Power to the People by Michael Mandelbaum
Is democracy in decline? Some observers seem to think so. For evidence, they point to the failure of the United States to bring stability to Iraq, the way reformers have been crushed by the ayatollahs running Iran, the increasingly sophisticated techniques used by Communist China to retain political control, the ascension to power, via elections, of the Islamist terrorist movement Hamas in the Palestinian territories and the radical left-wing leader Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and the return of assertive authoritarianism in Russia. All this is happening, moreover, at precisely the moment when the expansion of freedom has been embraced by President Bush as a basic value of American foreign policy.
To Michael Mandelbaum, who teaches international relations at Johns Hopkins and has written on subjects ranging from U.S. foreign policy to baseball, such gloom betrays a serious misreading of democracy’s history and current status. As he argues in his new book, the extraordinary growth that political freedom has enjoyed over the past quarter-century is a much more important story than is its failure to emerge in the relatively small number of remaining autocracies. In Democracy’s Good Name he surveys the history of democratic government from the French Revolution forward, analyzes the circumstances that have given rise to and sustained it in disparate locations around the globe, and attempts to explain its resurgence at the close of a century that also gave rise to some of the most durable dictatorial regimes in human histo
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