Thursday, March 24, 2005
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The fourth wave of democratization?
Events in Kyrgyzstan (click here for a useful BBC backgrounder), combined with previous events in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Georgia, are making me wonder if maybe, just maybe, we're at the beginning of the fourth wave of democratization. In his book The Third Wave, Samuel Huntingtion observed that previous moments of democratic regime change took place in clusters. The first (small) wave was in the early 1800's, the second took place immediately after the Second World War, and the third wave started in Southern Europe in 1974 and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
All waves of democratization are followed by counter-waves, which happened in the mid-to-late nineties, with authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes emerging in a lot of the post-Soviet states. However, the exogenous shock of 9/11, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, and the strong rhetoric of the Bush administration on this front has combined to trigger some serious political change across the Eurasian land mass.
The Kyrgyz example is likely to send chills down the spine of two much larger countries -- Russia and China. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin can't be thrilled with the fact that he can't have a tea break without some country in his near abroad overthrowing a ruler that was on decent terms with Putin. The fact that ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev is reportedly fleeing to Russia will highlight this painful fact.
As for China, Beijing's first preference is not to have a democratic revolution take place in Central Asia so close to Xinjiang -- China's western-most province with plenty of restive Uighurs chafing at Beijing's control. [UPDATE: In somewhat unrelated news, China is also feeling international pressure from it's ham-handed efforts to presure Taiwan.]
Let's be clear -- there's a fair amount of fragility in this nascent fourth wave: Iraq could curdle, Kyrgyzstan could descend into chaos, Hamas could win Palestinian elections, and Lebanon could be split by sectarian strife. The Bush administration's actions may not match their rhetoric. Writing in the International Herald-Tribune, Aaron David Miller points out the resiliency of Arab dictatorships:
Then again, as Michael Doran points out in Foreign Affairs online, this whole Palestine-as-pivot-root-causes theory of change in the Middle East just might be hokum:
UPDATE: Also be sure to check out Stephen A. Cook's essay in the March/April 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs on how to promote political reform in the Arab Middle East. The abstract:
posted by Dan on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM
He failed to praise Bush for making sure the Sun would rise tomorrow as well. Of course, the actions of the Bush administration in Iraq have brought electctions to Iraq and were a major factor in Libya. But Palestine elections were already scheduled, only the death of Arafat made them more good news. While Iraq was certainly a factor, the major drive for the Lebanese resistance occupation came internally from the death of Hariri. And in Egypt, it was more US pressure on the aid front (with $2B, thats a lot of possible pressure points) rather than Iraq. There have also been negative consequences of the war in Iraq, which he skips over. It need hardly be added that if Arafat had died in say 2002, and genuine reforms made from that point on, the positive impact on the middle east would have been far greater than from the Iraq war (and would have cost less in lives and treasure as well).posted by: Marsh on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
There have been some major events on the China front.
China's ham-fisted actions on Taiwan may have cost it with the EU. I know the ME is fascinating, but this may be more important from a long-term perspective. Any comments ?posted by: erg on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
Mike McFaul calls the post-communist transition the "Fourth Wave" ("The Fourth Wave of Democracy and Dictatorship: Noncooperative Transitions in the Postcommunist Word", World Politics, 54:2 (2002), 212-244.) So, this might be the Fifth Wave. In any case, the tipping point (a la Kuran) in multiple countries being changed by international information flow is certainly an interesting phenomenon.
Also, Foreign Policy has an on-going debate on the role of Palestein-Israeli conflict in the ME reforms.posted by: Moonhawk on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"To promote Arab democracy, Washington needs a new approach: offering financial incentives for political reform. "
Yes, bribes, thats the answer. It has worked so well in the past. Have they tracked down the rest of Arafat's looted fortune btw?posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"Events in Kyrgyzstan (click here for a useful BBC backgrounder), combined with previous events in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Georgia, are making me wonder if maybe, just maybe, we're at the beginning of the fourth wave of democratization."
Indonesia has a larger population than all these countries combined so its democratization during the late 90's was a bigger event in the history of democracy than the current events . And what about Russia and Iran which have become even less democratic than they were a few years ago? Overall I fail to see a major global trend towards democracy.
posted by: Strategist on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
I'm not sure about the chill down Putin's or China's spine. Russia is probably not happy that its influence in the Central Asian Republics is waning. On the other hand, Putin did win well democratically, and I think he is in no danger from any kind of revolution in any case.
As far as China goes, the story of China's Central Asian Republics is quite complex. There have been Islamic groups operating there. But I don't really see any widespread movement. China has also moved a huge number of ethnic Chinese there and they are likely to side with the Middle Kingdom. I think China's grip is fairly firm [ Probably firmer than India's on some of its small border states]
Also, Brazil and Nigeria. Certainly many South American countries also made steps towards democracy. You might say there was a trend in South American towards democracy in the late 80s/early 90s.
Russia, Iran and Pakistan have become less democratic. I'm not sure that Palestine is necessarly more democratic incidentally, they just have a different elected leader.
But the path to democracy is slow and long. We've seen it in Turkey and Pakistan, in much of South America. This could be steps in the right direction, but there's a lot of work to be done.
To put in perspective, the vast majority of Westerners never heard or cared about poor, small Kyrgyzstan before today. In a few days, people will not care again. And few people care about the other small Central Asian Republics now. Democratization must be a slow, long-term proecess in all these countries.posted by: erg on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
erg: I think the Latin American turn towards Democracy would be part of that "Third Wave", as most of that happened before 1991. Nigeria and Indonesia are more recent, and are rather large outlyers. erg may have a point that it may not make sense to look at Democratization in waves.
It seems the clampdowns in Iran, Russia, Pakistan and Venezuala would be associated with the insecurity that was a result of 9/11 and our response to it. The recent increase in Democracy movements seems to correlate in Bush's movement away from a WMD/the US is threatened so we must be agrgressive emphasis towards a pro-Democracy emphasis.
At least, that's how the correlations look to me. Love to know the smart people's thoughts.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
History doesnt mean much over a 5 or 10 year time scale. Look at the last half century and tell me democracy isnt spreading. Then look at the last full century. 200 years? If you draw a graph of the last 200 years with the percentage of humans living under self-determination, you'd end up with your famous 'hockey stick curve'.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
The first (small) wave was in the early 1800's
Huntington counts the first wave as lasting over a hundred years, until the authoritarians retrenchment in Italy and Eastern/ Central Europe of the mid-1920s.posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
I should clarify that I do think there is a long-run trend towards democracy. I just don't think the last two years are a significant part of the trend; as mentioned above the retreats from democracy in that period are at least as significant as the advances.
Assessments like Doran's are little better than a game of "heads Bush wins, tails he doesn't lose". Anything positive is automatically attributed to Bush regardless of the evidence; anything negative is studiously ignored. Unfortunately reality is a lot more complicated than that.
If the Iraq war played a role in getting Libya to abandon WMD but it's at least as likely that it provoked North Korea to become even more intransigent about its nuclear weapons. If the Iraqi election helped inspire events in Lebanon but it's at least as likely that the invasion helped the clerical hardliners in Iran to consolidate power and crack down on the moderates.
And unfortunately Iran and North Korea are far more important than Libya and Lebanon so successes in the latter don't make up for setbacks in the former.
posted by: Strategist on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"And unfortunately Iran and North Korea are far more important than Libya and Lebanon so successes in the latter don't make up for setbacks in the former."
Perhaps, but that presupposes anything we could peacefully do would prevent those two nations from pursuing nukes. Our history (particularly with NK) shows pretty clearly that is not the case. The explanation is simple, there is nothing we can offer either of those countries as valuable to them as nuclear weapons. Hence there is no answer to that puzzle, and right now we would be sitting in the identical situation but with Libya in possesion of a nuclear program and forced to assume Hussein did as well. The bottom line is 2 rogue nuclear programs is better than 4 emboldened ones.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
Actually, the comparison is not between 2 nuclear programs and 4, but 2 and 2.25 (counting Libya's program as .25 and Iraq's as essentially 0).
But I think this is diverging from the main point which is the spread of democracy rather than that of nuclear weapons. NK will never become democractic without the death or deposement of the Great Leader.
Iran, on the other hand, was making some promising steps toward democracy earlier and had elections in 1997. There is definite backsliding there.
"Actually, the comparison is not between 2 nuclear programs and 4, but 2 and 2.25 (counting Libya's program as .25 and Iraq's as essentially 0)."
Hmm, not sure about that. Perception is reality in the nuclear game. We had every reason to believe Hussein had some level of nuclear program, dormant or active (as indeed he did have the components hidden away in violation of treaty). Libya was in fact farther along than we suspected or feared. I'll split the difference with you and call it 3. I would also suggest the use of force against the other 2 is significantly more palpable than it was 5 years ago. And since carrots are useless to us, having the stick in steadfast hands is about all we can hope for. Hussein prancing around thumbing his nose at non-proliferation and united states power for a decade surely did nothing to discourage the Rogues.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"The explanation is simple, there is nothing we can offer either of those countries as valuable to them as nuclear weapons."
There is no strong reason to believe that either North Korea or Iran are immune to cost-benefit considerations while considering their nuclear options.
When the US named them as part of the axis of evil and then invaded Iraq, it could hardly have made a more clear-cut military threat to the two. This greatly increased the benefits of nuclear weapons from their pov. and made it more difficult to get them to negotiate away their nuclear options.posted by: Strategist on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
posted by: Jon H on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"Actually, the comparison is not between 2 nuclear programs and 4, but 2 and 2.25 (counting Libya's program as .25 and Iraq's as essentially 0)."
Like you I would put Libya at 0.25 in 2002 and 0 in 2005. Clearly a success. However NK was only about 0.5 in 2002; some indications of a uranium-based program the extent of which is hotly disputed but no solid evidence that it was close to a bomb. In 2005 NK is pretty much a 1; it's probably a defacto nuclear power having removed all the 8000 plutonium rods which if reprocessed would give them enough fuel for several bombs.
So Libya has moved from 0.25 to 0 while North Korea has moved from 0.5 to 1. Overall I don't think this is a bargain particularly when you consider that North Korea, unlike Libya, has missiles that can attack Hawaii and possibly in a decade the US mainland.
"However, the exogenous shock of 9/11 ... and the strong rhetoric of the Bush administration on this front has combined to trigger some serious political change across the Eurasian land mass."
Do you honestly believe that these two factors were at all significant? The attack against the twin towers was a shock in America, and other Western countries which identify with American society. I see no way that it, or the retribution that followed, could trigger democratisation movements. Bush's rhetoric is even less significant to non-Americans.
If there is one American component in what hopefully is a fourth wave of democratisation, it is that America is less likely than before to actively oppose democratically elected leaders (Venezuela perhaps being the exception that validates the rule).
The Chomskyites baffle me. They're immune to evidence.
The following is probably news to Josh H. and Anders. Take a look at today's NYTimes editorial which tries to take a shot a Bush, but the irony is at its own expense. (Liberal hawks were well aware that America couldn't completely control the "march of freedom," witness Sistani for example.)
"That pattern was reinforced after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when the Bush administration began courting the region's rulers and minimizing their dictatorial abuses to secure air bases near Afghanistan. One particularly useful base is located in Kyrgyzstan, just outside Bishkek. That may explain why the State Department voiced only mild criticism of this month's election fraud, while taking the opposition to task for taking over and trashing government buildings. What a contrast with Washington's forthright support for huge antigovernment protests in Kiev last year and in Beirut earlier this month."
With "globalization," all of these democratic uprisings are aware of each others' successes and draw morale and courage from one another. It is truly another wave.
posted by: Peter K. on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"If it was true why didn't North Korea go nuclear in the mid-90's when it could have? Why did it freeze its Yongbyon nuclear plants for 8 years under the Agreed Framework."
Because they were pursuing their uranium enrichment program the whole time which ultimately yielded them a bomb, plus all the aid Clinton handed them. They had their cake and ate it too. Claiming the 90s diplomacy was a success with NK is insane. Its not like they suddenly pulled a nuclear bomb out of their rear ends when Bush hit office. They were building their uranium program the entire time, it happened to come to fruition under Bushs watch, and there was nothing short of bombing we could do about it.
lets take the case of Bangladesh. It was formed in 1971 as a democracy (largely). That's outside of the wave. It fell into dictatorship and military rule in 1975. It only passed into civilian government at the end of the so-called Third Wave.
Also, after the cameras fade, and the reporters die away and bloggers stop linking to it, Kyrgyzstan will remain what it is now, a poor landlocked, ethnically divided country, with a very corrupt government. The corruption and the looting is a bad sign -- it indicates the lack of a stable civil society that could hinder progess. People who talk about "waves" are missing the hard, ground-level work that needs to be done.
In Georgia, for instance, the Roses have come off the Revolution to some extent. People are still poor, a lot of things haven't improved. It will take more work there to build a stable government. To its credit the West is helping, but its slow work.
[Side comment about bloggers: how come the right wing, (and I don't include Dan in that group) bloggers haven't been linking to demonstrations by 10s of thousand of people in Islamist parties in Pakistan against Musharaff with the same virot they link to Lebanon ?]
How come then thposted by: erg on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
Even though the numbers are ill-defined, North Korea was most definitly not at .5 in 2000 if they got to 1 in 2002. Countries do not go from half way there to there in 2 years for a bomb, at least not unless they're highly industrialized and prosperous.
Iraq was probably close to 0 at the time of the Iraq war. All they had buried was a few centrifuge parts in a rose garden.
Libya is harder to assess. You have to be a nuclea r scientist to assess how far along they were. My impression is they had some uranium and some centrifuge components, but 1/4th of the way along sounds about right, because they had been stuck for years and lacked the technological expertise to proceed further.posted by: erg on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
I would warn that there is an illusion imbedded in this discussion of past nuclear programs. We are judging in retrospect. Its only fair to judge decision making by the information available _at the time_. There was a real possibility that NK had a bomb in the late 90s, early 2000s and that affected the thinking. No-one really knew how far along Libya or Iraq were. We still are pretty clueless about Iran, and nothing short of invasion can totally allay those fears. Thats why containment and diplomacy are ultimately doomed to failure when dealing with despotic regimes intent on obtaining nukes. They work to varying degrees in the short run, but in the long run the simple math exists that once a nation possesses a nuclear arsenal, they will very likely be able to gain all of the carrots offered them anyway. That has certainly been Irans thinking, spurred on by NK proving the formula works. Regime change is the ultimate remedy, and finding peaceful (or relatively peaceful) ways to achieve this is the race against time. The ultimate sadness is that once a regime like Iran obtains nukes, regime change suddenly becomes _against_ our interest, with the likelihood of a nuke slipping away in the instability high.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
Certainly didn't work for Pakistan. They have had a nuclear arsenal since 1989 probably, but they only got any real carrots offered to them after 911. The nukes did improve their geostrategic position in that they made it all but impossible for India to invade.
Similarly, South Africa (which could legitimately be called a rogue regime under Botha) only used its undeclared nuclear program as a possible last line of defense.
So I think North Korea is definitely interested in nukes as a way to bully and blackmail. In iran's case, I suspect deterrence is more important than anything else. That is why reformists such as Khatami and even some dissidents support the nuclear program as well -- they see it as a symptom of national pride and a necessity in a rough neighorbood.posted by: erg on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
"Even though the numbers are ill-defined, North Korea was most definitly not at .5 in 2000 if they got to 1 in 2002."
As for the uranium program there isn't any solid evidence that it produced enough fissile material to make a bomb.
By contrast their plutonium facilities in the mid-90's could have provided them with dozens of bombs a year if they hadn't been suspended under the Agreed Framework.
Given these facts it's hard to claim that NK is single-mindedly determined to make bombs at all costs;if that was the case they would have been a major nuclear power by the late 90's. At the very least the Agreed Framework succeeded in postponing and limiting their nuclear program. And if it hadn't been suspended it is quite likely that North Korea wouldn't be a nuclear power today.posted by: Strategist on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
Now you tell me, what does Occams razor tell us? We know NK created a secret uranium program, completely cheating on the accords. Are we to believe they really were involved in good faith negotiations while they cheated the entire time, and then just by god at the last second decided to create a bomb once Bush took office? Please. Isnt it more logical to assume they were having problems with their plutonium program and decided to slow things down, take the money and run, and develop the bomb on their own schedule, but _clearly_ inevitably? Otherwise, _why cheat at the accords_? You dont generally keep spending billions on a program in secret that you dont intend to fufill.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:56 AM [permalink]
And where exactly is the evidence that NK spent "billions" on its uranium program? Read Harrison's article again. The evidence about NK's uranium program is extremely murky ;no better really than about Iraq's alleged WMD. I am not sure what your quote is supposed to prove or where it's from. Nor is there any reason to believe that NK's plutonium program was having problems; if you have evidence of this please produce it.
What would have happened if Bush hadn't suspended oil shipments? It is unlikely that North Korea would have taken the plutonium rods out of Yonbgyon where they had been lying for 8 years. There is no evidence that whatever uranium program NK might have would have been enough to make a bomb. So there is a good chance that North Korea would still be non-nuclear.
OTOH scrapping the Agreed Framework sparked a chain of events which have probably made NK a nuclear power today. How exactly has this improved the situation? In fact it's made it harder to put pressure on NK to stop whatever uranium program it might have.
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