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University of Denver

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

The University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies is a leader among institutions of higher learning that prepare students for transnational careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Ranked by Foreign Policy magazine as #11 in the world for master’s degree programs of international affairs, the Josef Korbel School offers a customizable curriculum integrating practical and theoretical approaches to the study of our globalizing world.

Degree Programs

  • MA in Conflict Resolution
  • MA in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration
  • MA in International Administration
  • MA in International Development
  • MA in Human Rights
  • MA in International Security
  • MA in International Studies
  • MA in International Intercultural Communications
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Certificate in Global Business and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Certificate in Global Health Affairs
  • Certificate in Homeland Security
  • Certificate in Humanitarian Assistance
  • Certificate in Religion and International Affairs

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The Trump-Merkel Oval Office visit was frigid. No handshake and no consensus on the mission and scope of the Atlantic alliance. Donald Trump and his “America First” team are more interested in a Cold War with Germany and Western Europe’s establishments than with Russia.

President Donald Trump meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office on March 17, 2016 | Evan Vucci/AP

The difference in core issues and values were significant: immigration, NATO, trade and the EU.


Migration, immigration, integration has to be worked on, obviously. Traffickers have to be stopped. But this has to be done while looking at the refugees as well, giving them opportunities to shape their own lives where they are; help countries who right now are not in an ability to do so — sometimes because they have civil war.  I think that’s the right way of going about it.

We also recognize that immigration security is national security. We must protect our citizens from those who seek to spread terrorism, extremism and violence inside our borders. Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first, without question.

Trade and EU

Well, I believe that the President has clearly set out his philosophy as to what trade agreements have to bring about for the American side as well. I personally don’t think that Germany needs to negotiate and not the European Union.

But the question is, will it be of benefit to both countries or not, and let me be very honest, very candid — a free trade agreement with the United States of America has not always been all that popular in Germany either.

First of all, I don’t believe in an isolationist policy, but I also believe a policy of trade should be a fair policy. And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years. And that’s going to stop.

On trade with Germany, I think we’re going to do fantastically well. Right now, I would say that the negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the negotiators for the United States. But hopefully we can even it out. We don’t want victory, we want fairness.


…obviously, defense and security has a lot of different assets and facets to it. One the one hand, it’s supporting missions in Africa, for example. It’s also promoting development assistance, but it’s also helping mission in Africa, for example, in trying to stand up for their own safety and security. 

We continue to be in conversation. What was important for us today was that we were able to talk about Afghanistan, talk about, as the President quite rightly said, the continuing mission of Germany in Afghanistan.

I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense. Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe. 

But the problem Trump has with Merkel is more political than policy. Merkel represents everything Trump doesn’t like, and he often says so.

She is the senior European leader in power since 2005. She was close to Barack Obama; she leads Europe’s best economy with its most stable government. She is conservative, yet a globalist and the leading advocate of the EU’s conventions on open borders and a European position on trade.

For Trump, what’s to like?

But it’s even more personal. She got a Time Person of the Year recognition when he felt he should have received it. She was just labeled “leader of the free world,” not surprising since he only aspires to lead “America First.”

And, during the campaign, he specifically used her as a rally shout out. In fact, she and Hillary Clinton were interchangeable. And, of course, his raison d’être issue, immigration, should sink her. Trump asks, why is she in my office?


October 2015
“I always thought Merkel was, like, this great leader,” he said…about her decision to allow more than a million refugees into the country. “What she’s done in Germany is insane,” he added and predicted: “They’re going to have riots in Germany.”

December 2015
After Time magazine made Merkel its Person of the Year, Trump took to Twitter to declare that the outlet picked the person “who is ruining Germany.”

March 2016
Referring to the Cologne New Year’s Eve assaults on hundreds of women, Trump, during a rally in Iowa, again predicted unrest in Germany and lashed out against Merkel. “The German people are going to riot. The German people are going to end up overthrowing this woman [Angela Merkel]. I don’t know what the hell she is thinking.”

“Germany’s being destroyed. I have friends, I just left people from Germany and they don’t even want to go back. Germany’s being destroyed by Merkel’s naiveté or worse.”

October 2016
“Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel, and you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany. Crime has risen to levels that no one thought would they would ever see.” Trump said.

“We have enough problems in our country, we don’t need another one,” the candidate said.

Neither the Atlantic alliance nor the German-American relations were helped by this summit. But, Merkel’s reelection may receive a boost. Trump is not popular with much of the European public. In fact, Merkel’s main German opponent, Martin Schulz of the center-left Social Democratic Party, has received considerable attention for his criticism of Trump and “America First.”

However, neither Merkel nor the EU establishment should have any illusions. Trump represents a direct challenge to them and their vision.

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Geert Wilders and Dutch Prime Minister
Mark Rutte | Yves Herman/Reuters

Immigration remains a powerful force in European electoral politics as just demonstrated by the Dutch electorate. But, voters rejected the governing extreme of Brexit or the Trump/Bannon anti-EU, anti-Muslim policies that Geert Wilders espoused. Although his Freedom Party picked up a few seats in parliament, it was far less than expected. The current prime minister, Mark Rutte, of the center-right Peoples Party remains the largest and will assemble a coalition government.

Rutte thanked his supporters for opposing the “wrong kind of populism.” He clearly moved right on immigration, but it was more rhetoric than policy.

A record turnout with a surge of young voters was good for the green party, which increased its share of the vote to a record high. Populism, and its anti-establishment sentiment, can help both right and left.

Immigration and nationalism will remain potent electoral strategy effecting the French (April 23 1st round) and German elections (September). But, voters appear to be pausing before jumping to the Brexit and Trump extremes.

Europe’s centralists were as excited by this election as the rightwing was of Trump’s (see blog: European Nationalists Cheer Trump)

  • François Hollande: Clear victory against extremism
  • Angela Merkel: “Oh, the Netherlands – You are a champion. Congratulations on this great result, very pro-European result.”
  • Jean-Claude Juncker: Victory for “free and tolerant societies in prosperous Europe”

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President Trump referenced that some type of solution was possible for millions of undocumented residents if they do not have criminal records in an interview on the day of his Joint Session of Congress speech on February 28, 2017. That was a change in position for Trump and the administration. Of course, it may not have been a serious proposal.

President Trump’s first address to Congress

The administration is currently conducting deportation raids against all undocumented because their status is prima facia illegal. “We are just upholding the immigration law.” And although Trump has stated that the focus is on apprehending criminals and drug and gang members, numerous stories made clear that many of those deported are guilty, at most, of minor offenses, such as failing to have a driver’s license or misuse of a Social Security Card to obtain work. In other words, prior to the statement by Trump, it was assumed that most undocumented residents were subject to deportation. The administration was slated to hire 15,000 additional immigration employees to implement the new sweeps.

Resistance to this approach is significant, both from elected officials and the public. If the President wanted to support an immigration reform bill, he’s greatly increased bargaining power of the anti-immigration position, i.e., in favor of more stringent conditions.

The American people would welcome a solution that avoids mass deportations, endless conflict among political jurisdictions and stories of family hardship.

Polling done by our firm and others show that the majority of the public believe that immigration proposals of recent years requiring long waiting periods, speaking English, paying taxes and having no criminal record were popular. Only about a quarter of the population believes in expulsion, but it tends to be concentrated in the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

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Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are in deep trouble. Health care repeal and replace is a promise that must be delivered. Much of their support is based on the belief they can deliver certain key promises. And critically for their power, the business community has ignored the distracting tweets and out of mainstream views in hopes tax reform, infrastructure spending and deregulation would be the upside for tolerance.

Health care reform was not the corporate and business crowds’ top priority. It was forced front and center by the Republican political leadership as long promised and doable given the repeated overwhelming votes to repeal in the House since 2011.

Trump changed the game. He insisted that the popular aspects of the program stay in place and that repeal and replace pass at once. He was operating as a politician, not an ideologue. But the Republican Party has a surfeit of health care ideologues: Tea Party, Freedom Caucus and Rand Paul Libertarians who do not believe in any health entitlements and resist subsidies for the poor. They want to replace Obamacare and then pass some market-oriented measures that are likely to leave many gaps and many sympathetic stories of citizens left bereft of support. Many of them will be Trump voters.

If the gridlock of the last six years now continues with Republicans in total control, the raison d’être of the Trump administration and Republican majority begins to crumble.

Public Opinion

As pointed out in recent blog, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Obamacare has grown more popular as it appears threatened and President Obama is no longer the chief defender of it. Recent polling associated with Obamacare show that the Freedom Caucus and Tea Party viewpoint of no right to health care and no subsidy for the poor are narrowly held positions among the public.

The public supports Trump’s and Ryan’s view that a replacement plan must accompany the repeal. They also believe insurance must be affordable.

The public in general believe there is a “right” to health care.  The view that government is responsible for it has grown in recent years.

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Russia and Vladimir Putin are now toxic in Washington, D.C. Even having a conversation with the Russian ambassador can get a person fired (Michael Flynn) or recused (Jeff Sessions). That was hardly the plan on Election Night when Putin and his entourage were reportedly toasting the result with champagne.

Putin’s aggressive propaganda campaign continues most of the old Cold War techniques, but adds cyber warfare against Western democracies and especially the U.S. election. The motivation appeared to help remove a political irritant, Hillary Clinton, and assist a friendly Donald Trump, who was disinterested in Russian ambitions in Eastern Europe, the future of the EU or NATO, the removal of Bashar al-Assad and human rights issues in general. A tertiary benefit was undermining confidence in American democracy.

But, unfortunately for Putin, he and Russia have become pariahs in Washington. Even normal diplomacy is now disrupted. Both Putin and Russia are at all-time lows in public opinion, which will help their opponents to continue and extend sanctions and spend prodigious amounts on defense, much of it aimed at Russia And, of course, there are new multiple investigations of Trump’s Russian connections, plus the cabinet and NSC appointments do not bode well for a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations.

Putin is giving a modern update to the definition of Pyrrhic victory.

Read: Politico: Russian investigations a “witch hunt”? Not according to polls

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On March 1, the University of Denver will celebrate 153 years of service to the citizens of Colorado, the world and generations of students.The University will honor Korbel School graduate and former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, with the …

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