the – let’s see, on average, they’re getting about half the visits that the alt-right sites are getting.

So what’s the point? The point is that the alt-right has grown relative to the mainstream conservatives. By mainstream conservatives, I have in mind outlets like The National Review, The Weekly Standard, Commentary.

So the alt-right is growing, right. And they’ve got their candidate in the White House. They – if you simply go to these websites, you will see they were all for Trump from the beginning, whereas all of the traditional – almost all of the traditional conservative magazines’ websites were against Trump.

Okay, so what, right? Well, there’s a big difference between the alt-right and traditional conservatives. Traditional conservatives basically were all about capitalism, anti-communism – which later morphed into a vigorous foreign policy – and traditional values, things like anti-abortion and hostility, skepticism to gay rights.

The – however, the traditional conservatives for decades had no trouble with the basic ideals of Jeffersonian or Lockean democracy. They believed all men were created equal, and if you go to the classic conservative theorists like Hayek, they would say things like, “Oh, all men are created equal. Now, what that means is they all have the same package of inalienable rights.” And the whole question of whether – are there average differences in intelligence or temperament or anything else between the races doesn’t matter. It’s completely irrelevant; don’t even bother thinking about it. The big point is everybody is equal politically.

Well, that’s not the position of the alt-right. Well, let’s put it this way: There’s a hardcore to the alt-right, and then there are people who are – you might say the vital center of the alt-right, okay. And the hardcore, which is represented by VDARE and American Renaissance, basically believes black people do not – are not politically equal with white people, and they insist that racial consciousness must be part of conservative ideology. And that’s all I’ll say for the moment; I’ll take more – answer questions later.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Okay, thank you. I was going to make a few comments, and then we’ll open it up to questions.

Just to build on a few more of the international themes or issues that arise, I thought I’d note just five areas that were heavily focused in the campaign – certainly issues that were of great concern to me personally and that are now things we need to track carefully and see whether this was simply campaign rhetoric, or was it – is it something that he intends to be serious about during his presidency.

I think first and foremost, of course, is the issue of trade. He talked about abandoning all of the multilateral trade agreements, opposing the TPP, tearing up NAFTA, et cetera. Of course, the question arises whether he fully understands the implications of abandoning trade – existing trade agreements. It’s one thing to walk away from trade negotiations, but to abandon a signed agreement which is governing the flow of goods and services across borders is a wholly different matter. He talked also about attempting to bring manufacturing and other industrial activities back to the United States. Hard to square the circle, if we’re going to blow up the trade relationships, how that would actually work in practice. Excuse me.

A second issue, of course, and Dr. Robbins already made reference to this, is U.S.-Soviet – or U.S.-Russian, I should say, relations. (Laughter.) Sorry, I lost a decade there. The question here is: Does the incumbent president fully appreciate the global strategy that Mr. Putin appears to be pursuing, and is he prepared to be resolute if further attempts are made not only in Ukraine but in the Baltics and in other countries to encroach both politically and potentially militarily? So we will have to watch that very carefully. Some have asserted that he’s not in the same league, certainly, as Mr. Putin in terms of his training and background, and we will – that this could be a great cause for concern, especially since he has indicated great sympathy with Mr. Putin and seemed to align himself with him.

Closely related is the issue of NATO. Mr. Trump had a number of things to say about NATO and about coming to the aid of NATO allies. As you may be aware, Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty requires that all signatories – it’s a mutual defense pact, and it requires that all signatories commit themselves to coming to the aid of any other state that is attacked. He seemed to indicate that he would judge – make it a determination at the time based on whether the other countries were current in their payments and were making enough of a financial contribution. There is nothing in the treaty which would suggest that this is permitted under the terms of the agreement. Certainly, if the states of – the other treaty states in Europe get the impression that the United States cannot be counted on to come to their assistance and that this is part of a more – a broader effort at deterring Russian adventurism, this could create very serious problems and could represent just the wedge that the Putin regime is looking for to divide Europe politically.

Fourth is the issue of nuclear proliferation. He had a number of comments during the campaign about the possibility of agreeing that Japan and South Korea, among others, perhaps Saudi Arabia, should acquire nuclear weapons, should be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. This would be in direct contravention of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and would, of course, dramatically change the balance of power in Asia and possibly in the Middle East as well because it would certainly set off an arms race, we know, in the Middle East. An arms race is already underway in Asia with the behavior of the DPRK. But to – given that the U.S. has provided extended deterrence assurances to both Japan and South Korea, the wisdom of encouraging either country to acquire nuclear weapons is seriously in question.

And then finally, I would note the issue of climate change. He made statements during the campaign indicating that he is at best a climate skeptic and perhaps even a climate denier. Great progress has been made during the Obama Administration, particularly the most recent agreement that – which included a bilateral agreement between the United States and China that requires the agreeing parties to reduce their carbon emissions. If the president walks back those agreements, the entire global arrangement will unravel, and we will be guaranteed a future where we cannot meet these threshold requirements where we know that we pass tipping points and the global climate change becomes irreversible. So there’s a great, great danger here if he attempts to abrogate these recent agreements.

Let me stop there. I think we’ve given you plenty of food for thought, and we’ll open it to questions. Yes. Yes.

MODERATOR: Just wait for the microphone please.

MR BIRDSELL: Oh, I’m sorry.

MODERATOR: No, to the journalists. (Laughter.)

MR BIRDSELL: Oh, okay.

QUESTION: My name is Gisella Lopez. I’m from El Comercio in Peru. How the elected president could heal the wounds with Latin America, not only the Latino voters? So the Latin America, because we always – our countries are always in the backyard, and we always – we are like in the same bag, because we are different countries but we always been in the same bag. Sorry, my English is not so good. But about – what’s your opinion about the heals that he – the wounds in the – in Latin America right now with the rhetoric of the --


QUESTION: -- elected president?

MR BIRDSELL: Right. Well, you know, I think – and Dr. Robbins may want to comment on this too, but the – I mean, if NAFTA is – NAFTA affects, of course, only a limited number of states in Latin America. But I think there appears to be great antipathy towards any further multilateral trade arrangements. I think the Obama Administration, in my view, have – has made some progress in warming relations with a number of Latin American countries, and it’s not at all clear that the next administration is going to be interested in pursuing those warmer relations.

But I don’t know, Carla, if you want to comment on that.

MS ROBBINS: Well, I suppose the biggest question is whether or not he’s going to move forward with the suggestion that seems to be out there that there might be some deportation force, which would suggest perhaps ripping 11 million undocumented who currently live in this country and forcing them out. It’s hard to imagine how that would work. It’s also hard to imagine who would do the jobs that are so fundamental to our economy here.

But I just came back from Argentina yesterday morning to vote, and I will tell you that even that far south, in a country that is that white, there is – was huge, huge concern about Donald Trump and the perception that Latins were being targeted more than anyone else in this campaign. So I do think that the fear is real down there. He certainly said let’s come together today, but I think more than anything, people are going to be watching how he deals with the question of the undocumented, which – and overwhelmingly, he began this campaign by talking about Mexicans as rapists. He has a really, really long way to go if he really wants to bring the country together and to reassure people in Latin America.

MR BIRSELL: And I would just add very, very quickly too that TPP figures in here as well, given the Pacific littoral nations’ interest in that involvement. And if he just unilaterally cancels the negotiations, that will be a profound message that the United States will not be there to nurture commerce in the hemisphere.

Yes, here in the front.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Roy Mobasa (ph), from the Philippines. Prior to coming here, we were referencing a lot about what the American mainstream media has written about this election. I would like to know your thoughts about how the American media has played in this election, because by the (inaudible) that I am seeing, they were criticizing Donald Trump from – I mean, from the very start. We have seen so many negative reporting from the American media about Donald Trump, although there were also parallel stories about Mrs. Clinton. But how do you interpret the role being played by the American media in this election? Because they come out, some opinions, some editorials – especially yesterday, I saw one major newspaper who came out with a very strong editorial dislodging Mr. Trump.

MR WALLERSTEIN: David, I think that would be yours.

MR BIRDSELL: Well, Carla and I are --


MR BIRDSELL: Carla and I are eyeing one another here. (Laughter.) We’ll see where the journalist comes down on this. I have my own feelings.

There are at least two questions here. One is the content of the coverage and the other is the amount of the coverage. If we go back to the primary campaigns, I think the one inarguable fact, whether you are a Trump fan or a Trump hater: Donald Trump was treated differently than any other candidate for the presidency in the history of televised politics. He was invited onto the prestige Sunday morning programs week after week after week. Go and find me a precedent for another primary candidate having that kind of exposure. He was allowed to phone in. Les Moonves, the chair of CBS, said that we loved having him on because he boosts our ratings.

I look at this as a cardinal failing of the primary mission vouchsafed by the Federal Communications Commission to our broadcasters, and cable channels for that matter as well, to try to present the public with options rather than creating a media phenomenon or at least sustaining the creation of that media phenomenon. And that was done absolutely hammer and tong during the primary phase of this campaign. No media coverage, or at least media coverage that was proportional to the other candidates – remember, he was not the frontrunner at the outset. There was no excuse in those terms. But he was put on television that much.

Donald Trump believes himself that there is no such thing as bad coverage. He might revise that opinion given the general election campaign. But that plays large. And Hillary Clinton got nowhere near the airtime – nowhere near the airtime, and much of the time that she did get was on email and the Clinton Foundation.

So I would look at that balance. I think that the American press is going to have to significantly – and I’m sure this is going on right now at the Poynter Institute and elsewhere – to rehash this election and try to figure out how in a social media era and an era of social media celebrity you cover a candidate like Donald Trump, and in 2020 maybe Kanye West. (Laughter.)

MS ROBBINS: Well, first of all, there’s a difference between editorials and news stories, and it is the role of – and I’ve been a reporter and I’ve been an editorial writer. And it is the role of editorials to do exactly what you said. People – that’s what – that’s the voice of the newspaper. You like Donald Trump, you say what’s good about him. You don’t like Donald Trump, and you say what most overwhelmingly American newspapers said. He got the endorsement of, what, the National Enquirer and the Ku Klux Klan and the Las Vegas Review, and that was it. So yes, overwhelmingly negative editorials.

I would say in terms of news coverage from the printed press – I mean, David is absolutely right on the free advertising that Donald Trump got, and I do think that the television has to do this. I think that the printed press did quite a good job at covering the weaknesses of both candidates. And then we have to ask ourselves the question: Were the – was it the American public just didn’t care, didn’t care about Trump University, didn’t care about the failed real estate deals, didn’t care about ripping off the contractors, didn’t care about those things, or were people so overwhelmed by just so many different stories about Donald Trump? And for Hillary Clinton there were only two topics, and really only one, which was emails for a year and a half? And so this question about bandwidth and how much they took in.

So I do think there’s several things going on here in a social media era itself, which is a guy who’s a reality TV star is just fascinating. It’s like watching OJ drive the car really slowly on the 5 in LA. That’s one thing. But I think – I do think that you – that the negative, that perception of negative coverage, I think, is wrong. I think that there was overwhelmingly critical coverage of both candidates and – you’re right – o1verwhelmingly negative editorials. But that is what – that’s the nature of editorial writing, and I think that newspaper were right to do what they did from that point of view.

MR MAIN: I would just say one thing too. The conservative movement has been very good at creating its own set of alternative medias, like Fox News and so forth, so that if you were a Trump supporter you could watch TV and go through the entire campaign without hearing much negative on – about Donald Trump. It’s also interesting that Donald Trump had a much larger Twitter following than Hillary Clinton. He had 11 – more than 11 million Twitter followers. Hillary Clinton had about 8 million. And the far right, the alt-right, had penetrated into Trump’s Twitter following. About 3 percent of the Trump Twitter followers were also following an alt-right site. So you could have put yourself into a bubble where you didn’t have to hear criticism of Donald Trump if you didn’t want to.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Over there at the end, then we’ll come back on this side.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Henrique Gomes Batista, from O Globo newspaper, Brazil. I have three questions, so fast. The first: What’s the real power of the Donald Trump to make the transformance – transformance he promised? The second, and about the legacy of Barak Obama: What is the threatened – the legacy for Barak Obama? And the last question: What’s the importance for the FBI in the results for the elections? Thank you.

MR BIRDSELL: Okay, I’ll start. Let’s begin with what Trump can deliver. As I suggested in my opening remarks, there are number of things that he can actually do on day one in changing environmental regulations, in changing certain regulatory disclosures, in instructing the federal government to behave differently from the way they have behaved for eight years under Barack Obama. He can move to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. There is a question of what he will put in its place. We really don’t know the answer to that question. But does he have the legislative support to do it? Absolutely, and he can move forward rapidly on those issues.

And as Carla suggested early, he can move forward rapidly in a number of foreign policy arenas. He said, for example, that he’s going to abrogate the treaty with Iran on the first day in office. That’s a little more complicated, because you have to – actually have to get the Congress involved. But there’s a lot that he can do. What he can’t do, at least on the basis of the policy proposals that he’s made right now, is change the economic wellbeing of the people who put him in office. There is nothing in his policy set to suggest what it is that he would do with the possible exception of infrastructure spending that would have a short or medium-term impact on that population.

With regard to the legacy of Barack Obama, it’s going to be, to use Mr. Trump’s language, “rubble” by the time we get to March. If there is no Affordable Care Act, if there’s no Iran treaty, if the constant economic and job growth which expanded into wage growth in the September and October jobs reports is – I mean, that will stand as a permanent achievement, but they don’t have to stay there, and those numbers could go down. So if your signature legislative achievement goes out the window, if your signature diplomatic achievement goes out the window, you don’t have a lot of durable legacy to stand on.

And finally, the FBI disclosures I believe, and I think most people believe, were huge, unprecedented, contrary to Justice Department policy, and now we see exactly why.

MODERATOR: Okay, let’s take a question from this side. Right there.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible), from China. Despite this presidential race, the Republicans also control the two houses and the Donald Trump probably going to be the most powerful president in next four years. So what would you say about this rebalance, say, in the next few years between the president and the two houses? Is – does it going to be much easier for the Donald Trump to pass policies like building walls, pull from the trade deals much quickly, much easy? Thanks, that’s my question.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Well, I think I’ll take a stab at that and then invite my colleagues also if they’d like to comment. I think you shouldn’t discount the power of the minority. I mean, we certainly saw during the last eight years the obstructive tactics employed by the Republicans to prevent many, if not most, of the agenda that the Obama Administration was attempting to pursue. There’s every reason to believe that the Democrats will now have to use exactly the same tactics or similar tactics to prevent at least some of what the Trump Administration will try to do. The – of course, there was – there had been expectations that the Democrats might actually take back control of the Senate. That did not happen. But the division is still very close and so unless they attempt to make further changes in the rules governing the passage of legislation, it will be possible for the Democrats to act quite strongly to block various matters. Of course, the issue of the Supreme Court nominations will come up. Could be as many as three during the Administration and we should anticipate enormous political battles over those nominations.

Any other comments?

MR MAIN: Well, I – I would just like to say it’s very difficult in a separation of powers government to deliver major change, for a president to deliver major change. It doesn’t happen very often unless you have a president who runs on a particular platform – very particular platform, gets a majority for it, and then comes into office in a big elect – with a big win and brings the Congress along with him. And that’s what Roosevelt did, and that’s what Lyndon Johnson did, Obama did that for one – two years.


MR MAIN: And that’s what Donald Trump has done. And it’s entirely possible that he’s going to have a window of opportunity that could last at least a couple of years, maybe an entire administration, to bring in non-incremental change. Could it be as big as the Great Society? Maybe.

MS ROBBINS: I – but he doesn’t have a filibuster-proof majority. In fact, if anything, they lost a seat in the Senate, so he – I mean, the Senate exists to slow things down. That’s the nature of our structure itself. And so there are fundamental things that can’t happen, that the Democrats can slow down in the Senate itself. A president has enormous amount of power separate from legislation and I think the question that’s going to exist with the Republicans, as has been said up here, is that the Republicans themselves are going to have to make some decisions: Are they going to follow Donald Trump? Have there – are they going to look at this as an overwhelming mandate?

He, for example, wants to spend more on defense. He wants to spend more money on infrastructure. Does he want to raise taxes to offset that or – which would go against the most fundamental belief of the Republican Party? Does he want to raise the deficit to do that, which is going to go against the most fundamental belief of the Republican leadership? So he --

MR WALLERSTEIN: And the Tea Party.

MS ROBBINS: Right. And he may – so he may find some pushback on some issues itself, but I think that on foreign policy, on immigration, on a lot of the issues that we most immediately care about, the party is with him.

MR MAIN: Yeah.

MR BIRDSELL: And one of the things that I think we’ll look at – Carla used a term that I think is important here – is the filibuster. When the Republicans were in the Senate minority in the first two years of the first Obama Administration, Democrats looking at Republican filibusters, raised the prospect of undoing the filibuster, voting it out of procedure, which can be done on a simple majority vote. And it wasn’t done; it’s seen as the nuclear option, because both parties know some day we’re going to be in the minority and we want some leverage. And so they’ve mutually agreed not to do this, but the talks got fairly far down the road in 2010 about doing this. Let’s see if that comes back on the table, because if the Democrats try to filibuster and the Republicans ultimately decide to get rid of that procedural motion, it’s, Johnny, bar the door.

MR WALLERSTEIN: All bets are off. That’s right.

MS ROBBINS: I – can I – but let me just – and I think that Tom knows this better than the rest of us up here: The question becomes what is the lesson that a Mitch McConnell takes away from this? What’s the lesson that a Paul Ryan takes away from it and looks at the alt-right that is so anathema to the mainstream GOP and says, this guy won.

MR MAIN: Yeah.

MS ROBBINS: We didn’t expect him to win – this guy won, so do we follow him or do we put some restraint on him? We don’t know yet.

MR MAIN: I think they’re going to be inclined to follow him. I think that the NeverTrump movement, which was a group of traditional conservatives – intellectuals mostly who refused to back Trump – they were intellectuals, it was no skin off their nose to say I’m not voting for Trump. But if you’re a Republican speaker of the House, right, to step forward and say I oppose Trump is extremely difficult and, as a matter of fact, Paul Ryan didn’t do it. And --

MS ROBBINS: But he didn’t campaign with him, either.


MR MAIN: Right. True. But my sense is people tend to go with a winner and I – the idea that the Republicans are going to split and there’s going to be a substantial, traditional, conservative, moderate Republicanism, which is going to block Donald Trump? I think it’s not likely.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Here in the front.

QUESTION: Saima Ahran (ph), from Pakistan. I want to ask this: The U.S. current foreign policy regarding Pakistan should be continued or not? Especially, we are seeing here emerging role of the Russia and China in this respect especially. My second question is that we observed during the U.S. presidential election that here is the strong relation between the Trump and Indian community. What you are seeing in the future that it can become a main hurdle between the Pakistan and U.S. relation? Indian and Trump relation. Thank you.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Right. I’ll take a stab at that and then Carla may want to comment on it too. Certainly during the Obama Administration there was a clear tilt to India in terms of South Asian relations. At the same time, Pakistan remained a very important player from the standpoint of managing the relationship with Afghanistan and the role of the Taliban. So I don’t see how the Trump Administration can abandon that relationship.

As you point out, there has been – there were some feelers during the campaign between the Indian Government and the Trump campaign, so my guess is that there will – that will continue. The entire relationship in South Asia is so vital, particularly as a balance to China, and China’s rising power in Asia, that it’s hard to imagine that even under the leadership of a president who really doesn’t have a deep understanding of the complexities and the nuance of these relationships, that he could abandon either set of relationships. And then you factor in the nuclear weapons, which both Pakistan and India have. It makes the matter even more complicated.

Carla, did you want to add to that?

MS ROBBINS: I just think it’s really --

QUESTION: Excuse me, I had one more for you. What is your opinion about Kashmir issue –Kashmir conflict?


QUESTION: Yeah. Kashmir conflict. Thank you.

MS ROBBINS: As I said, this has been such a substance-free campaign, that it is really hard to tell where Donald Trump – whether he has a – even has any knowledge of these issues. So I urge you all to look very closely at who he chooses to be his senior advisors, the people to be his cabinet members. That may tell you something based on their previous track record, although the president has transcendent power. And I think that if you were going to look at what’s going to define balance-of-power politics, I would say more than anything it’s going to be – certainly in Asia itself, it’s going to be trade. And so if we get into a competition with China or a direct fight with China, that’s going – it’s going line up around that issue in that part of the world.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Let’s take one over here again. Yes, sir. Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. Hi, my name is Robert Poradorsh (ph) from Slovenian Press Agency. I guess America is going become great again, right, and whatever that means. (Laughter.)

MS ROBBINS: And Slovenia too.

MR BIRDSELL: We will make great hats. (Laughter.) There’ll be great hats, anyway, (inaudible).

QUESTION: And you all Americans, I guess you’re still here, you’re not in Canada. You’re going to have to live through it. Can you --

MR WALLERSTEIN: There’s a plane at 3 o’clock. (Laughter.)

MS ROBBINS: Charter.

QUESTION: And just from the top of your head, what comes first to your mind? What the outcome of this elections means for Americans? For you, for real Americans, for America.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Who would like to take that one on?

MR MAIN: Well, I’ll just – I’ll say this: I think that – this may be a narrow point, but when I was very young, right, the extreme wing or the non-democratic ideologies were on the left; you had like the new left and communists and so forth. Now, the non-democratic ideologies are on the right and I think that that form of thought, the alt-right, is going to – has the potential to exercise the kind of influence on political culture and policy that maybe the new left did. Which will – and the new left’s influence was limited, but the new left candidate, George McGovern, lost. (Laughter.) The alt-right candidate won. And it’s interesting – I think the last time a – something like a major party political candidate was endorsed by a truly radical, anti-democratic ideology was maybe Henry Wallace in 1948, when the communists endorsed him. But he wasn’t a major party candidate. He was a progressive; he had been vice president. Trump is the first time a major party president has been endorsed by – yeah, I guess a radically non-democratic ideology. That’s a matter of concern.

MR BIRDSELL: I just want to say, Robert, it’s hard for me to answer the question in some respects. You’ve heard what could easily be read as concerns about the direction of certain policies. I would argue that a policy consensus has been blurring if not eroding in the United States for some time, with sharply different notions of the role of federal government, with sharply different notions about how we should access health care and education and all the rest. But one thing that seemed relatively consistent across at least elite behavior and elite opinion had been the steady march toward globalization and a more interconnected world. That is absolutely the case in our business, higher education, our collective business. And the relationships with universities and institutions and people in other nations is now one of the great driving forces culturally, intellectually, and economically of higher education. And I wonder to what extent that might take a blow during the course of these next two to four years. It would profoundly change the trajectory of American higher education. There are other forces buffeting our tertiary education system. But that is a concern and it may be as a practical matter, and you asked the question in personal terms, so I’m asking it – answering it in personal terms. It may be the most meaningful short-term consequence for me, where I live.

MR WALLERSTEIN: I would add one other comment here, because you asked about personal response. This morning, I got a text message from my 32-year-old daughter, who lives in Denver, Colorado, saying that she woke up this morning, was embarrassed to be an American citizen. That to me was about the saddest thing I could imagine.

MR MAIN: Yeah, I got a panicked phone call from my son, who is a recent graduate in regional planning. He works for local government in Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, which was Trump country. He called me up and he was stunned and he was asking questions like, gee, I have friends who were born in the Dominican Republic and Pakistan. And I calmed him down. Listen, I think many of us who were anti-Trump now become – move into the loyal opposition. We’ve got to give the guy a chance to fail, at least, and the Republic endured James Buchanan – barely – so let’s let – I think we’ll still be standing by the time this is all over.

MS ROBBINS: And I too got a panicked call from my – at two in the morning from my Hispanic daughter, who was – and we’ve had a peaceful transition of power. Secretary Clinton has said she will support the president-elect. President Obama has said that. And I’ve worked in a lot of places, you all have worked in a lot of places, where there aren’t peaceful transitions of power, so we have to hope for the best.

But at the same time, I think we have to be very clear about it that the thing that makes America great is that we are a country of immigrants, that we are a country of many colors and many diverse creeds. And as much as we may say we are going to be the loyal opposition, I personally and I suspect that all of my colleagues reject the level of hate speech that existed in this campaign --


MS ROBBINS: -- and I hope certainly that the president elect will move beyond it.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Absolutely. Good point.

MR MAINS: I just want to say one other thing. What’s interesting about the far right nowadays – the alt-right – is they’re anti-American. They don’t like Americanism, because they see America as having been taken over by the immigrants. They see America as no longer dominated by whites. They don’t like America as it exists, and many of them are secessionists. Yeah, literal secessionists. So we’ll see what happens.

MR BIRDSELL: My daughter was upset too, just to make clear it’s unanimous up here at the table. (Laughter.)

MR WALLERSTEIN: We have a question here on the right.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Gabriel. I’m from the Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense.

MR WALLERSTEIN: From where? I’m sorry, couldn’t hear you.

QUESTION: The Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense. And I’m wondering how explosive the rise of this alt-right movement could be, since we had those demonstrations in Ferguson, the Black Lives Matter movement. So what are the limitations for the alt-right movement, and do they have, like – how strong they could be? There i pressure against him – against them.

MR MAINS: Well, I think the way you should think about the alt-right – you should understand it’s not really – it’s not an interest group. It’s not a – really a political movement. It’s not a mass movement. They see themselves as an intellectual tendency, as – and they model themselves consciously after a movement that they despise, which was the neoconservatives, which they saw as a – moderate conservatives that took over the Republican Party for decades and altered its trajectory.

And what the alt-right wants to do is not so much – as I said, they’re not a mass-based party, they’re not an interest-based party. Even – they don’t – not so much interested in policies. They’re interested in becoming a new way of thinking about politics that comes to dominate the Republican Party. And there’s going to be pushback, but I think they’ve got – they’ve succeeded in getting a toehold and they’re moving forward with that agenda. I’d say they’re on course with that agenda, wouldn’t you?

MR WALLERSTEIN: Other questions? Yes, sir. Okay, microphone coming.

QUESTION: I’m Nuzrah Kadosen (ph) from Mwananchi, Tanzania. Dr. David, you said this year we have seen a massive blow to polling business and social science. Maybe – what should be done now to recover from what happened?

The second question is: What do you see the future of U.S.-Africa relation? Because you have heard less about U.S.-Africa relation from Trump.

MR BIRDSELL: On the first part, with the recovery, the first thing we have to do is figure out what went wrong. And again, without getting into the sort of wonkier end of the details, no matter what your model, no matter how you framed this, if you were a mainstream election aggregator and predictor, you got it wrong. And that’s really remarkable. This has never happened before that everybody got it wrong in the modern era. Obviously there’s the famous Dewey-Truman election in 1948, but polling was in its infancy at that stage. They were scientific, but we didn’t know as much as we do now.

What is it that’s driving this? And as I suggested, it may be that we’ve had a relatively stable environment in which we’ve modeled the relationship between a people and the government, and that that fundamental relationship is changing so it gets harder to figure out how we assess the viability of campaign messages and messaging against that shifting relationship. And remember, this is taken place during a massive technological transformation both in terms of the conditions of the workplace, social media, and the modes of communication, and this factor of globalization. So the unfamiliar is foisted upon people very regularly, and you might retreat into these revanchist positions which have been very much a hallmark of the Trump campaign and, I would argue, of the Republican side of the campaign this year overall. Let us go back to, restore – the language is very much about a language of return rather than a language of moving forward, and I think that’s significant here perhaps even for the social science.

With regard to relationships with Africa, I’m going to take a page from Carla’s notebook here. It never came up. One of the things – I often have a chance to go abroad and give lectures, and I always feel I have to disappoint the inevitable question from a student in the room who says you’re just coming from the presidential campaign, what is it that they said about Indonesia? It’s kind of nothing, except Barack Obama lived there and he’s probably a Muslim, right? So there’s so little attention – barring China, the Middle East, and Russia, what else came into the conversation this year? I don’t think anything. Like literally nothing. And that is a concern because it doesn’t engage the populace in thinking about the potential of our presence in, partnerships with, and connections to Africa or most of the rest of the globe. So I can’t tell based upon what we know today.

MS ROBBINS: I will – and David’s right; it certainly didn’t come up. I would say that the parts of Africa that have benefited from globalization and from reducing trade barriers and all of that, I would say fasten your seatbelts. It’s not going to be great, certainly, with this, and we may be looking at more trade wars. And that’s not going to be good for the developing parts of Africa that have really benefited over the last decade.

On the issues of development assistance and foreign aid from the United States, expect there’ll be more pressure against it. The Republicans have never liked it. It will be forced downwards. That’s not good. And questions like – I see you have a shirt on – questions like what’s going to happen to the malaria fundamental, the PEPFAR, AIDS, things of that – that was supported by the George W. Bush administration. Once again, it will depend on who he brings in. Are there going to be people who get the notion that it’s important to fight malaria, to fight AIDS, to do all of that? He certainly has never talked about it.

MR MAINS: I’d just like to say I’m not sure what the election of Trump means for Africa, but if the question is what does it mean for Africans or, let’s say, for people of African descent in the United States, I mean, this is clearly a radical setback. The alt-right radically believes that all men are not created equal, and they’re quite specific that what this means is black people on average in terms of temperament and intelligence are not on a level with whites in the United States, and as a result, multiracial democracy is very difficult.

And it’s interesting: One outrageous statement that Trump made that did not receive a lot of attention is he does go around saying that he doesn’t believe all men are created equal, all right? So think about that and think about what having a guy who is influenced by that kind of thought implies for Africa and African Americans and for non-white parts of the globe. It’s not encouraging.

MS ROBBINS: But it’s not what Americans believe.

MR WALLERSTEIN: It is not, and I would say that it’s highly likely that the administration will include people who have different views than the alt-right, Tom. I think it’s fair to say that.

MR MAINS: Absolutely. Let me just make one point very clear: The alt-right is a small minority.


MR MAINS: It’s a tiny minority. I don’t mean to mislead you. The – but my concern is this: A relatively small number of people, if they organize themselves, and what they’re looking to achieve is not immediate policy goals but intellectual influence – if they’re organized, they can have that kind of impact. And I’m concerned that the alt-right is very, very tiny – okay, very, very tiny – but it may well be in a situation where it can have more influence than the tiny extreme right used to have. The essential body politic of the United States is healthy, so we’ve got --




MODERATOR: Time for one last question.

MR WALLERSTEIN: One more? Okay. We’ll do – right here.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Peruz (ph) from Afghanistan. What do you expect from Trump’s administration, and more on terrorism? Also, what will happen with Iran nuclear deal?

MR WALLERSTEIN: Yeah. I’ll comment on that, and again, Carla may want to pick that up too. If there’s one thing – as David said, this has been almost content-free campaign from an international standpoint in many respects, but if there’s one issue that he harped on during the campaign, it was terrorism. He focused mostly on ISIS but seemed to be making comments more generally. He – again, I think the reflection of his lack of foreign policy experience, national security experience – there was a lot of vague generalities and about being very tough on terrorism, but very little in the way of specifics about what he would do differently than the Obama Administration has been doing for the last eight years. I think we might expect some further, more assertive effort to confront ISIS directly, which could imply boots on the ground, although I think he would run into some significant resistance in the Congress, which is why Obama was treading so lightly on that.

Obviously, with respect to your own country, the question of what happens as the Taliban continue to be resurgent and whether a Trump administration would be prepared to put additional U.S. forces back into Afghanistan – my guess is that they would, and so this becomes effectively an endless war rather than looking for some sort of diplomatic, internal political solution to the conflict. So I think these are very significant questions.

The second part of your question had to do with Iran?

QUESTION: Iran. Iran nuclear deal.

MS ROBBINS: The nuclear deal.

MR WALLERSTEIN: The nuclear deal? Yeah. This is something, of course, that I care about myself very much, given the issues that I’ve worked on. I think that the administration is likely to come under enormous external pressure. Given that this was a multiparty agreement, they will come under enormous external pressure not to abandon the agreement. Moreover, there’s really no viable alternative, because we know for a fact that if the agreement is abrogated, that the Iranians will simply restart their weapons development program without any delay and that we will see an Iranian nuclear weapon probably within a year or at most 18 months, because they have already mastered most of the technologies that they need. And that in turn will set off an arms race in the Middle East the likes of which we’ve never seen.

So those would be my views. Carla?

MS ROBBINS: The thing that’s so puzzling about all this is that there is a fundamental internal conflict about President-elect Trump’s positions. On the one hand, he says that he’s going to be very – he’s going to confront ISIS really, really aggressively, far more aggressively. At the same time, he says we’re far too engaged overseas, we’re far too engaged in the Middle East, we’re far too engaged in these places. So I don’t really sort of get it myself how do you both.

If I were to predict – I mean, even if – I don’t see this as a guy who’s going to be willing to broker any sort of negotiations with the Taliban. At the same time, he wants to bring the troops home, so that is a great puzzle. I don’t really know how you square that circle either, but he wants to be confrontational with ISIS.

I suppose the one thing that I suppose I can imagine might happen would be in Syria, in which that potentially he would cut some sort of a deal with the Russians and back Assad against ISIS. He’s already basically said that. And whether there can be stability in Syria with Assad, who has presided over the death of nearly half a million people, I am skeptical. But in the near term, I suppose that is what I imagine would be the one clear path that I could see him confronting.

But beyond that, I can’t really see. I mean, he says he doesn’t want to be in Iraq. How do you deal with ISIS if you’re not in Iraq? I don’t see the internal contradictions and how they’re resolved.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Very good. Well, we appreciate your attendance here and your good questions, and we wish you all the best of luck in figuring out how to report on these complicated issues to your home countries.

MS ROBBINS: Thank you so much.

MR BIRDSELL: And when you finally figure out what went on, please let us know.

MR WALLERSTEIN: Let us know.