Tags

, , , , , ,

Thirty-five years ago, there were 40 democracies in the world. By the end of the 20th Century, that number had tripled. We have recently experienced what are arguably the significant political events of the last half-century; the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the global democratization wave of the 1990s. As advanced industrial societies are evolving into a new form of democratic politics, we are witnessing the initial development of democracy in a new set of nations and institutions of democracy.

The prospect of European Union (EU) membership is often considered the most successful instrument for the promotion of democracy in post-communist countries (Reinhard, 2010). We can observe that all post-communist members of the EU are now more or less consolidated democracies

The democratization wave in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa touch at the very core of many of our most basic questions about the nature of citizen politics and the working of the political process.

The EU´s role in promoting democratic political reform in central and Eastern European countries in the 1990s, and Balkans, just as many people in the transition and post-communist societies saw democratization as an aid to recovering national independence, freedom both from authoritarian rule and from political domination by the Soviet Union.

So Western Europeans saw democratic reform in the near abroad as a plus for their own security.

In United States, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright has been a strong backer of democracy promotion, helping to found the Community of Democracies, an organization of like-minded states, in her final years in office. Similarly, the United States has paid a high price for its efforts to reengineer the politics of others. The United States spent enormous amounts of treasure and considerable blood trying to turn Iraq into a functioning multi-ethnic democracy.

For the purpose of analyzing international politics, an essential characteristic of the state is its set of underlying preference: the rank ordering among potential substantive outcomes or states of the world that might result form international political interaction. States act instrumentally in world politics to achieve particular goals on behalf of individuals, whose private behavior is unable to achieve such ends as efficiently.

Internationally, the liberal state is a purposive actor, but domestically it is a representative institution constantly subject to capture and recapture, construction and reconstruction, by coalitions of social interests. it constitutes the critical transmission belt by which the preferences and social power of individuals and groups are translated into foreign policy. In the liberal conception of domestic politics, state preferences concerning the management of globalization reflect shifting social demands, which in turn reflect the shifting structure of domestic and transnational society. Swedes remained very favorably disposed toward international engagement, and were among the least pessimistic about their economy.

A majority of Swedes polled said their country should not join NATO, but that number has been declining slowly since 2012. According to data from recent Transatlantic Trends 2014 survey, of American and European public opinion: Seventy-three percent of European respondents overall described a strong EU role in international affairs as desirable, up two percentage points since 2013. More than half of EU respondents (56%) said it was desirable that the United States exert strong leadership in world affairs. In same survey NATO was seen as “still essential” by 61% of EU respondents and 58% of Americans.

There is fundamental political support for say, soverignty, national defense, open markets, depending on underlying patterns of state and public opinion, that encourages further movement in a similar direction. Indeed, it is often precisely such feedback that might result state act instrumentally to manage globalization.

It is increasingly recognized that international relations has domestic roots and domestic consequences.

However, democracy has not triumphed everywhere, and emerging democracies face difficult dilemmas and obstacles here and there. The current democratization wave thus provides a virtually unique opportunity to address questions on identity formation, the creation of political cultures and possibly how cultural inheritances are changed, the establishment of an initial calculus of voting, and the dynamic processes linking political norms and behavior.

Indeed, there are large parts of the world where our understanding of the citizenry, their attitudes, and behavior were based solely on the insights of political observers which can be as fallible as the observer. Contemporary comparative research is now more likely to draw on cross-national and cross-temporal comparisons. These questions represent some of the fundamental research issues of our time. The global wave of democratization in the 1990s has dramatically increased the role of the citizenry in many of the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Recently, the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine has attracted extensive news coverage and political commentary in both Europe ant the United States. One often gets the impression that Russia has gone much further than other countries in flouting international norms. The Russian government’s coercive measures against Ukraine in 2014 have contravened many norms of international law. And Russia has broken its international commitments, including basic principles in the NATO-Russia Founding.

Even though Western governments tacitly accepted Russia’s imperiousness vis-à-vis the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) before 2014—the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 was a notable exception—Moscow’s domineering behavior toward Ukraine and other CIS countries began long before 2014. Scholars have long understood the reciprocal linkages between revolution and war.

Revolutions by their nature are bound to have international political repercussions. A revolution is often followed, at least temporarily, by internal disarray and a “hollowing out” of certain state functions, including the maintenance of public order.

A large external power, especially one with irredentist claims, may seek to take advantage of this period of vulnerability by intervening and carving off a disputed territory. Opportunistic intervention is what happened in 1918 when Imperial Germany sent troops into Soviet Russia just after the Bolsheviks came to power. The Germans used the opportunity to annex territory from Russia—acquisitions that were promptly reversed after Germany was defeated in the First World War.

Saddam Hussein in 1980 tried to exploit the disarray and administrative weakness in Iran in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution. His hopes of seizing oil-producing regions in Iran were eventually thwarted, but not before he sparked a savage war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Other motives for external great powers to respond to revolutions include a deep political hostility to revolutionary change. And in Syrian Assad, because he is a depraved dictator who responded to the Arab Awakening by turning his military against the Syrian population.

As authoritarian regimes use hostile methods to quell social unrest, they almost guarantee its eventual return. Turkey’s current President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he was Prime Minister cracked down on his own people on several occasions. His methods ranged from analogue (water cannons in Gezi Park) to digital (the squelching of Twitter during a corruption investigation). In the end, it all looked heavy-handed, much like his reaction to the recent mining disaster. Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are equally potent examples of rulers who have imposed a messy and sometimes lethal brand of order on their compatriots.

An authoritarian regime may fear that a revolutionary upheaval in a neighboring state will have a “demonstration effect” that could inspire people in the regime’s own society to rise up. The external power thus deems it essential to intervene against a revolution and undo its effects

This is the function that Tsarist Russia performed in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century, and it is also the function that The Soviet Union performed in Eastern Europe from the 1950s through the 1980s, when Soviet troops acted several times to crush popular revolts against oppressive Communist regimes.

A counterrevolutionary dynamic has been crucial in shaping Russia’s response to the Maidan revolution in Ukraine.

As soon as the Soviet Union broke apart, the Russian government sponsored armed separatist movements in Georgia’s regions of South Ossetia (1992) and Abkhazia (1993), enabling them to break away and establish de facto independence. Afterward, thousands of Russian troops remained deployed in these regions to safeguard them against any potential attempts by the Georgian government to regain control. Even Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, though undertaken heavy-handedly, was not a true departure in Russian policy. The roots of the move dated back more than 20 years. Crimea had a popularly-backed separatist movement in the early 1990s, and its leader, Yuri Meshkov, won a landslide victory in a free election in Crimea’s presidential election in early 1994. Yeltsin’s government actively supported Meshkov, and the only thing that brought an end to Russia’s backing for him was the victory of Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine’s presidential election in July 1994.

Kuchma was a leader Yeltsin liked and wanted to help. Hence, the Russian authorities stopped supporting and inciting the Crimean separatist movement, and Kuchma steadily clamped down on Meshkov, eventually expelling him to Russia in March 1995. That expulsion put an end to the separatist movement in Crimea for nearly 20 years. If Kuchma’s opponent in the July 1994 Ukrainian presidential election, Leonid Kravchuk, had won, the Russian government almost certainly would have continued to back Meshkov, who had indicated he would seek the incorporation of Crimea into Russia.

Yeltsin might well have done in the mid-1990s what Putin did in March 2014. Crimea is a different place, however. It was, after all, a part of Russia for hundreds of years, only joining Ukraine in 1954. More than 50 percent of its inhabitants spoke Russian, and it had a majority of almost 60 percent ethnic Russians. The region had a long-standing, if not necessarily very effective, pro-Russian independence movement long before Ukraine’s current political crisis exploded.

Putin’s counterrevolutionary posture reflects the way Russian politics has changed during his nearly 15 years in power. The Russian political system when he came into office was partly democratic, but during his tenure it has become increasingly ritualistic and authoritarian, and elections have been of very little importance because the results are controlled by the authorities and arranged in advance.

Under Putin, Russia has been a deeply counterrevolutionary power since at least 2004 (after the so-called Orange Revolution in Ukraine) and particularly since December 2011, when mass protests erupted in Moscow and some other Russian cities after fraud marred the parliamentary elections.

Today September 15th 2014 on international Democracy day the “Athens Forum 2014: (the first of its kind marking the International Day of Democracy in 2013), discuss Democracy Under Pressure. Sweden´s Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, who was UN Secretary-GeneralSection 1s Special Envoy for the Balkans during 1990s, is one of the speakers at “Athens Forum 2014: The UN is, truly multilateral organization of great note that is prominent in international democracy promotion. And Swedish leaders are playing prominent roles in global diplomacy. On Russian actions in Ukraine, the diplomatic efforts in this matter and the need for a strong alliances.

Sweden has an clear and committed voice in Carl Bildt both in the EU and in the world. February 19th, 2014 the Government foreign affairs declaration in the Parliamentary: Bildt underscored that “Every opportunity must be utilised”. As Foreign Minister Bildt has been a one-man diplomatic force against Russian aggression. Sweden remains one of the strongest promoters of the Eastern Partnership as an anchor point in these countries’ modernisation processes, making clear demands, but also offering preparedness to meet progress with deeper cooperation and increased support – this contributes to peace, stability and development on our continent”.

Athens Forum is “Global Conversation” series of high level debates of the former International Herald Tribune, now the International New York Times.

Advertisements