“No, Trump’s presidency won’t be unprecedented”

Tower Center Senior Fellow Jeffrey Engel and SMU Historian Aaron Crawford wrote an editorial in the Dallas Morning News Jan. 18, “No, Trump’s presidency won’t be unprecedented.”

Crawford and Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, highlights similarities between former President Andrew Jackson and President-elect Donald Trump.

“Jackson shared many of the same qualities, and his time in office offers insights into what the next four years may hold. No comparison is ever perfect,” they wrote.

Read the full editorial here.

For more on the Trump-Jackson comparison, listen to Crawford’s talk at the Tower Center, “Injury, Rage, Audacity: Donald Trump, Andrew Jackson, and
the Creation of the ‘People’s Candidate’” below, or read the event recap here.

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Sabri Ates wins NEH grant to study historic pursuit of a Kurdish state

Tower Center Associate Sabri Ates was one of two SMU professors awarded National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship grants.

Ates, associate professor in the Clements Department of History, is using the grant to write Sheikh Abdulqadir Nehri (d. 1925) and the Pursuit of an Independent Kurdistan. The book explores the quest for a Kurdish state from 1880-1925.

“With the support of NEH, I hope to answer one of the enduring questions of the contemporary Middle East: The Kurdish statelessness,” Ates said in a release.

Zachary Wallmark, assistant professor and chair of music history at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, was also awarded a grant.

Read the full press release here.

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Senior Fellow Dr. Frederick Chang to be inducted to TAMEST

Tower Center Senior Fellow and Director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security Dr. Frederick Chang will be inducted as a member to The Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas (TAMEST).

“I am humbled by the prestigious company I will be keeping as a TAMEST member,” Chang said in a release according to Dallas Innovates.

Chang is the third SMU faculty member to join TAMEST, out of a total of 270 members.

Read an article on Chang’s induction in Dallas Innovates here.

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Josh Rovner | “Donald Trump and the Future of Intelligence”

Tower Center Chair Joshua Rovner wrote an editorial looking at the long view of intelligence under Donald Trump’s administration and potential long-term consequences. He says the intelligence community’s challenge will be “how to avoid irrelevance without corrupting their organizational integrity.”

Trump has dismissed the CIA’s reports that Russia used cyberattacks to help Trump win the presidency, and he has opted to receive an intelligence briefing three times a week instead of the traditional daily updates.

“The controversies surrounding the Trump transition will pass,” Rovner wrote. “The intelligence community’s reaction, however, may have lasting consequences.”

Read his essay here.

Rovner was also quoted in Nextgov’s article by Joseph Marks, “Here’s Why Trump’s Intelligence Bashing Matters”.

“If the intelligence community is deeply demoralized and doesn’t feel interested in working with the White House or other policy counterparts, policymakers lose that check and they’re more inclined to trust their instincts,” he said.

Read this article here.

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“How the Boy Scouts, Texas and an oil giant shaped Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State”

President-elect Donald Trump picked Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state in his administration. Senate confirmation hearings begin this week for Trump’s cabinet picks, including Tillerson.

Take a look at the Dallas Morning News’ article profiling Tillerson, featuring Tower Center Diplomat-in-Residence Ambassador Robert Jordan.

“Diplomats are putting their lives on the line every day in many dangerous parts of the world. I think they feel a special connection with the goals of the country,” Jordan said. “They’ll be looking to see if their leader shares that sense of patriotism and that sense of American interests.”

Read the article here.

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Jeffrey Engel | “The meaning of the ‘Four Freedoms’ speech 75 years later”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave what became to be known as the “Four Freedoms” speech 75 years ago today. In this speech he proposed four fundamental freedoms he felt everyone deserved: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

SMU Historian and Tower Center Senior Fellow Jeffrey Engel discusses the meanings of the speech on MPR News. Listen to his talk here.

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U.S.-Mexico business leaders to convince Trump of cross-border trade benefits

Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield was interviewed in the Dallas Morning News to discuss the bi-national coalition of business leaders he said is forming to convince President-elect Donald Trump of the benefits of cross-border trade.

“You have powerful people from Mexico talking, drinking, having dinner with very powerful Texas people… They will push this agenda,” he said.

Read the article here.

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Josh Rovner | The Politics of Intelligence

Tower Chair Joshua Rovner was interviewed on KERA Think Dec. 19 to discuss Donald Trump, the CIA and the ongoing controversy surrounding Russian influence of the presidential election.

Trump has turned down the daily intelligence briefing, choosing instead to be briefed once a week.

He has also said the CIA’s conclusion that Russia influenced the presidential election is ridiculous. He said it was “just another excuse” Democrats are using to explain his victory in November.

“The baseline that Russia was involved is not controversial at all,” Rovner said. “In fact it’s consistent with decades of practice… the fact that Trump would just dismiss that out of hand was probably shocking to intelligence leaders.”

Listen to the interview here.

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Amb. Robert Jordan | “Tillerson fully understands American foreign policy priorities”

Tower Center Senior Fellow and Diplomat-in-Residence Ambassador Robert Jordan was interviewed on FOX about President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

Controversy has surrounded the nomination with some Republican senators, such as Marco Rubio and John McCain, questioning the pick due to Tillerson’s lack of diplomatic experience and his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jordan supports the choice, saying Tillerson has extended experience handling complex negotiations as CEO of a Exxon.

“Rex knows how to run a complex organization,” Jordan said. “The state department is in great need of management overhaul, of streamlining, and I think he’ll be good at that.”

Watch the interview here.

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Josh Rovner | “Will Team Trump Politicize Intelligence”

Tower Chair Josh Rovner, author of Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligencewrote an editorial for War on the Rocks on President-elect Donald Trump and the CIA Dec. 15.

Trump told Fox News that he doesn’t need the daily presidential intelligence briefings presidents have been receiving for the past 40 years. “You know, I’m, like, a smart person,” he said. “I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”

Rovner argues that Trump’s plan to rely on his advisers, such as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, to keep him in the loop could easily result in politicizing intelligence.

“One lesson of the Iraq War is that intelligence should be handled with care,” Rovner wrote.

Read the full article here.

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