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‘Strongman politics are ascendant’, Barack Obama wrote recently: ‘The politics of fear and resentment… is now on the move’. From America to China, from Europe to Brazil, in India and across the Middle East, ‘macho’ leaders are very much in fashion. So why is the strongman proving so attractive to so many, and will the fashion be a passing one?
Our panellists debate the character traits, neurology and behaviours of the political strongman – as well as what helps them into power and keeps them there.
Anne Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian whose books include Gulag: A History and Iron Curtain. She is Professor of Practice at the Institute for Global Affairs, LSE and a columnist for the Washington Post. She is co-author, with Patricia Rodrigues, of Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.
Fawaz A. Gerges is Professor of international Relations and Emirates Chair in Contemporary Middle East Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including ISIS: A History (Princeton), The New Middle East, and The Far Enemy.
Anshel Pfeffer has covered Israeli politics and global affairs for two decades. He is a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz, and the Israel correspondent for The Economist. He lives in Jerusalem.
A neuroscientist and trained clinical psychologist, Ian Robertson is an international expert on neuropsychology. Currently Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, and formerly Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, he holds visiting professorships at the University of Toronto, University College London and the University of Wales. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and has published over 250 scientific articles in leading journals. He is also the author and editor of ten scientific books and three books for the general reader, most recently, The Winner Effect. He is a keynote speaker at conferences on brain function throughout the world.
Rana Mitter is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford and presents Free Thinking on Radio 3. His latest book is China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival.
In association with the New Israel Fund.