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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 24, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 4
Mandelbaum of SAIS Publishes Book on Democracy, And Why We Can't Export It

Michael Mandelbaum, the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy and director of the American Foreign Policy Program at SAIS, has recently published Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government (PublicAffairs, New York).

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote on Sept. 9 that Democracy's Good Name is "a timely new book highly relevant to America's democracy project in Iraq and beyond."

Mandelbaum's latest book addresses the rapid spread, in the last quarter of the 20th century, of democracy around the world, one of the most remarkable and significant developments in modern history. In 1900, only 10 countries could be counted as democracies. By 1975, there were 30. Today, 119 of the world's 190 countries have adopted democracy, and it is by far the most celebrated and prestigious form of government.

How did democracy acquire its good name? Why did it spread so far so fast? Why do important countries remain undemocratic? What accounts for the fact that the introduction of one of democracy's defining features — free elections — has sometimes led to political repression and large- scale bloodshed? And why do efforts to export democracy so often fail and even make conditions worse? What does this mean for Iraq, China and Russia? In Democracy's Good Name, Mandelbaum answers these questions.

The book traces the political traditions that gave rise to modern democracy in the 18th and 19th centuries and explores the reasons for its extraordinary surge in the 20th. Mandelbaum discusses the relationship between democracy on the one hand, and war and terrorism on the other, and assesses the prospects for the establishment of democracy in Russia, China and the Arab world. He also explains why the United States has found it so difficult to foster democratic governments in other countries.

One of America's leading foreign policy thinkers, Mandelbaum is the author of 10 previous books, including The Ideas that Conquered the World and The Case for Goliath.


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