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A nation must think before it acts.
Project on Democratic Transitions
Foreign Policy Research Institute
March 16, 2015
Dear Friends of PDT,
Year nine of the Project on Democratic Transitions (PDT) proved highly productive and moved us towards culmination of a full decade of research and policy analysis. Although the project began in 2005 as a study of lessons learned from the post-communist transitions, it has grown to encompass the comparative analysis of democratization movements worldwide and of the broader geopolitical dynamics that affect them.
The most notable event of 2014 was our highly successful, day-long democracy conference in Washington DC, co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center. It featured presentations by NED president Carl Gershman and eminent democratization scholar Larry Diamond, interacting with numerous younger scholars and practitioners. The event drew an elite, standing-room-only turnout and produced a rich and probing dialogue. We delved deeply into the current challenges facing U.S. democracy promotion, as well as the cases for and against democracy support as a major feature of U.S. policy.
The conference was also web cast and is available online, as is a written summary. We are now in the process of further refining the main conference findings with a view towards publication in the form of an e-book.
Other PDT highlights for 2014 included public presentations by PDT scholars, plus numerous publications, including several on the emerging Ukraine crisis and its broader implications. In addition to the ten E-Notes and six Geopoliticus blog posts published through FPRI channels, PDT scholars published several dozen articles and briefs in other high-quality venues such as Foreign Policy, The American Interest and others. A full list of publications by PDT scholars is included below.
My sincere thanks to our team of pro bono scholars, and to our financial and other supporters, for so strongly enhancing the Project’s growth and productivity in 2014. We look forward to building on these solid foundations, and to further broadening and deepening the scope of our work in the current year.
Adrian A. Basora (U.S. Ambassador, Ret.)
Director, Project on Democratic Transitions
In September 2014 we welcomed two new associate scholars to the team. Chris Miller is a Ph.D. graduate from Yale. In 2012-2014, he worked as a visiting researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center while on an Alfa Fellowship and taught history at the New Economic School, an elite university in Moscow. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the collapse of the Soviet Union. Aleksandr Fisher is a former summer intern at PDT, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University.
PDT continues to engage 12 scholars and three research assistants within its team. These scholars bring impressive academic and professional experience to PDT. Their regional specialties include the Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Collectively they have over 35 years of experience managing democracy and governance programs at organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute and the Eurasia Foundation. PDT scholars are sought out for their expertise and have spoken at a variety of think tanks and other events in the US and abroad and have commented on television and other media. Our team members’ analyses and commentaries have also been featured in a variety of publications such as Foreign Policy, The American Interest and The National Interest.
Earlier this year our senior fellows were featured at two separate FPRI events. In February, as part of FPRI’s Study Group on America and the West, Dr. Nino Japaridze presented her research on the topic of Political Culture Change and the Media and discussed new approaches to democracy promotion that would make better use of these tools. And in March, as a part of FPRI’s Geopolitics with Granieri series, Dr. Sarah Bush discussed the Role of Women in Politics in the New Middle East.
On October 20, 2014 we partnered with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute to organize a day-long conference in Washington, DC. entitled “Does Democracy Matter?” Our goal was to thoroughly revisit the case for democracy support abroad and to review the efficacy of our current tools. [See image: Second discussion panel at the democracy conference. Left to right: Dr. Sarah Bush, Dr. Tsveta Petrova, Dr. Michal Koran, Melinda Haring]
The mixed record of attempted democratic transitions in the former Soviet Union, our negative experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the failures of the Arab Spring have led many to question the efficacy of democracy promotion. Some argue that current Western democracy support is ineffective at best and at times counterproductive. American domestic support for democracy assistance, is thus very much in question, and there is increasing focus on more limited and “pragmatic” short-term interests. The ongoing crises in Ukraine and in Syria/Iraq have further heightened this debate.
More than 130 experts, practitioners, journalists and students packed the WWC auditorium, while hundreds of others watched the live stream on C-SPAN and participated in a vigorous debate on Twitter throughout the conference. The conference hashtag – #democracymatters – was one of the most popular hashtags of the day.
The event featured internationally-renowned democracy scholar Larry Diamond as keynote speaker. NED president Carl Gershman and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, at the United States Department of State Thomas Melia led off the discussions. Our three panels, with alternative viewpoints provided both by senior democracy-assistance scholars and by younger scholars, included Amb. Adrian Basora, Nicholas Gvosdev, Melinda Haring, Sarah Bush, Michal Koran, Barak Hoffman, Tsveta Petrova, and Richard Kraemer. [See picture: Amb. Adrian Basora makes welcoming remarks at the democracy conference]
As a follow-on to this October event, we have developed a book proposal designed to build upon the ideas generated by the conference discussions and the “lessons learned” based on what in 2015 will be 10 years of PDT research and commentary on the issues of democratic transition.
FPRI Publications in 2014
“Does Democracy Matter? A Conference Report” Summary by Richard Kraemer, December 2014
“Russia’s Frozen Economy” Chris Miller, December 2014
“Ruble Trouble: The Politics of Russia’s Financial Crisis” Chris Miller, December 2014
“What Putin Really Feared in Ukraine” Chris Miller, September 2014
“Reviving the Global “Democratic Momentum” Larry Diamond, October 2014
“Can Afghanistan Survive its Presidential Election?” Richard Kraemer, August 2014
“Ukraine’s Struggle for Democracy: Severe Challenges Ahead” Adrian Basora, Aleksandr Fisher, July 2014
“Geopolitical Implications of the Ukraine Crisis” Richard Kraemer, Maia Otarashvili. April 2014
“The Russian Invasion of Ukraine” Michael Cecire, March 2014
“Putin’s “Greater Novorossiya” – The Dismemberment of Ukraine” Adrian Basora, Aleksandr Fisher , May 2014
“Hunger for Power in Hungary? The Alarming Nature of Viktor Orban’s New ‘Manifesto’” Maia Otarashvili, July 30, 2014.
“Ukraine and the Future of the Western Democratization Agenda” Adrian Basora, Aleksandr Fisher, May 21, 2014.
“Is Azerbaijan Likely to Have Its Own Maidan?” Arzu Geybullayeva, April 18, 2014.
“Recent Elections in Central Europe” Alexandra Wiktorek Sarlo, April 11, 2014.
“Geopolitical Implications of the Ukraine Crisis: What is at Stake for Georgia and Moldova?” Maia Otarashvili and Hannah Lidicker. March 7, 2014.
Ukraine and the Future of the Western Democratization Agenda · Adrian Basora, Maia Otarashvili, Hannah Lidicker. February 21, 2014.
External Publications in 2014
“Freedom on the Net in Azerbaijan” Arzu Geybullayeva, Freedom House, 2014.
“Freedom of speech is a top target in Erdogan’s war on the parallel state” Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices, December 18, 2014
“Azerbaijan’s Image Cracks with Arrest of Watchdog Journalist” Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices, December 10, 2014
“Russia Blames Oil Prices, Ignores Real Problems” Chris Miller, The Moscow Times, Nov 11, 2014.
“Does Western pressure for gender equality help?” Sarah Bush, WashingtonPost.com, July 30, 2014
Anti-Americanism, Authoritarian Politics, and Attitudes about Women’s Representation: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Jordan. Sarah Sunn Bush (with Amaney A. Jamal). International Studies Quarterly, (2014) 1-12.
“Putin is trying to Reconstruct the Russian Empire” Adam Michnik, translated by Agnieszka Marczyk, New Republic, July 21, 2014.
“Home-Grown Terrorism – Russia’s Ticking Bomb” Maia Otarashvili, Aleksandr Fisher, ISN Zurich. July 8, 2014.
“Azerbaijan from Where Aliev Stands” Arzu Geybullayeva, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, July 3, 2014.
“Georgia is Preparing for the Worst” Michael Cecire. Medium.com, June 2, 2014.
“Morality and Politics: Willy Brandt’s Two Trips to Poland” in “The Trouble with History. Morality, Revolution, and Counterrevolution,” Adam Michnik, translated by Agnieszka Marczyk, Yale University Press, May 2014.
“Russia’s Tight Embrace Undermines Armenia’s Independence” Michael Cecire. World Politics Review, May 21, 2014.
“Georgia’s Fifth Column Stirs” Michael Cecire, The American Interest, May 19, 2014.
“Funding Cuts, Lack of Opportunity Leave US Without Expertise on International Hot Spots” Melinda Haring(with Hannah Thoburn), Global Post, May 15, 2014.
“Azerbaijan and the Burden of Democracy” Arzu Geybullayeva, Al Jazeera, May 11, 2014.
“Azerbaijan: N!DA Activists Face 8-6 Years in Prison” Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices, May 9, 2014.
“Arrest Spree in Azerbaijan” Arzu Geybullayeva, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, May 8, 2014.
“Historical Legacies of Informal Institutions in Russia’s Economic Transition” Aleksandr Fisher, Pi Sigma Alpha Journal of Undergraduate Politics, Spring 2014.
“Geopolitical Implications of the Ukraine Crisis: How does the Reassertion of Putin’s Russia Challenge US Policies in the Middle East?” Richard Kramer, Maia Otarashvili, Al Majalla, April 2014.
“Azerbaijan: Treason and Other Charades” Arzu Geybullayeva, Al Jazeera, April 30, 2014.
“While We Praise Ukrainian Restraint, Putin Builds His Neo-Soviet Empire” Adam Michnik, translated by Agnieszka Marczyk, New Republic, April 21, 2014.
“Crimea Highlights Risks, Uncertainties of Georgia’s Turn to the West” Michael Cecire, World Politics Review, April 1, 2014.
“Putin Channels the ‘Godfather’” Adam Michnik, translated by Agnieszka Marczyk, New Republic, March 21, 2014.
“The Limits of Soft Power” Michael Cecire, The National Interest, 1 April 2014.
“The World Needs Russia. Russia Does Not Need Putin” Adam Michnik, translated by Agnieszka Marczyk, New Republic, March 11, 2014.
“As Elections Approach, Denial Run Deep for Erdogan” Arzu Geybullayeva,Global Voices, March 21, 2014.
“The Rainbow Colors Are Not For Azerbaijani Taste” Arzu Geybullayeva,Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, March 4, 2014.
“The Hard Work Begins in Ukraine Both for the West and the New Kiev Administration” Michael Cecire (with Lincoln Mitchell), Al-Jazeera, March 3, 2014.
“The Specter of the Kiev Maidan is Haunting the Offices of the Kremlin” Adam Michnik, translated by Agnieszka Marczyk, New Republic, March 3, 2014.
“The Never Ending Tension Between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan” Arzu Geybullayeva, Repairfuture.net, March 1, 2014.
“Russia and Crimean Possibilities” Michael Cecire, EURASIANET.org, February 26, 2014.
“Georgia and Russia Play Nice” Michael Cecire, The American Interest, February 7, 2014.
Amb. Adrian Basora
Dr. Sarah Bush
Dr. Nino Japaridze
Dr. Agnieszka Marczyk