James Traub on Partisan Politics and Promoting Democracy

James Traub is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, where he has worked since 1998. From 1994 to 1997, he was a staff writer for The New Yorker. He has also written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and elsewhere. His articles have been widely reprinted and anthologized. He has written extensively about international affairs and especially the United Nations.

In recent years, he has reported from Iran, Iraq, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Vietnam, India, Kosovo and Haiti. He has also written often about national politics and urban affairs, including education, immigration, race, poverty and crime.

His books include, The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power; The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square; City On A Hill, a book on open admissions at City College; and The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (Just Not the Way George Bush Did). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Jim Traub:  Until Reagan, Republicans tended to be kind of standpatters in foreign policy.  Let’s say between the era of Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan, Democrats were more activist, they were more internationalists.  It was the Democrats after all who built the great postwar institutions, the UN, the Bretton Woods Institutions and so forth.  So, I guess, you would say that more of this stuff took place under Democratic presidents Woodrow Wilson, FDR, to some extent Kennedy than under Republicans.  But since Reagan, if anything, that I would say that has reversed itself and the Republicans have been the party of foreign policy romanticism, a democratic idealism and this whole idea of democracy promotions has been stronger or let’s say a more single-minded focus under Reagan and under the current George Bush probably than it was among the Democratic presidents.


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