Regional Perspectives: Reports of the Working Groups

Asia

Selig Harrison, Chair

One of the most interesting recent developments for Asia is the end of the Cold War. Now the United States, instead of finding itself promoting the growth of military-dominated polities in many countries, which put it in the position of working against democratic reforms, may find that fading superpower tensions greatly reduces the conflict in objectives in some Asian countries. Some participants suggested that the United States should begin to exercise the leverage provided by its economic aid to achieve political liberalization. There was a general feeling, with some differences in emphasis, that in most of the countries where the United States could be exercising this influence by making aid conditional on political liberalization, it is not taking full advantage of this potential. This is especially true for American work with other donors and aid consortia in the countries concerned.

The group found the six choices posed by Charles Tilly a good basis for its discussion. First, on the choice between emphasizing democratic infrastructure and emphasizing mechanisms, participants felt that both were necessary. On the one hand, the United States has to work through and strengthen intermediary institutions. Private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and organizations of all kinds in countries where PVOs are not the norm, could serve to activate social and political consciousness, broadly defined, among many population groups. At the same time, however, participants felt that A.I.D. should not neglect clear-cut cases where there are opportunities to promote specific mechanisms in the countries concerned. Any choice between infrastructure and mechanisms should be grounded in a hardheaded assessment of the viability of particular options.

The second choice was between democratization and democracy, in other words between modifying and refining systems, incrementally moving to make the systems more responsive, or attempting, through more direct approaches, to influence the redesign of systems. Participants generally agreed that in a crisis the United States could attempt to go beyond democratization and move toward trying to influence the creation and the



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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop Regional Perspectives: Reports of the Working Groups Asia Selig Harrison, Chair One of the most interesting recent developments for Asia is the end of the Cold War. Now the United States, instead of finding itself promoting the growth of military-dominated polities in many countries, which put it in the position of working against democratic reforms, may find that fading superpower tensions greatly reduces the conflict in objectives in some Asian countries. Some participants suggested that the United States should begin to exercise the leverage provided by its economic aid to achieve political liberalization. There was a general feeling, with some differences in emphasis, that in most of the countries where the United States could be exercising this influence by making aid conditional on political liberalization, it is not taking full advantage of this potential. This is especially true for American work with other donors and aid consortia in the countries concerned. The group found the six choices posed by Charles Tilly a good basis for its discussion. First, on the choice between emphasizing democratic infrastructure and emphasizing mechanisms, participants felt that both were necessary. On the one hand, the United States has to work through and strengthen intermediary institutions. Private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and organizations of all kinds in countries where PVOs are not the norm, could serve to activate social and political consciousness, broadly defined, among many population groups. At the same time, however, participants felt that A.I.D. should not neglect clear-cut cases where there are opportunities to promote specific mechanisms in the countries concerned. Any choice between infrastructure and mechanisms should be grounded in a hardheaded assessment of the viability of particular options. The second choice was between democratization and democracy, in other words between modifying and refining systems, incrementally moving to make the systems more responsive, or attempting, through more direct approaches, to influence the redesign of systems. Participants generally agreed that in a crisis the United States could attempt to go beyond democratization and move toward trying to influence the creation and the

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop redesign of institutions in a democratic way. In order to do that, however, the United States has to have resources and capabilities that can be mobilized quickly. In most cases the United States should be moving incrementally, but where it has leverage, for example through a big economic aid investment, it would now have a greater opportunity to position that aid money to obtain the maximum liberalization. In the choice between external versus internal intervention, there was definite agreement among the group that, as much as possible, the United States should be looking to the groups and places in a society where local initiatives have already been demonstrated. This includes supporting intermediary organizations that might not fit A.I.D.'s defined objectives, but still represents initiatives and motivation already present in the country concerned. Participants felt that this was more promising than attempting to adopt a grand design and then search for people or groups willing to try the American idea. At the same time, some members of the group felt very strongly that the United States should keep in mind the basic opportunity to intervene externally that is a result of A.I.D.'s government-to-government contacts. Again, the end of the Cold War provides an opportunity to use this leverage in ways that have not been attempted before. In the choice between bottom-up and top-down development strategies, the group tilted slightly toward the “bottom-up” concept, but with the caveat that this does not necessarily mean that A.I.D. should work at the bottom. That led to a further discussion about how to aid PVOs in a foreign country, given existing mechanisms. Some suggested the agency might have to channel funding or work through organizations in the private sector in particular countries. Several participants cautioned against attempting to intervene at the bottom through any U.S. government organizations that go directly to the local level and become visibly involved with local intermediary groups. Others argued that most countries are so large that this type of intervention would not have a meaningful impact, and therefore A.I.D. should use its “top-down” leverage. The group did not find the choice between regional or general approaches difficult. The participants agreed that one needed country-specific approaches tailored to varying situations. Similarly, the group agreed that the choice between crisis and routine intervention must be decided on a case-by-case basis, but again recommended enhancing A.I.D.' s crisis response capabilities. Apart from these six choices, the point was made that donor coordination is needed internationally, not just at the level of government-to-government aid. Some felt it would be more beneficial to target certain countries where the opportunities and challenge seem to be greatest, rather than infusing money into a lot of countries where, in some cases, it may be money less well-spent. Finally, the group discussed Michael Bratton's

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop question: Can pluralism threaten democracy? He had expressed concern that pluralism may strengthen particularism, so that “Can the center hold?” is often the most important issue. Participants found this very relevant to the multi-ethnic societies of Asia. The group's feeling, however, was that in Asia, institutions are more often too strong than too weak. The problem is thus not whether the center can hold, but how to make strong, militarily-supported centers responsive to democratic pressure. Harrison expressed his own concern that more emphasis needs to be placed on the sociology of individual countries. In the multi-ethnic countries of Asia, the social landscape and social divisions are fundamental. He expressed fears that linking open societies and open markets would exacerbate some of these cleavages. In every Asian country certain ethnic groups have a head start, because in most cases they have traditionally been the mercantile and entrepreneurial groups long before the beginning of modern economic development. Moreover, they often achieved that position in unpopular ways. In attempting to apply the concept of open markets and the promotion of an environment to provide entrepreneurship, one has to be sensitive to who has the money and who will be able to profit from a more open market environment. Otherwise, one could easily end up making the rich richer and aggravating inequities. Programs that promote new entrepreneurship, that target diverse groups, and that are careful not to create an environment more favorable to existing concentrations of economic power--which are the essence of the political contest in many of these countries--would be the most appropriate way to implement this objective. Near East and North Africa Robert Bianchi, Chair; John Mason, Rapporteur This discussion group was not as optimistic about the Middle East as a potential place for transition to democracy as Harrison's group was about Asia. To start the discussion, Bianchi depicted a continuum of possibilities for democratization in the Middle East. On one end is cynicism: political parties are not really possible; they are just facades. At the other end are the apologists: people saying that there are genuine openings, such as the improving opportunities for women in some countries and the existence of intermediary institutions that could be the base for civil society. Bianchi's own view was essentially optimistic for several reasons. He argued that the religious movements that journalists and the State Department focus on are marginal, and that they might be brought into a more pluralistic social and political structure. Bianchi also argued that political sophistication is much greater in the Middle East than most people

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop assume. He drew encouragement from the willingness of some Middle East leaders to spread the benefit or the blame, as the case may be, in terms of economic development. These leaders believe that in this way, if there is failure, it will be shared among other groups of people in the society. Ultimately, this could be a stepping stone to greater democracy if those who are being given that role are also given some role in political decision-making. Finally, Bianchi commented that there is always a lingering threat of revolution in the Middle East, and he did not preclude the notion of conflict as a basis for creating a context for democracy. The group's discussion also centered on A.I.D.'s role in promoting democracy. Participants agreed that A.I.D. has been undertaking such initiatives for a long time, and that the Agency reinvents its programs every 10 years or so. The current interest is the third apparent reinvention. One major issue was the question of intent versus consequence, with decentralization in Egypt as an example. The original idea behind decentralization, in which A.I.D. invested heavily, was to improve the distribution of benefits and services to rural people. One of its consequences, however, was to strengthen the hand of the central government in controlling these populations. Some in the group suggested that A.I.D. personnel may not be fully aware of the consequences of certain actions and raised this as a warning flag for the work in democratization that is occurring across the Agency. Another point was the question of the competence of A.I.D. to implement democratization. Participants raised the question, “What do Americans really know about democracy?” Americans assume they know what it is and assume that their values are shared, but A.I.D. should be careful not to present American-style democracy as being better or as an improvement over other models. One participant commented that in discussions with Middle Easterners, he found them fearful that the United States would not accept their different version of what constitutes democratization. One of the discouraging conclusions reached by most participants was that unless the political equation of the whole region--that is, the Arab-Israeli conflict--can be resolved, the United States is probably not going to have much opportunity to promote democracy. Overall, the group ended its discussions on a rather pessimistic note. Bianchi noted that some Arabs feel that perhaps people like Assad in Syria constitute forces for democracy because he has gotten General Aoun out of the picture in Lebanon, opening up new possibilities there. Similarly, if the current crisis ends without war, Saddam Hussein will have affected the situation in Kuwait, ensuring that Sheik Sabah, if he returns to power, would very likely choose a more open form of government.

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop Eastern Europe Daniel Nelson, Chair The group discussed what A.I.D. could do with limited resources to confront the enormous problems of a region that is just beginning to emerge from decades of totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Nelson began by suggesting that it is a region of high threats and low capacities for most states. Among the domestic threats are fragile or nonexistent institutions, rising nationalism and ethnonationalism, the continued presence of the old nomenklatura and the secret police, the unresolved issue of civil-military relations, privatization and market reforms versus the social welfare expectations of the population, and finally what he called “antipolitics politics, ” or a purposeful apathy in some of these populations. The discussion addressed the very hard choices that would have to be made among the different emphases that A.I.D. has selected, including ameliorating the nationalistic divisions within these societies, promoting the rule of law, improving the media, and aiding social process. Participants tentatively agreed that some of the threats facing Eastern European nations could be ameliorated or at least attacked by some of the things that A.I.D. is capable of doing. For example, on nationalism and ethnonationalism, some suggested a mediation or arbitration center that could be started with A.I.D. seed money or efforts to provide third-party intervention between and among ethnonationalist groups. There was considerable discussion about training administrators and legislators to reinforce the weak existing institutions and also to weed out the old nomenklatura. One participant talked about the need for a social welfare emphasis, particularly providing work relief, housing, and retraining for people dislocated by moving to a market economy. Such programs reinforce the performance of these systems and show the population that a democratic, nontotalitarian system indeed does work. There was quite a bit of discussion as well about civic education and the potential for A.I.D. activity. English language education, for example, is a basic step in helping people avail themselves of Western expertise and experience. Civic education could obviously be much more broader; for example, A.I.D. could help to introduce the experience of Latin American countries such as Chile that have made the transition to democracy. Overall, some in the group saw a fundamental choice between emphasizing either the institutional operation of the new systems and their performance--encouraging and training the legislators and administrators to do their jobs better and enhancing the performance of the systems by housing, work relief, and so on--or emphasizing social process and citizen education. The group disagreed about the degree to which this really is

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop a choice. Some asked whether A.I.D. and other Western efforts should be creating that dichotomy between institutions, between the “superstructure ” and the “base,” and argued for a more general effort. Participants recognized that, given the problems of Eastern Europe and the enormous threats to these systems, the chances that A.I.D. efforts are going to make a significant impact on the worst problems, such as holding Yugoslavia together, are slight at best. Across the entire region, however, there are states, such as Czechoslovakia, that have far greater chances of democratization. At the end of the discussion, there was no easy consensus on whether A.I.D. efforts should go toward the neediest--but perhaps more doubtful--cases or toward those with the greatest potential payoffs. The group nonetheless considered some specific programs, such as mediation centers, training legislators and administrators, work relief, housing, and English language training that seem to be tangible and realistic program options. Africa Michael Clough, Chair Clough offered the observation that one of the problems of dealing with Africa is its immense diversity. One's view of what democratization in Africa involves will vary radically depending on whether his or her latest venture has been in South Africa, where there is a process that looks somewhat like what can be seen in Latin America and Europe, or in the Horn of Africa, where it is difficult even to conceive of anything in the short run that resembles democratization. The group generally agreed that the future of the state system in Africa is uncertain. Questions of borders and forms of government are probably much more open in Africa than in many other places, which obviously clouds any debate. It makes a big difference whether one thinks that 25 years from now Africa is going to look roughly like it does today in terms of its borders. Second, there was agreement that for Africa the end of the Cold War has had a major impact in opening up possibilities for changing the overall structure in which the African states operate and for U.S. policy options. One participant made the point that Africa is and has always been extremely marginal to U.S. interests. This meant that the Cold War had greater impact on the superpowers' Africa policies than it had in other regions. A second important point is that, although events in Eastern Europe obviously have had an impact on Africa, it is mistake to assume that the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe is what has given rise to democratization in Africa. One participant made the point very strongly

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop that Africa has strong indigenous opposition groups, popular discontent, and dissent that are largely independent of what is going on in Eastern Europe. The end of the Cold War has certainly allowed more opportunities for the opposition movements, but this is quite different from saying that because of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Africans are suddenly looking for other models. There was a general agreement that in Africa, where states are relatively weak, the emphasis ultimately has to be on the nongovernment organizations and the intermediary associations, rather than relying on states. Participants disagreed about the question of “Can the center hold? ” Some argued that, in Africa, the question instead should be: “In designing U.S. strategies and policies for democratization, how concerned should we be about the ways in which what we do will affect the strength of the center?” Others argued that the United States needs to focus on programs that in one way or another ultimately will lead to the building of a strong, capable center at the national level, whether through aggregating interest groups or reinforcing state capacity. In the process of supporting NGOs, one could still be concerned about the center. Another view argues that in Africa the center is the problem, so that the policy focus should be on supporting intermediary groups, almost regardless of the consequences for the center's ability to hold. On concrete policy issues, the group agreed that a variety of policies, responding to the realities of various countries, is essential. In more practical terms, this translated into a recognition that there is considerable difference between those African countries in which there is very little room for associational activity and those in which there is already a range of associational groups that A.I.D. can support. In the former, where civil society is quite weak, there is a correspondingly much greater need to put pressure on governments to create openings, particularly in the areas of civil and political liberties. Here the United States will need to rely more on gaining the support of external agencies and NGOs. In the latter countries, almost everyone agreed that the effort should be focused on building up internal intermediary organizations wherever possible. Another very important practical point was the need to focus on human resources. Africa differs somewhat from the rest of the world due to its tremendous crisis in human resources, one which is accentuated by the spread of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). One participant noted after the year 2000 actual depopulation might occur in Africa, therefore this is a very practical need and priority. Clough added his personal concern about whether it is possible to develop a policy for promoting democracy in Africa when democracy is only one of several American objectives. In the clash of rival interests, he feared democracy would ultimately be at a disadvantage given the

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop bureaucratic structure of American foreign policy making. He argued that in the African case in particular, if the United States is serious about promoting democracy, then democracy has to be almost the only objective, or it must be so clearly accorded priority that it will quite easily overwhelm other interests. The internal forces in Africa pushing toward democracy are so weak and fragile and the time period for the development of democracy is so long, that unless the United States has a clear and consistent emphasis on democracy as the predominant goal, it will lose out. If that happens, the United States will end up looking quite hypocritical, with a policy that talks about democracy, but in the final analysis ends up supporting other objectives. Latin America Gary Wynia, Chair The group concentrated very heavily on specific policies for A.I.D. Participants felt that the main point to be made at the outset, particularly because of the way legislation is written and discussed, was the necessity that democracy be defined in Latin America on a country-by-country basis, as well as generally. That is, one starts with a basic definition and then, in trying to apply that definition, looks at the specifics in each country's political practice. Promoting “elections,” for example, offers a wide range of different possible policy recommendations. The Argentines are sending people to the United States to look at the American electoral system as an alternative to proportional representation in their congress. They argue that the parties that create the lists for their congressional elections are so elitist in their choices of candidates that people in the provinces have virtually no influence over the selection of candidates, since primary elections are virtually nonexistent. The Argentines are interested in single-member districts, so that they will know the person that they elect, even though Americans worry about the risks of entrenched incumbents. Nor can one assume that the institutions generally associated with democracy will be welcome or easy to support. Wynia commented that in the recent presidential elections in Peru, Brazil, and to some extent in Argentina, people voted against political parties and for individuals. Even if the United States believes parties are important, it may not be realistic to think of counseling Brazil that it needs better-organized political parties. The group spent considerable time on long-term and short-term goals. Many people stressed A.I.D.'s difficultly in fostering and sustaining long-term thinking, largely because of budgeting and evaluation cycles. Democracy is a long-term process, yet most of what A.I.D. does focuses on immediate projects that may have little or even perverse long-term impact.

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop The group discussed local versus national focus in policy. This is important in Latin America because these are very centralized regimes, much as in some African countries. Participants suggested that A.I.D. might encourage these states to become more decentralized, allowing more dispersion of power throughout the countries, which could build foundations that will be conducive to more consensual, open, and democratic process. Some argued that this may be nearly impossible, but agreed that it should be explored, rather than just ignoring or accepting what the central authorities wish. When the group turned to institutions and processes, it addressed a frequent dilemma. What should A.I.D. do in a situation where members of a Latin American legislature ask for aid to build a library and purchase materials such as computers, even though this congress may never hold hearings before its committees and legislation passes virtually automatically. Should they be judged undemocratic and these new computers used as leverage? Participants disagreed, with some arguing that A.I.D. must make those evaluations and set conditions if it is trying to help create democracy. Others said that is going too far, pushing too deeply into a society's practice. In talking about the armed forces and police, two very important issues in Latin America, the group addressed the issues in several ways. It agreed that currently the police are in some ways the most difficult issue. Democracies need law enforcement, but the danger remains that law enforcement is being used against particular groups in the political process, rather than people who commit crimes. Should A.I.D. be instrumental in trying to improve law enforcement, especially since the drug problem will likely compel us toward some involvement? Or will that get the United States into difficulties that it has tried to avoid for some time? As for the armed forces, most participants agreed that “civic education”--trying to turn the armed forces into a professional, apolitical institution--is unwise. But others raised the question of whether the U.S. military should attempt whatever it can to teach Latin militaries about the democratic process. The group concluded, however, that reducing the need and opportunities for a military force would be more effective if these efforts were initiated and carried out by internal forces within that particular nation. The group discussed the judicial process, wherein A.I.D. and other American projects have already begun and continue to operate. One important issue was the need to consider not only how to staff courts and better prepare judges, but to raise the larger question of whether they are working in a legal system that allows them to adjudicate in a reasonable way. In some Latin American countries, participants argued, the process is fairly restricted and judges may either have too much power in which to

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop operate or have little genuine opportunity to function. One cannot assume that if there are well-educated judges and staff assistants that the country will have good courts. Finally, Wynia commented on the stress on private enterprise and free markets and the problem that is beginning to develop in the minds, if not in the actual policies, of some Latin American governments. As they privatize, removing enterprises from government control and turning them over to the private sector, the question arises of whether the governments can continue to regulate those new enterprises as necessary. Or will the governments be trapped into a new dependence? It is unclear whether there are even any training programs on how to regulate private enterprise. Of course, private enterprise does not resolve all problems. Governments will always need to provide some public goods, and that is not something that Latin American governments have done very well. They have experience in distributing private goods by government authorities; they will now need to discover ways of achieving public goods. Discussion Workshop cochair Charles Tilly began the discussion with an observation and an admittedly contentious question. He noted a consensus that different regions varied tremendously in how likely they were to undergo successful transitions to democracy. For example, at present, U.S. efforts in the Middle East seem to have a relatively small chance of promoting democracy successfully. In contrast, certain parts of Africa appear to offer significant opportunities for the United States to promote democratization. Tilly asked where it makes most sense to invest efforts and funds, given the reality of limited resources: in areas like Eastern Europe that appear very likely to succeed in moving toward democracy, or in areas like the Middle East that appear least likely to move toward democracy. Related to the key issues of limited resources and difficult choices, three basic themes emerged from the discugsions. First, several participants asserted that the choices facing A.I.D. were not a “zero-sum game.” One commented that framing the debate as competition between Eastern Europe and Africa was unfortunate. He argued that the real issues in Africa concerned not whether to give more or less money to a given country, but how that money was used. He particularly urged support for conflict resolution in Africa, and noted that investing (or withholding) even small amounts of money could have a tremendous impact. A second important theme was new opportunities for promoting democracy brought about by the end of the Cold War. Someone observed that

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THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: Proceedings of a Workshop the United States now has less reason to support authoritarian regimes based solely on their anticommunist stance. Improved superpower relations provide the United States with an opportunity to condition aid to authoritarian governments on political liberalization. The group stressed the need to coordinate all U.S. efforts, including military aid, to ensure that this new leverage is used effectively. The third and broadest idea to emerge from the discussion centered around attempts to understand more precisely the nature of A.I.D. 's commitment to democracy. The discussion resulted in productive disagreement as workshop participants identified potential dilemmas in promoting democracy and offered suggestions for A.I.D.'s proper role. One participant cited a dilemma for Americans in the Middle East: the groups most interested in the sorts of political openings that Americans call “democratization” are usually the groups least interested in any formal relationship with a U.S. government organization. Associational life is flourishing in the Middle East, but these indigenous groups have a life and a mind of their own. Though in many ways “democratic,” they do not necessarily support the United States. Someone else expressed concern that participants too easily assumed that democracy was one of “our” values, almost equating support for democracy with support for the United States. He suggested it was better to seek points where U.S. interests converge with interests of independent groups, rather than identical goals. In a similar manner, another participant observed that the focus in Africa has frequently been on achieving a certain political form, “multi-party democracy.” He suggested that this emphasis on form is misplaced and urged devoting more resources to promoting certain kinds of processes instead. Finally, regarding A.I.D.'s role, a participant suggested that A.I.D. should regard democracy not primarily as a goal in itself, but as instrumental in achieving the Agency's larger mission: development. He cited several potential benefits of democracy, such as increased access to health care, increased equality of opportunity, and increased autonomy at the individual, family, group, and national levels. He also noted the potential problem of short-term commitment to individual projects, since democratization is a long-term, ongoing process. However, his suggestion to regard democracy as instrumental produced disagreement from other workshop participants.