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The Populist Challenge to Foreign Policy: A Transatlantic Perspective

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The Faces of Contemporary Populism in Western Europe and the US

Abstract

Populism is considered in this chapter not just as a form of rhetoric formulating a protest, but rather as a project, responding to a crisis of politics within contemporary democracies—in short, as a phenomenon carrying a political vision and, therefore a content, rather than just an attitude. The chapter argues that populism in foreign policy presents an alternative view of international relations, which also articulates the main criticism of the contemporary international system, its institutions and operating rules—what is commonly referred to as the “international liberal order.” There is a populist challenge to contemporary foreign policies in the transatlantic space and beyond: it represents an increasingly strong disrupting force because of transatlantic circulations, because of the power of the bully pulpit of the Trump (Twitter) Presidency, and because it meets challenges to this order brought by states, especially Russia, but also China.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The author would like to thank Zachary Courser, at Claremont McKenna College, for inviting her to join the Tocqueville Project (2017–2018) on “Democratic Discontent: How Populism and Nationalism are Reshaping Politics in Europe and America.” This work would not have been possible without it. Another version of this chapter, entitled “Is There A Populist Foreign Policy?” is pending review at University of Pennsylvania Press.

  2. 2.

    Cas Mudde, “The Populist Zeitgeist”, Government and Opposition, 39:4, 2004.

  3. 3.

    Bertjan Verbeek, Andrej Zaslove, “Populism and Foreign Policy”, in Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul Taggart, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Pierre Ostiguy (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Populism, Oxford University Press, 2017.

  4. 4.

    Here I am using presentations by Gilles Ivaldi and Patrick Moreau from the international conference at the University of Toulon in June 2018 on “Faces of Contemporary Populism in Europe and the United States,” on several European cases.

  5. 5.

    Angelos Chryssogelos, “Populism in Foreign Policy”, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Online Publication, July 2017.

  6. 6.

    Bertjan Verbeek, Andrej Zaslove, “Populism and Foreign Policy”, in Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul Taggart, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Pierre Ostiguy (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Populism, Oxford University Press, 2017.

  7. 7.

    Jean-Yves Camus, « Montée des populismes et des nationalismes dans le monde: coïncidence ou phénomène global? », Questions Internationales, n°83, janvier-février 2017.

  8. 8.

    Mike McIntire, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan, “In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies”, The New York Times, November 2, 2019.

  9. 9.

    Mark Fenster, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

  10. 10.

    Tamara Boussac, « Le populisme aux Etats-Unis, du XIXe siècle à Donald Trump », Questions Internationales, n°83, janvier-février 2017; Pierre Melandri, « La rhétorique populiste aux Etats-Unis », Vingtième Siècle, n°56, octobre-décembre 1997.

  11. 11.

    Joshua Zeitz, “Historians Have Long Thought Populism Was a Good Thing. Are They Wrong?” Politico Magazine, 14 janvier 2018.

  12. 12.

    Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, Knopf, 2001.

  13. 13.

    Walter Russell Mead, “The Tea Party and American Foreign Policy”, Foreign Affairs, March–April 2011.

  14. 14.

    Susi Dennison, Dina Pardijs, The World According to Europe’s Insurgent Parties, ECFR, June 2016. On populism and foreign policy in Europe, also see: Rosa Balfour, Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Catherine Fieschi, Heather Grabbe, Christopher Hill, Timo Lochocki, Marie Mendras, Cas Mudde, Mari K. Niemi, Juliane Schmidt, Corina Stratulat, Europe’s Troublemakers: The Populist Challenge to Foreign Policy, March 2016.

  15. 15.

    François Stéphane, Olivier Schmitt, « L’extrême-droite française contemporaine et le monde: une vision alternative des relations internationales », Revue Interrogations, n°21, December 2015.

  16. 16.

    Thomas Wright, “Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy”, Politico, January 20, 2016.

  17. 17.

    On Exceptionalism and U.S. foreign policy: Maya Kandel, Les Etats-Unis et le monde, de George Washington à Donald Trump, Paris: Perrin, 2018.

  18. 18.

    Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Obama Doctrine”, The Atlantic, April 2016.

  19. 19.

    James Benkowski, A. Bradley Potter, “The Center Cannot Hold: Continuity and Change in Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy”, War on the Rocks, November 1, 2017.

  20. 20.

    Maya Kandel, « Donald Trump a-t-il changé la politique étrangère américaine? », Cadernos de Politica Exterior, Vol 3 n°6, 2e semestre 2017.

  21. 21.

    See James Mann, “The Adults in the Room”, The New York Review of Books, October 26, 2017.

  22. 22.

    Details in Maya Kandel, « Donald Trump a-t-il changé la politique étrangère américaine? », Cadernos de Politica Exterior, Vol 3 n°6, 2e semestre 2017.

  23. 23.

    Rosa Brooks, How Everything Became War and The Military Became Everything, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

  24. 24.

    Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, Nathan McDermott, “80 Times Trump Talked About Putin”, CNN, June 18, 2018.

  25. 25.

    Chicago Council on Global Affairs, What Americans Think About America First, October 2017: https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/what-americans-think-about-america-first.

  26. 26.

    Jeffrey Toobin, “Is Tom Cotton the Future of Trumpism”, The New Yorker, November 13, 2017.

  27. 27.

    Jeffrey Goldberg, “A White House Official Describes the Trump Doctrine: We’re America, Bitch”, The Atlantic, June 11, 2018.

  28. 28.

    Iskander Rehman, “Rise of the Reactionaries: The American Far Right and U.S. Foreign Policy”, The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2018.

  29. 29.

    Alain de Benoist, Critiques théoriques, Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 2002; Alexandre Douguine, Le Prophète de l’Eurasisme, Paris: Avatar Editions, 2006. See also Laruelle, op. cit.

  30. 30.

    The White House, “Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland”, Warsaw, July 6, 2017.

  31. 31.

    https://arktos.com/.

  32. 32.

    Laura Raim, « La nouvelle droite américaine: enquête sur la pensée Trump », Mediapart, 9 novembre 2016; Dana Kennedy, “The French Ideologues Who Inspired the Alt-Right”, The Daily Beast, 12 mai 2016.

  33. 33.

    Thomas Chatterton Williams, “The French Origins of You Will Not Replace Us”, The New Yorker, 4 décembre 2017. Reference to Camus’ “great replacement” was also invoked by the author of the Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand in March, 2019.

  34. 34.

    As I argued in an article for Le Monde, “MM. Trump et Poutine convergent vers une vision alternative des relations internationales », 12 juillet 2018. Also see Nicolas Lebourg, « Les droites extrêmes dans le champ magnétique de la Russie », Carnegie Endowment for Ethics in International Affairs, May 2018; Nicolas Hénin, La France russe, Paris: Fayard, 2016; Jean-Yves Camus, “A Long-Lasting Friendship. Alexander Dugin and the French Radical Right”, in Marlène Laruelle (ed.), Eurasianism and the European Far Right Reshaping the Europe-Russia Relationship, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015.

  35. 35.

    Maya Kandel, Caroline Gondaud, “Populism, the European Elections, and the Future of EU Foreign Policy”, War on the Rocks, June 11, 2019.

  36. 36.

    Yasha Mounk, Roberto Stefan Foa, “The End of the Democratic Century”, Foreign Affairs, 97:3 (May/June 2018), pp. 29–36. And, in the same issue, Ivan Krastev, “Eastern Europe’s Illiberal Revolution” as well as Krastev’s book, Le destin de l’Europe (Clermont-Ferrand: Premier Parallèle, 2017).

  37. 37.

    Elisabeth Zerofsky, “Viktor Orbán’s Far-Right Vision for Europe”, The New Yorker, January 7, 2019.

  38. 38.

    Benjamin Haddad, Le paradis perdu. L’Amérique de Trump et la fin des illusions européennes, Paris: Grasset, 2019), pp. 216–226; Marc Plattner, “Illiberal Democracy and the Struggle on the Right”, Journal of Democracy, 30:1 (January 2019), pp. 5–19.

  39. 39.

    See (to be published): Maya Kandel, « Le néonationalisme américain: La nouvelle droite américaine et le monde », Le Débat, janvier 2020.

  40. 40.

    Jérôme Gautheret, « L’Italie sous la botte des ultra-conservateurs », Le Monde, 3 décembre 2018.

  41. 41.

    Claire Provost, Adam Ramsay, “Trump-Linked US Christian ‘Fundamentalists’ Pour Millions of ‘Dark Money’ into EUROPE, Boosting the Far Right”, Open Democracy, March 27, 2019.

  42. 42.

    Report on a proposal calling on the Council to determine, pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded (2017/2131(INL), Rapporteur: Judith Sargentini, 4 July 2018: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2018-0250_EN.html (accessed April 27, 2019).

  43. 43.

    Dalibor Rohac, “In Hungary, Social Conservatism and Authoritarianism Aren’t the Same”, Foreign Policy, September 11, 2018.

  44. 44.

    Isabelle Mandraud, « Vladimir Poutine, parrain de l’extrême-droite européenne », Le Monde, 3 avril 2019.

  45. 45.

    Nadège Rolland, “A China-Russia Condominium over Eurasia”, Survival 61:1, 2019, pp. 7–22.

  46. 46.

    Jean Guisnel, « Qui peut aujourd’hui faire confiance à la parole des Etats-Unis », Le Point, 15 mai 2018.

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Kandel, M. (2021). The Populist Challenge to Foreign Policy: A Transatlantic Perspective. In: Tournier-Sol, K., Gayte, M. (eds) The Faces of Contemporary Populism in Western Europe and the US. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-53889-7_12

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