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2018 Summer Online – Politics 333: Democracy and…

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Welcome to Week 2.  This week is compressed because of the holiday falling in the middle of the week. We’ll return to our regular schedule next week.

This week we focus on a number of ways in which democracy affects, and is affected by, the world around it.  Samuel Huntington notices that, beginning with a military coup in Portugal in 1974, and then across various regions, democracy spreads at an unprecedented rate and breadth for the next 20 years. Why, and so what?

Huntington offers several answers to Why.  Adam Przeworski et al. test a still-famous 1959 article (skim) that asks about the relationships between democracy and economic development.

Michael Doyle answers part of the So what? question by looking at Immanuel Kant’s ideas from nearly 200 years ago. Doyle offers that “democracies don’t go to war with each other.” After 1989, this is adopted by policymakers and scholars of many stripes as as close to an “Iron Law” as social science can generate.  It has important implications:  if democracies don’t go to war with each other, then the U.S. and others should “promote democratization.”  This was the idea after WWII in Germany and Japan (based on the failed ideas to punish Germany after WWI). Former Secretary of War Henry Stimson places this debate in the postwar context.

After the Cold War, “nation-building” was the idea in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Mozambique, and other places in the 1990s.  And democratic peace theory, and its successful legacy in Germany and Japan, became part of the rationale for U.S. policy in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam.  Jason Brownlee asks whether nation-building is still possible.

After decades of good news, we see a stall by the end of the 1990s, and some indicators of reversal by the 2000s. The Carnegie Endowment compares challenges to democracy in the US and Europe. And the World Economic Forum (that annual festival of zillionaires in Davos each winter) asks whether Western democracy is in crisis.

We don’t try to cover the breaking news of every latest election or political ranting here – we try to understand the historical contexts of questions about global democracy, so that we can approach the news today or tomorrow or in five years with some perspective.  If you are interested in current and recent events (maybe for your end-of-semester paper?), you might pursue questions of democratic reversals, or deconsolidation, in places like Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela; the curious Brexit;  the decades-long undemocratic economic success of China; or the mixed records of states in Africa and the Middle East.  Ok, let’s go


If you have not already, please join this course’s facebook group – see our Bb announcement for details, and post an introduction about yourself.

WATCH – Two short clips from democratic (and Democratic) Toby Ziegler:

On Belarus (ignore the Australian constitutional studies analysis after 4:01)

Free trade stops wars

And an Aaron Sorkin monologue asking how to measure a country’s greatness (with some “democracy and economics go together” thrown in)


Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave,” Journal of Democracy Spring 1991,

Przeworski et al., “What Makes Democracies Endure?”  Journal of Democracy, January 1996 – this is in our Reader chapter 7, or here in English (click scholar/researcher, decline free trial, and download pdf), Portuguese, and Persian

Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Part I”, Philosophy and Public Affairs Summer 1983, and useful summary – only if you love it: optional full text (downloads a pdf). Read: Michael Doyle on his critics:  page 180-183.

Stimson, “The Challenge to Americans,” Foreign Affairs, Oct 1947 – notice, 1947 – just after WWII and at the beginning of the Cold War – or

Brechenmacher, Carnegie Endowment, 2018: Comparing Democratic Distress in the United States and Europe – read the summary and introduction

World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2017: Western Democracy in Crisis? Read pages 23-27 (based on the page numbers in the document, bottom right; pdf pages 29-33)

Optional: on the idealism that democracies can be built on the ashes of defeated autocracies: lessons learned 1945-1952 don’t apply after 2001 and 2003? Skim:  Brownlee, “Can America Nation-Build?” World Politics Jan. 2007


PowerPoint notes are on fb under “files” (or will be shortly)


If you haven’t already, please look at two important sources for measuring democracy: the Center for Systemic Peace’s Polity IV series , and Freedom House’s annual report on Freedom in the World.   Please get a solid, introductory understanding of these sources.

Please also take a look at the World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders, and the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.


by Thursday night – if you have not already, please post an intro video or text about yourself, on our fb page
by Friday night – a news link – esp. a story or source we might not have seen – with your own comment – post on fb
by Sunday night – your “essay” post (probably 300-400 words) at the bottom of this page, based on the essay prompts (“questions”) below
by Monday night – comment (approx 20-40 words) on at least one classmate’s news post on fb, and  comment (approx 100 words each) on at least two classmates’ essay posts at the bottom of this page

Please see the notes from last week about what constitutes a news post, essay post, news post reply, and essay post reply.


From the syllabus:  It seems like it should go without saying, but just in case:  this is academic work, not the place for screeds, ad hominem attacks, or other unpleasantness.  That’s not really suitable for your personal twitter account either, but it is certainly not appropriate here.  This is “classroom facebook”, not “locker-room facebook”.  Open, sincere, fact-based, and analytical, and even partisan, but not mean or rude.  Thanks.

Thanks, everyone.  Semester moves fast – keep up, get smart, have fun.  Prompts for your posts this week are below:

Questions for Week 2 Essay Posts: Answer any one or more of these, probably 300-400 words total.

  1. What do you find persuasive about Samuel Huntington’s explanation for the “third wave” of democratization?  How does it match (or not) Amartya Sen’s “universal” appeal of democracy from last week?  Lots of analysis since the mid-1990s suggests a real democratic stall – even some backsliding – since the mid-1990s – why do you think that might be? (Some explanations here and here, e.g.)
  2. The early and mid-1990s presented a special challenge to countries in “transition” in the post-Soviet world: do you reform politics first, or economics, or try to do both simultaneously?  What kinds of ties do democracy and economics have? Where do we see this today?  Forget Trump: if the US economy went into another real downturn, worse than 2008, are there signs that the US population would permit – or even support – an intelligent, dynamic, charismatic person who placed economics ahead of democracy (as some said we did with security over democracy after 9-11)?  Or should we be complacent in the fact that no middle-class democracy has ever reverted to authoritarianism?
  3. Democratic peace theory.  Democracies don’t go to war with each other.  C’mon – what’s better than that?!  Democracies don’t go to war with each other. (Well, depending on what you call a democracy and what you call a war.)  And so, we should support democratizations everywhere, to reduce the possible number of dyads that might make war.  It’s like vaccinations – if you can get most countries, you can prevent a real problem.  So, we should make Russia and East Germany and Serbia and Somalia and Egypt and Afghanistan and Iraq democratic!  (But not China or Saudi Arabia?)
  4. How is the United States still Stimson’s America? How is it not?  What might he say is the challenge to Americans today?
  5. Maybe something else from these readings moved you – or you relate something from this week to something from last week, or something else. If yes, then pose your question(s) and pursue for us…

24 Replies to “CUA-333-DEM-2018-july5”

  1. Yes, you put your 300-400 word essay post here, and then later you pick up a discussion with at least two of your classmates. You can certainly reply to their replies to you as well, of course…

  2. Huntington’s “Democracy’s Third Wave”, shows the importance of influence countries have on one another. Huntington refers to “snowballing” as a reason for the growth or decline of democracy. Eastern Europe led the movement in 1990 and other African and Arab countries observed their success. Huntington points out America could not do much more,during the time to promote the third wave of democratization. It seems the best way for democracy to grow was to led it speak for itself. If it provided a possibility for a country to be successful, then nations would transition. I believe that is what we see with countries like Tanzania and Nepal, during the early 90’s.
    I found it interesting, that Huntington states that there was a general acceptance that nondemocatic ideology, such as Marxism was discredited. With the Marxists ideology being dismissed, it was forgotten. Fast forward to many years down the line and people have rediscovered his ideology thinking it might work. We see this today on college campuses throughout the country. Students, professors even, promoting the agenda of those like Marx and Lennin. Although, I believe there was the same thing that went on after the second wave of democracy, with the counterculture of the 60’s and 70’s.
    Huntingtn’s part on “Obstacles to Democratization” are relevant to the United States today; stating, “Islamic countries stretching from Morocco to Indonesia, which except for Turkey and perhaps Pakistan had nondemocratic regimes”. With America’s conflicts in the Middle East, it would make sense that religion of Islam plays a role. Without a separation of politics and religion, western-democracy does not seem feasible. If countries in the Middle East want to have a democracy, it would have to be similar to what Eastern Asian countries have done and enact a variant of democracy.
    Overall, I agreed with Huntington’s analysis on the “Third Wave of Democracy”. I think it can be used to remind us to not forget history and as a guideline when considering if a country is fit for democratization.

    1. At least two points I have to weigh in on here:

      (1) you write: “I found it interesting, that Huntington states that there was a general acceptance that nondemocatic ideology, such as Marxism was discredited. With the Marxists ideology being dismissed, it was forgotten. Fast forward to many years down the line and people have rediscovered his ideology thinking it might work. We see this today on college campuses throughout the country. Students, professors even, promoting the agenda of those like Marx and Lennin. Although, I believe there was the same thing that went on after the second wave of democracy, with the counterculture of the 60’s and 70’s.”

      That’s really pretty interesting – seems like when I was in college (80s/90s) many professors were 60s hippies inching toward the end of their careers, witnessing the end of Soviet communism and the discrediting of socialism globally. Now it seems like the 30-somethings taking their place have a renewed faith in “democratic socialism” or some other variation of governance where the central govt should oppose free markets and other aspects of classical liberalism. (Distinguish the meaning of “classical liberalism” – free markets, free people, etc.; from “liberalism” which in the US means the political left)

      (2) it was always folly, I thought, that Afghanistan could easily become a democracy – it seemed to be missing too many of the presumed “prerequisites”. But Iraq – literate, bureaucratic, relatively secular (then), industrialized, capable of self-financing (with oil), and a shattered society – like Japan and Germany had been – it seemed like there was a chance that Iraq could be coached/nurtured/shaped into a democracy. Separately, it seemed like the northern Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) also had a chance to be genuinely democratic. But it’s just really, really hard. Americans and others shouldn’t forget what a remarkable inheritance they have…

  3. Tyler —

    Lots good here – maybe you or some others have thoughts on any of these:

    – there are Muslim-majority countries that are some level of democracy – Albania, Bosnia, Indonesia, Pakistan; used to be Turkey; some others, sort of. But what there is not, really, are Arab democracies. Why?

    – this idea of contagion or snowballing – you democratize as your neighbors democratize — could it work in reverse, too? We see Poland, Hungary, and other populist / xenophobic govts in ascendance – what does it take to shift from populist to less-democratic or non-democratic? (See, for example, Poland’s “early retirement laws” for judges last week…?)

    1. The United States is still Stimson’s America because especially today with terrorist organizations like ISIS victory does not mean peace. We can ‘win’ in the middle east, but that does not mean we will not withdraw all of our troops from there. He would still say America’s relationship with Russia is a huge threat.
      With War comes change. This relates to Huntington’s ‘’Democracy’s Third Wave’’ because of the examples that he uses. After the uprisings of the mid to late 1900’s and the countries from the Eastern Block became democracies, it was clear that Europe was still suffering from post WWII problems. The Cold War in a way was the result of World War II.
      Just as these uprisings were the result of snowballing, I definitely believe the same thing can happen in reverse. We see this in the stalling towards the move for complete democracy. According to Larry Diamond, the democratic revolution stalled in the 1990’s. At the end of 2003 the number of democracies in the world had fallen from an all time high of 121 to 117.
      In the Middle East especially, Diamond attributes the lack of democracies to the authoritarian rule. Their religion plays a huge role in their politics. Who they vote for is decided by their religious values. Because of this tradition of authoritarian rule, it makes it seem more stable so they are less likely to rock the vote. Democracies need to be stable in order for them to stick. Alexander Cooley would agree with this because of fear of terrorism. Two years before the UN Security Council created a committee that became charged with compiling a sanctions list aimed at all al-Qaeda affiliates. That gives these leaders something to fight, and something to unite against. Because we may have won the war but there is no peace.

      1. I agree that today’s America still somewhat feels like Stimson’s America. I like how you used the war on terrorism, especially ISIS, in demonstrating the difference between a victory and peace. I completely agree that the snowballing of the creation of democracy can happen in reverse. We are seeing a stall in the implementation of democracies throughout the world. Authoritarian rule in these nations are the reason for this stall in implementing democracy. Also, in many of the countries under authoritarian rule are now being infiltrated with terrorism.

      2. You just stated an interesting part on many voting based on their religious values. That, that in itself will not rock the boat. That is deep. I could not imagine many who would like to go in a different direction — only to be held back because of their religious values. The same goes for the movement on women not being able to fully be involved in things. I know that women in these countries would love to have access or the means to certain things… only to be held back because of the religious core of the country. Some traditional values are becoming a thing of the past. I think we are starting to see the world shift, in many directions. The shift is not happening full speed, but it is making it’s way. I feel that there cannot be any true sturdy foundation, if a person is restrained on the basis of written words or values.

    2. I think a big part of it has to with how much control the government has over its citizens. A combination of authoritarian governments, civil war, and growing terrorism have all contributed to the stalemate of introducing democracy. Countries like Egypt and Libya were only able to experience democracy for a short time, before being overthrown by the military. There are middle eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia that have enough money from oil, so they can provide government benefits. If the citizens of a state are getting free education, healthcare, energy subsidies and well-paying government jobs, they might not see much reason to abandon that for democracy. We are seeing people who would rather give up some liberty, in order to have security and benefits.

      1. Something to think about too is the wealth of the founding fathers of our democracy. They were not the common man. They had been educated and most were established writers, merchants, or statesman. The American revolution was inspired by rebels like Sam Adams and pamphlets distributed to the masses, but our democracy was not formed by those same people. It was formed by the constitutional convention, established elites in American society. It was accepted after lawyers from the convention trying to sell it to the states to ratify it. And it was their second crack at it after the failed Articles of Confederation. Now, this is a very different way of looking at the founding of our democracy, but it proves that the forming of a democracy- of a government is different than a revolution. It could be that these countries like Egypt and Libya had the means for a revolution, but not the means to form a democracy.

  4. I would attempt to reform both democracy and economics at the same time. There is plenty of evidence throughout history that shows the positive correlation between democracy and economics. Democracy allows for little to no tariffs or quotas on imports. Something else vital to both is people’s property rights and the rule of law. This allows for each citizen to compete and participate on a level playing field. We see examples of this in Asia with countries like Taiwan and South Korea, where we have seen recent economic freedoms and economic growth and prosperity. I don’t believe the American people would get behind and support a politician who put anything over our democracy. Our freedoms and rights are vital to American society, and I don’t think we as a country could vote to place economics over freedom. Americans value their freedoms extensively, so someone who cares more about the economy to our democracy would get elected. I think that Americans would never panic enough to revert to care less about our democracy. No matter how bad the market crashed, we know that the market always balances itself. If it’s on the up, it will always level out and decline and vice versa. I believe it would be very foolish to give up our liberties as Americans to possibly help us out of a struggling economy.

  5. The United States is still Stimson’s America in several ways, and yes, it lacks some of his main points too. For starters, he pleads that we are free to maintain our own freedom. Many nations do not have this ability to do so, whereas Stimson notes that America is the leader in creating prosperity around the world and presenting the most equal policy too. In the year 2018, as Americans, we are still free enough to maintain our own freedom, showing the rest of the world what it is like to be the shining city on the hill.
    Stimson believed that peace and freedom were America’s final goal. Desiring to rid the world of nuclear arms in 1947. At the current moment in time, America still believes in ridding the world of dangerous atomic weapons. America’s first goal in diplomacy is keeping all human lives safe and secure. It was the same in 1947 as it is now in 2018.
    Stimson notes that “the world’s affairs cannot be simplified by eager words. We cannot take refuge from reality in the folly of black-and-white solutions.” Unfortunately, in the year 2018, America plays too many games around the world with words. Whether the President uses the internet as a scare tactic, or the administration tries to threaten another nation with flawed policy, America tries to muscle people around with their words. In 1947 there was subtlety when it came to using words and muscles to get what you wanted on the world stage.
    Stimson would challenge Americans today to remember the true meaning of freedom, and ultimate price some pay to preserve it. In addition to that, Stimson would let Americans know that they should become more involved in politics and government. He would say something like “there is no penalty for staying out of the game, but there is a reward if you go in head first.”

    1. I’m happy you too pointed out how similar the situation Stimson found himself in is with the current state of the United States. It amazed me how many of the points Stimson made are exactly what the United States is going through currently under the Trump administration, especially with mentioning the threat of atomic energy which as we all know is a huge problem and is the reason the President had the meeting with North Korea. Reading this essay makes me think why so many things that we as a country are experiencing now, have not changed since 1947 when Stimson wrote this essay. What is it that is preventing certain issues from being resolved? I also agree with your statement that he would encourage Americans to get more involved in the political process. I had the same thought also. My understanding of this is that we as citizens are in charge of putting our leaders into power. Without our vote, they’re unemployed. So it is up to the citizens to do their research, educate themselves, and elect a leader capable of handling these situations

    2. I really like this quote:

      Stimson notes that “the world’s affairs cannot be simplified by eager words. We cannot take refuge from reality in the folly of black-and-white solutions.”

  6. Throughout the reading of Stimson’s “The Challenge to Americans,” I could not help but think of America in its current state, so much so that I kept thinking it was written earlier this year. Yes, it obviously was not, but the similarities between Stimson’s America in 1947, and America in 2018 are many. Stimson begins with a statement I find to summarize America today.
    “It is not surprising, then, that many of us are confused and unhappy about our foreign relations, and that some are tempted to seek refuge from their confusion either in retreat to isolationism or in suggested solutions whose simplicity is only matched by their folly.”
    This statement describes perfectly the current state of America’s domestic and foreign policy, “America first, and only America.” This is the isolationism that Stimson is speaking of. Even prior to the President taking office, we understood that the way in which America conducts its diplomacy was going to change. The constant soundbites of “America is being taken advantage of, but no more” has resonated in the heads of the American people and ultimately, in part, was the reasoning for his election. Later on throughout his essay, Stimson says that the success of your country cannot depend on this isolationistic approach. “No private program and no public policy, in any sector of our national life, can now escape from the compelling fact that if it is not framed with reference to the world, it is framed with perfect futility.” And this summarizes the mindset of the majority of Americans and in fact many citizens around the world today. Furthermore, he goes on to support this argument later in his essay saying that the problems of the rest of the world are not just their problems, they too are ours. This completely contradicts the belief of the current occupants of the White House, who believe that the problems of other countries are theirs alone, and that the United States has no business being involved because we have to care for our own people.

    In all, I think that in many ways Stimson’s America is very different than the America we live in today. Stimson advocates for a more inclusive United States in world affairs, and says that in order for our country to be successful we cannot isolate ourselves, that we must help. This is clearly not the case with our country. We continue to see our government pull back more and more from worldly affairs unless it has a direct impact or threat to the United States. I think that if Stimson were to identify one of the many challenges Americans have to face, it would be their duty to vote. He has made it a point to mention several times throughout his essay that he believes that the American people have the power to resolve all of the issues their country faces and I think that the way in which Americans are able to resolve these issues is by voting to elect a leader who is capable of handling these situations, and who best represents what the people of their country want.

    1. I completely agree that many modern Americans seem to talk endlessly, but when Election Day comes around, many Americans are nowhere to be found. I feel that we as Americans living under this democracy are somewhat obliged to vote. If you don’t participate in an election, you are not actively participating in this democracy. Americans seem to take this liberty for granted. People throughout history have fought for the right to vote, for their voices to listened to by the government, and nowadays American see it as a task. We need to do something to change the way we perceive voting. It is an honor to be able to cast a vote in a democratic election, and we need to realize that.

    2. I like this quote too – maybe you are convincing me!

      “It is not surprising, then, that many of us are confused and unhappy about our foreign relations, and that some are tempted to seek refuge from their confusion either in retreat to isolationism or in suggested solutions whose simplicity is only matched by their folly.”

  7. I agree with your opinion on how Stimson would challenge Americans. I think we take our freedom for granted today. I see where you are coming, in regards to the Cold War, but I am not sure if I agree America was always so subtle with only using words or muscle to end international conflict. Two years prior we dropped atomic bombs on Japan to end conflict. I believe we are seeing a more subtle approach in attempting to get North Korea to denuclearize. Excluding President Trump’s comments about Kim Jung-Un on twitter, he seems to have been very diplomatic in his first meeting. Hopefully, that first meeting opens the door for the possibility of total denuclearization in North Korea.

  8. How is the United States still Stimson’s America? How is it not? What might he say is the challenge to Americans today?

    America, as we know it, is home of the brave… land of the free. It prides itself on the notable acts of honor and being first. Today, we could very well say that we see those exact same things. We can note the bravery, dedication and tenacity that America will forever decide to hold true. However, America has always been one to fight and protect by any means necessary. “By any means necessary”, just as those great words of the late great Malcolm X. For whatever it shall take, as many of our past presidents have shown beyond great action. America — a place that many strive to continue to call a place of refugee and home. America — a notable country of protecting and preserving all things that brings about what consists of being right. From our past time, to our current times, things along the lines have remained the same. In Stimson’s America, these very things held true. That what many may perceive as being destructive is that of bringing about new creations going forward. Stimson was not into the place of the now, but what happens beyond then. Understanding that ‘by any means necessary’ — we will strive to make whatever is needed happen. His thoughts of the atom bomb was to preserve and protect. His actions, in that moment, were to declare the victories and silence of greater destruction. His moves, calculated beyond the years, were done to create a change that no one else knew. I would say that America is walking in those very footsteps. Today, we see presidents taking the lead on setting the example for nations to see. Examples, such as the ambush of Osama Bin Laden. Creating examples to many of the world about what we will and will not accept. Indeed, there are correlations and many to come. The greatest challenge of today would be having the bravery to push many emotions aside. America has now become a place of feeling and connections. It would be tough to make drastic decisions in a time of today.

    1. Tobey Ziegler says free trade stops wars. Young people have always been politically active, but now they have more of a voice and a much larger audience due to social media. The line, ‘’you’ve got to look beyond the moment, beyond the here and now’’ means that governments are built for the future and the present. A set of laws vs set of the rule of law means there must be some established consensus of the governed. ‘’A constitutional democracy succeeds only if the constriction reflects democratic values already alive at the citizenry.’’ To instill those values in their leaders people must discuss and debate their ideas. This means standing up for moral reasons and having conversations. Caring about our neighbors. The best countries have ”the world’s greatest economists” and the worlds greatest economies. In politics, what’s the difference between emotions and morality. If morality is based on the common good, how is the common good established in the modern world. If based in judeo Christian values, then what des that mean in a changing world.

      1. All —

        WWII ended in 1945, and the US began “nation-building” in Japan. The US and Japan did a lot of things right (not everything, but a lot). In 1960, a Japanese scholar then in Chicago said something like, “If Japan continues on the right path for another generation, it is possible that Japan might someday become a democracy.”

        This was fifteen years since the end of the war – we are now 15 years from the start of the war in Iraq. He recognized that these things – the institutions, but also the ideas the people believe and are committed to that make institutions work – take generations to really build and solidify.

        We forget that when we look at Russia or Iraq (or Poland or Hungary or South Africa or or or….) and say, Why aren’t they perfect democracies already?

    2. MissPolitics —

      That’s an interesting idea – that the US is too “soft” to defend itself in the case of mortal threat… (I hope you’re wrong! But…)

  9. 3) I agree that democracies do not go to war with each other. I believe when key point of democracy is globalism. People tend to support democratic governments because they allow for free trade. This in turn keeps the citizens happy as there are more potential jobs and income. When there is food on the table and money in the bank this eases tensions. A majority of scholars believe that the U.S. and China will eventually go to war as their ideologies continue to get further apart. However, I feel that this will never happen between these superpowers. The global economy relies heavily on both China and the United States for trade. Wars are expensive and disrupt trading which nobody wants. Despite the government having a heavy influence regarding trade and economic opportunities, China and the U.S. profit greatly from each other. This a decent model for all countries to see that are not democratic. Millions of people in China have been lifted out of poverty due to globalization as the government has lessened its grip over national affairs.

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