Tunisia can ‘save’ Arab democracy. Really?


To have a good foreign policy, policymakers need to have good assumptions about the way the world works, notes Council on Foreign Relations analyst Steven A. Cook, who writes that “the focus on Tunisia as the demonstrator of democracy gets the concept somewhat backwards”:

The literature indicates that a given country is more likely to become democratic when it is surrounded by democracies rather than the other way around. That is to say that a single apparent democratizer is unlikely to influence the political dynamics within its authoritarian neighbors. One study found that societies need to be receptive to change for an international demonstration effect to be possible in the first place. 


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