Wednesday, May 21, 2008
A few points.
He said he didn't like the term "democracy promotion", rather, he preferred "support" for democratic processes. Moreover, elections were less critical than fostering democratic accountability.
Foreign policy is not successful if it is only conducted government to government; there must be strong business and economic links as well as "popular mobilization." (Perhaps a useful post mortem of the U.S.-Russia relationship?)
Putting forward a vision of the UK as a "global hub"-exercising influence by being a place where global networks intersect-rather than via control of territory. Interesting also that he rejected the role of Britain as a "bridge" between powers and blocs.
More thoughts soon.
In what sense did he argue that elections are distinct from democratic accountability?
What he meant that simply having elections and balloting is not sufficient; you need rule of law and transparent institutions that make sure that officials and bureaucracies feel and are held accountable. It seemed to be a criticism directed both at some of the overemphasis on holding elections in the Middle East but also might just as be applied to Russia or other FSU countries which hold elections on a regular basis but whose officials may not really feel accountable to the people.
The difference between Bush's and Putin's cases is he has genuine accomplishments to his credit that have made a large majority of Russians better off than they were when he came to power. Therefore, in his "accountability moments" in the past year he got approval from voters, whereas Bush's party got whacked in 2006 and is poised for an utter and abundantly-deserved thrashing in 2008.