2017

Engaging North Korea Successfully on Human Rights

North Korea has the worst human rights record of any country in the world except perhaps Eritrea and Syria. There is, however, a curious exception to this record: disability rights. This case offers a powerful counter-example of successful engagement in an arena where the country normally experiences nothing but universal condemnation. For nearly two decades,… Continue reading Engaging North Korea Successfully on Human Rights

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2015

Poland’s Uncivil Society

During the 1980s, Poland had perhaps the strongest civil society in the world. The Solidarity trade union movement, created in August 1980, eventually counted 10 million members, a quarter of Poland’s population. And when the government cracked down on Solidarity, declaring Martial Law in December 1981, the opposition was strong enough to survive underground under… Continue reading Poland’s Uncivil Society

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Foreign Agents

It’s time for a confession. I have worked as a “foreign agent.” When I lived and traveled in Asia and Eastern Europe, I was an employee of U.S.-based NGOs. I was paid by these organizations to promote social change in those parts of the world. I worked hand-in-hand with groups that often criticized their own… Continue reading Foreign Agents

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2014

Challenging the Surveillance Society

The United States has been the focus of concerns about government surveillance, particularly in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). But that surveillance has not just been of American citizens. Europeans, for instance, expressed considerable outrage that the NSA was conducting surveillance of non-Americans under a… Continue reading Challenging the Surveillance Society

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Democracy without Democrats

Anybody can claim the mantle of democracy. Russian neo-fascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky runs a party called the Liberal Democratic Party. East Germany was called the German Democratic Republic. And even North Korea makes a nod in this direction when it calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The countries of East-Central Europe are, of course,… Continue reading Democracy without Democrats

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2013

Rethinking Democracy in Europe

A generation of East-Central Europeans has grown up without any first-hand experience of Communism. They have been educated in schools that are connected Europe-wide through the Bologna process. They can get good jobs outside their countries. They increasingly think of themselves as European citizens (the younger they are, the more Euro-friendly they are, according to… Continue reading Rethinking Democracy in Europe

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The Slovak Example

Of the three multiethnic countries that dissolved in the aftermath of the Cold War, Czechoslovakia fared the best. The two successor states suffered none of the violence, economic catastrophe, or political discord that Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union experienced. Indeed, the relations between Prague and Bratislava are probably better now than they’ve ever been. The… Continue reading The Slovak Example

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