13 February 2019   Leave a comment

Richard Youngs has written a fascinating and insightful essay on non-Western support for democracy. He outlines the difficulties of making the argument that liberal states, located primarily in North America, Europe, and Japan are always supportive of democracy and points out many situations in which countries outside of those geographic areas have been stronger supporters of democracy than the rich states we usually identify.

“Despite these trends, analysts still commonly assume that Western powers’ international support for democracy is of a completely and qualitatively different order to that of non-Western efforts. Yet, while these emerging powers’ commitment to democracy is undoubtedly patchy and less than fulsome, it is worth noting that Western democracy support increasingly shares many of these limitations and this tepidness. That is to say, much Western democracy support today has itself become relatively indirect, largely second-order, and merely declaratory. The standard assumption that Western countries’ commitment to democracy is qualitatively distinctive and of a completely different magnitude to that of other powers can easily be overstated.

“This problem of unexamined assumptions runs both ways. The perceptions that Western and non-Western democracies have about each other tend to be rather caricatured. Non-Western powers often accuse Western governments of forcefully seeking to impose democracy on other countries. Western governments, in turn, tend to accuse non-Western powers of unconditionally cozying up with even the most authoritarian regimes. Non-Western democracies sometimes insist that, unlike Western powers, they strive to disassociate their democracy support from particular political models and geopolitical interests; these emerging democracy supporters tend to claim that they link democracy support to issues of social justice, peaceful mediation, and local values to a greater extent than Western policymakers do.”

The argument is incredibly important. We tend to overestimate the willingness of rich states to support liberal values. Non-Western definitions of democracy are critically important to any rethinking of the international liberal order. Varieties of democracy are possible and the Western template is not the only one possible.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has published a study which indicates how much the climate of North America will change by the year 2080. According to the study:

“Scientists analyzed 540 urban areas that encompassed approximately 250 million inhabitants in the United States and Canada. For each urban area, they mapped the similarity between that city’s future climate expected by the 2080s and contemporary climate in the western hemisphere north of the equator using 12 measures of climate, including minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation during the four seasons….

“The study found that by the 2080s, even if limits are placed on emissions, the climate of North American urban areas will feel substantially different, and in many cases completely unlike contemporary climates found anywhere in the western hemisphere north of the equator. If emissions continue unabated throughout the 21st century, the climate of North American urban areas will become, on average, most like the contemporary climate of locations about 500 miles away and mainly to the south. In the eastern U.S., nearly all urban areas, including Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, will become most similar to contemporary climates to the south and southwest. Climates of most urban areas in the central and western U.S. will become most similar to contemporary climates found to the south or southeast.

Map of How Climate Will Change North America by 2080

It is incredible how much things might change in a single generation if we do not address the issue of climate change in a substantive manner.

Nigeria will hold its national election on 16 February and the Pew Research Center has conducted a poll on how Nigerians view the state of their democracy. The poll was conducted in the summer of 2018 and the Center describes the context of the poll:

“Nigeria is home to the largest population in Africa, which is almost evenly split between Muslims and Christians. Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be running against multiple candidates including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), John Gbor of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Usman Muhammed of the Labour Party (LP) and others. Tensions in the country have grown in the final weeks before elections because of Buhari’s controversial decision to suspend the country’s chief justice.”

The poll found a wide discrepancy between the views of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

Nigerian Attitudes Toward Democracy

What happens in Nigeria is critical to the future of Africa and of the world. Many Nigerians are leaving the country and the religious and ethnic divisions continue to be very difficult to address.

Posted February 13, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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