William Dobson

William Dobson is the Senior Supervising Editor of NPR's International Desk. He manages a team of correspondents across the globe committed to delivering powerful stories and authoritative reporting on international politics, economics, and culture.

Prior to joining NPR, Dobson was Slate magazine's Washington Bureau Chief, overseeing the magazine's coverage of politics, jurisprudence, and international news. Dobson led the magazine's award-winning coverage of the 2012 U.S. presidential election and expanded the magazine's team of reporters, bloggers, and columnists.

Dobson is the author of The Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, which examines the struggle between authoritarian regimes and the people who challenge them. It was selected as one of the "best books of 2012" by Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, The Telegraph, and Prospect, and it has been translated into many languages, including Chinese, German, Japanese, and Portuguese.

Previously, he served as the managing editor of Foreign Policy, overseeing the editorial planning of its award-winning magazine, Web site, and nine foreign editions. During his tenure, Foreign Policy was nominated for the National Magazine Award five years in a row, winning the top honor twice.

Earlier in his career, Dobson served as Newsweek International's Senior Editor for Asia, managing a team of correspondents in more than 15 countries. He conceived and coordinated the magazine's annual Special Issue on Asia, which earned six honors from the Society of Publishers of Asia, including Best Reporting, Best Photography, and Best Design. Previously, he also served as an Associate Editor at Foreign Affairs.

During the height of the Arab Spring, the Washington Post commissioned Dobson to write daily on modern authoritarianism. While in Cairo, Dobson reported the first account of the Egyptian military conducting torture of female protestors from Tahrir Square.

Dobson has published widely on international politics. His articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Newsweek, and elsewhere. He has provided commentary and analysis on international politics for ABC, CNN, CBS, and MSNBC.

From 2008 to 2009, Dobson was a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 2006, Dobson was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Dobson is a 1994 Truman Scholar.

Dobson holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University. He received his bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Middlebury College.

On Nov. 11, 1861, the Qing dynasty opened a new agency to deal with foreigners. A target for the West's "gunboat diplomacy," the last imperial Chinese government had been forced to recognize a wider world and, with little leverage, it entered into a series of unequal treaties that crippled its economy and left it only more vulnerable. Still, Chinese officials believed the crisis would pass. It was for this reason that this new body, a quasi-ministry of foreign affairs, was housed in a small, shabby building that had previously served as the Department of Iron Coins.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


In Venezuela, the arrest of opposition politicians overnight mark a shift towards dictatorship.

NPR's Audie Cornish talks with William Dobson, NPR's chief international editor, about how Venezuela reached this tipping point. And she speaks with a Venezuelan man in Caracas about what daily life looks like amid the protests and what his concerns are now.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


We're going to look ahead now to some of the most important stories of the day.


Up first - the U.S. strike on Syria. This is a story that starts with this sound.


It wasn't the common ground that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was looking for. When President Trump was asked at their joint press conference Friday about the White House claims that President Obama had enlisted British intelligence in spying on him, Trump looked toward Merkel and quipped, "At least we have something in common, perhaps."

Trump was referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped the German leader's phone during the Obama administration. Merkel wasn't laughing.

The revelation of a phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen last Friday startled leaders and diplomats in Washington, Beijing and beyond. In her first comments on the call, Tsai sought to dampen those fears.

"Of course I have to stress that one phone call does not mean a policy shift," Tsai said on Tuesday in a small meeting with American journalists in Taipei. "The phone call was a way for us to express our respect for the U.S. election as well as congratulate President-elect Trump on his win."