Global Politics

Spreading democracy

JT says promoting democracy is worthy goal but getting certain countries to change their ways won't be easy: certain countries have such an undemocratic history that its citizens are numbed to a surrender of power. In China people don't want democracy because the system they have serves them well, this is true of Russia as well. (Could the economic contagion at current bolster calls for democracy?) In one surprising indirect way. When oil was more expensive, the oil suppliers are immune to domestic opposition because they're doing so well, even if they're incompetent. When oil prices drop, they don't have that cushion and domestic criticism stings more. Venezuela and Iran are good examples of this. Weak states now are not doing well under the economic bailout. You'll see a lot of third world weak democracies who have to contend with a lot of issues. This will cut out their economic base and it'll make it tough for democratic nations to retain their governments. (What carrots and sticks does a new administration use when there's an unprecedented need for global cooperation on economics?) Development assistance is huge, and tying development assistance to democratic promotion. (What do you think people around the world prefer: a health economy or human rights and the right to vote?) Clearly a lot of people are going to say I want a better life. But I think at a basic level when people are beyond immediate concerns, they start thinking about basic rights of human dignity. That's when people think about democratic movements. (What would an authentic freedom agenda look like?) First we have to make ourselves a better democracy. I think we also need to find a more modest way of going about this business, talk less about freedom sweeping the world, and more building up of foundations which spread democracy in other countries.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the audio to hear it.)

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