Blog Archives

Political Islam and the Ahok Verdict

In a forthcoming book, coauthored with Bill Liddle and Saiful Mujani and entitled Piety and Public Opinion: Understanding Indonesian Islam, I make the argument that individual piety does not explain much about Indonesian public opinion. Our book’s argument focuses on the beliefs and

Posted in Current Affairs, Indonesia, Islam, Politics, Research

International and Area Studies in the Era of American Greatness

I have a new essay out in the Chronicle of Higher Education on what are likely to be devastating effects of President Trump’s budget proposal on international and area studies. Subscribers can read here. I make the case that now is the

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics, Research, Teaching

The Long Arm of Western Crises

What seems a lifetime ago, I wrote a short essay for the newsletter of the International History and Politics section of the American Political Science Association. Here is how it begins: The events of 2016 represent no less than a

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics, Research

U.S. Politics in the Age of the Babbling Equilibrium

Ever since Sean Spicer’s press conference in which he insisted, against all evidence, that President Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest in history, the Trump administration has faced a problem of credibility. Every time the administration issues a message that

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

Democracy is not Government by Democrats, and Authoritarianism is not Government by Authoritarians

In a post from October 2015, “Democratic Disappointments, Authoritarian Reformists, and Political Equilibria,” I mused about a seemingly ironic feature of contemporary Malaysian politics. The former dictator Mahathir Mohamad, a staunch defender of ruling party hegemony who happily jailed opponents

Posted in Current Affairs, Malaysia, Politics, Research

Weak and Incompetent Leaders act like Strong Leaders

An essay by Yonatan Zunger entitled “Trial Balloon for a Coup?” is making the rounds. Such essays are frightening to many. And yet they must be read critically. I am equally taken by the argument that everything that Zunger identifies

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

The Unpopular Populist

Vladimir Putin: 86.8%. Rodrigo Duterte: 83%. Viktor Orbán: 80%. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 68.6%. Gay Marriage (US): 57%. Abortion legal (US): 56%. Democratic Party: 52%. Free Trade is a good thing (US): 51%. Donald Trump: 45%.

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

Dictators use the Media Differently than Narcissists and Bullies

On Saturday, Sean Spicer held a press conference in which he lied about the size of President Trump’s inauguration audience and then refused to take questions. To many, this was just more evidence of the new administration’s authoritarian ambitions (see

Posted in Current Affairs, Indonesia, Malaysia, Politics

Personal Rule and Political Institutions

Daron Acemoglu has a strong essay in Foreign Policy on democratic institutions and the incoming administration. It make the case that American political institutions may not suffice to contain a leader who wishes to challenge them. It is a powerful piece given that one

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

U.S.-Indonesian Relations at a Crossroads

The U.S. and Indonesia have enjoyed good bilateral relations since the late 1960s, when the rise of Soeharto saw the elimination of the world’s largest communist party in a non-communist country. Relations have been grown warmer since the fall of

Posted in Current Affairs, Indonesia, Islam, Politics
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