The Great Debate

The Greek Bruce Willis fights for democracy — and Marxism?

February 15, 2016
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis listens to a conferrer (not pictured) during the Economist Conference on "Europe: The comeback, Greece: How resilient?" in Athens May 14, 2015. Greece's debt is not viable and the country's debt repayments to the European Central Bank should be pushed back, the Greek finance minister said on Thursday. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1CWUJ

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis listens at a conference in Athens, May 14, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Why democracy may have been just a passing phase

June 1, 2015
Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, May 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Secularism – not sensitivity – is the key to democracy

January 27, 2015
French Education and Research minister Vallaud-Belkacem in Paris

French Education and Research Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem attends a news conference at the the French prime minister’s offices, in Paris, Jan. 22, 2015. France announced new measures last week aimed at helping schools combat radical Islam, racism and anti-Semitism in reaction to deadly Islamist attacks three weeks ago. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Despite the headlines, progress in Myanmar isn’t slipping away

November 19, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama and opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi hold a press conference after their meeting at her residence in Yangon

Is Myanmar’s reform effort going into reverse?

Not even close. Yet if international support for its political transition seriously weakens in the face of recent setbacks, the prophecies of Myanmar’s critics may be fulfilled. The international community needs to show staying power and accept that the road to reform is long.

Elections were a wild party in the 1880s — that’s one reason why more people voted back then

October 29, 2014

A man dressed as Uncle Sam drums up the crowd at an election campaign rally in Saginaw.

The United States has a low voter turnout by comparison to other Western democracies, and our turnout in midterm elections is especially abysmal, attracting roughly 40 percent of eligible voters to the polls.

Being the ‘indispensable nation’ is killing American democracy

October 20, 2014

U.S. military personnel take pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks during visit to Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory in Baghdad

America — proudly dubbed the “indispensable nation” by its national-security managers — is now the entangled nation enmeshed in conflicts across the globe.

from Ian Bremmer:

Chinese leader’s reforms are bad news for Hong Kong protesters

September 8, 2014


In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China after some 150 years of colonial rule. In exchange, China agreed to a set of principles: Hong Kong would maintain its capitalist system for half a century, by which point its chief executive and members of the legislature would be elected by universal suffrage. As the thinking went, “one country, two systems” would suffice in the interim; Hong Kong and the Mainland would surely converge on democracy in the half-century to come.

From hope to horror in Tiananmen Square

May 29, 2014

rad -- alan chin

On Changan Avenue, a solitary man faces the forces of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Tiananmen Square after the army stormed the square and the surrounding area the night before. This is near the location a day later where “Tank Man” confronted and momentarily halted a column of the army’s tanks leaving the square. (Alan Chin)

Seeking ‘good-enough-governance’ — not democracy

September 23, 2013

Only rarely have American leaders been able to reconcile the nation’s democratic values, material interest and national security.

Democracy emerges in sub-Saharan Africa

August 21, 2013

The recent re-election of Zimbabwe’s 89-year old president Robert Mugabe, in office for 33 years, resembled a period not long ago when sham elections were the norm in sub-Saharan Africa. Peaceful transitions of power were almost unheard of.