The Doorstep: Spy Games & Trump's Health, Pence vs. Harris, & Europe's Refugee Crisis, with Politico's Nahal Toosi

October 9, 2020

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Good morning, and welcome to The Doorstep. I am your co-host, Nikolas Gvosdev, one of the senior fellows here at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Thank you, Nick. I am Tatiana Serafin, co-host of The Doorstep and professor of journalism at Marymount Manhattan College.

We are so excited to welcome today on our podcast, where we talk about international news that you may have missed and how it affects your day-to-day life, Nahal Toosi from Politico to help us cover this couple of weeks' events that we have not been with you. Nahal covers foreign policy and national security for Politico. Her work has taken her from the halls of the U.S. State Department to refugee camps in Asia, and in 2019 she was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for reporting for her story on the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Nahal. We really appreciate it.

We are going to get right to it, because wow! What a couple of weeks it has been, Nick and Nahal. We have gone through so much, maybe a year's worth of news, in the last two weeks. So let's catch up today on things that we may have missed or angles of stories that we may not be talking about that we should be.

The first one is our president's health crisis. As we all know, early Friday morning the president announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. He went into Walter Reed over the weekend for treatment and came out saying he was healthier and stronger than ever.

In the meantime, the world was watching and talking about us, and what were they saying? I was particularly interested in reading a Politico article with a title that I thought was brilliant: "The world's hottest spy target: Trump's health."

Let me just read a paragraph and then toss it to you, Nahal and Nick, and see what you think about this. The article reads: "Foreign adversaries are working overtime to glean insight into the true state of Trump's health and potentially use it as leverage to make mischief and sow doubt about the stability of the U.S. government."

Do you think that this has been a concern for the administration in showing the president taking off his mask and standing there like a hero? Has this been their primary concern in projecting strength to circumvent any kind of misinformation about health?

NAHAL TOOSI: My take on this is that, sure, there are definitely people in the administration itself, from career staffers at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the State Department and beyond, who are keeping track of this and trying to make sure that we make it clear to other countries that we are on solid footing regardless of the state of the health of President Trump.

For President Trump, yes, him taking off his mask and having his balcony moment, that sort of thing, it was about projecting strength, but I don't think he was thinking, Oh, this is about projecting strength to other countries. It's more about the election for him. It's more about the voters and trying to rally his base. When you think about those two things together, of course, if I was a foreign intelligence official, absolutely I would nonetheless see this as a potentially vulnerable time where people might be distracted, and therefore maybe I could peek in and get some information that I otherwise couldn't.

Also, stuff like this, where it looks like our system is not as strong as it could be, it's a good time to recruit people to work for you because you might find that person who is in government or whatever who is disgruntled and who is disgusted with the way the U.S. government has handled the situation and are willing suddenly to work for a foreign spy agency. These are some of the factors that I am sure the foreign intelligence agencies are considering.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Nick, when we talk about foreign spies, what countries are we looking at specifically to undermine some of the messaging that's coming out?

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: I think you are looking obviously at the main great-power competitor targets, so Russia and China in particular, but this is something of concern to friends and partners as well as competitors alike. Everyone is going to want to be getting a sense of information: What's going on? Who's in charge? Is the U.S. government distracted? Is this the time to do something to take advantage of what might appear to be, certainly with the election already, but then if the health of the chief executive is up in the air—and as we know he made no provision when he went to Walter Reed to transfer power to the vice president.

Also, as we know, this is a very personalized White House, a lot of the key political appointee positions are either held by acting appointees or are left unfilled, so a lot of things flow up into the White House. And not just the president, but keep in mind the entire West Wing is essentially a hot spot with people who are out for the count, either quarantining or who are sick, and this represents a moment of instability.

It is perhaps then not accidental that we see other countries taking advantage of this to do things, whether it's the war that is now breaking out in the Caucasus or some of the moves Turkey has been taking, some of the moves that China and Russia have been taking. If you think that the United States is distracted and is not likely to form a coherent response until January of next year, this is as you said a perfect time to make some mischief.

But even for our allies, this is of concern because you want to know what's going on and how this relates to commitments that you might have from the United States: Is the United States going to see them through, or is the United States government so focused on what's happening—and again, this crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean I think highlights that question of what happens if the United States is absent.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Thank you so much for bringing that up, Nick. This is exactly the story of the week that I hope we can focus on. The fighting that has resumed in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the conflict that you are mentioning. 

I think it's important to know where the United States stands here. In previous years, the United States was one of the lead negotiators to try to find some sort of a deal. There are some indications that France, Russia, and the United States are going to lead talks in upcoming days to try to find a ceasefire. That has been going on for the last couple of weeks and has not been getting a lot of attention in the news.

The area that they are fighting over is about the size of Delaware, so it's not a big area geographically, but it is a big problem politically and geopolitically because we have, of course, the involvement of Iran and Turkey, Iran saying that this could lead to a regional all-out war. We of course are not part of the Iran nuclear deal anymore, so where does that leave us with Iran? So there is this domino effect of issues that all start with this tiny piece of land.

What have you heard about what America may or may not be doing in the coming weeks?

NAHAL TOOSI: I am going to plead some ignorance on this. I have heard virtually nothing from the U.S. government on this. I am certain there are people who focus on this and who are trying to nail down exactly what they can do. I believe there have been calls for a ceasefire discussion, that sort of thing, but—and Nick, please correct me if I'm wrong—I have been dealing with a lot of stuff, but I have not really seen a formal move by the United States to get involved.

This is something that not only involves Turkey and Iran but also Russia, so the question is: Does the United States want to play that big of a role besides making statements?

Tell me, Nick, if I'm wrong.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: That's a great point you have brought up. First of all, we would have expected the United States to be playing a greater role. This, by the way, touches back on something that is the reason for this type of podcast, which is for most Americans they are not going to know where Nogorno-Karabakh is. It's an issue of concern primarily to Armenian and Azeri diasporas in the United States. But it is one of these things where most Americans may not know where it is or particularly care about the specifics of the actual conflict, but it's one of those where small problems left untended can become bigger problems down the road.

It raises two questions. One is, this is the potential, as you said, Tatiana, the domino effect: What happens when you have Turkey, Russia, and Iran, that could potentially come into conflict? And once you start talking about Turkey and Russia coming into conflict, then it starts to involve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). What about U.S. commitments: Does the United States get involved, does it get dragged in, does it create a crisis in the alliance? And then suddenly this snowballs down the road.

The interesting thing to ask, and you, Nahal, are saying—and it's true; my sense is that the United States has not been doing a lot on this issue. We have been very slow to react. We don't seem to be investing a lot of time. This is certainly not an issue that I think the president himself has decided to spend any time handling. In the past administration, this is the type of thing where President Obama would have had Vice President Biden be the point person, but it is not clear that Vice President Pence is going to be playing any sort of role in this.

Then it raises the question: So what are they focusing on? As you said, you are not hearing that much is going on, so what is then gripping their attention? Is it just the election? Is it getting to November 3 and then the rest will pick up things?

NAHAL TOOSI: I did a bit of research. Today it has been announced that France, the United States, and Russia are going to hold talks in Geneva about this situation. But you know the countries that are missing from those talks? Armenia and Azerbaijan. There you go. So it looks like there are some things in motion, and this is what happens when you spend five minutes not looking at Twitter; you miss things.

What does the United States gain from getting involved in this? On the one hand, this could look like another flop if nothing comes together and the United States puts its neck out there and is not able to succeed in anything. Why should Trump and the others want to be pointed to for another failure? And why should the United States necessarily even have to take responsibility for all of this?

That being said, there are energy concerns. There are these other economic questions. There are a number of other factors, this idea that this could spiral out of control. Then the United States is a bit more concerned because it not only affects us to some extent, though not the way it would have years ago, but also our allies. These are some of the issues that come up in that broader region. So yes, it's tricky. But no, right now they are so focused on the election.

It's going to be strange, to be honest, because if they lose the election, how the Trump administration handles the transition is going to be fascinating because if they know they have only got a few months, are they going to go out there and take risks, or are they going to stop caring completely and let things spiral out of control? What are they going to want to leave a Biden administration with? That's going to be the subject I'm sure of Ph.D. dissertations in the future.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I think that is so important, and both of you lead up to our next section, which is looking at: what does a Biden foreign policy look like if they win? What does a term-two Trump foreign policy look like if they win? And how does that impact the American people on a day-to-day level?

These are the things that didn't come up last week in the debate. I want to read some comments about the debate from the international press. The Times in the United Kingdom wrote: "The clearest loser from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was America."

"Chaotic, childish, grueling." That's how French newspaper Libération described Tuesday's debate. Der Spiegel analysis of the debate headlined: "A TV duel like a car accident." Then, of course, the Kremlin outlets and state media have used the debate to highlight President Biden's poor health and age and portray Biden as being beholden to sensitive voting blocs, meanwhile portraying President Trump as "outrageous but forceful." Never mind that Biden then called President Trump "Putin's puppy." That was a big headline last week.

However, that had nothing to do at all with our standing in the world until last night, a glimmer of hope, when there was a question thrown to the [vice presidential] candidates about America's standing in the world. Somehow we learned—in a millisecond—that Biden-Harris want to engage with the world again, want to have friends. That was the big feel I got from Kamala Harris's description versus this "We are strong," said Pence. "We are very strong. We were strong against ISIS, we're strong against Iran, we're strong against China. We are strong, strong, strong." But it seemed also very me, me, me, and as Harris put it, an isolationist stance.

I loved, Nahal, your piece looking at: What will the world do if there is a Biden presidency, and what Trump foreign policies Biden might keep. I love that headline: "What Trump foreign policies Biden might keep." Are they more similar than we think? What should the American people think about this millisecond that people saw on foreign policy last night?

NAHAL TOOSI: Actually, yes, I think there are more similarities between Biden and Trump than people might think. It's because we're talking about the Biden of 2020, not the Biden of the Obama years. The Biden of 2020 has been affected by everything from his son's passing, his son who was a veteran of Afghanistan and who died of cancer, to the progressive movement and the incredible amount of pressure that they are bringing on him to take certain positions that at certain times actually put him in alignment with President Trump.

For instance, trade. In the past, Biden would have been a total free trade type of guy, but because of the progressive pressure he is actually likely going to be much more careful about striking trade agreements down the line because he knows there is so much anxiety in the United States among ordinary workers about how these deals affect them.

The Biden team has put together a foreign policy that—I'm not kidding—under his foreign policy platform he includes raising the minimum wage and reforming the criminal justice system. If you look at the platform, it's like this complete mix, where all of the silos that used to exist that separated one type of policy from another have broken down, and they're trying to mix it all up. They're basically saying, "It's all one policy." I'm writing a little bit about this in our Global Translations newsletter that is going to run tomorrow. So trade is an example where I think he is going to align more with Trump than people think.

There are also certain things that Trump has done that Biden is going to keep because it makes sense. He is not going to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem. It's a fait accompli on that. I would think that the Biden team would want to build on the Taliban peace negotiations and see them through one way or another, though they might have some tweaks to it.

There are certain things where they are also not going to want to necessarily swing the pendulum back too far in the other direction because that sends a bad message to the rest of the world. The rest of world is like: "Oh, man. All right. So every time a new party takes power in the White House, we are going to have a 180 each time. How are we going to plan for this?" I think the Biden team is very well aware of that, and while there are certain things that they absolutely are going to reverse—like a lot of the immigration stuff—there are other things they are going to think about very carefully and think, Maybe we need to keep some of this stuff now.

I would also say this: One of the lessons that everybody has learned from the Trump years is that you can do certain things, you can use your leverage in a way that is strong and the sky won't fall. There were all these beliefs that if you move the embassy to Jerusalem, the entire Middle East will go up in flames, or if you do this other stuff, it would all fall apart, and then none of it happened. So I think the Biden team is going to look at this and be like: Huh. Maybe we can put tariffs down on this country or maybe we can use this mechanism, and we won't necessarily have the whole thing blow up in our face.

TATIANA SERAFIN: What do you think, Nick? What about our international relationships? You mentioned NATO earlier in our conversation. Do you think a Biden administration or a Trump II administration might do more with NATO, reach out more, or not?

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: I think that no matter who takes office in January, if it's the Biden-Harris team or Trump-Pence scrapes through and makes it into a second term, there are just certain things that can no longer be avoided.

The Munich Security Conference just released their 2020 report, and they had a wonderful line in it where they said: "The attitude in America is that America is tired of overpaying for the protection of allies." A Biden administration will have a different tone. They aren't going to be so abrasive. They may not be so brinksmanship-like. They are not going to be so openly transactional, the way that President Trump would bluster in a European summit and say: "You have to pay for this. If you don't pay us this or give us these concessions, then we are going to stop protecting you."

But the Biden team is still going to be facing this question of: What is it that Europeans, for instance, can do on defense? What can they do on trade to help ensure that there is a more equitable balance of trade between the European Union and the United States? What does this mean for Europe having to do more for its own defense if the United States needs to pivot more to the Middle East or Asia-Pacific and that the American cavalry can't come riding over the horizon?

Nahal, you raised a very good point: This is not the Biden of 2016. I think initially you had a lot of people assuming that Biden was going to just try to turn the clock back, that if he were to be elected it would be, "I just want to go back to what the Obama administration was doing," but there is too much water under the bridge now that has flowed. Some of that is that partners in other parts of the world are aware that the United States is wobblier on commitments than it would have been, and they are taking that into account.

Also, the American public isn't where it was in 2016. You mentioned the rise of the progressives within the Democratic Party, and most people think of the progressives in terms of their domestic agenda, as you pointed out—criminal justice and income inequality—but they also have a direction in foreign policy. They are not as wedded to the church of Atlanticism that previous generations of Democrats were. They are not going to simply say more military spending, more deployments.

The Chicago Council survey among younger people—one of the assumptions going in was that younger generations, Millennials, Gen Z, will always support military intervention for defending human rights, and what they found was the polling data said we should take a strong stand on human rights but not necessarily U.S. military interventions. So I think you have within the Democratic caucus moving forward and to the extent that Biden himself has said that he is a transitional figure of leadership, that he will bridge the generations. Yes, it could lead to changes down the road where the United States is not as involved or is not the first responder, certainly not the military first responder, so that will be interesting.

And this idea too that there are certain Trump and Biden things that come back around each other, and trade being one of the most interesting ones. Joe Biden is not going to be able with a stroke of the pen reinstate U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other things of that sort.

Again, this comes back to that for Americans I think there is a sense that foreign policy, even if they don't know much about it on any specific issue, that there is a growing concern of "How do these things impact me in the pocketbook, what I pay for goods and services?" Particularly—and this is the point about negotiations to ending the Afghan War—I think people are tired, even if it's with a volunteer military, of these drip, drip, drip conflicts around the world that seem to never end, and I think you are going to see pressure for that.

NAHAL TOOSI: I agree with everything you said. I actually have a magazine story coming out later this week about Biden and progressives and his foreign policy, so I urge you guys to look at that.

One of the most interesting things I learned as I was reporting this was that progressives for the most part did not have much of a presence or an organization or a movement when it came to foreign policy even at the beginning of the Obama years, but they were hoping Obama would do what they wanted on foreign policy, and then he disappointed them. So over time they became more organized to become much more of a force today.

One of the things that catalyzed their coalition-building and organization among progressives was the Iran nuclear deal because there was a massive fight in Washington over whether to accept this nuclear deal or not. Progressive groups got organized, and they have built on that organization in the years since to come up with much more thoughtful ideas about what progressive foreign policy is.

But there are still plenty of things where they have not quite figured it out, and Nick, one of the ones you mentioned was this idea of using the military to stop a human rights crisis like a genocide or something like that. There are still things that they have to work out.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I think when you look at the younger generations, especially Gen Z, they have grown up without this idea of war, without this idea of going into the military. Many families don't even have any military members, and so it becomes: "What do you mean? I just want to travel. Open the borders." And that becomes more of a focus.

NAHAL TOOSI: Do you guys get the impression that Gen Z just looks at all of us like we're idiots? Every time I see some smart thing by some teenager, I'm like, My god, they must be looking at all of us grownups like we are complete morons. And you know what? They might have a point.

TATIANA SERAFIN: The question from the eighth-grader in last night's debate was very telling: "Why do you guys always just argue? Why can't you just get along?" I think we want to see more commonality, and I think that's what we have been talking about in looking at the Biden and Trump policies. There is more commonality than we think.

But what can we look at, and what examples do we have from Europe? I want to move us to our next section because Europe—by the way, nobody is talking about it anymore, but they are still in Brexit negotiations years and years and years later. It's still happening. Boris Johnson has given an October 15 deadline for a deal with the European Union. They are hung up over state aid and Northern Ireland customs, and once again Boris Johnson is blustering that the United Kingdom is just going to do whatever they want at the end of the year when this is all supposed to come into effect.

Can America learn anything going forward from what's going on in the United Kingdom? You mentioned that we don't have as strong an Atlanticist tendency, but I do think we still have strong ties with the United Kingdom and that we should maybe look at what's going on with those negotiations, even though it hasn't been in the news at all.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: The one thing, though, there is that the bet that a lot of U.S. companies made about locating their European operations in the United Kingdom, that now has to be revisited, depending on how these final negotiations go, or if you just have the British leaving and there is no agreement, what do you do? Do you move all your operations to Ireland or somewhere else in order to be able to stay within the frame of the Common Market?

The Brits leaving and all of these issues of why they can't get an agreement and everything else I think speaks to a problem which is more than just the technical issues around Brexit—Northern Ireland customs border and state aid and other things. We're running out of steam in many ways. We have been living in this post-Cold War, ever since the Berlin Wall fell, and it will be 31 years this November, we have been living off the energy of that move in Europe and that this was going to move Europe closer together, it was going to move Europe and the United States closer together, this was going to end conflicts, we were all going to move toward greater integration, and so on.

The European Union is having problems, not just the Brits. Other Members of the European Union have issues. We are seeing democracy in retreat in various countries in Europe, even members of the European Union and NATO. We are seeing newer generations rejecting the traditional politics, whether in Germany with the rise of the Greens coming in and the Alternative für Deutschland or in other places. Macron was a good example of a non-traditional politician.

I think we are entering into this era of uncertainty, and Europe is a harbinger of this, but I think the United States is not far behind. That's why I will read with great interest the forthcoming piece in the Politico magazine about this because I think we have been used to these landmarks in our domestic and foreign policy for so long, and those landmarks are shifting, and we don't know what it is going to look like. That creates uncertainty. It creates unease. If you say, "Europe is going to look a lot different five or ten years from now, the United States may look a lot different five to ten years from now," that's unsettling for people. I think we're seeing that spill over. We see the anxiety of people as it's reflected on Twitter about where the country is going and what's happening, but we're leaving a familiar era of the last 30 years, and we're moving into new ground.

In some ways it's not dissimilar to what happened. If you went into suspended animation in 1986 and were revived in 1994, the world would look very different, and you would be very confused—"Where are all of these things I've grown to expect?" I think we are in a similar period now.

And the pandemic is just accelerating that. COVID-19, the lockdowns, the disruptions, the economic crisis it creates, the political crisis it creates. It's not just in the United States that you have people not wanting to wear masks or social distance or anything like that. We're seeing this all replicated across Europe as well, and it's all playing into this.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Europe as a harbinger we unfortunately talked about last time. We were looking at Europe's second wave happening, and now the wave has hit us, so the timeframe of this harbinger is much faster. Here in New York we are locking down certain areas again, and I think that is going to happen more and more.

The other thing I think we need to look to Europe for is how they're treating their migration. There has been a lot of talk because of what happened in the camp in Greece with refugees setting the camp on fire because of the pandemic and how they were treated and a look at how we treat people at our borders—there were stories of a new caravan coming from Honduras last week—and what our policy to immigration is going to be.

Nahal, you mentioned that we would definitely be changing the policies under a new administration, but what do you see specifically changing in immigration, and how does that impact us here at our doorstep?

NAHAL TOOSI: There is a slew of executive orders and other regulatory changes that the Trump administration has put in to effectively build a virtual wall, a bureaucratic wall that makes it extremely hard for people to immigrate to the United States legally I should say and not just illegally, and also to become citizens. They have made it so much harder, and they have slowed everything down.

I think you are going to see a lot of moves to change those things back to more normal speeds, more normal times, more normal rules. At the same time, you are definitely going to see a lifting of travel bans on places like Nigeria and some of these other countries that have been affected. Those are some of these things, and we know that Biden has said he is going to bring in more refugees. He wants to have a minimum 95,000 that he brings in at least for the next few years because the United States needs to, in his opinion, make up for the last few years of accepting so many fewer refugees, and when the United States does this it sets an example, and other countries will step up as well.

But, look. I think the bottom line when it comes to migration and refugees in particular is that the entire world needs to sit down and rethink the entire system because it is completely outdated. It is decades old. It was a post-World War II thing. They came up with the Refugee Conventions I believe in 1951 and 1967, if I'm remembering the dates correctly. I have actually studied this stuff a lot because—long story—I tried to help someone who was in a bad situation refugee-wise.

The one thing I learned as I read all of this stuff is, My god, it's not relevant anymore to the way borders work now, to the way people get around now, and to the factors that are driving people to migrate. So we need to have a massive rethink of how we determine who is a refugee, who is an asylum-seeker, and what counts and what doesn't.

One of the key reasons is because of the climate change issue. There already are to some extent refugees who are having to flee wherever they are because the climate has changed. There are parts of the Middle East that are going to be unlivable in the future if the climate situation goes the way that it's going, and people are going to have to go places. The question is: How are we going to deal with these things?

This is not something that the United States can do by itself. It requires a global approach to this. My sense is that the Biden team has the desire to try to take the leadership on something like this, but that means also that you're going to have bring on people like Russia and like China, all these people who often are not inclined to agree. But, on the other hand, this could be one area where they are like: "You know what? Maybe this is something where we can work with an adversary because we're all facing the same challenge."

TATIANA SERAFIN: Nick, do you have anything to add to that?

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: I think it's a good way to begin bracketing this issue as something that isn't just it happens this year or next year but that this is one of these systemic issues over time, and the fact of what is happening with climate shift all over the world raises again fundamental questions about where people are going to live when they can't live where they were originally living because it's too hot, it's too dry, there's no water, we can't grow food here anymore. What do you do with the countries that are the "haves" in terms of fresh water—Russia and Canada, for example—which are also countries that happen to be grossly underpopulated in the sense that they can take a lot more people?

But I think this will exacerbate some of these domestic political conflicts as well of "What's mine is mine, and it's not yours," and borders become:

"You should stay on your side of the line."

"Well, I can't stay on my side of the line because it's not livable anymore."

"Well, is that my problem? Not my problem? How is this going to work out?" Again, this is one of these changing-landmarks issues.

Just to second Nahal, the Refugee Conventions are hopelessly out of date. They were designed for people fleeing—the templates were Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. We don't have provisions for recognizing people as refugees where, yes, there is a government that ostensibly runs this country, but in reality criminal gangs run the country or run where you live, and you come and you say, "I have a fear of persecution."

And someone says: "Well, it's not from the government, and therefore you're not an asylum-seeker because you're saying, 'Organized crime is threatening me' or 'A gang or a militia is threatening me,'" and the rules have not caught up to that because the rules still think in terms of it has to be the SS or the KGB after you and not a gang or some other entity.

But yes, these are the issues. And again, the question, both for a Trump administration if there is a second term or for a Biden administration is—and I know we overuse these terms about "national conversations" and the like—there are going to have to be sustained political discussions beyond sound bites at debates with bumper stickers about "We should be open to the world and make friends" or "We should be strong." It's really, what are we prepared to do? What are the risks to us if we don't do something? If we claim to be guided by our values, what do our values tell us to do? You need leaders who are going to be able to lead and not simply do a bunch of opinion polling and saying, "Well, this is what people think right now, so we're not going to have a policy."

Nahal, going back to your thing about what does Gen Z think, yes, this is where leadership has to come in, and if leaders are not leading, then people are going to question whether the people in front of them are in fact doing their jobs.

NAHAL TOOSI: Let me talk to that one key reason that there are so many fissures about this. It's racism. It's religious bigotry. A lot of the reasons that there is so much resistance to the migrants in Europe is because many of them are Muslim or they have darker skin.

One thing we have definitely learned over the past 20 years is that racism is alive and well, and it's continuing to be a scourge that we are going to have to deal with. It's not going to go away any time soon.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Absolutely, and certainly it became an issue last night that Kamala Harris addressed and Pence kind of dodged when asked directly about the white supremacy statements coming out of President Trump's debate last week.

I think this will continue to be something we look at as we look forward to—well, I don't know if there will be a debate next week. We are still waiting on a decision. President Trump announced he was not going to do a virtual one. We'll see. If there is, we will have lots to talk about; if there isn't, we'll have a lot to talk about because these issues do need to be addressed, and we will be looking at pre-election predictions in our next podcast because it will be our final podcast before the election, so super-exciting looking forward.

I want to end with saying we are also so excited about the Nobel Prizes being awarded. That news has also gone under the radar this week.

NAHAL TOOSI: Has Trump won one?

TATIANA SERAFIN: I think somebody nominated him for the Peace Prize, but we won't know that for a while, but what has been awarded is the Chemistry Award last week to two scientists working on genome editing, the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) tool. That's a whole other topic of discussion.

Today the Nobel Prize in Literature went to the American poet Louise Glück. Exciting. Look for some good news too at The Doorstep. We want to always give you all the news and good news as well.

Thank you very much, Nahal, for joining us. We really appreciate your comments and are so looking forward to reading your article on Biden, the progressives, and foreign policy.

NAHAL TOOSI: I am so looking forward to it being published.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: That's wonderful.

So thank you to everyone, and as always you can send questions and comments to us via Twitter either for Tatiana, @tatianaserafin, or directly to the Carnegie Council, @carnegiecouncil.

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