Promoting Democracy in the Post-Soviet Space - Should We? Can We?

at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs · 18.01.2007 14:00 - 14:00

Dr. McFaul is the director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University where he also works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. In addition to these posts, he works as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and as a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Should the West be in the business of promoting democracy? Can the West promote democracy? In his talk, Professor Michael McFaul will address these two questions of fundamental importance to Western foreign policymakers, focusing in particular on the experience of the United States in promoting democracy in the former communist world. In the first part of his talk, McFaul will outline the normative and policy debate about democracy promotion and then offer moral, economic, and security reasons for why the advance of democracy worldwide serves American interests. In the second part of his talk, McFaul will discuss some of the reasons why the United States has achieved so few results in promoting democracy over the last three decades. He will focus specifically on the role of the United States and Europe in promoting democracy in post-communist Europe, addressing first the causes of democracy and dictatorship in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of communism, second the enormous successful process of promoting democracy through EU conditionality, third the dismal failure of promoting democracy in the region’s hegemon, Russia, and fourth the marginal but important role that Western actors played in facilitating democratic breakthroughs in Serbia 2000, Georgia, 2003, and Ukraine 2004. He will conclude with some general lessons learned, while also highlighting how little we still understand about the process of promoting democracy.

Dr. McFaul is a respected scholar and a well-known expert on Russian and post-Soviet affairs. He is an active commentator in the international media and he frequently appears on CNN and BBC, and contributes to leading newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. He has also advised many important Washington politicians on how to deal with Russia.

His latest books include ’Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine’s Democratic Breakthrough’ (2006), ’Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform’ (2004) and ’Popular Choice and Managed Democracy’ (2003).

His recent article ’After the Fall’ in Washington Post on 24 December 2006 is available at

His article on the colored revolutions, called ”Transitions from Postcommunism,” was published in the Journal of Democracy and is available at


michael_mc_faul_s_presentation Michael McFaul's Presentation