Board Member William Cohen | “Don’t Retreat into Fortress America”

Honorary Tower Center Board Member William Cohen, former Republican senator and secretary of defense, coauthored an opinion piece for the New York Times, “Don’t Retreat into Fortress America” with Gary Hart Nov. 22.

Cohen and Hart explore the two greatest surprises of 2016 — Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump as president. Both, they argue, will have a significant impact on post-war international order.

“Wise leaders such as Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall and Acheson constructed a temple in which freedom could thrive and economies could prosper,” Cohen and Hart wrote. “The interior of the temple may be in need of renovation, but Mr. Trump should not pull apart its central pillars and bring it crashing down.”

Read their column here.

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Student Blog | Hope fades for unification of the Korean peninsula


Kuyoun Chung prepares for her talk at the Tower Center “Security of the Korean Peninsula” Nov. 11 as part of the Sun & Star Program.

Kuyoun Chung, research fellow in the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU)’s International and Strategic Division, came to SMU to give the talk “Security of the Korean Peninsula” Nov. 11 as part of the Tower Center’s Sun and Star program.  She came fresh from a three-day strategic dialogue in D.C. with think tanks, state department officials, and U.S. military officials to speak to us.

At the beginning of every new South Korean administration, the leaders come together to create a unification policy.  Its current administration, under President Park Geun-hye, hopes to achieve unification by ending the current cycle of provocation and compensation and replacing it with enough trust to begin a new cycle of denuclearization and collaboration.  Until Korea resolves the fundamental incompatibility between its hopes of unification and the international strategy of deterrence, pressure, and sanctions, Chung says it will be difficult to establish such trust.  Given the steady increase in sanctions and North Korea’s dual strategy of nuclear and economic development, it is easy to understand the title of Chung’s first slides: “fading hopes for unification.”

Today, she believes there are two possible ends for the 60-year-old conflict.  One possibility is for North Korea and the U.S. to reach a peace treaty, which would require recognizing North Korea as a sovereign nation. American recognition would leave the Korean peninsula divided between two hostile nations. Alternatively, Dr. Chung believes the path to unification would proceed from North Korean regime change.


SMU students A.J. Jeffries and Matthew Reitz interview Kuyoun Chung Nov. 11.

Chung also emphasized the different goals of the major stakeholders in East Asia.  The United States and Japan share a vision of a united Korea as a liberal democracy operating in a market economy, a nation that would be friendly to the U.S.-Japanese alliance.  China’s ideal form of unification emphasizes its concerns about a U.S.-Japan-Korea triple alliance.  It would prefer to see unification delayed until a self-determined nation could emerge without any need for an alliance with the United States.  Finally, Russia’s focus on the Crimea means it would prefer not to have Korea buck the status-quo.

In her concluding statements, Chung explained that progress towards unification would be a combination of urgency, initiative, and mobilization. She said that unification would be a gradual, generations-long process that would give time for the ideal circumstances to come about.  Over the course of those generations, South Korea would have to strengthen its unification-oriented policies by nudging North Korea towards regime change and mobilize and coordinate international support around a unification policy.

During the question and answer session, Chung also discussed the need to prepare the people of South Korea for unification.  Many members of the younger generation, who have trouble finding employment, oppose unification because they prefer to see South Korea’s economic resources used to improve their situation at home first.  However, there are programs prepared as part of a campaign to emphasize the valuable aspects of unification to the North Korean people.  The primary appeal would be the denuclearization of North Korea, eliminating a significant threat to South Korea.

When asked about the potential impact of President Donald Trump on Korea, she focused on his promises to remove troops from South Korea and Japan.  This, Chung explained, would significantly alter the balance of power in Asia, giving China the opportunity to expand its influence.  Greater China influence would push unification efforts closer to China’s vision.

Tower Scholars PortraitsA.J. Jeffries is from Downers Grove, Illinois, and he is triple majoring in history, economics, and public policy with a double minor in philosophy and public policy.  He is a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar, and when healthy, he can be found in the center of the midfield for the SMU soccer team.  Off the field, he enjoys writing for the honors newspaper, Hilltopics, cooking, and reading.

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Law Professor Nathan Cortez: Tampering with Obamacare is like a game of Jenga

Tower Center Fellow Nathan Cortez, professor of law in leadership and Latino studies at Dedman School of Law, talked with KERA News about the future of the Affordable Care Act under President Trump and a Republican held Congress.

Republicans have called for the repeal of Obamacare since it was first passed in 2010. But Cortez told KERA’s Lauren Silverman it’s still too soon to tell what will happen.

“There’s a pretty wide range of possible outcomes right now, anything from burn it all down, full repeal… to very subtle changes, in which Republican House and Senate members and President Trump could claim that they’ve repealed it but really just got rid of a few unpopular provisions,” he said.

Read the story here.

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Harold Clarke | “How a 1950s political theory predicted defeat for Clinton”

Tower Center Senior Fellow Harold Clarke wrote an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News titled “How a 1950s political theory predicted defeat for Clinton.”

Clarke argues voters make their decisions based on three factors: long-term partisan predispositions, judgments about important issues, and images of the candidates.

See how the theory played out in this year’s election in his op-ed here.

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Mexican government hesitates to respond to Trump campaign promises

Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield and Executive Director Luisa del Rosal were quoted in the My Statesman article “Mexican official strikes cautious tone when discussing Trump’s policies” Nov. 14.

Paulo Carreño King, Mexico’s undersecretary to North America, said he wouldn’t respond to Donald Trump’s campaign policies until he is in office Jan. 20, according to My Statesman reporter James Barragan. Mexico is waiting to see what his next move will be, and Hollifield said it’s a smart decision.

“They want to be a partner and want to give the benefit of the doubt because the relationship is so critical, and they want to show how critical it is by being the friendliest neighbor possible,” del Rosal said of the Mexican government.
Read Barragan’s article here.

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“We’re talking about Brexit times 100” if Trump unravels NAFTA

Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield and Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Executive Director Luisa del Rosal were quoted in the Dallas Morning News discussing the future of trade under President Trump.

Donald Trump has said he will rip up NAFTA and he opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hollifield says if he makes good on these promises “we’re talking about Brexit times 100” for Texas.

But from the high level support he will need from Congress to the immense legal implications that would follow, it won’t be easy for Trump to get rid of NAFTA. Del Rosal said it will ultimately be up to the business elite of both Texas and Mexico to influence policy makers

Read DMN economy reporter Jill Cowan’s article here.

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Q&A with Director Jim Hollifield | What we can expect from a Trump presidency

The contentious 2016 election came to an end early Nov. 9 with a result that surprised many — Donald Trump won the presidency. In his victory speech, Trump promised to be a president for all Americans. “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” he said.

Below, Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield gives his insight on what to trumppossibly expect out of an unexpected Trump presidency.

Tower Center: What was your initial reaction to the election results?

Jim Hollifield: I was surprised but not too surprised. If the vote was going to be decided by white working class voters in the upper-Midwest then Clinton would lose the election, and that’s essentially what happened. These are the people who were once called “Reagan Democrats”, many of them are unionized voters. They were the critical swing vote that gave the election to Trump.

Trump has been seen as a wild card candidate. What do you expect to happen under a Trump Presidency?

He’s different, there’s no question about that. He has changed the whole dynamic of American politics — shuffled the deck. He’s breaking up what was the traditional consensus in American politics that we’ve seen since 1945 — that we need to work on protecting the rights of women, minorities and immigrants. That we need to continue to lead the world, open the world to trade, help to promote international business, and a stable financial and exchange rate system. He has really taken on the post-war liberal consensus and promised to upend that. We’ll see if he is able to pull it off.

What does this mean for international trade?

This is complicated. You can’t just snap your fingers and abrogate international trade agreements — there are all sorts of legal issues, not to mention political issues. Reversing these trade agreements, the president doesn’t really have the authority to do that. The Congress will have to be involved in this somehow, and this will take time. It will mean that the U.S. will have to repudiate, not just repeal, international binding agreements. This will affect many different businesses in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. This is potentially a big dagger in the heart of a North American community.

What are the implications of a President Trump for our relationships in Europe?

His policies are going to very dramatically affect our relationships in every region of the globe. He has an isolationist foreign policy. He wants to withdraw American commitments to NATO and Europe, as well as East Asia and the Middle East. This will clearly upset the balance of power in these regions. It will be a great opening for our adversaries — the Russians and the Chinese. There’s a reason why Vladimir Putin likes him so much. He plays right into the hands of the Russians. He gives the Russians an opportunity to sow discord and division within the Western democracies. This is a gift delivered on a silver platter to Vladimir Putin.

If Trump does what he says, this will create a lot of instability in world politics.

What about the Middle East?

The biggest thing is his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He also says he has a plan for ISIS, that he knows better than the generals how to do this. I don’t know what that plan is. There’s going to be a tremendous amount of concern and uncertainty across the Middle East about his policies.

As Trump gained ground in battleground states Dow futures fell 750 points and the Mexican peso fell to a record low. What does a Trump victory mean for the economy?

This is a lot like Brexit. A lot of investors are unsure whether Trump really means what he says. The same was true in Brexit; people couldn’t really believe that Britain was going to leave the EU or how Britain was going to leave.  The effects of the election are not going to be felt overnight. The markets are going to be much more focused on what the Federal Reserve is doing than what Trump is going to do. Trump doesn’t come to power until January.  As we get closer to the transition of power, we will see who Trump’s advisers are going to be and who is on his team. If he does something that’s really scares the markets we could see a massive sell off and a very steep recession.

The executive power of the president has expanded in recent decades. To what extent will this allow Trump to implement his proposals unchecked?

This will be a test of the American constitutional system of separation of powers and a test of the American Republic. What you have to watch is what Congress is going to do, and how radical Trump will be in his policies and proposals.

The Republican Party is already split. If he’s not careful, there might be an anti-Trump alliance or coalition that will emerge in Congress that could then block many of the things he wants do to. All of this depends on how he deals with Congress. We don’t yet know how this is going to work.

One thing is for sure, he’s a neophyte. He’s never been elected, never tried to govern, so he will discover fairly quickly that this is not like running a business. It’s going to get much more complicated and I’m sure he’s going to get angry and frustrated very fast when he runs into a lot of political, institutional, constitutional and legal roadblocks.

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Tower Center Team Chairs Graduate Seminar at ASHE Conference

School of Education – SOE - Dean Dr. Michael McLendon – Barfield Drawing Room - Burleson Quadrangle – 06/26/2015

Dean Dr. Michael McLendon, Baylor University

Tower Center Senior Fellow Dr. Michael McLendon is chairing a preconference seminar with the assistance of Tower Center Executive Director Luisa del Rosal and Program Specialist Olisa Dellas for the 41st annual Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference.

The Graduate Student Public Policy Seminar, in  Columbus, Ohio Nov. 9-10, is exclusive to graduate students who have been nominated by their advisors through an application process. The seminar runs like a think tank, according to del Rosal, with a focus on discussion.

“This is a great opportunity for graduate students to learn from prominent public policy scholars for universities around the nation,” del Rosal said.  “We come together for two days of discussion, ideas sharing, policy and a bit of practice at our workshop session.”

Students accepted into the seminar are all PhD candidates and will have the opportunity to talk about their research with a panel of experts. Follow Luisa del Rosal on Twitter for Conference updates at @LuisaMdRB.

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Brexit judgment proves exclusion of Parliament from Article 50 is illegal

The High Court of Justice ruled Nov. 3 that Parliament must vote in order to activate Article 50, which would begin the process of the UK leaving Europe. Tower Center Fellow and constitutional law expert Sionaidh Douglas-Scott responded in a statement on Queen Mary University of London’s website.

Douglas-Scott said allowing the UK government to enact Article 50 without a vote from Parliament goes against the strengthened, independent democracy voters were seeking in the June referendum.

“That would be extremely undemocratic, and democracy is what we are constantly told the EU referendum was about,” Douglas-Scott said.

The UK government said it will appeal the court’s decision, though Douglas-Scott says it will be hard to overturn.

Read her full response here.

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Fairooz Adams | Identity Politics and anti-Assimilation in the U.S.

Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar Fairooz Adams, class of 2018, published two essays in the University Honors Program’s publication Hilltopics. The first looks at the push for political correctness on college campuses and the second addresses the importance of assimilation for immigrants in the U.S.


Adams examines a wave of student activism that has broken out in reaction to alleged racism on campuses such as Yale University, the University of Missouri and the University of Oklahoma. Adams argues this activism has resulted in an assault on free speech on campuses across the nation.

“Young college-aged liberals in particular have embraced the movement to create socially hypersensitive utopias on college campuses,” Adams wrote.

Read his full essay here.


Adams talks about the importance of assimilation for immigrants in the U.S., something that he argues is necessary for the long-term stability of the nation. Adams says the lack of immigration culture in places like Europe has lead to increased violence in those regions.

“Assimilation and social cohesion are critical components of a nation’s success,” Adams wrote. “For a country to remain intact, its citizens must share a common affinity for one another. That is nationhood.”

Read his full essay here.

Tower Center Scholars PortraitsFairooz Adams is a pre-law junior majoring in political science, and intending to major in international studies and communication studies. Adams is president of SMU College Democrats, cofounder and Secretary of the United Students Association, Dedman Senator and Vice Chairman of the Student Concerns Committee in Student Senate, and Chairman of the Organizations Committee for Not On My Campus, as well as an AIPAC campus liaison. He is the treasurer of the Young Democrats of Denton County. Upon completion of his undergraduate career, Adams intends to attend law school and later enter public service.

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