The Trump Project is On!


I am pleased to announce that I am joining a group of outstanding scholars in a project called: The Trump Project.

The Mission Statement of the project reads as follow:

The rise of Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 is symptomatic of dynamics that both predated his election and will outlast his presidency. This project aims at studying such dynamics: how they led to Trump’s election and what we could expect during and after his presidency. To do so the Trump Project brings together a number of international scholars with a diverse range of expertise in US politics and foreign policy. The goal is to create an international network which will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and analyses over topical issues in international affairs. Our aspiration is to have a significant impact outside of academia by reaching out to policymakers, news outlets, the business community, and the general public.

The full list of the members participating in the project can be found here

For further information and/or to get involved please me at

Woodrow Wilson’s influence on US foreign policy will outlast Donald Trump

US President Woodrow Wilson justified the US’s 1917 entry into World War I with the famous words: “The world must be made safe for democracy.” That was exactly a century ago and marked the beginning of the doctrine known as “Wilsonianism” – broadly speaking, a conviction that the US has a vital interest in promoting liberal democratic norms abroad.

One way or another, Wilsonianism has had a prominent role in US foreign policy ever since its founder first articulated it. But now, exactly a century after the US entered World War I, another president is supposedly keen to put an end to it.

Throughout the latest US presidential campaign and during his first hundred-odd days in office, Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected traditional Wilsonian ideas of promoting US values and interests abroad. He openly questioned the idea that the US is “innocent” of foreign policy misdeeds, and on a recent visit to Saudi Arabia said he was “not here to lecture” other countries about what they do within their borders.

He’s also harshly criticised previous US policies of “nation-building” aimed at expanding the community of democracies, and even publicly praised autocratic foreign strongmen such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also displays contempt for liberal democratic norms such as press freedom and religious liberty.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s statements have elicited strong reactions within and outside the US, some commentators accusing him of “making the world safe for dictators”, while human rights watchdogs call him a “real risk” (Amnesty International USA) and a “threat” (Human Rights Watch) to the post-World War II international human rights system.

But does the Trump presidency really spell the end of Wilsonianism in US foreign policy? I would argue otherwise. Yes, Trump has adamantly and consistently shunned traditional Wilsonian objectives, but Wilsonianism has been prematurely counted out before – including under both of Trump’s immediate predecessors.

Doctrines in flux

When George W Bush first ran for president in 2000, he clearly seemed to prefer great-power realism to idealistic notions such as democracy promotion. His famous 2000 line, “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building”, was frequently interpreted as evidence of a less-than-Wilsonian worldview.

It remains unclear whether Bush’s scepticism at the time was the expression of deeply held convictions or part of an effort to distance himself from the Clinton administration, which had put nation-building and democracy promotion high up its agenda. But whatever Bush’s real ideological attachments when he ran for the presidency, everything changed with the 9/11 attacks.

Suddenly, Wilsonianism was back, at least at the rhetorical level. Bush’s second inaugural address is especially full of references to Wilsonian themes. He said:

The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

A similar dynamic played out during Barack Obama’s first term. In his early days, many observers and thinkers surmised that Obama was turning his back on Wilsonianism as a pillar of US foreign policy. They pointed to his willingness to engage personally with non-democratic governments; his administration’s slow and principally rhetorical response to the Iranian government’s crackdown on democratic protests in 2009; and the fact that he chose not to make democracy promotion a headline item of his renowned 2009 Cairo Speech, in which he set out a vision for the US’s place in the world.

But as with Bush, there are alternative explanations besides ideology.

The new president obviously had a strong interest in putting some distance between his administration and Bush’s, especially when it came to democracy promotion – an idea that had been badly tainted by Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and other War on Terror policies. And as they did with Bush, events caught up with Obama.

Regardless of his personal philosophy, the outbreak of the Arab Awakening in late 2010 and its apotheosis in spring 2011 unquestionably brought Wilsonian themes back to the forefront of Obama’s foreign policy. In May 2011, Obama went so far as to say:

Our support for [Wilsonian] principles is not a secondary interest – today I am making it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal. Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy …

Now, even as we promote political reform, even as we promote human rights in the region, our efforts can’t stop there. So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy.

Then came Trump. He campaigned hard as an anti-establishment candidate, specifically was anti-Hillary Clinton. Perhaps because Clinton is a former secretary of state, Trump riffed on his supposedly extreme contrast with her into his foreign policy rhetoric: “We must abandon the failed policy of nation-building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria.”

During the campaign, his pronouncements were often discussed as the words of a radical isolationist – but any commitments he had may yet wither in the face of events.

As did many of their predecessors, both Bush and Obama ultimately invoked Wilsonian themes to attract domestic and international support for specific actions. Is it really unreasonable to think that if (or when) he’s faced with an acute international crisis, Trump will do the same? Yes, he may yet turn out to be a genuine threat to Wilsonianism – but its sheer endurance across so many presidencies implies that even this idiosyncratic, volatile commander-in-chief might not kill it off.


This article was originally published on The Conversation UK on May 24th, 2017. Link.

Presenting at UCD conference on Trump’s America, May 6th

RCDS talk April 2014 (3)

On May the 6th, I will be presenting a paper at the “Trump’s America” conference hosted by the Clinton Institute at UCD.

I will be part of a panel focusing on US foreign policy.

The abstract of my presentation is below:

Could President Trump represent a major break with the tradition of US democracy promotion in the Middle East? Wilsonianism has long represented one of the most influential approaches in the tradition of US foreign policy. The focus of Wilsonianism has been on the advancement of US values abroad, especially of liberal democratic values. Accordingly, US foreign policy rhetoric has commonly referred to the promotion of US values to describe and justify US international behavior. Evidence from the 2016 US presidential campaign and President Donald Trump’s first months in office indicates that this may no longer be the case, especially with regard to the Middle East. Many commentators have consistently argued that the new president has completely dropped the Wilsonian aspects of US foreign policy; therefore breaking with more than 100 years of US foreign policy.

In this paper, I will:

1) maintain that Trump’s departure from Wilsonianism may be a temporary phenomenon likely to change during his time in office. To make this argument I will present historical evidence of similar dynamics playing out during the George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s administrations.

2) identify the key reasons, at both the national and systemic levels, that could explain Wilsonianism’s past, present, and future resilience as a core approach to US foreign policy.



Free Course -Alliances, Coalitions and the Use of Force

12-16 June 2017 | University of Oslo
The aim of the course is to scrutinize the advantages and disadvantages of using military force for political purposes through alliances and coalitions, and how to study alliance behaviour and coalition warfare scientifically. PhD candidates at the University of Oslo should apply for the course in StudentWeb. Other candidates can apply using the Application form. The application deadline is 5 May 2017. If you have questions regarding admission, please contact Guro Schmidt Øvregard

Newsletter 27/03/2017


Career, Writing & Funding Opportunities

Call for Applications – Next Generation Women, Peace and Security & Gender Peace and Security Symposium
12-16 November | Washington DC
Women in International Security is pleased to announce the launch of the Next Generation WPS+GPS Symposium. The five-day symposium will examine international security challenges from a gender perspective and bring together an international cohort of 24 graduate students (MA and PhD students). The symposium is scheduled to take place November 12-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C. For more information please see:

Call for Applications – Arctic Change – CGlobal Challenge: Worskhop for Emerging Leaders
30-31 August 2017 | Rovaniemi, Finland
The aim of this workshop is to increase the capacity of individuals who may become the next generation global leaders to understand and act on the new security and governance challenges that are developing in the context of global environmental change. It will bring together a small group of young professionals with leadership aspirations with the specific task of using Arctic change as a starting point for defining what global security and governance might entail in the next 20-30 years and to explore their own roles in addressing them. The application should include:

  • Cover letter including:
    • Short presentation of yourself
    • Motivation:  How you and others would benefit from your participation
    • Some words about how you see global-local interactions in your area of interest
    • Some words about  where you see yourself as a leader in five to ten years from now
    • Optional: Request for travel support with budget
  • CV

APPLY HEREApplication deadline: 20 April 2017. For further information, please contact:
Free Course – Alliances, Coalitions and the Use of Force
12-16 June 2017 | University of Oslo
The aim of the course is to scrutinize the advantages and disadvantages of using military force for political purposes through alliances and coalitions, and how to study alliance behaviour and coalition warfare scientifically. PhD candidates at the University of Oslo should apply for the course in StudentWeb. Other candidates can apply using the Application form. The application deadline is 5 May 2017. If you have questions regarding admission, please contact Guro Schmidt Øvregard

Call for Proposals – UK Project on Nuclear Issues Annual Conference
UK PONI is currently inviting presentation proposals from students and emerging specialists who would like to present their ideas and research at the annual UK PONI conference on 1 June 2017. Further details can be found in the Call for Proposals. The 2017 Annual Conference will gather established and emerging experts from academia, industry, government and the military to share insights and debate a broad range of civil and military nuclear topics. The conference also prioritises affording younger presenters the opportunity to showcase their own research and exchange ideas with prominent experts. Proposals should be submitted to, with ‘Annual Conference Proposal’ as the subject. Submission should be received by 1700 GMT on Wednesday 29 March 2017.

Call for Papers – St Anthony’s International Review (STAIR)
Oxford University’s international relations journal, St Antony’s International Review (STAIR), is calling for papers for the February 2018 Issue, dedicated to an academic analysis of the implications of ‘post-truth’ political movements to international affairs.Abstracts of 500 words will be accepted on a rolling basis until 1 April 2017. Final articles of max. 8000 words to be submitted by 1 August 2017. Please submit your contributions to Leah Matchett cc’d to Katherine Tyson and to Ivo Bantel. For more details regarding submission procedures and the style guide, please click here.

Conference – VIMY 2017: Both Sides of the Ridge
20-22 April 2017, University of Calgary
Marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, this conference will be unique as five German speakers, some of the most influential scholars of German military history, are highlighted in the program. Their presence will give audience members including academics, students and others unprecedented access to German perspectives on Vimy, World War One and other issues. As well, this conference brings together some of the most well-known WWI historians in North America to share their research. To register, please click here or visit:

European Forum Alpbach 2017 – Scholarship Applications Now Open
16 August – 1 September 2017 | Alpbach, Austria
We’re delighted to invite you to apply for a scholarship from Club Alpbach London to attend this year’s European Forum Alpbach held in the village of Alpbach in the Austrian Alps. Club Alpbach London awards scholarships to diverse, bright and forward-thinking young people to attend the 2.5 week long conference about Europe’s future in the Austrian alps. Join us and world leading politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, scientists, artist and diplomats to discuss today’s realities and tomorrow’s possibilities – and perhaps even kick start your career. Apply by 31 March 2017. See the website for more details.

Call for Abstracts – 2nd Annual LINCS Conference ‘Technology, Society and the Political: Meeting the Interdisciplinary Challenges’ 
25 May 2017 | Queen’s University Belfast
The Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Network for Cybersecurity and Society (LINCS) invites paper and/or panel proposals for its second annual conference to be held on the 25 May 2017 at Queen’s University Belfast. The conference aims to critically interrogate the impact of technology and its ever increasing role in the interplay between societal developments and political processes. In particular, we invite contributions from Ph.D. candidates and early career researchers whose work engages with, but is not limited to, the following broad themes:

  • What societal challenges, as well as opportunities, emerge from the coupling of modernity and technology?
  • How do technological developments affect social and political life, and how are they in turn similarly affected?
  • How does technology enable and/or constrain the emergence of new forms of control and governance?
  • How does the analytical focus on technology problematize traditional understandings of power, accountability, subjectivity and citizenship?
  • How can we identify, analyse and critically account for technology’s socio-political and legal implications?
  • How are current legal frameworks affected by technological developments, and what is the role of law in making technology accountable to democratic values?
  • What political processes and practices can bring technology into democracy?

If you are interested in participating, please send a tentative title, affiliation, and abstract of your contribution to Georgios Glouftsios or Adam Harkens by 17 April 2017. Participants will be contacted on the 21st of April. Please note that abstracts should not exceed 300 words.

Call for Papers – London Conference in Critical Thought 2017
30 June – 1 July 2017 | London South Bank University
The sixth annual London Conference in Critical Thought (LCCT), hosted by the School of Law and Social Sciences at London South Bank University, will offer a space for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas for scholars who work with critical traditions and concerns. The conference is divided into thematic streams, each coordinated by different researchers and with separate calls for papers. We welcome paper proposals that respond to the particular streams below:

  • Art in the Time of Capital
  • A/Political Feeling
  • Bridging Memory, Temporality and the Digital
  • Constructing Cultures of Collective Freedom
  • Desire and the Political: Exploring the Not-All of Language
  • Economies of Cultural Knowledge
  • Theorizing Ethics and Politics in Ethnographic Practice
  • The Good is Perfected by Care
  • Habit, Addiction, and Thought
  • NUDGE: Interdisciplinary perspectives on choice architecture
  • On the Question of Language
  • Politics and the Theological
  • Politics of Poverty
  • Radical Hospitality
  • Vernacular Aesthetics of the Global City

Please send proposals for 20 minute papers or presentations, with the relevant stream indicated in the subject line, to Submissions should be no more than 250 words and should be received by the deadline of 31 March 2017

E-International Relations Article Award
Starting in 2017 and continuing annually, E-IR will invite PhD / doctoral students and early career academics to prepare short papers outlining novel, or under appreciated, ideas that will contribute to the understanding of international relations. The award welcomes papers on empirical, political and diplomatic issues that impact upon global or regional politics, as well as papers that discuss theoretical and disciplinary issues central to International Relations. An expert panel will select a shortlist based on those articles that 1) successfully present a valid and interesting idea or interpretation and 2) do so in an engaging and understandable way. The shortlisted papers will then be published on E-International Relations and be considered for inclusion in an open access Edited Collection. From the shortlisted candidates, one winner will be awarded and given £500 in book tokens from our partners at Routledge and Oxford University Press. Papers must be received by 30 March 2017. We will inform all entrants of our decision by 15 June. To enter, please send your article in a Microsoft word format (.docx) together with a cover page containing a short biography (containing affiliation, summary of academic qualifications/status and past publications) to Clearly title your email ‘Article Award Entry’. For more information visit the website.

CALL FOR PAPERS Current Themes in the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence – 2nd Postgraduate Conference
9 June 2017 | Ulster University, Belfast campus
We invite submissions for papers from postgraduate students on all areas of terrorism and political violence research. Papers are invited for themes including but not exclusive to:
Conceptual Debates in Terrorism Research • Psychology of Terrorism • Terrorism and Organized Crime • Lone Actor Terrorism • Terrorist Learning • Cyber Terrorism • Terrorism and Prisons • Counter-Terrorism Legislation • Emerging Threats • State Responses to Terrorism • Terrorism and Warfare • Terrorism and Identity • Children and Terrorism • Gender and Terrorism • Dealing with Political Violence • The Legacy of Political Violence
If you wish to organise a conference panel please email the conference organisers regarding the theme and panellists’ names. All panellists should submit individual abstracts before the deadline.Submissions should include a paper title and abstract (max. 500 words), full name(s) and current position by 18 April 2017. Please submit proposals electronically and direct any enquiries to Dr Rachel Monaghan