LOY-657-DEM-2018-july30

    

Welcome to 2018 Summer Hybrid – LS 657: Challenges of Democracy

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Welcome to Challenges of Democracy 

Week 3:  Democracy and The World – Changing Each Other

Welcome to Week 3.  We slide this week a little because we start late, having met Tuesday night. We’ll get on an earlier, regular schedule next week.

We start, though, by asking, what is democracy?  Larry Diamond leaves his ivory tower to try to build democracy in post-Saddam Iraq.  Read his 2004 speech to university students in Iraq – just weeks after the capture of Saddam Hussein. The institutional parts are predictable enough to most Americans.  But the most important part, and what must have been the most difficult for Iraqis to try to adopt – is section V:  violence and denunciation are out, respect and dignity and listening and compromise are in.   Read it also with how we treat each other in the United States today.

Next 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 -he called it the “third wave” of democratization. What was it, and why did it happen (and what happened to it?

At about the end of that wave (the mid 1990s), Adam Przeworski et al. ask, What are the best indicators that next year your country will be a democracy?  In part, they test a still-famous 1959 article (just skim very quickly) 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 almost all political flavors 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 part of 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 about whether democratization is a good idea in the post-WWII context – and it offers important insights today.

(Democracies don’t go to war with each other?  Two authors we don’t read this week offer even better than that.  First, not just democracies don’t go to war with each other:  countries with McDonalds don’t go to war with each other.  That was true when first tested, but busted by the US bombing Belgrade in 1999.  Second, democracies don’t have famines.  Democracies don’t have famines! That’s pretty cool. )

After the Cold War (we can say the Cold War was from roughly 1947 to about 1989-91), “nation-building” was the idea in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Mozambique, and other places in the 1990s – the US or the UN would takeover or nearly takeover or merely support a government, trying to reshape it into a democracy.  Doyle’s 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. After the massive failure of nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jason Brownlee asks whether nation-building is still possible or wise.

After decades of good news, we see a stall by the end of the 1990s, and some indicators of reversal by the 2000s. In articles listed below, the Carnegie Endowment compares current 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 –

WATCH – Two short clips from The West Wing’s democratic (and Democratic) Toby Ziegler:

On Belarus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLoio0Z6jLw (ignore the Australian constitutional studies analysis after 4:01)

Free trade stops wars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh9SgyGgBW0

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

READ

Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave,” Journal of Democracy Spring 1991, http://www.ned.org/docs/Samuel-P-Huntington-Democracy-Third-Wave.pdf

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, this is 1947 – just after WWII and at the beginning of the Cold War

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

World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2017Western 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.  This is what you really love? Then read about how the U.S. misapplied the lessons of Germany and Japan to 1990s Russia as well as to 2000s Iraq.

 

DISCOVER:  MEASURING DEMOCRACY

What is a democracy? Is a country democratic?  Please look at two important sources for measuring democracy: the comprehensive Center for Systemic Peace’s Polity IV series , and Freedom House’s annual report on Freedom in the World.   Freedom House has great updated summaries of each country, like Pakistan which had elections this week.

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


OK, YOUR TURN

We’re pushing everything a day this week:

by Friday night – a news link – esp. a story or source we might not have seen – with your own comment – post on fb
by Saturday night – your “essay” post (probably almost 400 words) at the bottom of this page, based on the essay prompts (“questions”) below
by Sunday night – comment (approx 20-40 words) on at least two classmates’ news posts on fb,
by Monday night – comment (approx 100 words each) on at least two classmates’ essay posts at the bottom of this page


SPECIAL NOTE ON FB AND GOVT396.com:

I offer my undergrads the following advice about What Makes a Good Post – I know you don’t need it but it’s here for you anyway

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 fiercely partisan, but never 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 3 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?  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, the logic followed, 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 – that I haven’t asked here – or you relate something from this week to something from last week, or something else you know or have experienced, etc.  If yes, then pose your question(s) and answers below…

29 Replies to “LOY-657-DEM-2018-july30”

  1. The spread of democracy comes in a few forms that I have seen in my lifetime. Samuel Huntington’s article did a great job outlining those. External forces and influence from the outside have typically played a key role in the democratization of a country’s government.(i) This can be overt, like the influence of the U.S. and the U.K. in the Iranian revolution. It can be a removal of an eternal power, like Russia retreating its hold over Eastern European countries allowed their transition to democracies. It can also be more subtle, like that in Egypt. The U.S. was able to assist in the revolution in Egypt via social media and other society pressures. It was not a military coup or the west working to over throw a government. It was an internal groundswell of revolution promoted and spread with socially. While it was an internal effort, it was not without external pressures. Even in the U.S., our original revolution did not come without external influences from the original democracies of Greece and Rome, contemporary France, and others intent on doing harm to Great Britain.

    I chose each example above because each is an example of backsliding or backlash—that 3rd wave—the reverse wave. Eastern Europe, has remained prey to external forces –mainly the US and Russia. Iran now opposes all western influences. They have “democratic” elections, however, the strict and rigid rules of the government and dictatorship-ish actions of that government have turns a liberal regal country into a hybrid of democracy and dictatorship. Egypt’s first election was held in 2012. Since then, they have slowly been backsliding. This includes giving the president the power to dissolve the parliament and the power to impose strict rules on its people with no oversight.

    In addition to the elements that Huntington mentioned that lead to backsliding, education and religion need to be added. Huntington mentioned how religion and culture can play a role in creating and spreading democracy, but both can lead to backsliding.

    The clearest example of backsliding and the educational shift is the United States. After Brown vs. the Board of Education, those in power slowly sent their children to private schools and voting for people that would take funding away from public education. An addition step is to promote the idea that education is bad. This is done by labeling universities with negative names and connotations. Most of the people from my graduating high school class did not go to college because they did not want to be “brainwashed by liberal professors.” Slowly, authoritarians eat away at the education of the public so it is easier to manipulate them.

    Additionally, Huntington was quick to say Confucian Democracy is an oxymoron and Islamic Democracy might not be possible. I would argue that any democracy cannot be founded on any particular religion, and it is not my American “separation of church and state” values that make me think this. Democracies founded on religion open themselves up to the religion taking control. Huntington looks at issues of Confucian democracies, and Islamic democracies, but Christian and Jewish democracies have the same issues. According to Hitler, Christian nationalism was the basis of his Nazism. Currently, Israel, a country founded as a Jewish democracy that accepted all religions equally, now only accepts Jewish citizens. With the Nation-State law, Israel is officially only Jewish. This movement away from democracy leaves over 20% of the population (Arabs) as second-class citizens.(ii) Creating an “ins” and “outs” for who is a citizen and who counts in a culture is one of the three ways the characteristics Huntington discusses lead to authoritarianism.(iii) (The other two are political parties that are completely separate with entirely different values and the authoritarian officials giving themselves more and more power, which sound too familiar right now for comfort.)

    Overall, Huntington’s analysis is really strong for the early 1990s. I would like to see how he would amend this article for the current backsliding away from democracy, and how it is even happening in the United States.

    ***
    i) Samuel P. Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave,” in Journal of Democracy, 2, no. 2 (1991), 12-34.
    ii) Ilene Prusher, “A New Law Shifts Israel Away From Democracy,” from Time.com, published July 24, 2018. http://time.com/5345963/israel-nation-state-law-democracy/.
    iii) Seymour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” The American Political Science Review, 53, no. 1 (1959), 71.

    1. I really like that you highlight the importance of education in the democratic shift, specifically in the United States. The idea that education is politically motivated creates a fear of certain types of education, specifically higher ed. This past spring a Loyola senior published an op ed in the Baltimore Sun claiming that Loyola’s “liberal professors” were forcing conservative students on campus to be more conservative, rather than realizing that in order to receive a well rounded education, it’s necessary to study a topic from different points of view.

      This “anti-education” rhetoric was also reported on in a This American Life episode about a white supremacist group on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus. A blue dot in a very red state, conservative students felt that the college was trying to “de-hickify” Nebraska students and felt that their rights and opinions were threatened. The idea that someone’s rights are threatened simply because they are encouraged to learn about someone else is ridiculous, but it holds real power in the discussion of democratic backsliding. By speaking poorly of education or voting against education, politicians start to set the standard that education is somehow bad and those who do pursue higher education are somehow wrong. In fact, isn’t Trump’s cabinet one of the least educated in recent history?

    2. I like your notes on backsliding in our country. I sincerely agree that both education and religion were omitted by Huntington and should absolutely be considered key elements contributing to backsliding particularly in our own country. Though much of backsliding can be attributed to things such as byproducts of an extreme free market economy, the freedoms promoted within a democracy create a system inherently susceptible to backsliding. You pose an interesting question in inquiring as to Huntington’s position applied in a contemporary context. The role of the media and privacy are arguably on the horizon as challenges to democracy and will be the focus of scrutiny in the years to come.

  2. The spread of democracy comes in a few forms that I have seen in my lifetime. Samuel Huntington’s article did a great job outlining those. External forces and influence from the outside have typically played a key role in the democratization of a country’s government.(i) This can be overt, like the influence of the U.S. and the U.K. in the Iranian revolution. It can be a removal of an eternal power, like Russia retreating its hold over Eastern European countries allowed their transition to democracies. It can also be more subtle, like that in Egypt. The U.S. was able to assist in the revolution in Egypt via social media and other society pressures. It was not a military coup or the west working to over throw a government. It was an internal groundswell of revolution promoted and spread with socially. While it was an internal effort, it was not without external pressures. Even in the U.S., our original revolution did not come without external influences from the original democracies of Greece and Rome, contemporary France, and others intent on doing harm to Great Britain.

    I chose each example above because each is an example of backsliding or backlash—that 3rd wave—the reverse wave. Eastern Europe, has remained prey to external forces –mainly the US and Russia. Iran now opposes all western influences. They have “democratic” elections, however, the strict and rigid rules of the government and dictatorship-ish actions of that government have turns a liberal regal country into a hybrid of democracy and dictatorship. Egypt’s first election was held in 2012. Since then, they have slowly been backsliding. This includes giving the president the power to dissolve the parliament and the power to impose strict rules on its people with no oversight.

    In addition to the elements that Huntington mentioned that lead to backsliding, education and religion need to be added. Huntington mentioned how religion and culture can play a role in creating and spreading democracy, but both can lead to backsliding.

    The clearest example of backsliding and the educational shift is the United States. After Brown vs. the Board of Education, those in power slowly sent their children to private schools and voting for people that would take funding away from public education. An addition step is to promote the idea that education is bad. This is done by labeling universities with negative names and connotations. Most of the people from my graduating high school class did not go to college because they did not want to be “brainwashed by liberal professors.” Slowly, authoritarians eat away at the education of the public so it is easier to manipulate them.

    Additionally, Huntington was quick to say Confucian Democracy is an oxymoron and Islamic Democracy might not be possible. I would argue that any democracy cannot be founded on any particular religion, and it is not my American “separation of church and state” values that make me think this. Democracies founded on religion open themselves up to the religion taking control. Huntington looks at issues of Confucian democracies, and Islamic democracies, but Christian and Jewish democracies have the same issues. According to Hitler, Christian nationalism was the basis of his Nazism. Currently, Israel, a country founded as a Jewish democracy that accepted all religions equally, now only accepts Jewish citizens. With the Nation-State law, Israel is officially only Jewish. This movement away from democracy leaves over 20% of the population (Arabs) as second-class citizens.(ii) Creating an “ins” and “outs” for who is a citizen and who counts in a culture is one of the three ways the characteristics Huntington discusses lead to authoritarianism.(iii) (The other two are political parties that are completely separate with entirely different values and the authoritarian officials giving themselves more and more power, which sound too familiar right now for comfort.)

    Overall, Huntington’s analysis is really strong for the early 1990s. I would like to see how he would amend this article for the current backsliding away from democracy, and how it is even happening in the United States.

    *****
    i) Samuel P. Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave,” in Journal of Democracy, 2, no. 2 (1991), 12-34.
    ii) Ilene Prusher, “A New Law Shifts Israel Away From Democracy,” from Time.com, published July 24, 2018. http://time.com/5345963/israel-nation-state-law-democracy/.
    iii) Seymour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” The American Political Science Review, 53, no. 1 (1959), 71.

  3. Reading Stimson’s article “The Challenge to Americans” was very cool. He said these words after World War II and the growing fight with Russia and Communism, along with the reconstruction of western Europe issue. You can see many similarities in America between now and then. Americans still have the aura of being world leader, if only because of the belief that we’re better than you. They are led by a white-dominated elite who have been ignoring the issues of those perceived to be beneath them. Operating under the assumption that America would become a “good, clean, peaceful” place if only white people would lead the way. Why help these nations around the world? We have our own problems here. If we do help, should this be about “Team America”? We still have problems with isolation, focusing on a majority, and not “worldly” contributions. To put it simply, “our refusal to catch up with reality during these years” has hurt our democracy, and pushed many to the periphery. Like Stimson, I still share the “belief that the American people have it well within their power to meet and resolve” many problems that face the nation. It is that “test of will and understanding” that the American people need to see currently.

    The difference is that Stimson spoke of foreign policy and the role of the United States around the world where his words now apply to domestic affairs as I see it. We had our isolationist ways back then but since have become the preeminent world power; a world police, if you will. He said that he had “confidence that the farsighted and experienced men now in charge of our State Department know how to frame a policy.” Sorry to say, but I don’t share that same confidence today. If he had written the same type of document in 2018, I believe his essay would have had something to do with calling for leadership change in order to restore peace amongst our citizens. He spoke of the “basic principles of the American people” and many of those disagreements he had with Russia, can be said about much of the mistreatment of today’s marginalized groups. The United States has become a world community, diverse and plentiful, and it “is a plain fact, and our only choice is whether or not to face it.” Stimson spoke about these types of things around the world but his exact words can now be applied to within our own borders. Stimson talked about the U.S. not being an island anymore, and I’m saying that if you want to consider this an island, we must share it. No programs or policy can be formed without considering our worldly population. “All men, good or bad, are now our neighbors. All ideas dwell among us.”

    After reading Stimson’s article I believe he would say the challenge has to do with “self-defeating isolation.” I believe that to mean that alienating our own citizens will only lead to our, as-it’s-constructed-now-government’s, demise. By ignoring a large part of our country, whether it be minorities, middle America, blue-collar America etc., we are just leading an exercise in futility. It is necessary for us to understand that “other people’s troubles” are not only theirs but ours.

    1. It is imperative that in today’s geopolitical climate we not lose sight of what it means to be a member of a global community. The current administration holds very isolationist ideals that inhibit engagement in globalization both politically and economically. Moreover, both major political parties in the United States of America campaign and govern on a platform in the interest of the economically poor and the economically elite and then legislate in the interest of said elite. Ultimately, then, the largest portion of this country is neglected, the American working middle-class.

    2. Hi Conor, you pulled some interesting points from Stimson’s piece that I want to push more on. You say that in order for our American institutions and framework to survive, our priorities have to be comprehensive, inclusive of folks who are “left out” right now. Similarly, international policy should consider the whole world, and making contributions to the world order that go beyond what is good for the U.S. This made me think, though – aren’t these systems working the way they were designed? In many ways, the folks who made the rules are those who continue to benefit. The U.S. (and western European powers) designed the geopolitical system to be based on its own values, constructs… and operate to its benefit. Similarly, our domestic politics have cultivated success and advancement for the same basic group of folks for the entirety of our nation’s history. So, I think the question is not how to play the game, but how to change the rules of it to allow for other folks to have a fair shot at playing. If that were accomplished, then isolation wouldn’t be much of an issue – we’d have a whole different field to play on, so to speak.

  4. The spread of democracy comes in a few forms that I have seen in my lifetime. Samuel Huntington’s article did a great job outlining those. External forces and influence from the outside have typically played a key role in the democratization of a country’s government.(i) This can be overt, like the influence of the U.S. and the U.K. in the Iranian revolution. It can be a removal of an eternal power, like Russia retreating its hold over Eastern European countries allowed their transition to democracies. It can also be more subtle, like that in Egypt. The U.S. was able to assist in the revolution in Egypt via social media and other society pressures. It was not a military coup or the west working to over throw a government. It was an internal groundswell of revolution promoted and spread with socially. While it was an internal effort, it was not without external pressures. Even in the U.S., our original revolution did not come without external influences from the original democracies of Greece and Rome, contemporary France, and others intent on doing harm to Great Britain.

    I chose each example above because each is an example of backsliding or backlash—that 3rd wave—the reverse wave. Eastern Europe, has remained prey to external forces –mainly the US and Russia. Iran now opposes all western influences. They have “democratic” elections, however, the strict and rigid rules of the government and dictatorship-ish actions of that government have turns a liberal regal country into a hybrid of democracy and dictatorship. Egypt’s first election was held in 2012. Since then, they have slowly been backsliding. This includes giving the president the power to dissolve the parliament and the power to impose strict rules on its people with no oversight.

    In addition to the elements that Huntington mentioned that lead to backsliding, education and religion need to be added. Huntington mentioned how religion and culture can play a role in creating and spreading democracy, but both can lead to backsliding.

    The clearest example of backsliding and the educational shift is the United States. After Brown vs. the Board of Education, those in power slowly sent their children to private schools and voting for people that would take funding away from public education. An addition step is to promote the idea that education is bad. This is done by labeling universities with negative names and connotations. Most of the people from my graduating high school class did not go to college because they did not want to be “brainwashed by liberal professors.” Slowly, authoritarians eat away at the education of the public so it is easier to manipulate them.

    Additionally, Huntington was quick to say Confucian Democracy is an oxymoron and Islamic Democracy might not be possible. I would argue that any democracy cannot be founded on any particular religion, and it is not my American “separation of church and state” values that make me think this. Democracies founded on religion open themselves up to the religion taking control. Huntington looks at issues of Confucian democracies, and Islamic democracies, but Christian and Jewish democracies have the same issues. According to Hitler, Christian nationalism was the basis of his Nazism. Currently, Israel, a country founded as a Jewish democracy that accepted all religions equally, now only accepts Jewish citizens. With the Nation-State law, Israel is officially only Jewish. This movement away from democracy leaves over 20% of the population (Arabs) as second-class citizens.(ii) Creating an “ins” and “outs” for who is a citizen and who counts in a culture is one of the three ways the characteristics Huntington discusses lead to authoritarianism.(iii) (The other two are political parties that are completely separate with entirely different values and the authoritarian officials giving themselves more and more power, which sound too familiar right now for comfort.)

    Overall, Huntington’s analysis is really strong for the early 1990s. I would like to see how he would amend this article for the current backsliding away from democracy, and how it is even happening in the United States.

    *****
    i) Samuel P. Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave,” in Journal of Democracy, 2, no. 2 (1991), 12-34.
    ii) Ilene Prusher, “A New Law Shifts Israel Away From Democracy,” from Time.com, published July 24, 2018. http://time.com/5345963/israel-nation-state-law-democracy/.
    iii) Seymour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” The American Political Science Review, 53, no. 1 (1959), 71.

  5. Writing in 1991, Huntington identifies what now can be understood as the third wave of democracy. The third wave swelled in the existence of several conditions Huntington outlines: legitimacy problems encountered by authoritarian regimes, in the context of a more democratic world than ever before; global economic growth; a shift by the Catholic Church with Vatican II; shifts in how external actors treated democracies and authoritarian regimes (namely, the U.S. and E.C., as forces for democracy); and the phenomenon of “snowballing,” in which the environment of democracy makes resistance to it more difficult.

    This argument is persuasive in 2018 because the conditions Huntington outlined can be identified with the benefit of hindsight, particularly the first and fourth conditions. The dissolution of the Soviet Union around the time of writing did not allow enough understanding of its effects; but more than twenty years later, it would seem that the approach taken by the U.S. and Western European democracies to inculcate former Soviet states from relapsing into authoritarianism through military and economic intervention worked – though only temporarily, for some. Economic development plans through the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund also benefited the Asian and African states that were similarly ripe for democratization, and could be swept up in the global momentum that prioritized their successful transitions. Intervention in conflicts where states were particularly vulnerable to either new or renewed authoritarian regimes was a primary theme of the 1990s and 2000s, as the United Nations’ coalition of largely democratic states intervened in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, Timor-Leste, Haiti, and others. The choices of actors born of the first and second waves of democracy were vital to the creation and cultivation of the third wave.

    With every flow, though, comes a counter-flow, which in this case seems to be the mid-2000s to present. Some of Huntington’s conditions were counteracted, as the economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s reversed with the global recession beginning in 2008. High unemployment, conservative social movements, and new technology created widespread demands for democracy from peoples in the Middle East and North Africa, known as the Arab Spring, but the results have been mixed, with many states – Syria and Egypt especially – having immediately backslid into authoritarian control of the government and military. Some Central European states, including Poland and Hungary, have experienced a backslide, as they have not shared in Western Europe’s experience of economic growth, and see the appeal in the success of Russia, China, Turkey, and others which have succeeded in building their economies, despite not playing by the rules of the democratic world regime.

    5-10 years into this reverse wave, I am interested to see how changing economic and political approaches by the key democratic actors (i.e. the U.S. drawing out of geopolitical and trade agreements, hesitance to intervene in conflicts, more restrictive trade), along with more growth in the world economy and increased access to new media and technology, might set the stage for a fourth wave of democratization.

    1. According to the Carnegie Endowment’s research on the shared challenges between European and American democratization, the US electoral process leads to extensive decentralization, partisan gerrymandering, and cross-party disconnect. The EU’s extensive parliamentary system, on the other hand, poses the challenge of extremist and anti-pluralistic political forces gaining traction.

      According to the article, “authoritarian powers like Russia and China are exerting rising political influence across borders, using tools that range from think tank engagement and new global media platforms to concerted disinformation campaigns.3 These efforts not only challenge Western democracies’ global geopolitical dominance, but also seek to discredit the viability of the liberal democratic model itself—for example, by manipulating existing divisions within democratic societies. In addition, transnational policy challenges related to migration and globalization are placing democratic institutions under heightened stress, testing their legitimacy and effectiveness. This wider context makes domestic democratic reforms more difficult, but also more pressing.”

      Inadequate policy response to increased migration in the EU and inadequate transparency in campaign finance and party splintering in the United States seems to be leading to an upsurge in the degradation of democratic principles such as access to voter registration (which, unlike in most European countries, is state mandated in the US as opposed to federally regulated) as well as the scapegoating of minorities in European countries in favor of populist rule.

      It seems that we have entered an error of backsliding and systemic corruption from within. Attention to democratic principles, freedom of the press, checks and balances on majority groups and attention to the voices of immigrant and minority citizens (including women, children, religious minorities, and individuals facing extreme economic hardship) is now more important than ever.

  6. I found Samuel Huntington’s article, Democracy’s Third Wave, a compelling way to examine the rise of democracy throughout time and consider the possible threats to continued democratization, particular “backsliding.”

    I think backsliding is predictable response to any significant societal change. The more dramatic the change the more dramatic the backslide. In a slightly different context, backsliding is something that I have been noticing recently in United States politics without a proper term. It perhaps, for example, should have been predictable that President Barack Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In” would be met with something similar to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

    In terms of global politics and the spread of democracy, the same, two steps forward one step back, progression to backslide, plays out. As Samuel Huntington explains, there are a confluence of reasons—culture, economic, political historical, etc.—for a country to backslide after the installation of a democratic government. However, I think the most compelling reason is the inevitable counter of those opposed to the progression not dissimilar to the back and forth cadence of progressives and conservatives that is common in US politics.

    Inevitably a contingency, perhaps a vocal minority, will not feel that the move to a democratic government is progression, but rather a threat to their values or way of life. Any significant change in government is likely to negatively impact those who saw the best quality of life under the old style of government. For most Americans the benefits of a democratic style of government are often apparent and valued, but for an individual that is new to living in a democracy it can have a significant impact and not all of it may be perceived as positive. (If a McDonalds replaced my favorite local restaurant I might feel that to be a loss too). For some of these “third wave democracies,” the move to a democratic style of government may open up trade and economic possibilities, but also the westernization of society for good and bad. If a country’s political and cultural ideals are different than that of a typical western democracy, alterations and adjustments will need to have been made to make the transition smoother. As Huntington outlines, third wave countries may be at greater risk to backslide as they have less democratic influence both culturally and politically than first and second wave democracies. Additionally, the United States’ high profile international foreign policy coupled with the large export of popular culture could play into perceptions that a democratic government may be culturally and/or morally incompatible with their culture.

    1. Ben, I, also, have made similar observations in American society and politics of late. But I think the word would be backlash, not backslide. A slide implies a more passive effect, like a car parked on a muddy hill slipping downward. A lash is a more reflexive reaction, almost a swatting out of fear, as you describe in the “Make America Great Again” example of people with power lashing out in fear of losing that power as others make social progress. Such backlash is apparent throughout American history, as becomes apparent when studying the history through the lens of race relations. The backlash after Brown vs. Board, when segregation in schools was deemed unconstitutional, is one of the most dramatic examples. The mass flock to private schools and the more subversive legal efforts used to maintain segregation more generally had implications that we are still wrestling with today.

    2. Hey everyone: I responded earlier to Third Wave democratization themes but it seems to have been lost in translation. Here is a second attempt:

      Samuel P. Huntington’s examination of what academic researches typically label as Democracy’s third wave (or a study of democratization in the late twentieth century), outlines 5 factors that led to recent transitions out of authoritarian governance.

      “Five major factors have contributed significantly to the occurrence and the timing of the third-wave transitions to democracy: 1) The deepening legitimacy problems of authoritarian regimes in a world where democratic values were widely accepted, the consequent dependence of these regimes on successful performance, and their inability to maintain “performance legitimacy” due to economic (and sometimes military) failure. 2) The unprecedented global economic growth of the 1960s, which raised living standards, increased education, and greatly expanded the urban middle class in many countries. 3) A striking shift in the doctrine and activities of the Catholic Church, manifested in the Second Vatican Council of 1963-65 and the transformation of national Catholic churches from defenders of the status quo to opponents of authoritarianism. 4) Changes in the policies of external actors, most notably the European Community, the United States, and the Soviet Union. 5) “Snowballing,” or the demonstration effect of transitions earlier in the third wave in stimulating and providing models for subsequent efforts at democratization.”

      While there are issues with maintaining that organizational participation be dependent upon a prerequisite engagement in democratic principles (this is like telling a single mother who has recently immigrated that she can only engage in cooperative community action and reunification with her children when she can prove that she is economically capable of providing for them in a context that makes it very difficult to obtain legal, sustainable work), it is important to note that these 5 components do often lead to dissent, change, and sometimes revolution towards more democratic governance. Principle 3 should be updated to reflect changes in various religious communities. While the Catholic Church holds a great deal of influence over policy change and reform in Europe and Latin America, other religious groups also hold major sway in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Israel/Palestine, Africa etc. It does make sense, however, that these 5 factors would lead to efforts to reestablish imbalances of power and give voice to minority groups seeking actionable paths towards the assertion and attainment of basic human rights. Attention to shifts in cultural hegemony should play a leading role in the development of policy that creates space for the peaceful transition of power between various groups. The role of diplomatic international participation, it seems, is to empower various minority groups in advocating for their rights and speaking their concerns without resulting to violence. Hannah Arendt’s essay addressing violence in defines power as the ability to participate in collective economic and social action. Democracy is really about an assessment of my rights and needs as they play against yours. The things that I desire and want may be perfectly legitimate for my health and safety even if the things that you desire and want are completely different. This shifting balance of power (as it translates to mainstream culture through expression in economic choices, effects on the means of production, artistic renderings of the assertion of human rights, and the interpretation of policy by different groups) forms the process of democracy. In other words, we do not form a functioning society without taking time to address the legitimate needs and concerns of those who live around us (on both a local and a global scale).

  7. No middle class democracy has ever reverted to authoritarianism. I am not certain that this statement is entirely true. I spent most of this week’s reflection attempting to understand the US drive to build democracy abroad . . . as if democracy is the end-goal in efforts towards global citizenship. It is a relevant question to ask whether or not America can nation build. America can certainly nation build itself . . . through transparency in democratic processes and with legitimate representation for individuals who do not have access to the means of production or power. We can transform ourselves through collective action and attention to the effects of our words and economic decisions on groups like and unlike the ones that we belong to. We can take action to restore collaborative justice processes and to build ourselves into a functioning society. But the entire purpose of democracy is to promote self rule and collaborative governance. According to lessons learned through the misuse of successful strategic planning in post-war reconciliation in Germany and Japan (as applied to the development of modern restructuring of policies of governance in post war Russia and Iraq), democracy cannot be placed upon individuals or nations. It must arise from within in order to be truly effective and in order to address the needs of citizens whose recourse to global humanitarian aide is not a plea to be rescued, but an insistence that self governance is the only way to achieve true and lasting peace. Democracy is not cohesive nor is it sustainable if it is placed upon a nation. Strategic planning should not involve attempts to determine which policy or mode of governance applies best but should involve research into cultural practices, traditions, and an examination of policies that have failed. If Freedom in the World provides an accurate picture of the level of failed democracy on a global scale, then what are we doing wrong? Can we implement and patrol . . . and wind our way diplomatically into the sustainment of peaceful political governance abroad or must we first provide for basic needs (food, shelter, minimum wage, working rights)? How best do we engage individuals and communities in obtaining these things for themselves under the direct threat of authoritarian violence? It is in our best interests to promote peace abroad . . . but are we foolish enough to think that it is best practice to lead with American initiative? Recent trends in academic research and collaborative policy development (through international agencies) point towards recognition of the need for policy direction that arises from local community programming and planning. It seems that we are becoming aware of the fact that America’s role is not to nation build, but to support those nations rebuilding after significant loss under authoritarian leadership (that, unfortunately, we have also has a role in developing). I am not suggesting that America take a back seat to involvement in global political governance. Rather, we need to examine our own past policies seriously and take steps towards reconciliation with nations whose citizens have been harmed by our failed policy, as well as steps towards humanitarian support and strategic planning led by organizations within respective nations.

    1. Kristen, I totally agree with you. How could we effectively nation build abroad, when we still have so much nation building to do at home? Perhaps not building, but restructuring, reforming. When we rank 49th on the World Press Freedom Index, I think it is clear we are not fit to start new democracies abroad. And even if we were number 1 on the list, I think your approach of solidarity is more appropriate than intervention ever is. It’s almost like wanting to open a second franchise when your first is nearly bankrupt. Why replicate that failing business model? Do the people in the second location even want that product? Would it work for them? Is it even working for the first group you are trying to sell it to?

    2. “No middle class democracy” has backslid. I have to disagree. We are seeing more nationalist/authoritarian leaders gaining popularity across the west. Trump is the obvious example, but it is also globally. Italian leaders gaining popularity are authoritarian – backsliding like crazy. While China is not a democracy out-right, they are economically in the same field as the US and recently passed a bill to get rid of term limits.

      I agree with the statement that Toby expressed when he talked about presidential democracies leading to abuses of power. What is masked under a “strong unifying figure” like a presidency is the potential for abuse of that power by the unifying figure.
      This is why superpowers should not perpetuate their presidential democracy abuses on other countries. I agree with you there. It is violence. Hannah Arendt suggested that when people think their power is being stripped away and are trying to take it back incorrectly, they resort to violence. Resorting to violence then takes away any legitimate power they have. I think you’d really like her essay “On Violence.”

    3. As usual, very well put! Democracy can’t succeed if it is placed upon a country by another country that doesn’t understand exactly what that country is hoping for in their democracy, or what the specific needs are of the population. I referenced this in my original post, but from my understanding the historic drive for a U.S.’s involvement in setting up a democracy abroad has been purely out of economic self-interest, not a true concern for the rights and stability of the country hoping to transition to a democracy. This has, of course, led to intense instability that is still being worked through today. The U.S. could have a (positive) major impact on these countries by doing exactly what you suggest- recognizing the negative impact our policies have had and working to help the countries recover economically and politically. Understanding how the U.S.’s incorrect involvement negatively impacted these countries could potentially help us understand democratic backsliding in our own country.

  8. Writing in 1991, Huntington identifies what now can be understood as the third wave of democracy. The third wave swelled in the existence of several conditions Huntington outlines: legitimacy problems encountered by authoritarian regimes, in the context of a more democratic world than ever before; global economic growth; a shift by the Catholic Church with Vatican II; shifts in how external actors treated democracies and authoritarian regimes (namely, the U.S. and E.C., as forces for democracy); and the phenomenon of “snowballing,” in which the environment of democracy makes resistance to it more difficult.

    This argument is persuasive in 2018 because the conditions Huntington outlined can be identified with the benefit of hindsight, particularly the first and fourth conditions. The dissolution of the Soviet Union around the time of writing did not allow enough understanding of its effects; but more than twenty years later, it would seem that the approach taken by the U.S. and Western European democracies to inculcate former Soviet states from relapsing into authoritarianism through military and economic intervention worked – though only temporarily, for some. Economic development plans through the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund also benefited the Asian and African states that were similarly ripe for democratization, and could be swept up in the global momentum that prioritized their successful transitions. Intervention in conflicts where states were particularly vulnerable to either new or renewed authoritarian regimes was a primary theme of the 1990s and 2000s, as the United Nations’ coalition of largely democratic states intervened in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, Timor-Leste, Haiti, and others. The choices of actors born of the first and second waves of democracy were vital to the creation and cultivation of the third wave.

    With every flow, though, comes a counter-flow, which in this case seems to be the mid-2000s to present. Some of Huntington’s conditions were counteracted, as the economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s reversed with the global recession beginning in 2008. High unemployment, conservative social movements, and new technology created widespread demands for democracy from peoples in the Middle East and North Africa, known as the Arab Spring, but the results have been mixed, with many states – Syria and Egypt especially – having immediately backslid into authoritarian control of the government and military. Some Central European states, including Poland and Hungary, have experienced a backslide, as they have not shared in Western Europe’s experience of economic growth, and see the appeal in the success of Russia, China, Turkey, and others which have succeeded in building their economies, despite not playing by the rules of the democratic world regime.

    5-10 years into this reverse wave, I am interested to see how changing economic and political approaches by the key democratic actors (i.e. the U.S. drawing out of geopolitical and trade agreements, hesitance to intervene in conflicts, more restrictive trade), along with more growth in the world economy and increased access to new media and technology, might set the stage for a fourth wave of democratization.

  9. So many good thoughts here, all — I’d endorse lots of them and ask for some more info on others… but you’re here to do this with each other. (And your classmates who are not here should be – hopefully they will be on Sunday)

    Democracy is really, really difficult to do at all, and even more so to do well. In some ways, I think, our goal should be to do it “better” – that means different things in different eras and to different people… how are we trying to do “better” these days? What are our recent/current achievements – what are we doing better? And in what ways are we particularly struggling? You might ask those with particular attn to either US domestic, or US local/regional, or global/comparative perspectives…

  10. Reading Sam Huntington’s article with 2018 knowledge was very interesting. He provides helpful basic knowledge about what generally causes the introduction or elimination of democracy in society and provides examples from different areas of the world, which work to provide a well rounded approach to the subject. I was particularly interested in his discussion on the role of culture and economics in democracy as well as his argument that in some situations the United States is a “promoter” of democracy.

    Huntington is reviewing democracy with a very Western, Christian (maybe Protestant?) view, and at times this article reads as a “holier than thou” testament to the “good work” Christians do in politically or economically unstable countries. I find the argument that Christianity is more susceptible to democracy very misleading, because to me, democracy should exist without religion. His argument that East Asian or Middle Eastern countries are less likely to be democratic because they are historically Buddhist or Islamic reeks with anti-other sentiment. Apparently the separation of church and state only exists when we feel like it.

    His argument that democracy was based on a stable economy and a flourishing middle class was much easier to digest and much more believable. Economic turmoil can lead to political and social unrest, which can trigger an immediate change in leadership, whether legally or illegally.

    I want to question his description of the United States as a “promoter” of democracy. He mentions the influence the United States had in Latin America’s shift towards democracy in the 1970s and 1980s and the U.S.’s interest in the Gulf in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Weren’t these interests purely economic? Also didn’t our involvement completely derail those areas so much, specially Central America, that we are still seeing the consequences of our actions today? Reading this article and knowing what happened in the 20 years since it has been published, I would say that the United States promotes democracies in areas where we have economic interests, not because we value the rights and lives of individuals impacted by an authoritarian regime.

    1. Hi, Elizabeth! I think it’s interesting that you also picked up on the Christian vs. Muslim vs. Buddhist themes of Huntington’s piece. His name rang a bell with me, and it turns out that in undergrad I read something else he wrote: “The Clash of Civilizations” is his argument that the world is essentially divisible into nine “civilizations” – which are different and separate from our modern concept of states – that share specific cultural/social/political values and ideologies. These ideas are the primary source of conflict between the civilizations, not the priorities of governments within them. Central to his hypothesis is the idea that there is a “West vs. everyone else” tension, but I’m not sure I would agree that he believes the West is correct so much as he’s identifying its dominance in the context of democratization. I do agree that the article we read (and “Clash,” too) have not aged particularly well. I wonder how Huntington would update his understanding of the geopolitical sphere from the early 1990s to today; I think he would be inclined to double down on the Clash theory, because of just how much conflict has aligned with what he proposed in 1993, but I’m curious as to what he would identify as the third (and fourth?) wave(s) of democratization.

  11. Stimson was writing at the end of WWII when America desperately needed to assist our allies in the reconstruction of Western Europe. We needed to support the restoration of their economic and political systems to ensure peace, but also to combat Russian and Communist influence. Stimson was making a case to the American people that a retreat to isolationism after the war was not possible, that we were permanent and necessary members of the global community. This was the new world order for America, who other than at wartime, had operated on the periphery of world politics. Stimson reminded Americans that our non-interventionist policy after WWI was part to blame for facilitating the catastrophe of WWII. He warned that we could never return to an economic or political isolationist policy, especially in a world with atomic energy and Soviet Russia – the United States was not and could never be, “an island to herself.” For better or worse, America had to be involved in international politics – Stimson was pushing a policy of full participation on the world stage. And we’re very much Stimson’s America in this respect today, the United States never returned to its interventionist foreign policy after WWII. Although the level of our involvement, motivations, definitions of protecting our vital national interests, and approaches to foreign policy have varied with each administration (containment, peacekeeping efforts, multilateral coalitions, humanitarian intervention, nation building, unilateralism, etc.), America emerged as a superpower on the world stage, very much entangled in global affairs.

    The United States is still Stimson’s America in some ways, but arguably as much not in other ways… at least in terms of the level of stable peace in the world and the power of our democracy. We still live in a world with areas that know nothing better than armed truce; while in others there is open fighting. Stimson wrote that “everywhere men know that there is yet no stable settlement,” and although the threats are different (violence from non-state actors and terrorism), I feel that holds true today. He warned of a new looming world crisis but also of the unique opportunity that America had to use our full strength for the peace and freedom of the world. The looming crisis was a destabilized western Europe and a belligerent Soviet Russian government that “steadily pursued an obstructive and unfriendly course” and were “convinced that the very course of history was set against democracy and freedom.” We’re still facing a Russian threat, but the tactics of their aggression have changed.

    Stimson advised that our central task to deal with the Soviet threat was to demonstrate that freedom and prosperity could be steadily sustained in western democracies. He thought the power of our democracy and growing economic and political stability would convince Soviet leaders that our system would endure. Well, it’s 2018 and western democracies are in crisis… and Russia is calling our bluff on the validity of our political system. They’ve revolutionized information warfare and interfered with our presidential election. And we can no longer rely on the strength of our democracy to fight back, at least in its current state. In 1947 Stimson wrote that Russian leaders “will have to be convinced that they have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by acting on the assumption that our society is dying and that our principles are outworn.” I would argue that this is what Stimson would see as the challenge to Americans today – restoring the stability and strength of our own democracy to combat external actors interfering in our domestic politics. Our greatest challenge today comes from within.

    1. Genna, I really enjoyed your mention of information warfare. It is one of the things that made Stimson’s article so compelling; the Russia comparisons are different but the same. Cyber/Information warfare is something that so many of us undersell. It’s as if our congressmen and leaders brush it off like it’s not worth their time because it’s something they don’t understand. I have spoken with friends of mine working for the government in a tech-related field and all of them warned me of this type of crime years ago. “This is the future of war,” they told me. Something tells me that Stimson’s article on foreign policy and Russia will be quite prophetic, but in a different way. The concern, as you said, will be from within the country, and with possible foreign obstruction.

    2. Genna – I like your post. I agree with the author (and you) that the greatest threats to democracy come from within. Russia is of course doing everything they can to nudge the United States over the edge and I am sure the United States intelligence community is doing their own cyber espionage to Russia and others, though I wonder if democracies are more vulnerable to such disruption and if we really know the true pro/con ramifications of such a foreign policy. Does meddling in others elections exude confidence or create long term stability for the United States? The largest crisis in our country is our obsession with losing the position of greatest or most powerful country in the world. It certainly does not uphold our democratic ideals to act in this way, though perhaps others that are wiser on foreign policy have found it to be the unpleasant reality.

  12. What is democracy? As we have learned through our readings and through events both past and current, democracy can take various forms and be implemented in many ways. I found Larry Diamond’s account of defining democracy in his lecture at Hilla University for Humanistic Studies to be particularly interesting. In theory and at its core, democracy seems to ideologically sound and an ideal form of government. Democracy, by its definition, should promote freedom and justice, equality and peace. In a democracy, the power comes from the people and the people have the power. With this comes a responsibility to actively participate in one’s government. Even in a representative democracy, elected officials should be chosen by the people and these must be informed decisions through a fair election process.

    I find it curious that we as a country have let the idea of spreading democracy lead our foreign affairs and policies considering we fail to operate in democracy as it is outlined by Diamond in his 2004 lecture. Our democracy is not truly representative, and our election process is has proven to be unfair and far from corrupt. The democracy in which we live we have allowed to develop into an elitist democracy. The elite serving the elite in the interest of the elite. This is the result of gerrymandering, manipulation of the system, lobbying, special interest groups, and the influence of big business. Arguably the byproduct of the extreme free market economy colliding with a democratic republic but, nonetheless, our system has proven to be flawed.

    We leverage this principle of democratizing the world as a tool for “liberation” when in fact, we selectively apply this foreign policy as it aligns with our interests (economic, oil, trade, debit, alliance, etc.) rather than the interests of human rights and morale “goodness”. Arguably the reason we’ve entered into any number of our last three wars.

    Yes, democracy is, in theory, principally a humanistic approach to governance but in practice, there is flawed application of this form of government. The governed must want to operate under this model and it must meet the needs and wants of its citizens. This provokes the question of not only can countries such as Iraq be democratic, but also should they necessarily be? If we are analyzing democracy as outlined by Diamond in his 2004 lecture, countries that have strong religious indoctrination woven into the culture, or perhaps a history of violence, may not be able to adopt democracy until a drastic paradigm shift occurs within the culture.

    Our texts this week have shown us how democracy is fluid and everchanging. Diamond outlines the core tenets of democracy and Samuel Huntington goes on to trace the forms of democracy that have emerged over time. We even begin to explore what it means to exist in a democracy and to assess where we are within our own democracy. If we are going to promote democracy, impose democracy, we must first reflect on our own model and not only ask what is democracy, but ask what should a democracy be?

    1. Travis, the issues with our own democracy is something I have mentioned a few times already in the course. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? I love this country and everything is has done for me and others, but the hypocrisy is never-ending. We claim to spread democracy in order to save suffering people around the world. Now, I’m not saying that isn’t at least part of the thought process but there also seems to be self-serving interests involved that muddy the waters. Also, I agree that our election process is a problem. I was never a big Bernie guy but he got screwed. He never had a chance to receive the nomination, in my opinion, because big money democrats would never let it happen. It really is an elitist democracy. One of my biggest issues is when politicians tell me they care about issues surrounding the common citizen. Republicans don’t. Democrats don’t. Our political system is, to borrow an age-old saying, the rich getting richer.

    2. Travis, I had the same thoughts reading Diamond’s speech explaining the basic elements of a democracy to the students in Iraq. It’s an inspiring speech but even more discouraging because as you noted, so many of the core principles Diamond outlines as necessary for a successful democracy have deteriorated in our current state of democracy. This reminded me of another Huntington article from 1982, “American ideals vs. American institutions,” where he talks about the discrepancy between the ideals Americans value that define our national identity – freedom, equality, prosperity, opportunity, liberty – and our political institutions that should reflect these values. He talks about the gap that has always existed between ideals and the institutional practices and how this chasm has perpetuated conflict in our politics. But this rift seems wider than ever today. Diamond’s definition of democracy almost seems romanticized compared to the democracy we live in today. More now than ever, our political institutions and system don’t reflect the values that inspired them.

    3. Travis – I agree that there is hypocrisy in what as a country we say and what we do in our government, but ideals and reality rarely align. I think more interesting, is when you touch on our foreign policy of spreading democracy. You can see the logic at play: democracy is good; therefore, spreading democracy must be good; anything that is not democracy then must be bad. There is of course flaws in this argument and foreign strategy, but a strategy that the United States nonetheless pursued for quite some time and still does to a lesser extent. We have seen both successes and failures in pursuing this strategy. I believe democracy is the best system of government that we have at this point in history, but as the one West Wing video gets into, democracy is something that the people need to come to the conclusion of themselves, not something that can be imposed by a foreign nation successfully (usually, anyway).

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