- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
What do Russians think about the U.S. electoral campaign? I spoke with two distinguished Russian scholars last night here at the Salzburg seminar I’m attending this week.
The first scholar told me that the hardliners and the security establishment are eager to see John McCain in power. He’s more or less a known quantity, and his recent statements about ejecting Russia from the G8 will make it easier for them to make the case that the United States seeks to humiliate and corner Russia. A McCain election would be seen as evidence that Americans want to continue George W. Bush’s policies, which are generally unpopular in Russia.
On the other hand, the scholar said, Republican presidents from Nixon to Ford to Reagan have a much better track record in making overtures to Russia, perhaps because they don’t fear being painted as weak.
Both scholars, who come from the liberal end of the political spectrum in Russia, seemed intrigued by Barack Obama as someone who could offer a “fresh start” in U.S.-Russia relations. They weren’t so comfortable, however, when I told them that Michael McFaul is Obama’s main Russia advisor. McFaul, a past FP contributor, is well known in Russian foreign-policy circles for his harsh criticism of Putin’s democratic credentials.
Clinton would be more predictable, given that her main Russia advisor is Stephen Sestanovich. His 2006 report for the Council on Foreign Relations was read closely in Russian political circles. But Richard Holbrooke, another Clinton advisor and a potential secretary of state, is seen as hostile to Russian interests for his role in the Balkans during the 1990s. When I told them that it’s not inconceviable that Holbrooke would get a top job even under Obama, they weren’t too psyched.
Blake Hounshell is Web Editor of ForeignPolicy.com. He has been blogging this week from the Salzburg Global Seminar session on
Russia: The 2020 Perspective