WPTPN: How Vladimir Putin Became the Oracle of the East

This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Emily Holland and Hadas Aron, PhD Candidates in Political Science at Columbia University. Holland’s research focuses on energy politics, political development, Russian politics and East/Central Europe. Aron studies right wing populism and nationalism with a regional focus on Eastern Europe, the United States, and Israel. They blog at Commenting Together.

Immediately following the annexation of Crimea and the tragedy of flight MH17, the West largely regarded Vladimir Putin as a dangerous international pariah. But two years later, following the sweeping success of demagogues world-wide, Putin has emerged as a new oracle of the East, leading the charge for the new wave of illiberalism. Widely praised by US President Elect Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Turkey’s Erdogan, India’s Modi, and Hungary’s Orban, amongst others, Putin’s brand of strongman leadership and exclusionary nationalism is succeeding like never before.

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No More Vietnams? Reforming the Selective Service

Vietnam protestWhen I was young, I dreamed of Italy. Once in a while, my father would pull out the slide projector and show us pictures from his life on a mountain near Colle Isarco, not far from Italy’s border with Austria. He taught me to speak a little in both Italian and German, which I loved. My father, though, is not Italian, and his sojourn at a mountaintop telecom site (still the only time he’s ever been outside North America) came all-expenses-paid courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, which he joined after being drafted during the Vietnam War. Continue reading

WPTPN: Global Cities in a Time of Populist Nationalism

This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Fiona B. Adamson, an Associate Professor of International Relations at SOAS, University of London. 

In the aftermath of the UK Brexit vote, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo issued a joint letter committing themselves to work more closely together and to deepen connections between cities in Europe and across the world, declaring that “the 21st century belongs to cities.” They are not the only ones who think so – sociologists, geographers, urban studies scholars and others have long focused on cities as important sites of power in the international system – sites that increasingly make up a networked global structure that exists side-by-side with the system of nation-states.

The tension between the globalized world of interconnected cities and the still territorially-defined system of nation-states is one of the factors that has come to the fore in both Brexit and the US election. Voting preferences in both cases mirrored the rural-urban geographic divide – with urban centers overwhelmingly voting “Remain” in the UK and for Clinton in the US. Indeed, both the “Leave” and Trump campaigns played on this distinction. The Brexit vote was as much about perceptions of London’s “elites” and “experts” as it was about fact-based arguments or the actual workings of the European Union. Trump’s “America First” and “Make America Great Again” version of nationalism was pitted against the “globalism” of metropolitan elites – who were deemed to represent neoliberalism, mainstream media and corporate power – but also pluralism and cultural diversity.

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Why Do People Buy #Pizzagate?

Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory started by alt-right Twitter which alleged that John Podesta‘s emails exposed some members of the Democratic party as being part of a DC pizzeria-based child-sex ring, has made its way into Russian social networks. Now some people are convinced of the existence of pedophile lobby that ‘rules’ the US, and believe that both ‘lamestream’ media and elites are trying to hush it up. As one Russian LiveJournal user puts it: its’ ‘American internet community versus pedophiles in politics’. Why do people believe that debunked conspiracy theory? Two reasons: the blood libel trope and a pattern of misinformation.

As children are viewed as a universal symbol of the future, the attack on them can be viewed as an existential threat to a nation. This is the way homophobic fears are stocked as well: in the US and most recently in Russia homosexuality was constantly discursively linked to pedophilia. This is the mechanism borne out of ‘blood libel’ cases, which were pretexts for organizing Jewish pogroms: the ‘killing of babies’ and the ‘use of their blood’ during Passover is a perfect way to incite hatred. Hillary ‘nasty woman’ Clinton is also present in the blood libel narrative.

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Being a Doctoral Student in the Time of Trump: Six Challenges

This is a guest post from Ariya Hagh, Andrew Szarejko, and Laila Wahedi. All three authors are doctoral students in Georgetown University’s Department of Government. Author order is alphabetical by last name.

As we consider the broader ramifications of a Trump presidency, it is important to take a moment to consider how we in the discipline are likely to be affected so that we can adequately prepare for the coming years. If past behavior and rhetoric is any indication, which we expect it to be, the incoming Trump administration will present a unique set of challenges to doctoral students in political science.

Being aware of these challenges will help students to navigate the next four years as well as the rest of their careers and, we hope, will allow faculty to help their students along the way. Specifically (though not exhaustively), we expect reduced access to government data; less federal funding; a more difficult job market; obstacles to activism and teaching; and greater insecurity for international students. Continue reading

WPTPN: Will Populist Nationalism Lead to Great-Power War?

This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Louis F. Cooper. His online writing includes “Reflections on U.S. Foreign Policy” at the U.S. Intellectual History Blog (July 16, 2014). His Ph.D. is from the School of International Service, American University.

The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of 1792-1815, which one historian has labeled “the first total war,” engulfed basically the whole of Europe. A century later, a war broke out in Europe that extended beyond the continent to become global in scope. One can think of the two enormously destructive world wars of the twentieth century as a “thirty years war” (1914-1945), interrupted by what can be viewed in retrospect as an uneasy lull marked by the Depression and the rise of fascism.

Those who see history as essentially cyclical might have expected another global war to occur in or around 2014. The idea of ‘long cycles’ of war and peace, explored by several scholars, could have suggested this. And if one believes, as Robert Gilpin wrote some years ago, that “even though some states occasionally come to appreciate the mutual benefits of international cooperation, unfortunately all states have yet to learn the lesson simultaneously,”[i] then the occurrence of another world war would not have been out of the question. Obviously, however, it didn’t happen on the centenary of World War I. Why not?

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Poo Haikus (and Other Unconventional Ways to Raise Awareness about Global Health)

Writing about poo

Raises awareness, saves lives

Oddest line on CV

I am definitely not a poet. Fortunately, the organizers of Poo Haiku had nearly 150 other entries from which to select 12 winners to have their haikus memorialized on the 2017 Poo Haiku calendar.

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WPTPN: An Inconvenient Post-Truth Post

This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Robert Y. Shum, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies at The College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY).

Does the Paris Agreement, and the likely withdrawal therefrom by the Trump administration, matter? On the surface, the current situation is not so different from George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. Probing deeper, however, important differences come to the fore. Many independent observers saw the Kyoto Protocol as fundamentally flawed in its lack of obligations applying to developing countries, including China and India. In contrast, an understanding between China and the United States lay at the center of the Paris Agreement.

Critics of the Paris approach to internationally-negotiated national emissions targets nonetheless argue that its effectiveness is limited compared to that of policies made at and by domestic institutions, regardless of the Parisian promise to broaden participation at the international level so as to include developing-country emitters. With the prospect that US participation in the international climate regime will be reduced under a Trump administration, the question regarding the value of participation in international agreements now shifts to the effect of US (non-)participation on the global climate regime. Minimizing this effect has become a source of hope and optimism. Thus, ironically, following Trump’s election, the critical view of Paris takes on a new function as both consolation for environmentalists and apologia for skeptics.

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A Plea for Cease Fire in the New American Civil War, Part I—A Trump Unity Agenda

Before the election, I offered that I would write three posts on bridging the sharp divides that have us in warring camps–one on a unity agenda, the second on changes in the tone of our public discourse, and the third on increased civic engagement. Honesty is the best policy so I’ll start by saying that I did not think President-elect Trump would win. While I’m being honest, I’ll add that I’m a liberal democrat who found Trump’s victory deeply and personally devastating.

To make all of this honesty even worse, what I will propose as a Trump unity agenda is largely what most would consider a progressive one. So why in the world would the President-elect humor a Bernie Sanders supporter (me) by implementing any of these proposals? Here’s why.

First, I’m leaving out a huge range of issues on which agreement between Trump, Republicans and Democrats is not possible—taxes, financial regulation, gun restrictions, judicial appointments, climate change protection, much of national security policy, to name just a few. I’m not going to suggest that any of this should be part of a unity agenda because I don’t believe there’s a possibility of unity on these issues. Trump, the GOP (and I list them separately on purpose because I don’t think Trump is wholly aligned with his erstwhile party) and the Democrats are going to fight these out.

Second, my recommendations will help Trump solve his not-so-long-term political problem—how does he keep the base that elected him while adding new supporters who opposed him. And he’ll have to do this to keep Congress in 2018 and get re-elected in 2020. Why’s that? Because he won less than 47% of the vote, because a switch of 80,000 votes in three key states would have beat him, and because there will be more of his opponents than supporters in future elections than there were this time. This means he’ll have to get more votes from blacks, Latinos, women, and younger voters than he did this time. And in 2018 and 2020, Trump will be on the ballot not as an idea but as an incumbent. He won’t be a blank slate on which angry voters can write what they want and vote for as a protest. He’ll be a real live office holder with successes, failures, unfulfilled promises, and unanticipated crises to which he’ll respond either well or poorly. He will lose friends he has now and need friends he does not have now.

Third, and most important, these proposals are the right thing to do. They will all reduce human suffering and heal deep divisions in our country—divisions of gender, race, ethnicity, and economic opportunity. Here they are. Continue reading

WPTPN: Recommended Non-Duck Readings for the Weekend

I plan to post relevant items for the World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) group somewhat regularly, so please send links to me via Twitter (@whinecough or the #WPTPN hashtag) or e-mail (wkwineco _ at _ indiana _ dot _ edu). For more information on the WPTPN series see this post. Follow WPTPN posts using this tag.

“International Relations Scholarship in the Age of Trump,” by Brandon Valeriano at RelationsInternational.

“For Trump, politics, family and business merge. We know from Indonesia how that may end up,” by Tom Pepinsky at WaPo’s The Monkey Cage.

“Donald Trump is an economic nationalist. What’s an economic nationalist?” by Jeff Colgan at WaPo’s The Monkey Cage.

“Trump and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective,” by Cullen Hendrix at Political Violence @ A Glance.

“Trump and Diplomacy: Time to Eat Some Spinach,” by Elizabeth N. Saunders and James H. Lebovic at Political Violence @ A Glance.

 

Ice Thin Memory

Usually when news about Russia makes it to American late night shows, Russia either gets hit by a meteorite, or it annexes part of a neighboring country. Either way, it is illustrated by Putin’s bare-chested photograph on a horse. This time, however, neither celestial bodies, nor Putin’s nipples were at stake. Several high-profile newspapers and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah reported on…  an ice-skating dance routine.

‘Wife of Putin’s ally’ [putting aside the whole sexist tradition of defining a woman through her male companion] was widely criticized for her Holocaust-themed ice-dancing routine. Even though the press secretary of the Russian Federation of Jewish Communities said in a commentary that the story didn’t have anything to it and there was no reason to get upset over the dance, as the Holocaust has been used as a theme in many art projects. The champion ice-skater Tatyana Navka was also surprised at the negative reactions and insisted that the routine was done ‘to remind our children about that horrible time’.

No offence, American media, but you kind of live in a bubble that does not include Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic crime. Oh, sorry, now you no longer do. Russia is a different story. Holocaust was never really a part of Russia’s collective memory. Most monuments erected during the Soviet era on the sites of Jewish massacres were dedicated to civilians while their Jewish identity was brushed over. Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz in 1945 and Soviet citizens knew about concentration camps, but the Jewish identity of the victims was downplayed. Through the works of Ilya Ehrenburg, Evgeny Yevtushenko or Vassily Grossmann some people were familiar with mass executions of Jews. But these works were far from mainstream and were a protest against Soviet governmental policy of hushing up the ‘final solution’. This is yet another example of ‘warped mourning’ over the victims of wars, famines, repressions and purges in Russia.

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WPTPN: The Legitimacy of American Hegemony in the Age of Trump

This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Daniel Braaten, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Lutheran University.  His main research interests are in the areas of global governance, human rights, and U.S. foreign policy.  His research has been published in the Review of International Studies, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Human Rights, and Human Rights Review.

What effect will a Donald Trump presidency have on American hegemonic legitimacy? My purpose here is not to wade into debates about whether U.S. hegemony is benign, here to stay, already gone, or more like an empire. My use of the term hegemony is only to acknowledge the role the U.S. has taken to build, maintain, and benefit from the post-World War II global order and how Trump’s foreign policy may impact America’s role in maintaining this system going forward. Already commentators are arguing that a Trump Presidency (coupled with the Brexit vote and a global surge in nationalism) spells the end of this system. So how might a Trump presidency undermine the legitimacy that underlies America’s hegemonic position and the post-World War II system of international institutions, embedded liberalism, and democracy?

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How Are You? On Coping in the Time of Trump

I’m not going to assume that all of our readers are non-Trump fans, but let’s be honest, Trump support in the social science academy is probably slim. And, if you are like me, you are dismayed by what transpired with the election and continue to try to figure it out, both personally as a human being and as a citizen of whatever country you are from.

At moments, you think, maybe it won’t be so bad, but then he tweets or says something and you fear it will be worse. I think Americans are often preternaturally disposed to thinking things will work out, but events of late make me wonder.

So, in the meantime, I think many are coping as best they can,  spending more quality time with family and friends, starting that fitness routine up again, going camping or getting outside, vegging out with some escapism (the Ghostbusters reboot, a little Westworld), or finding community service projects to donate to or serve in.  There is some collective on-line therapy happening with friends and colleagues or groups like Pantsuit Nation.  There is the temptation to retreat from the public sphere and to cut out unpleasant news. I think some unplugging and going offline for a bit is warranted. I tried that for like 12 hours.

I think it is important though that we gradually pick up the pieces and re-dedicate ourselves to fight the good fights ahead, whether that be public service inside the government, citizen advocacy (I’ve called my legislators to let them know about a few choice appointments I’m not happy about), or possibly other forms of public protest if and when they are warranted.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate with some gallows humor.

#1

#2


#3

#4


In the end, I come back to this to get ready for the next chapter.

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Algorithmic Bias: How the Clinton Campaign May Have Lost the Presidency or Why You Should Care

This post is a co-authored piece:

Heather M. Roff, Jamie Winterton and Nadya Bliss of Arizona State’s Global Security Initiative

We’ve recently been informed that the Clinton campaign relied heavily on an automated decision aid to inform senior campaign leaders about likely scenarios in the election.  This algorithm—known as “Ada”—was a key component, if not “the” component in how senior staffers formulated campaigning strategy.   Unfortunately, we know little about the algorithm itself.  We do not know all of the data that was used in the various simulations that it ran, or what its programming looked like.   Nevertheless, we can be fairly sure that demographic information, prior voting behavior, prior election results, and the like, were a part of the variables as these are stock for any social scientist studying voting behavior.  What is more interesting, however, is that we are fairly sure there were other variables that were less straightforward and ultimately led to Clinton’s inability to see the potential loss in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, and almost lose Minnesota.

But to see why “Ada” didn’t live up to her namesake (Ada, Countess of Lovelace, who is the progenitor of computing) is to delve into what an algorithm is, what it does, and how humans interact with its findings. It is an important point to make for many of us trying to understand not merely what happened this election, but also how increasing reliance on algorithms like Ada can fundamentally shift our politics and blind us to the limitations of big data.   Let us begin, then, at the beginning.

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World AIDS Day 2016

December 1 is World AIDS day.  Throughout the 2000s, AIDS received unprecedented attention and resources, particularly to support ten of millions of people’s access to life-extending anti-retroviral therapy. Attention and resources peaked in recent years, and while the problem in some respects has gotten better, it hasn’t gone away. More than 35 million people have died from AIDS already.  And yet,  there are still more than 35 million people living with the virus that causes AIDS, only half of whom have access to ARVs. While new infections and deaths have come down from their peaks, there are still more than 2 million new infections a year and more than a million deaths from AIDS.  We still have never gotten very good at AIDS prevention strategies, as changing risky behavior is hard.

AIDS funding largely held steady after the financial crisis, and with the U.S. the world’s largest source of foreign aid for AIDS, that reflected the durability of the bipartisan consensus to address AIDS that emerged under President George W. Bush. However, for the first time in five years, we saw a significant drop in resources for AIDS, and we’re starting to see negative signs in some places and some countries as new generations grow up without as much safe sex messaging.

With a Trump administration, we have almost no signs of what it intends to do on global health, as Jeremy Youde suggested here and Laurie Garrett wrote about yesterday.

Below, I’m going to embed some tweets from Jennifer Kates from the Kaiser Family Foundation who has done tremendous work in tracking AIDS finance over the years. I’ll try to say more what’s needed going forward in a separate post, as there is a need hold the line on efforts in the AIDS space but also do wider health systems strengthening. Accomplishing those twin tasks without adequate and even more resources is impossible so global health advocates will need to make their case on why doing the right thing now will avoid unnecessary deaths and expense later.

Finally, two books are worth your attention. David France, director of the Oscar nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague, is out with a print version of the story of US AIDS activists from ACT UP who made the cause a national issue in the era of Reagan and hastened the faster development of anti-retrovirals and wider changes in AIDS policy. There may be some lessons learned about civil disobedience and speaking truth to power that will be important in the years to come.

LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones, who was close to the gay activist Harvey Milk, is also out with a memoir on his life and advocacy including his work in founding the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Continue reading

Kiss 2016 Goodbye: Call for Nominations for the Duckies

Thankfully, The Disaster that was 2016 will soon be behind us.  I’m sure hoping 2017 will be better!  With all the uncertainty of 2017, I am assured of one thing: ISA 2017 is right around the corner and will be AMAZING.

My favorite part of ISA for the last several years is the Online Achievement in International Studies Reception and Awarding of the Duckies!  This year, the event will be held on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:30 pm.  I’m excited about our Ignite speaker lineup – more information will be released on this soon.  The ISA Online Media Caucus (OMC) is very thankful to have the support of Sage in hosting the reception.

Now is the time to submit your nominations for the 2017 Duckies.  All nominations can be sent to onlinemediacaucus@gmail.com.  We’ll be awarding Duckies in the following categories:

Best Blog (Group) in International Studies

Best Blog (Individual) in International Studies

Best Blog Post in International Studies

Best Twitter Account

Special Achievement in International Studies Online Media

As before, these awards are intended for English-language international studies blogs and bloggers whose online output has significant scholarly content.  Award nominees or their designated representatives MUST be present at the Duckies.

January 1st, 2017 is the deadline for nominations.  The Online Media Caucus and Sage will then judge the nominations and determine finalists for public voting as necessary.  Self-nominations are encouraged.

WPTPN: Lessons from Turkey: Populist Nationalism and the Threat to Democracy

This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Gizem Zencirci, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Providence College. Her research interests include political Islam, neoliberalism and social policy, and Middle East politics. 

The rise of the AK Party in Turkey and its consolidation of power is a case with generalizable lessons about the rise of populist nationalism elsewhere.

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Climate and Security in the Trump Era

I’ve been asked by some reporters about the significance of Donald Trump’s victory for the agenda of climate and security, the emergent concern that climate change is likely to produce consequences that rise to the level of security challenges for the United States and rest of the world (some background here and here).  Some of my initial thoughts were quoted today in Scientific American and I’ve expanded on them here.  As I noted in my last post, we’ve already seen considerable speculation about what the Trump administration might yield on climate change and wider environmental policy.

We’re kind of entering in to  Kremlinology territory here. We don’t really know what is going to happen, and I think assuming the worst might actually be strategically counter-productive. Donald Trump has already signaled that he was going to walk away from a number of his previous hardline policy commitments like the border wall.

To the extent that he does possess an inner pragmatist as President Obama has suggested, then those baby steps in the direction of the light out to be encouraged. True, it is easy to read too much in to ambiguous statements like Trump’s apparent open mind on climate change policy in his New York Times interview last week.

My general sense is that yes we have reasons to be concerned, but we should also wait to see what Trump intends to do, who he actually appoints to key positions,and whether some of the more out there ideas — like zeroing out NASA’s earth science efforts — actually get taken up in policy.  I also think we need a theory of how to influence Donald Trump personally and the Trump administration broadly. Let me speak to both issues and the significance for the climate and security agenda.

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Femme Fatale

After Donald Trump won the elections in the US, Twitter was abuzz with the picture of potential UN Security Council country leaders that included Theresa May, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Marine Le Pen. After Brexit and Trump all eyes are on France and its upcoming presidential elections. The possibility of ‘Frexit’ in case of Le Pen’s win is alarming enough, but Russia is also on the agenda. Russian-French relations have been strained since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, but have got even worse after President Hollande accused Russia of war crimes in Syria that purportedly prompted Vladimir Putin to cancel his trip to France. While in American elections Russia had a clear favorite, and did not really have a plan B for Hillary Clinton’s win, French elections seem to be much more comforting.

In the recently finished primaries on the right, the losing candidate Alain Juppe criticised the winner Francois Fillon for leaning too close to Russia. Fillon did defend Russia’s actions on a number of occasions and even wished for a Putin-Trump alliance. Putin admitted himself that he cultivated a good relationship with Fillon in 2008-2012, probably because they both belong to the J. Mearsheimer’s ‘I don’t give a damn about small countries’ sovereignty’ school of thought. On top of that, Fillon fits well with the conservative turn of the Russian government, being a vocal supporter of la Manif Pour Tous (anti-gay marriage movement in France), whose ‘traditional family’ poster has also been adopted by Russian anti-gay activists.

Marine Le Pen managed to shift Front National further to mainstream by purging some of her father’s most racist friends and allies and settling on a more conventional anti-migrant xenophobia. After all, Nicolas Sarkozy’s government expelled Roma migrants and closed borders way before the refugee crisis. Ms. Le Pen has been a welcome guest in Moscow and received a large loan from a Russia-affiliated bank for her party. Eurosceptic, pro-Trump and anti-NATO, Le Pen would be a perfect partner for Putin and the worst nightmare for the EU. At the same time, Sputnik News, a pro-Russian propaganda outlet, puts Fillon and not Le Pen into their IR dream ménage à trois with Putin and Trump. [dirty joke edited]

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What Do You Do with a Problem Like Zika?

Two years ago, more people probably knew that Stephen Breyer is on the Supreme Court (hint: it’s a really low number) than had even heard of the Zika virus. I certainly hadn’t, and I make my living studying global health politics. The entirety of published research on Zika could fit in a shoebox. Since the first reports of the virus appeared in Brazil, though, Zika has grabbed international attention, leading to travel warnings and even causing some athletes to pull out of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Zika’s emergence changed the dialogue on global health and forced states and organizations to get involved. On 1 February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika-related microcephaly to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Nine months later, WHO ended the PHEIC for Zika, arguing that the organization should shift to a “robust longer-term technical mechanism.” Is WHO’s decision a reflection of the changing strategy necessary to tackle Zika, or is it evidence that the organization is waving the white flag and admitting defeat?

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