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Donald J. Trump has been elected President of the United States and will succeed Barack Obama early 2017. The campaign between the two flawed candidates was ugly, negative and intense. The outcome is nothing short of stunning. And has unveiled a divided America. In the coming days a million explanations, analyses and comments will flood the media and the internet. Please make sure to watch Jonathan Haidt explain the challenges America – and… Read More

Boeken over de oorlog in Vietnam blijven me boeien. James Webb schreef Vuurvelden in 1978, na zijn terugkeer uit Vietnam. Webb ging later de politiek in, onder andere als Democratische Senator van Virginia, en schreef nog een tiental boeken. Dit moet een van zijn beste zijn. Een intens boek lang zitten we op de huid van een peloton jongens – want hoewel de oorlog harde mannen van ze maakt, zijn ze, op… Read More

Strong and insightful American Interest article by Jonathan Haidt on how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between nationalism and globalism. What on earth is going on in the Western democracies? From the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and an assortment of right-wing parties across Europe through the June 23 Brexit vote, many on the Left have the sense that something dangerous and ugly is spreading: right-wing… Read More

We dangerously underestimate the risk of populism in this ultra-democratic era. American democracy is in danger of extinction. In an erudite New York Magazine article, Andrew Sullivan  links Plato’s warning on late-stage democracy, the problematic role of our emotional mass media, the economic stagnation of the American middle class, identity politics, fascism, and people’s preference for oversimplified solutions to our complex problems – into a vigorous appeal to do anything possible to… Read More

Obama’s foreign policy is widely criticized for being dangerously reluctant (drawing unimpressive red lines for instance) and too timid (America shouldn’t be leading ‘from behind’). In this Atlantic article the president speaks at length about his decisions and doesn’t shy away from sharing his doubts. We get a front row seat at many important moments over the last 7 years. I wish more presidents were as reflective on their policy as Obama…. Read More

The Rolling Stone long-read that caused quite some online stir, arguing that the the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show, in which Donald Trump makes the winning point that the regular guy has been screwed by a conspiracy of incestuous elites. The author,  Matt Taibbi, ends his piece with what a cri de coeur: “King Trump. Brace yourselves, America. It’s really happening.”  

Sarah Palin is back: whatever you may think of her, she gives a fascinating endorsement speech. Enjoy.  

Dit boekje belooft ‘alles over de Amerikaanse verkiezingen’, wat enigszins overdreven is. Wel is het een leuk en nuttig overzicht van de smerigste campagnes (de allersmerigste is die van 1856), slimste leuzen (de beste: I Like Ike), zwakste running mates (natuurlijk Dan Quayle) en beste presidenten (FDR). Voor Amerika lovers. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – Paul Brill (2012)

Interesting Politico piece arguing we don’t really care about the truth, the reason why so many politicians get away with lies. We are inclined to believe them unless we have a previous reason not to believe them. It’s all about cognitive dissonance. Related, some insight on whether the Republican party will survive the Donald.

As this New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins (author of the great book The Forever War) argues, it should’t surprise anyone that no politician in charge in the last 10 years, Republican or Democrat, isn’t compromised by the chaotic American involvement in Iraq. Claiming that State Secretary Hillary Clinton stood by while events unravelled is as un-factual as blaming George W. Bush for all things gone wrong. As always, reality is nuanced – a difficult… Read More

As the US presidential election approaches, books on candidates, geopolitical issues and the hard choices would-be presidents will see themselves confronted with, will hit the bookstores in big numbers. My guess is that this one will probably stand out for clarity, as the author isn’t afraid to balance all his arguments – as normally seen in essays. After G-Zero this is Bremmer’s second book I read, and again he shows great ability in describing the complex world in a… Read More

Hands down the best political biography I’ve read. The book gives great insights in the man and the President Lyndon Baines Johnson was, telling the story of a turbulent era in US history through a new lens – ranging from the Cuba Crisis to the Civil Rights Act. In essence it’s a lesson on how to use power. The book also contains great stories – one of my favorites being German Chancellor… Read More

Ian Bremmer is the new star of international relations, his book is clever, easy to read and has a clear concept. We  live in a wold where no G-20, G-3, G-8 has the power to push through decisions. We are all on our own and should prepare for wheeling and dealing with our neighbours on a permanent basis.

One has to admire the man’s courage – not a lot of people dare to write about their failures. And that makes this book such a pleasure to read; his cunning account of his attempt to become leader of Canada’s liberal party and after that, premier. As we know he never made it to the highest office, but that is exactly what makes this account a great guide for anyone aspiring a… Read More

Hilarious account of Congressman Charlie Wilson, who together with CIA operative Gus Avraktos, creates an ever expanding program to support the Afghan Mujahideen – back in the days when the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan. This story proves that reality is more surprising than our imagination.