Donald Trump isn’t a despot. But he is increasingly acting like The Despot’s Apprentice, an understudy in authoritarian tactics that threaten to erode American democracy. Whether it’s attacking the press, threatening rule of law by firing those who investigate his alleged wrongdoings, or using nepotism to staff the White House, Donald Trump is borrowing tactics from the world’s dictators and despots. Trump’s fascination for the military, his obsession with his own cult of personality, and his deliberate campaign to blur the line between fact and falsehood are nothing new to the world of despots. But they are new to the United States. With each authoritarian tactic or tweet, Trump poses a unique threat to democratic government in the world’s most powerful democracy.
At the same time, Trump’s apprenticeship has serious consequences beyond the United States too. His bizarre adoration and idolization of despotic strongmen—from Russia’s Putin, to Turkey’s Erdogan, or to the Philippines’ Duterte—has transformed American foreign policy into a powerful cheerleader for some of the world’s worst regimes.
The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy will explore how Trump uniquely threatens democracy—and how to save it from him.
SubtitleDonald Trump's Attack on Democracy
AuthorBy Brian Klaas
Published14 November 2017
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
About the author
Brian Klaas is the author of The Despot’s Accomplice and a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics, where he focuses on authoritarianism and democracy. Klaas received his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He has advised NATO, the European Union, national governments, and major international NGOs. He previously served as a US campaign adviser. Klaas is a columnist for DemocracyPost at the Washington Post and is a regular contributor to USA Today, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Hill. He is also a regular guest on MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC News, Sky News, and National Public Radio. He is an American currently living in London, UK.
"This is an important book for all who want to understand and do something about the crisis of democracy in our turbulent world. Klaas tells a disturbing story, but he offers hope—and a dose of humor—while showing how the West can turn the tide, if it acts wisely and quickly. Essential reading."—Walter Mondale, Former Vice President of the United States, Ambassador to Japan, and United States Senator
"For the last few decades, liberal democracy was on the march. Today, however, the world is going through a democratic recession. In this thought-provoking book, Brian Klaas points the finger at a surprising villain: the West itself. He argues that Western governments have too often been accomplices to authoritarianism; through sins of commission and admission. An enjoyable and challenging addition to the literature on democracy promotion."—Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations
"This lucid, wide-ranging, up-to-date analysis of US democracy promotion offers penetrating critical insights as well as practical recommendations for doing better. Klaas is an engaging, lively guide through the complex thickets of democracy policy challenges and dilemmas."—Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
"This efficient and thought-provoking plea for the U.S. and other Western countries to prioritize democracy promotion is a must-read... [Klaas] is no armchair academic, and his analyses of policymaking challenges are informed by extensive, and sometimes dangerous, field work... [He] is able to make his points simply and clearly, as in his observation that democracy, like free speech, must be protected regardless of whether it yields a preferred result."—Publishers Weekly starred review
"Written with precision and learning, with lively prose and dark humor. Klaas' proposals combine the conviction of an idealist with the experience of a technocrat. At a time when democracy is in retreat and the world seems headed for turbulence, this book can be the shot that revives this ailing patient."—The National