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Contents

  1. strategic and international studies
  2. The Impact of Iran’s Presidential Election on Domestic Issues and Foreign Policy | Wilson Center
  3. US Midterm Elections: What the Results Mean
  4. How will the outcome of the Midterms affect Trump’s policy options?
  5. Connect with Middle East Program

Even more than mainstream parties, populist leaders in office seem to regard foreign policy as the continuation of domestic politics by other means.


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Because they consider themselves as the only true representatives of the people, populist actors discard any political opposition as necessarily illegitimate, with repercussions on foreign policy. Taking the opposite course of their predecessors seems, for instance, a key reference point in setting the coordinates of their foreign policy. This also means that under populist leadership domestic political infightings are more likely to take precedence over diplomatic considerations.

Rather than competing with a political opposition, populist leaders claim to fight enemies operating from the shadows, both at home and abroad. And this has also led populist leaders to indulge in conspiracy theories, even from top policymaking positions.

Hungary has not put into question its NATO membership.

strategic and international studies

Italy has not vetoed the renewal of EU sanctions against Russia. Bush was in the White House. Contrary to sensationalist claims, populists do not necessarily adopt devil-may-care attitudes in international affairs. Yet their diplomacy is often crippled by the collateral damage of their radical approach to domestic politics. Moreover, classifying countries as illiberal on the basis of whether they have more civil liberties than political rights leads to some absurd distinctions. For example, Zakaria's criteria would classify France as an illiberal democracy because it scores higher on political rights 1 than civil liberties 2 , and Gabon as a liberal democracy because its civil liberties score 4 is higher than its political rights 5.

Zakaria notes that he does not rely on Freedom House for classifications of individual states, only for overall statistical measures. Freedom House's ratings show that civil liberties have improved in 10 of the countries Zakaria identifies as "democratizing" and fallen in only 4. The most recent Freedom House ratings also show that 81 of democracies are now classified as "free" whereas only 76 of were "free" in Thus there actually seems to be a slight trend toward liberalization, even as the overall number of democracies remains constant.

Second, Zakaria and Kaplan overlook the extent to which the holding of elections is a an important way of removing authoritarian leaders, and b part of the process of encouraging the growth of liberal values. The principle that leaders should be selected in free and fair elections can become an international norm that can be used to persuade authoritarian leaders to step aside, sometimes gracefully.

Marcos in the Philippines and Pinochet in Chile were removed from power largely because of the growing international belief in the electoral principle. It is hard to imagine that elections in Burma, for example, could produce an outcome worse than the current SLORC regime.

Elections do not only remove unpopular authoritarians, however; they also encourage the development of liberal habits and principles such as freedom of speech and of the press. Holding a free and fair election requires that these principles be followed. Elections alone do not guarantee that constitutional liberalism and the rule of law will be adopted, but they do focus the attention of the voting public on the process of freely electing their governments. Third, it is not clear what forms of government the United States should support instead of democracy.

Zakaria believes the United States should "encourage the gradual development of constitutional liberalism across the globe. There are few contemporary examples of liberal countries that are not democracies. Zakaria cites Hong Kong under British rule as an example, but this experience of a liberal imperial power engaging in a rather benign authoritarian rule over a flourishing free-market economy has already ended and is unlikely to be repeated. Earlier historical examples of liberal nondemocracies include Britain in the early 19th century, and possibly other European constitutional monarchies of that century.

As Marc Plattner and Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy point out, none of the examples is a "practical vision" for the 21st century. Thus it is difficult to see how Zakaria's analysis can support a viable U. Fourth, Kaplan and, to a lesser extent, Zakaria, exaggerate the degree to which elections per se are responsible for the problems of new democracies, many of which had the same problems before elections were held. In the area of ethnic conflict, for example, democratic elections may ameliorate existing conflicts instead of exacerbating them.

The evidence is mixed, but the need to build electoral coalitions and the liberal practices of free speech and freedom of association necessary to hold elections may promote ethnic accommodation, not hostility. These arguments suggest that Zakaria, Kaplan, and other critics of electoral democracy have taken the valid point that "elections are not enough" too far.

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The Impact of Iran’s Presidential Election on Domestic Issues and Foreign Policy | Wilson Center

The United States should support democracy and liberalism; supporting only the latter risks not achieving either. The most important contemporary ideological challenge to democracy comes from East Asia and has been called "soft authoritarianism" or the "Asian values" argument. Many African countries are reportedly attracted by this model of government. Asian "soft authoritarianism" merits attention for two reasons.

First, it is emerging as the most prominent, articulate, and comprehensive critique of liberal democracy. Second, the countries that advocate it were, at least until the second half of , among the most dynamic economies in the world. Their growing economic power has increased their influence in international affairs. Their recent economic turmoil is probably only a temporary setback, and the fact that it disrupted financial markets around the world testifies to the growing economic importance of these countries.

Asian attempts to articulate a distinctive "Asian way" and to criticize liberal democratic principles have provoked broader debates on the difference between Asian and Western cultures, whether there is a uniquely Asian approach to politics and economics, and the international implications of East Asia's rise. The Arguments: East Asian critics of democracy make the following arguments for why the spread of democracy-particularly to East Asia-is not desirable.

First, Western democracy allows for too much liberty, and this excessive individual freedom causes moral decline and social collapse. Third, and most generally, some East Asians claim that liberal democracy is not a suitable form of government for Asian countries, because Asia has a different set of cultural values that include a strong emphasis on communalism.

Responses: Each of these arguments for the undesirability of democracy is seriously flawed. The first argument-that democracy causes moral decline and social disintegration-is not persuasive, because not all liberal democracies suffer such ills. Canada and most European countries demonstrate that liberal democracy does not cause social collapse. These countries are indisputably democratic, but they are far less violent than the United States, and they do not have America's social problems.

In , the Population Reference Bureau reported that Americans kill each other at a rate 17 times higher than in Japan and Ireland, 10 times the rates in Germany and France, and five times the rate in Canada. The United Nations Demographic Yearbook shows homicide rates per , population for several countries in , the most recent year available. Canada's was 2. Portugal and Spain came in at 1.

US Midterm Elections: What the Results Mean

The American culture of individualism, not more universal liberal and democratic values, is responsible for many U. The argument that democracy exacerbates ethnic tensions also is unpersuasive. Managing ethnic tensions in multiethnic societies isn't easy, but democratic approaches may be at least as successful as authoritarian ones. Authoritarian states that appeared to control ethnic tensions often did so at a high price in human life. The Soviet Union avoided ethnic civil war, but under Stalin it decimated or deported many ethnic minorities.

How will the outcome of the Midterms affect Trump’s policy options?

Tito's Yugoslavia avoided violent disintegration, but hundreds of thousands of suspected separatists were killed on Tito's orders, particularly in the late s. Considerable evidence indicates that liberal democracy, with its emphasis on tolerance, cooperation, political accommodation, and respect for civil liberties, provides the best recipe for long-term domestic stability. The third argument's assertion that democratic government is incompatible with East Asian values is belied by the relatively successful growth of democracy in Japan, South Korea, and, more recently, Taiwan and the Philippines.


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  • These states have not emulated the Western model of democracy in all respects, but they are almost universally classified as democracies. In addition to conducting multiparty elections and maintaining civil liberties, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan all have impressive economic records.

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    Some East Asians point to the Philippines and argue that democracy is responsible for its domestic instability and economic malaise, but that country's economic performance has improved dramatically in recent years. In addition, the Korean and Japanese cases show that democracy and growth can go hand in hand.

    The former problems of the Philippines may be attributable to the Spanish colonial legacy, not the flaws of democratic political systems. The economic and financial crises that swept across many Asian countries in and have muted many of the loudest voices that argued for "Asian values" and "soft authoritarianism. Nevertheless, it seems likely that proponents of "Asian values" will offer a less strident challenge to liberal and democratic values in the future and that Asian countries will pursue political liberalization as part of their economic reforms.

    At least some of the current economic difficulties in Asian countries can be attributed to a lack of public accountability. The recent critiques of U.

    Connect with Middle East Program

    The international spread of democracy will offer many benefits to new democracies and to the United States. Establishing that promoting democracy is beneficial does not, however, resolve all the questions that surround U. These questions include: Can the United States encourage the spread of democracy or must democracy always develop indigenously? How can the United States promote democracy in other countries? Which policies work and under what circumstances do they work?

    Any comprehensive case for why the United States should promote democracy must address these questions.