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William J. "Will" Dobson is an American journalist and author who writes frequently on foreign affairs and international politics. He is currently the Politics and Foreign Affairs Editor for Slate.[1]

Early life

Dobson was born on a naval base in North Kingston, Rhode Island. His father, W. Joel Dobson, was a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy. His mother, Barbara Joyce Dobson, is an English teacher.

Dobson grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and attended Spartanburg Day School. He received a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from Middlebury College. He later earned a master's degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two children.[2]


From 2004 to 2008, Dobson was the Managing Editor of Foreign Policy magazine. During his tenure at Foreign Policy, the magazine was nominated for a National Magazine Award five years in a row – the only magazine of its size to receive five consecutive nominations – and won the top prize twice.[3]

Previously, he served as the Senior Editor for Asia at Newsweek International and as Associate Editor at Foreign Affairs.[1] He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.[4]

During the height of the Arab Spring, he wrote daily pieces on modern authoritarianism for the Washington Post’s editorial page [36] .[2] While reporting from Cairo, Dobson wrote the first account of the Egyptian military’s torture of female protestors in Tahrir Square [37] .

Dobson’s first book, The Dictator's Learning Curve[5] was published by Doubleday in 2012. The non-fiction book is an analysis of modern authoritarianism and has been reviewed by various media.[6]


Dobson was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2006.[7] In 2003, he was named the U.S. Rapporteur for the World Economic Forum’s East Asia Summit [38] .[8] The Singapore International Foundation awarded him a Distinguished Visitor Fellowship in 2008.[9] The East-West Center awarded him a Senior Journalist Fellowship for Southeast Asia (2006) and an Asia-Pacific Journalism Fellowship [39] (2008). Dobson was a Knight Media Fellow [40] (2003) to the Salzburg Global Seminar, and later a Freeman Fellow [41] in U.S.-East Asian Relations (2007).[10]

Middlebury College recognized him with an Alumni Achievement Award [42] in 2011.[11] Dobson is also a 1994 Truman Scholar.[12]

Published works

  • The East Is Crimson [44] , Slate, May 23, 2012
  • Why China Wishes Chen Would Just Go Away [45] , Slate, May 2, 2012
  • Dictatorship for Dummies [46] , Tunisia Edition, The Washington Post, January 23, 2011
  • 'The Military is above the Nation' [47] , The Washington Post, March 15, 2011
  • ‘Another dictatorship, just with new faces’ for Egypt [48] , The Washington Post, March 16, 2011
  • ‘Worse than our Worst Nightmare during Mubarak,' [49] The Washington Post, March 17, 2011
  • Where are the dictator’s helpers? [50] The Washington Post, March 18, 2011
  • One Woman’s Fight to Preserve a Russian Forest [51] , The Washington Post, March 24, 2011
  • The Opposition Dictators Deserve [52] , The Washington Post, April 16, 2011
  • Why I am Glad bin Laden Lived to See the Arab Spring [53] , The Washington Post, May 5, 2011
  • In Venezuela, Fighting for the Chance to Run: ‘He will annihilate that one leader,’ [54] The Washington Post, May 15, 2011
  • Imagining a World Without Dictators [55] , The Washington Post, August 26, 2011
  • Why Gaddafi was the quintessential 20th-century dictator [56] , The Washington Post, October 21, 2011
  • In Russia, Fires—and politicians—are bringing down forests [57] , The Washington Post, August 13, 2010
  • China’s Jittery Leaders [58] , The New Republic, March 3, 2011
  • A Victory for Democratic Foreign Policy [59] , The New Republic, May 3, 2011
  • The Day Nothing Much Changed [60] , Foreign Policy, August 8, 2006
  • Tunisia’s Lessons for Repressive Regimes [61] , U.S. News & World Report, January 20, 2011
  • Global Democracy over a Barrel [62] , Boston Globe, May 14, 2009

Dobson has provided commentary for various news organizations, including CNN, CBS, MSNBC, PBS NewsHour,[13] National Public Radio, and Voice of America.

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