Michael Fullilove and Herve Lemahieu on Power in Asia

Michael Fullilove and Herve Lemahieu join CFR's James M. Lindsay to discuss the Asian power landscape.

May 22, 2018 — 34:00 min
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Michael Fullilove

Executive Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy Full Bio

Hervé Lemahieu

Director of the Asian Power and Diplomacy Program, Lowy Institute Full Bio

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

Show Notes

Michael Fullilove and Herve Lemahieu join CFR's James M. Lindsay to discuss the Asian power landscape.



LINDSAY: Hi. This is Jim Lindsay. This episode of The President’s Inbox is sponsored by Foreign Affairs magazine. It’s the best in the business, and an essential resource for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of world affairs and American foreign policy. To get a taste of what Foreign Affairs offers, you can get its newsletter sent straight to your inbox. Just go to ForeignAffairs.com/PresidentsInbox. That’s ForeignAffairs.com/PresidentsInbox.

Now, onto the show.

(Music plays.)

Welcome to The President’s Inbox, a CFR podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I’m Jim Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This week’s topic is changing power dynamics in the Asia-Pacific—who is up and who is down. With me this week to discuss the landscape of power in Asia are Michael Fullilove and Hervé Lemahieu. Michael is the executive director of the Lowy Institute, a think tank located in Sydney, Australia. Michael is a prolific author. I would particularly flag for you his book, Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America Into the War and Into the World. It’s a terrific read, and I think it is a must-read if you’re interested either in American presidents or World War II.

FULLILOVE: My children’s college fund thanks you for that, Jim.

LINDSAY: OK. You’re welcome, Michael. It is a terrific read. It’s just a fascinating group of men at a particular pivot at time.

Hervé is a research fellow and director of the Asia Power Index Project at the Lowy Institute. He is leading the institute’s new initiative that is mapping the distribution of military, diplomatic, and economic power in Asia. Before joining the Lowy Institute, Hervé was a research associate for political economy and security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, another very highly respected think tank.

So, Michael and Hervé, thank you very much for joining me today.

LEMAHIEU: Thank you, Jim.

FULLILOVE: My pleasure.

LINDSAY: Michael, let me start with you, and ask, I guess, the big question: Why a Power Index?

FULLILOVE: We like power. We’re interested in power at the Lowy Institute. Power drives lots of changes in the world. It’s one of our preoccupations. And of course, Asia is the locus of most of our work. We are located, as you say, in Sydney, Australia, but Asia really touches everything we do. Even when we’re thinking about U.S. foreign policy, or Brexit, or the international economy, we’re thinking about the Asia angle. So it made sense to bring these two dimensions together, and then to go out and mine a lot of data, and then to present it in a visually attractive way. The idea with this is to—is to take a multidimensional view of power, because often people get very narrow when they’re thinking about power. They think about just military power, hard power, nuclear missiles, that sort of stuff. But we want to try to broaden the definition of power, measure the different dimensions of it.

LINDSAY: So where do people go if they want to see the Lowy Power Index?

 FULLILOVE: They go to Power.LowyInstitute.org. And everything is there.

LINDSAY: So, Hervé, you are in charge of this initiative to assemble—I take it it’s 114 indicators of power, including measures of economic, military, defense, diplomatic, cultural, and the like. So you complied all of this. What did you find?

LEMAHIEU: Well, we find that China has rapidly caught up to the United States. But perhaps an antidote to the alarmism in Asia with regard to China’s rise, that the United States retains its position of strategic preeminence in Asia and leads the table overall.

LINDSAY: Can I just hold you right there? When you say, “retains its position of strategic preeminence,” what does that mean?

LEMAHIEU: It means that it dominates Asia from opposite ends of the power spectrum, from—in terms of military capability it still has a huge advantage over China. China has made some headway, as we know, in terms of its maritime area denial, particularly in the South China Sea. But it’s nowhere near where the United States is in terms of its long-range force projection, for example. But then, on the other side of the power equation, cultural influence for example, the United States still dominates in that measure. It is still the foremost source of news and media in the region, in Asia, across the countries that we cover. It is still the most popular university destination for Asian students. So the China dream still has some way to catch up to the U.S.’s regional appeal.

That said, you know, there are weaknesses for the U.S.’s position in Asia, most notably in terms of its economic relationships. That hasn’t been helped by initiatives such as withdrawal from the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And we see sort of a(n) uncertain balance of power between the U.S. and China, in which we can—we could describe it as contested U.S. primacy.

LINDSAY: OK, so we would say that the United States remains the reigning champ, but China’s rising with a bullet. I want to sort of go on and talk about who else has power in Asia, because obviously there are a lot of other countries. One curiosity, when you’re talking about Asia, are you talking about Pacific Rim countries, which would—you would see in TTP, so countries like Canada or Mexico—or are you restricted just to countries we think of being in Asia, whether we’re talking about Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, plus the United States?

LEMAHIEU: Sure. We covered 25 countries, primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific. So we’re talking about the East Asian giants, the ASEAN economies, India, Pakistan, as far north as Russia, and also the United States.

LINDSAY: Oh, so Russia shows up in this?

LEMAHIEU: That’s right. Those countries have a strategic role in Asia. They participate in forums like the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN regional forum. And that’s why we felt we needed to include them, because they do play a role in this balance of power in Asia.

LINDSAY: So I want to go back to this issue of the United States continued strategic preeminence, because two things you said struck me. One, that the United States maintains its military preeminence and it also maintains its cultural preeminence. Let’s speak about the military question if I may, Hervé, because a lot of what I read is about how China is in the process of pushing the United States out of the western Pacific. But if I understand you correctly, things aren’t quite that dire, or the United States is still in the western Pacific?

LEMAHIEU: It’s still in the game. We think that not only is it in terms of—a race in terms of military capability, but also perhaps even more importantly it’s about defense networks. And this is where the U.S. really has a competitive edge, massive, over China. You know, it has a network of alliances which it’s developed over the last 50 years. Those are still strong and intact. It acts as sort of a force multiplier of U.S. reach and capabilities into the region. So long as that alliance network is intact, we can be reasonably assured that the U.S. maintains its military dominance in Asia. It’ll be challenged, no question, but in our assessment the U.S. remains the dominant military power.

LINDSAY: So the United States has friends. And I guess the motto is: stronger together. But I’m curious, Michael, I mean, you spend a lot of time thinking about Asia, thinking about American projection of power in Asia and elsewhere. How strong do you think those alliance networks are, particularly since we have a president—President Trump—who has periodically questioned the value or alliances to the United States, and done things like left the Trans-Pacific Partnership, sort of rattling people’s confidence in whether America is going to stay in the Pacific for the long run.

FULLILOVE: Well, one of the reasons that President Trump’s worldview and the way he conducts himself in policy is so odd and disappointing for a friend of America, is that he seems to be undermining America’s very strengths in Asia. As Hervé says, where the U.S. really has strengths is in its alliances, is in its attachment to trade, in its values, to the power of its press. All these sorts of things are real strengths for the United States. But these are exactly the qualities of the United States about which Mr. Trump seems unconvinced. He’s skeptical of alliances. He doesn’t like trade. He thinks, you know, a lot of the news that your media presents if fake news. And so it’s a big odd, really. And it doesn’t position—it doesn’t—it doesn’t—he doesn’t seem well positioned to win the long-term power competition against Xi Jinping.

But having said that, Jim, America has huge advantages that it can draw on, because most Asians want the United States to remain engaged. I mean, that’s—

LINDSAY: Why? Let me just—that’s, I think, an important question, because I think to many Americans would say, well, why should we be over there? What do we really have at stake in all of this?

FULLILOVE: Well, the reason Asians want you there is that you provide a balancing force for the region. And you complicate matters for China. You make it harder for China to dominate our lives. And, you know, over the last 70 years, your forward presence in Asia has helped to keep a lid on interstate friction and can sort of provide the benign conditions under which successive Asian nations have risen. So I think that’s what’s in it for us.

Now, what’s in it for you? Well, the truth is that in the next 50 years a lot of the world’s challenges and opportunities come from Asia. And you’re a trading country, and you’re a country that likes to set the rules. And in the end, those rules benefit you. The rules usually benefit the people who sets them. And so I think it’s in your interest to take a broad definition of the national interest, to remain engaged in this part of the world where you find security challenges, but also enormous economic growth. I mean, what’s the alternative? You retreat—you retreat behind walls, you retreat behind your borders? Well, you can do that, but that’s not what made America great.

LINDSAY: So the United States has an interest in shaping the rules and shaping the future in Asia?

FULLILOVE: Well, that’s obvious. I mean, and—you know, that’s what China is trying to do now. China is trying to reshape the rules in its interests. So it’s—

LINDSAY: And you don’t think that will serve U.S. interests?

FULLILOVE: No. No. I mean, in the end, the environment that is being created, the international—the rules-based system that has developed over the last 70 years has been, in a way, developed in the image, certainly in the shadow, of the United States. And it takes a very narrow reading of American history not to see the benefits that accrue to the United States from that.

LINDSAY: I think the general rule is great powers don’t do favors for their rivals. (Laughter.)

LEMAHIEU: That’s right. I think, just to add to Michael’s comments, it remains an open question for most countries, most governments in the region, as to whether China’s rise is entirely benign. So long as that’s an open question, you would rather deal with someone you know, who has set the rules of the game over the last 50 years, that offers a degree of predictability, structure, a balance of power. That is absolutely integral to the U.S.’s role in Asia.

FULLILOVE: And just to jump in, especially at a time when China is changing so rapidly. I mean, don’t forget, we have crossed a lot of lines—China’s crossed a lot of lines in recent years. It’s shifted to a much more forward-leaning foreign policy. Internally the Communist Party is reaching ever-deeper into the lives of its citizens—

LINDSAY: No more of Deng Xiaoping’s hide your brilliance, bide your time.

FULLILOVE: No. Not much—not much hiding these days. No, very much out and about. But also not only is the party playing an increasingly intense role in Chinese life, but Xi Jinping himself is centralizing power in his own person. And so—and so that naturally raises questions in the mind of Chinese neighbors. Where is this all going to end up? And how can we hedge against the risk of Chinese recklessness?

LINDSAY: Hervé, I want to go back to the question of cultural or, sometimes called, soft power. How do you measure that in terms of ranking these countries?

LEMAHIEU: Hmm, it’s a challenge. So this is part of 18 months’ worth of research. And we look at three components of cultural influence. We look at the way in which countries are able to project themselves abroad—that’s from everything in terms of cultural exports, music, movies. Their prestige in terms of the visa-free travel of their citizens. So that’s a proxy indicator. And also then looking at their relative popularity in each of the countries of the index online and using online search trends. There’s an enormous amount of data available to us, where we can start looking at and cross-querying the search terms for different countries by the populations in Asia and the countries we look at. And we can see, for example, that Japan is much more popular than is China and Cambodia. Even as far—and Mongolia.

LINDSAY: Really?

LEMAHIEU: Yes. You can—you can tell that. So you can take a 12-year average—sorry—12-month average search interest for a particular tagged term. In which case, you know, we use a country’s name. Anytime that Japan pops up in any language, in any context, that is registered by Google Trends. And then you can look at those search trend for Cambodia, for Thailand, for Mongolia, for Japan. And you can see in this sort of relative landscape who is up and who is down in terms of popularity. So that is an innovative example of one indicator. There’s a multitude. But broadly, we’ve arrived at a state where—and in terms of news and media as well, this is how we were able to track the popularity of, for example, the China Daily against The New York Times. And we also looked at tourism. We looked at university destinations.

LINDSAY: So where do people like to go?

LEMAHIEU: Well, they like to go to Malaysia, surprisingly. Malaysia seems to be a really big—

LINDSAY: I can—having been to Malaysia, I can understand. Wonderful country. Wonderful food. Wonderful people.

LEMAHIEU: Mmm hmm, absolutely. We looked at diasporas as well. So where the Chinese and Indian communities are in Southeast Asia, as a form of influence as well. So it is a sort of multidimensional study of cultural interactions and the way in which countries and their peoples shaped the public opinions of Asia. And it delivers some fascinating results. But we do see that the U.S. retains its preeminence there.

LINDSAY: I want to go back to the overall findings. We’ve talked about sort of the two biggies, the United States and China. What else in the indicator, when you look at it, really sort of jumps out at you? What would be sort of the other broader lessons about who else is rising up or down, who maybe surprised you where they ended up in your rankings, one way or another?

LEMAHIEU: Yeah, sure. So just beneath those two frontrunners, we have two major powers, Japan and India, ranked in that order. And they’re placed, you know, third and fourth in the rankings. They look similar in terms of their profile, but actually moving in completely opposite directions. So Japan is still a major economy, but we know it’s in demographic decline. Nevertheless—

LINDSAY: When you say, “demographic decline,” what exactly do you mean?

LEMAHIEU: That’s right. We mean an aging population, which means its working-age population will actually decline by 4 million people between now and 2030. That contrasts with India, which is about to gain 169 million people to its working-age population. That’s the same—

LINDSAY: Hundred and sixty-nine million people?

LEMAHIEU: That’s right, in the same timeframe. So it is a massive sleeping giant.

LINDSAY: Tough task for Prime Minister Modi to make sure everybody has a job. (Laughter.)

LEMAHIEU: Exactly.


LEMAHIEU: But provided he uses that demographic dividend wisely, and it is a challenge, you do see in India an emerging giant that will be more populous than China by 2030. And again, you know, offers an additional angle with which to view the distribution of power in Asia. It’s not just a binary race between China and the U.S. We’re not talking about a cold war of mutually exclusive zones of influence. There are many players here, lots of interests at stake.

Russia does reasonably well among our middle powers.

LINDSAY: Russia as a middle power. I’m not sure that’s going to go over well in the Kremlin. (Laughter.)

LEMAHIEU: That’s right. We are looking forward to that reaction. Bu, no, obviously it’s a Eurasian power. It bases its Pacific fleet in Vladivostok. It has had its own pivot to Asia for a while now, with some degree of success. In fact, going back to the first term of Putin’s presidency, he renegotiated a series of defense consultation pacts with North Korea, China, India, and Vietnam. So there is a sort of quasi-defense network out there in favor of the Kremlin. But in other ways, it just flatlines in economic relationships. And its resources are concentrated on Europe, and now in the Middle East. And therefore, it’s actually an underachiever. It does well, but it’s not the great power that it likes to think it is.

LINDSAY: So, who else fills out your top 10?

FULLILOVE: Well, we have three overperformers next—Australia, South Korea, and Singapore. Of course, we were particularly interested in the Australian results.

LINDSAY: So Australia comes in where in your top—



FULLILOVE: It comes in—

LINDSAY: You’re going to be popular in Canberra.

FULLILOVE: Yeah. Well, yeah. Look, it’s a strong finish. And the reason is that Australia performs consistently across all the different measures. Australia has—you know, it has a good military capability. Of course, very strong defense networks, in particular with the United States but also with, you know, a lot of military exercises with other—with other countries. Along a lot of the different measures it does well. And it’s one of the lessons out of the index that countries that are—that are balanced in their power portfolio, if you like, do well. And I think that’s one of the interesting—the most interesting angles of this. I mean, what we’re trying to do is to give people different lens through which they can look at power.

For example, we rank North Korea very low. We rank them 17th. Now, that may seem—that may seem odd at a time when it looks like Kim Jong-un is muscling his way into a summit meeting with the president of the United States. But of course, when you look at North Korea, you see that all of its efforts are really concentrated in one measure, the military capability, or certain elements of that. And otherwise, it’s a brittle power. Its economy is very small. It has very few—very little diplomatic influence. I mean, you know, many of us have heard stories about North Korean embassies running restaurants on the side, for example, to generate hard currency. Well, if you’re doing that, you’re not really projecting your country’s soft power. So I think that’s one of the—one of the counterintuitive results is North Korea. And what we’re trying—what we’re trying to do here is to get people to think about the different elements of power.

If I can just add one other point, Jim. One of the things that I think is really cool about this—about the index, is that a lot of indices are black boxes. And in a sense, the—you have to—as a user, you have to accept the weightings that the author of the index assigns to the different measures. But in our index, we allow people to adjust the ratings between the measures.

LINDSAY: Oh, so people can play with your data?

LEMAHIEU: That’s right.

FULLILOVE: Yeah. You can play with the data. You can create the Jim Lindsay Asia Power Index. If you said to me—

LINDSAY: Oh, I’ve got a task for this afternoon!

FULLILOVE: (Laughs.) Maybe for an RA. If you said to me, look, you know, you’re wrong, actually; nuclear missiles, or, you know, military capability is what it’s all about, it’s all about hard power, then you can adjust that up and you can see how that reshuffles the rankings. But you can always go back to the authoritative, Lowy Institute settings, to see how we see the world.

LINDSAY: Can I just draw a little bit more out about Australia. I would imagine not only does Australia do well across a broad range of indicators, but I would think Australia would do particularly well in cultural and diplomatic appeal. Am I wrong? I mean, it seems to me wherever I go, people like Australia. It’s a destination to go for tourism, if you can get there. Your universities seem to be coming increasingly popular.

FULLILOVE: You can get there all right, Jim. You just get on a plane, and 24 hours later you’re there. It’s not that hard.

LINDSAY: Only 24 hours, OK. (Laughter.) But, I mean, I would—just, but again, I would think Australia does well on that dimension in particular.

LEMAHIEU: Yeah, no, it’s placed number six in terms of diplomatic influence in Asia, which is a strong finish for a middle power. And I mean, I think what we see also is that it really has consolidated its role as a hub for the Asian knowledge economy in terms of attracting Asian students to its universities. And in that way, I think it has appeal. In other ways I think, you know, there’s room for improvement. So it’s an overachiever on most of our influence measures, but when you look at the economic picture, for example, trade dependency on China is actually higher than it is for most other countries in Asia, even by the standards of the region.

LINDSAY: How dependent is Australia on the Chinese economy?

LEMAHIEU: Twenty-nine percent of its total global trade is done with China, which is higher than it is for Singapore, for South Korea, for Japan, and a number of other countries in Southeast Asia.

LINDSAY: Is that because Australia has a larger portion of raw materials that you’re sending? You know, I guess, what, iron and other things go north to China?

FULLILOVE: That’s it. Just about everything we dig out of the ground they’d like to buy from us. And that’s terrific in many ways. I mean, it’s probably added a point to our GDP growth over recent years. But there’s no question that when you put all your eggs into one or two baskets, then you accept a greater level of risk. And that enable—that would enable China to impose costs on us if it wished to do so. And there’s a similar problem actually on the security side. I mean, I’m—as you know, I’m a supporter of the—a strong supporter of the U.S. alliance. But I think that given the uncertainty about the U.S. position in Asia, I think we need to be diversifying our security relationships as well, and doing more with Japan, more with South Korea, more with Indonesia, and India, and countries like this to thicken up those networks and complicate the security profile in Asia.

LINDSAY: I’m curious on this issue of Australia’s dependence on the Chinese economy. Is there a way of using your data to look at, in essence, what might be a vulnerability index? I mean, if you have a case, like with Australia, where it depends heavily on China. And, again, China state capitalism, the government is heavily involved in what its companies do, could presumably direct them to cease buying materials, which could pressure on Canberra. Is there a way of sort of thinking through that question with your data?

LEMAHIEU: Yeah, no, obviously. That’s actually one of the eight measures of power, is something called resilience. Now, not so much resilience in the kind of development school of thought, but more geopolitical resilience, where we look at three things, for example. We look at the economic dependencies, how diversified an economy is, the number of its export products, the number of its export markets, how dependent it is on its global trade. All these factors, which make it more or less vulnerable to disruptions in global trade, or to potential manipulations by larger trade partners who seek political outcomes and seek to enhance the costs of autonomous decision-making by smaller countries.

So that’s something we’re very aware of, particularly in the Asian context. Countries like Singapore have done all they can. They’re hyper-networked to diversify their trade relationships, their investment relationships. But that said, they remain disproportionately reliant, if you think about trade as a ratio to GDP, on global trade. So if anything happens, they stand to lose much more than an economy the size of China, or even the United States, which is much more insulated by the size of its—of its market. So that’s the economic factors.

We also look at geopolitical factors. So we look at intrastate conflict legacies in Asia. This is another huge advantage for Asia—for Australia—sorry—its geography, the fact that it’s actually removed. It doesn’t have any conflict legacies with its neighborhood. It doesn’t have any unresolved maritime disputes. Whereas a country like Vietnam, obviously much more exposed, less resilient.

LINDSAY: Where does Vietnam fall on your rankings overall?

LEMAHIEU: Vietnam is a middle power. It ranked 13th. So it’s up and coming. It’s invested in military capability, but it has a nonaligned foreign policy. And so it doesn’t have a very developed defense network yet.

LINDSAY: Because it’s a very sizable country, in terms of population, in its region—what, more than 90 million people in Vietnam. Yeah. Good. And who falls at the bottom of your top 25?

LEMAHIEU: So at the bottom we have Mongolia, Laos, and Nepal. Again, these are countries which have small populations, underdeveloped economies, very dependent on their largest trade partners. And, for example, Mongolia, is 0.1 percent—if you look at the ratio Mongolia’s population to its neighborhood, its population is 0.1 percent of the population of Russia and China. So it—

LINDSAY: It’s sort of sandwiched between two very big powers.

LEMAHIEU: Absolutely. So, again, we really look at, for especially the smaller countries, the degree of autonomy or freedom of action that they have. And partly that’s to do with structural factors—geographic or historical—but partly there are things you can do in terms of your policy, like Singapore, very small, vulnerable geographically, but has sought to diversify its relationships to an extent that it is actually a very successful middle power in our ranking.

LINDSAY: It would be remiss of me not to ask you about sort of attitudes in Australia today, since you both have come here to New York, where we’re taping the podcast, from Australia. I’m just sort of curious, Australia looking out at the world. You have a long-term relationship with the United States. We’re formal military allies. We’ve fought together in wars going back more than 100 years. I would certainly say that Australians are very popular in the United States. We like Nicole Kidman. We like Keith Urban. The Hemsworth brothers seem to be in virtually every other movie. But obviously for Australia, you have a different sort of major economic partner. It is China. So how do Australians, and they look out at the world at a time of great change, sort of assess their place in the world?

FULLILOVE: Well, the public values the U.S. alliance. And every year the Lowy Institute poll shows that between seven and eight out of 10 Australians think that the alliance is important or very important to our security. They have some concerns about China, but their overall—I would say they see China more as an economic opportunity than a military threat. The deep state in Australia is much more focused on China. If you talk to big business in Australia, they’ll talk about the economic upside. If you talk to security agencies, they will talk about China’s forward-leaning posture, the fact that a region that is dominated by China would not be a congenial region in which to live. So there is a divide between the elites and the public, I would say.

Australia put out a foreign policy white paper at the end of last year. And the central theme of that is that Australia needs to do more to support the rules-based order in Asia, while Washington. While your country’s in the grip of a fever, we and like-minded countries need to do more to support the rules-based order. I like that document very much. My question about it is whether the Australian political system in its current format has the—has the intestinal fortitude to stand up for that year-in, year-out, decade-in, decade-out, because there’s no question that living next to this giant country, China, is difficult. China wants to put the weights on us. China wants us to make choices. Chinese interlocutors are always complaining to me about, you know, Cold War relics, like the U.S. alliance. And it will take a lot of strength for—in a rowdy democracy like Australia—for Australia to say “no” to China, as much as it says “yes” to China. That’s the challenge for us, I think.

LINDSAY: I note, Michael, you describe the United States as being in the midst of a fever, which I guess raises a couple of questions. One, do you expect that fever to break? And if it does, do you imagine the United States can still get back into the rules-based order? Obviously, the United States left TPP. President Trump has raised questions about his confidence in the value of alliances. Is this, from Australia’s point of view, sort of potentially a passing storm, or are we at sort of a hinge in history?

FULLILOVE: Well, you were kind enough to mention the book I wrote on FDR. And as someone who spent years of my life studying the president who took a very broad view of America’s national interest, and really took America into the world, and created—really took America to the summit of global politics, it is—it is quite stressful to watch a president who is actually deliberately dismantling that, a president who doesn’t really believe in the central pillars of American power as somebody like I has understood them over the last 70 years.

So I don’t think we should be quick to minimize this. I think it is not to America’s credit, frankly, that somebody like President Trump was elected. Even if he only survives one term, I think in the minds of a lot of the world America’s credit and America’s reliability will be affected by the fact that somebody like Mr. Trump was president. If he’s reelected, then I think the questions become much more profound, because then that’s a really deliberate decision of the American people to persist with a new vision for America. But unfortunately—

LINDSAY: Even though many people—or most people who go to the polls aren’t necessarily voting on foreign policy issues?

FULLILOVE: Well, that may be true. But in the end, you know, you judge on results.

LEMAHIEU: It’s all a part of the package.

LINDSAY: Understood.

FULLILOVE: I think—I mean, I think you can—if Mr. Trump’s only elected once, you can kind of get away with that. If Americans, in full knowledge of everything, of the kind of policies that he’s pursing, reelect him, even if it’s not all Americans or even most Americans. Nevertheless, that says something about your country.

But, look, I try to optimistic. I think there are—there are lots of—lots of Americans who are troubled by, and offended by, the role for the United States that Mr. Trump envisages. There are lots of Americans who are out there trying to say: Look, we haven’t changed our mind. We still believe in engaging with the world and leading the world where we can. So I’m hoping that they will—they will triumph. Not in an electoral contest, but in the broader battle for ideas.

LINDSAY: On that note, we’ll close up The President’s Inbox for this week. For those of you who would like to check out the Lowy Institute’s wonderful, new, interactive index on power dynamics in Asia, where do they go, Hervé?

LEMAHIEU: It’s Power.LowyInstitute.org.


LEMAHIEU: —dot-LowyInstitute—all one word—dot-org.

LINDSAY: OK. Thank you for that, again, Michael. Thank you, Hervé, for joining me here.

FULLILOVE: Thanks, Jim.

LINDSAY: Please subscribe to The President’s Inbox on iTunes and leave us your review. It really helps. Opinions expressed on The President’s Inbox are solely those of the hosts or our guests, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. Today’s episode was produced by Kevin Lizarazo with Senior Producer Jeremy Sherlick. Nick Sander was our recording engineer. Thanks, Nick. Special thanks go out to Audrey Bowler, Corey Cooper, and Gabrielle Sierra for their assistance.

This is Jim Lindsay. Take care.

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James M. Lindsay sits down with Ali Wyne, senior analyst of Global Macro-Geopolitics at Eurasia Group, to discuss great power competition and the growing rivalry bet...

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James M. Lindsay sits down with Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, to discuss House Speaker Nancy Pelos...

James M. Lindsay sits down with Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, to discuss House Speaker Nancy Pelos...

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James M. Lindsay sits down with Michael R. Gordon, national security correspondent at the Wall Street Journal, to discuss the U.S. war against ISIS.    ...

James M. Lindsay sits down with Michael R. Gordon, national security correspondent at the Wall Street Journal, to discuss the U.S. war against ISIS.    ...

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Jami Miscik and Adam Segal, co-chair and director of the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on Cybersecurity, sit down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the fragmen...

Jami Miscik and Adam Segal, co-chair and director of the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on Cybersecurity, sit down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the fragmen...

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Michael Kofman, director of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss Russian and Ukrainian military st...

Michael Kofman, director of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss Russian and Ukrainian military st...

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The President’s Inbox is pleased to present an episode from Foreign Affairs’ new podcast, The Foreign Affairs Interview. In this episode, Jason Bordoff, co-founding ...

The President’s Inbox is pleased to present an episode from Foreign Affairs’ new podcast, The Foreign Affairs Interview. In this episode, Jason Bordoff, co-founding ...

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Julie Dorf, co-chair of the Council for Global Equality, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss what the United States has done and could do to advance LGBTQI+ r...

Julie Dorf, co-chair of the Council for Global Equality, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss what the United States has done and could do to advance LGBTQI+ r...

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Aaron L. Friedberg, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how the United States got Chi...

Aaron L. Friedberg, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how the United States got Chi...

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David Sacks, research fellow at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the Biden administration’s strategy toward Taiwan amid growing threats from China. ...

David Sacks, research fellow at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the Biden administration’s strategy toward Taiwan amid growing threats from China. ...

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Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter professor emeritus of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the con...

Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter professor emeritus of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the con...

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