How Domestic Dysfunction Affects U.S. Credibility: The View from Abroad

How Domestic Dysfunction Affects U.S. Credibility: The View from Abroad

Virtual Briefing Series

Monday, June 12th, 2023 | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET

The United States was once hailed as a pinnacle example for democracy, but its credibility has slowly eroded since the turn of the century. Since the Trump presidency, that credibility has declined exponentially due to blatant attacks on democracy, financial crises, and increasingly growing political polarization among its citizens. How have domestic issues affected its global credibility, partnerships, and the way budding democracies perceive this deeply divided country and its issues? To further explore how other countries view the U.S. and its domestic challenges, join us for a virtual discussion on Monday, June 12th from 12 PM to 1 PM ET with Dr. Célia Belin, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and head of its Paris office since January 2023; Aude Darnal, Research Associate in the Stimson Center’s Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy Program; and Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda.

COULDN’T ATTEND OUR EVENT? Don’t worry. You can watch it below


Dr. Célia Belin

Dr. Célia Belin is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and head of its Paris office since January 2023.

Between 2017 and 2022, Belin was a Visiting Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe of the Brookings Institution, in Washington DC, and served as the Interim Director of the Center between May and August 2022. She remains affiliated as a non-resident senior fellow with Brookings.

Prior to joining Brookings, Belin served for over five years as a Special Advisor on US and transatlantic affairs in the French foreign ministry’s Centre d’Analyse, de Prévision et de Stratégie and chief editor of the centre’s flagship publication, Les Carnets du CAPS.

She holds a PhD in political science/international relations from the University Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2), an MA in international relations from the University Paris 2 as well as a BA in modern languages and business from the University of Burgundy.

Belin is the author of “Des Démocrates en Amérique: L’heure des choix face à Trump,” published by Fayard-Fondation Jean Jaurès in 2020. She regularly writes in the press and specialised journals on US affairs, French foreign policy and trans-Atlantic relations and is a frequent commentator on radio and television. Belin is also a member of the editorial committee of the online francophone platform Le Rubicon.


Aude Darnal

Aude Darnal is a Research Associate in the Stimson Center’s Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy Program, which seeks to challenge U.S. foreign policy conventional wisdom, question assumptions, and help policymakers manage risks, make informed decisions, and allocate resources wisely. She leads The Global South in the World Order Project, which seeks to elevate perspectives from the Global South on international affairs and global governance. She advocates notably for a wholesale restructuring of the current models for international assistance and responses to conflict and for new forms of engagement between Western and Global South countries.

Prior to joining the Stimson Center, Aude served as an associate director at the Atlantic Council’s New American Engagement Initiative. She was also a mobile safety advisor based in the Lake Chad Basin at the International NGO Safety Organisation, where she performed empirical analysis on organized armed groups, and provided support for security related issues and access to humanitarian NGOs. She also worked in Guinea at Search For Common Ground, where she was responsible for peacebuilding program development, advocacy, and external relations with donors and institutional partners.

Aude has experience working a wide range of issues related to preventing conflict, strengthening civil society organizations and good governance, and supporting women and youth empowerment, in particular in West Africa. She also has experience in research, strategic communication, and program management.

She is from Martinique, in the Caribbean, and she holds a Master of Science in Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and International Law from the University of Quebec in Montreal. She is fluent in French, Creole and English.

Aude has been published in Atlantic Council,  Foreign Policy, InkStick, Just Security. She has also been interviewed and featured as a speaker in Chicago Council on Global Affairs, CNBC Africa, France 24, NHK World, Responsible Stratecraft, US Congress House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, VOA News.


Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies. An MSNBC Opinion Columnist and author or editor of six books, with over 100 op-eds and essays in CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, she brings historical perspective to her analyses of current events. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe.

Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. She is also a historical consultant for film and television productions. She is a big fan of electronic music, which is her preferred soundtrack while writing. She practices yoga several times a week.

Ben-Ghiat’s work has been supported by Fulbright, Guggenheim, and other fellowships. Her books Fascist Modernities and Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema detail what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold, and explore the appeal of strongmen to collaborators and followers. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, California, where many intellectuals who fled Nazism resettled, sparked her interest in the subject.

Her latest book, Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present (Norton, 2020, paperback, with new epilogue, 2021), examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda, and machismo to stay in power, and how resistance to them has unfolded over a century.


Photo credit: Ingram Pinn

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