Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law Stanford University

CDDRL Opinion Pieces

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November 8th, 2011

The kingdom of paradox

ARD Op-ed: Nieman Reports

Visiting Scholar Ahmed Benchemsi discusses the seemingly paradoxic relationship between the independent media and the Moroccan government in two pieces for Harvard's Nieman Reports. Read more »

October 17th, 2011

American Political Dysfunction

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, Governance Project Op-ed: The American Interest

In an article for the November/December 2011 issue of The American Interest, Francis Fukuyama analyzes the roots of dysfunction that have led to the polarization of the American political system. From the design of the U.S. Constitution curbing the power of central government to the entrenchment of powerful interest groups, Fukuyama suggests that institutional changes will need to take place to break the paralysis that characterizes the U.S. political system. Read more »

September 2nd, 2011

Political repression 2.0

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: The New York Times on September 1, 2011

In a piece written for the New York Times on September 1, Evgeny Morozov a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law comments on the role Western technology firms play in enabling Internet surveillance through the sale of their sophisticated technology to authoritarian regimes. From Silicon Valley to Scandinavia, Western companies are undermining Internet freedom and putting activists at risk.

August 26th, 2011

Shaping public diplomacy in the Arab world

ARD Op-ed: USC Public Diplomacy Blog on August 25, 2011

Lina Khatib head of the Program on Arab Reform at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, examines the role of public diplomacy in the Arab world in two new pieces. Commenting for, Khatib highlights Muammar Qaddafi's strategic partnership with Bashar al-Assad in Syria to perpetuate his propaganda machine. Turning attention to US public diplomacy efforts in the region in a blog post for the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Khatib characterizes the Obama administration's approach as one where words and action do not equate.

August 16th, 2011

Repressing the Internet, Western-Style

Op-ed: The Wall Street Journal on August 13, 2011

In a piece for the Wall Street Journal on August 13, visiting scholar Evgeny Morozov cautions Western nations to be mindful of the dangerous precedent they set to authoritarian regimes when monitoring Internet content. While recent events in Norway and London may compel governments to employ surveillance tools, Morozov argues that Beijing and Tehran will be vindicated by their own repressive policies. Read more »

August 1st, 2011

Political order in Egypt

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, Governance Project Op-ed: The American Interest on July 29, 2011

In the May-June edition of The American Interest, Francis Fukuyama traces the contemporary history of U.S. development policy and its failure to incorporate Huntingtonian-style theory, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of economy, politics, and society. Using Egypt as an example, Fukuyama calls for policymakers to break down their silos to more holistically examine and support democratic transitions. Read more »

July 19th, 2011

Syrian doctors who torture must be banned

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, ARD Op-ed: Al Jazeera on July 19, 2011

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Rajaie Batniji uncovers the role of medical professionals involved in acts of torture. With a lens to the unrest in Syria, Batniji calls for an international body to identify, monitor, and disqualify those complicit in torture and genocide. Read more »

June 30th, 2011

Morocco's monarchy: Destroying hope for democracy?

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, ARD Op-ed: The Guardian on June 30, 2011

In anticipation of Morocco's constitutional referendum on July 1, Ahmed Benchemsi argues in a piece for the Guardian that the monarchy's overtures of reform are just a mask for retaining absolute rule. Read more »

June 27th, 2011

The IMF: Violating Women Since 1945

Op-ed: Foreign Policy in Focus on May 19, 2011

In reaction to the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Khan for allegations of rape in May, Kavita Ramdas and Christine Ahn argue in a piece for Foreign Policy in Focus that gender bias is embedded in the global policies and practices at the IMF, which unfairly target women. Kavita Ramdas is the former president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women and a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Read more »

June 20th, 2011

Morocco: The king faces the temptation to repress

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, ARD Op-ed: Libération on June 15, 2011

CDDRL consulting professor Hicham Ben Abdallah wrote a new piece for the French daily Libération on the state of the democratic movement in Morocco as it enters a defining period this summer. While the king has promised a revised constitution, Ben Abdallah argues that it is largely a superficial gesture holding no true intentions of reform. Ben Abdallah warns that the monarchy cannot continue to repress the forces of change unleashed by the February 20th movement but must meet these demands with concrete political change. Read more »

June 7th, 2011

Morocco's revolutionaries: the crazy kids have grown up

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, ARD Op-ed: Time Magazine on June 13, 2011

After spending a month in Morocco interviewing leaders of the secular youth movement, CDDRL visiting scholar Ahmed Benchemsi authored an article for Time Magazine to capture his interactions with this new generation of revolutionaries. " For now democracy is our priority battle," one young leader says. Sooner or later Benchemsi predicts, "Morocco's authoritarian system will irrevocably change, for that is the direction of history." Read more »

May 23rd, 2011

A fourth wave or a false start?

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: Foreign Affairs on May 22, 2011

In a new piece published on the Foreign Affairs website, CDDRL Director Larry Diamond argues that the Arab Spring is witnessing a thawing and freezing across the region as anti-democratic forces threaten nascent democratic transformations. Diamond emphasizes the point that “even if the Arab spring comes in fits and starts, it will eventually bring fundamental political change. But whether democracy is the end result depends in part on how events unfold and how regimes and international actors engage the opposition forces.” Diamond ends with some concrete suggestions to American policy-makers on how to more strategically engage the region to ensure that this unique democratic opening is not missed. Read more »

March 31st, 2011

How to Lose Friends and Alienate Your People

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, ARD Op-ed: Jadaliyya on March 26, 2011

In a piece for the blog Jadaliyya, Arab Reform and Democracy Program Manager Lina Khatib at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, makes the argument that Arab leaders have reacted in a similar fashion to the growing demands for reform at home. Highlighting eight common features employed by regimes from Morocco to Bahrain, which include ignoring protests and placing blame on al-Qaeda and the media, Arab autocrats have adopted similar strategies because they belong to "the same authoritarian club." However, Khatib emphasizes that while leaders continue to 'sing the same tune,' activists have become accustomed to their predictable behavior, giving them the competitive advantage of being one step ahead of the regime. Read more »

March 17th, 2011

Moroccan monarchy’s sacredness: an obstacle to democracy

ARD Op-ed: Le Monde on March 16, 2011

In an opinion piece for Le Monde, Ahmed Benchemsi, Visiting Scholar to the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, discusses the key obstacles to political reform in Morocco. Read more »

March 15th, 2011

Diamond on Obama's moment of truth

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: The New Republic on March 15, 2011

In a piece for The New Republic, Larry Diamond, Director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, issues President Obama a call to action as the crisis unfolds in Libya, urging him to seize this pivotal moment that can define or discredit his presidential record. According to Diamond, "If Barack Obama cannot face down a modest thug who is hated by most of his people and by every neighboring government, who can he confront anywhere?" Read more »

March 14th, 2011

Fukuyama on China's potential for revolution

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: The Wall Street Journal on March 12, 2011

Francis Fukuyama, resident fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, comments on China's potential for popular uprising in a piece for The Wall Street Journal. In the article Is China Next? Fukuyama predicts whether the contagion sweeping through the Arab world will spread to China through a comparative analysis of the two regions. "The bottom line is that China will not catch the Middle Eastern contagion anytime soon. But it could easily face problems down the road." Read more »

February 24th, 2011

Ben Abdallah on Moroccan reform for "Le Monde"

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: Le Monde on February 22, 2011

CDDRL Visiting Scholar Hicham Ben Abdallah comments on Morocco's role in the democratic wave sweeping through the Arab world in an article published in the French newspaper Le Monde. "On Sunday February 20, Morocco experienced its first encounter with the wave of democratic change that has been sweeping across the Arab world. In each of several major cities, tens of thousands of Moroccans demonstrated for the same kinds of demands that we have seen elsewhere: to replace arbitrary and absolute uses of power with real, open democracy, to end the corruption and clientalism that stifles economic life, and to assert the rights of citizens to be treated with dignity and respect and to have a decent life for themselves and their families." Read more »

February 16th, 2011

Larry Diamond: Transition traps

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: The New Republic on February 16, 2011

After the peaceful mass uprising that toppled one of the world’s oldest autocracies, it is now possible to imagine the emergence of a genuine democracy in Egypt—the most important country in the Arab world, writes Larry Diamond, director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, in The New Republic. The very possibility of it marks an historic turning point for the entire region. However, Diamond cautions, there is a long and often treacherous distance between the demise of an authoritarian regime and the rise of a democracy. Read more »

February 14th, 2011

Larry Diamond: Toppling of Egypt's regime will serve US., Israel

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: San Francisco Chronicle

The toppling of Egypt's modern-day pharaoh though peaceful mass protests, aided by Facebook and Twitter, marks a watershed for Egypt and the entire Arab world, writes Larry Diamond, the director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, and a prominent expert on democratic transitions, in the San Francisco Chronicle. Contrary to widespread anxieties in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, Diamond explains, Mubarak's ouster will also serve the long-term interests of the United States -- and Israel. Read more »

February 7th, 2011

Diamond provides recommendations for a post-Mubarak world

CDDRL, FSI Stanford, ARD Op-ed: The Washington Post on February 4, 2011

Two decades after the fall of Soviet-bloc dictatorships, popular movements for democracy are erupting in the last regional bastion of authoritarianism: the Arab world. So far, only Tunisia's dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, has been toppled, while Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak-who has ruled that ancient land longer than many pharaohs-announced Tuesday that he will step down in September. But other Arab autocrats are bound to go. From Algeria to Syria to Jordan, people are fed up with stagnation and injustice, and are mobilizing for democratic change. Read more »

February 2nd, 2011

Francis Fukuyama: Liberals had better get organized

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: Wall Street Journal on February 2, 2011

"Recent events in Tunisia and now in Egypt demonstrate that there is no Arab cultural exception to the broad desire for freedom around the world," writes Francis Fukuyama in the Wall Street Journal. People want political rights because they want their governments to treat them with dignity, a wish that obviously reverts throughout the Arab world, he states. At present, the best organized forces in Egypt are the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. "Egyptians who want a free and democratic future," he says, "had better get busy organizing themselves."

February 1st, 2011

Larry Diamond: Prospects for Egypt's political transition

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed

After nearly 30 years on the throne, Egypt’s modern-day pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak, will soon follow in the footsteps of Tunisia’s dictator, Ben Ali. The question is not whether he will leave the presidency of Egypt, or even when, but how. In the face of persistent and growing mass protests—and a newfound sense of civic empowerment on the part of Egypt’s long demoralized youthful masses—it is difficult to imagine Mubarak surviving in office for more than another week to ten days. The only question is whether he will see the inevitable and do one last service to his country—leave office gracefully—or whether he will have to be pushed out by the military or deepening chaos on the streets. Read more »

January 27th, 2011

Francis Fukuyama: US democracy has little to teach China

CDDRL, FSI Stanford Op-ed: Financial Times on January 17, 2011

The first decade of the 21st century has seen a dramatic reversal of fortune in the relative prestige of different political and economic models. Ten years ago, on the eve of the puncturing of the dotcom bubble, the U.S. held the high ground. Its democracy was widely emulated, if not always loved; its technology was sweeping the world; and lightly regulated “Anglo-Saxon” capitalism was seen as the wave of the future. The United States managed to fritter away that moral capital in remarkably short order: the Iraq war and the close association it created between military invasion and democracy promotion tarnished the latter, while the Wall Street financial crisis laid waste to the idea that markets could be trusted to regulate themselves. Read more »

How the Kremlin Harnesses the Internet

Op-ed: New York Times on January 4, 2011

Hours before the judge in the latest Mikhail Khodorkovsky trial announced yet another guilty verdict last week, Russia’s most prominent political prisoner was already being attacked in cyberspace. No, Khodorkovsky’s Web site, the main source of news about the trial for many Russians, was not being censored. Rather, it had been targeted by so-called denial-of-service attacks, with most of the site’s visitors receiving a “page cannot be found” message in their browsers. Read more »

January 18th, 2011

Larry Diamond on Tunisia's uncertain transition

Op-ed: CDDRL on January 18, 2011

The toppling of a brutal, corrupt, and long-ruling dictator, Zine el Abidine ben Ali, is an extraordinary achievement for the diverse elements of Tunisian society who came out into the streets in recent weeks to demand change. Ben Ali’s startling fall is another reminder of how suddenly political change can come in authoritarian regimes that substitute force, fear, and fraud for legitimacy. Such regimes may appear stable for very long periods of time, but when the people lose their fear and the army refuses to fire on the people, they can unravel very quickly. Read more »

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