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The Democracy Problem


Fareed Zakaria will be coming out with a book this April that sounds a note of caution about efforts to democratize non-Western countries. Zakaria will warn that attempts to democratize fundamentally illiberal cultures can backfire. He’s been presenting the book’s ideas via lecture, and University of Chicago political scientist (and blogger) Daniel Drezner has put up a critique.

Drezner dismisses Zakaria’s thesis as an essentially worthless idea, but Drezner’s points are not particularly telling. For one thing, Drezner claims that Japan and India prove that democracy doesn’t have to develop slowly, as it did in the West. This is plain wrong, as I argued at length in my recent City Journal piece, “After the War.” Japan and India took a long time to democratize, and we can learn much from their experience.


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