Alex Kekauoha
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This article originally appeared in the Stanford Report

Last week, as the world marked one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk shared a message with Americans:

“It’s not a war for territories or resources. It’s not a regional conflict. It’s a war for freedom and democracy,” he said during a panel discussion Friday at the Bechtel Conference Center at Stanford University.

The public event was hosted by the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) to mark one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It took place before live and virtual audiences, including many wearing blue and yellow in support of the Ukrainian effort.

Honcharuk served as Ukraine’s 17th prime minister from 2019-2020, and in 2021, was the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at FSI. He was joined by Serhiy Leshchenko, a former journalist, member of Ukraine’s parliament (2014-2019), adviser to President Zelenksyy’s chief of staff, and a 2013 alumnus of the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program at the CDDRL; Oleksandra Matviichuk, founder of the Center for Civil Liberties and former visiting scholar with the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at the CDDRL (2017-2018); and Oleksandra Ustinova, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine, a current member of Ukraine’s Parliament, and a former visiting scholar with the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at the CDDRL (2018-2019).

Honcharuk, Leshchenko, and Ustinova attended virtually from Kyiv, while Matviichuk joined virtually from Paris, France. During the event, they discussed the impact of the war on daily life, the global democratic order, and Ukraine’s future. The discussion was moderated by Michael McFaul, director of FSI and a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, and ended with a brief Q&A session with audience members.

An edited recording of the panel is available below.

A New Reality

In his opening remarks, McFaul asked the panelists to share their mood as they enter the second year of the war. Ustinova said that just prior to the panel event, they’d been informed of an impending Russian attack.

“There is a very high probability that today, Kyiv and other cities will be shelled pretty heavily,” she said, adding that despite the threat, they weren’t going anywhere and that the parliament was still in session.

“That’s the mood of Ukrainians,” she said. “We know we can be hit any day, we can die any day, but this is the reality we have to live in.”

We all have to realize, this is not a Ukrainian war. If the West loses in Ukraine, it will be a total collapse for the rest of the world.
Oleksandra Ustinova
People's Deputy of Ukraine

Honcharuk said he’d heard the opinion that authoritarian regimes are better suited for war because they are more mobile and less distracted by politics, thus creating the impression that democracies are indecisive. But, he said, Ukraine’s war effort demonstrates the opposite.

“I feel proud that Ukraine now denied this and showed the power of democracy,” he said.

When an audience member asked how the war has impacted political life in Ukraine, Honcharuk said there are challenges. For example, there are some conflicts between the central and local governments, but they don’t appear to be systemic problems. He said the parliament is still working and all Ukrainian political parties are “more or less united.” He also noted that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has “huge support” from the Ukrainian people.

Aid and Allies

Since the start of the war, the United States has spent tens of billions of dollars on aid to Ukraine, including artillery, tanks, and rocket launchers. The support has not only helped Ukraine stave off defeat, but enabled their success in many battles against Putin’s army.

In a recent interview with Stanford News, Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and an affiliate at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), said that Ukraine’s military had considerable success in the last four months of 2022, pushing Russian forces out of the Kharkiv region and back across the Dnipro River in Kherson.

On Friday, the panelists expressed gratitude for the support of the United States and other western allies in aiding their victories on the battlefield.

Ukraine and Ukrainians will always remember how American people support us in [these] dramatic times.
Oleksandra Matviichuk
Founder of the Center for Civil Liberties

“Thank you,” Matviichuk said. “Ukraine and Ukrainians will always remember how American people support us in [these] dramatic times.”

Honcharuk agreed and said he viewed the U.S. as a partner in the war. “I want American people to understand that now we are together – Ukraine on the frontline, you on the back,” he said.

The panelists also urged for continued cooperation from Western allies.

“The prescription for war is three [items],” Leshchenko said. “First is weapons, second is sanctions [on Russia], third is financial support.”

Looking Ahead

The group expressed hope that this year Ukraine will see a victorious end to the war. Leshchenko added that he would like to someday see Ukraine join the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) because it could make significant contributions to the alliance.

“I think the Ukrainian army [is] going to be the best army in Europe,” he said. “It would be a privilege for NATO to have the Ukrainian army’s support because it will defend Europe much better than Europe has [been] able to do with its own army.”

Ustinova said a common misunderstanding about the war is that it started last year with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the conflict, she said, dates back to 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, and she explained how Ukrainians define success.

“Our victory is the total liberalization of each kilometer of the captured territories since 2014. Not since 2022,” she said.

She added that what’s most important to understand about the war is that it has broad implications, including for the West.

“We all have to realize, this is not a Ukrainian war,” she said. “If the West loses in Ukraine, it will be a total collapse for the rest of the world.”

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Some of the original Ukrainian alumni from the Draper Hills Summer Fellowship gather in Kyiv in 2013.

A History of Unity: A Look at FSI’s Special Relationship with Ukraine

Since 2005, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies has cultivated rich academic ties and friendships with Ukrainian scholars and civic leaders as part of our mission to support democracy and development domestically and abroad.
A History of Unity: A Look at FSI’s Special Relationship with Ukraine
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To commemorate the first year of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian leaders joined a panel hosted by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies to express their hopes for victory and their gratitude for Western support.

Rebuild, Reimagine, and Accelerate: Ukraine

Rebuilding Ukraine will not be easy. Rebuilding Ukraine into a modern market economy, an effective state, and a thriving democracy that can fulfill the requirements of EU membership will be a challenge. Rebuilding Ukraine into a model for sustainable development and sustainable societies in the 21st century for the world to follow will be an uphill battle.

It is a necessary battle.

Guided by past experiences of successes and failures in post-war reconstruction, our goal is to generate innovative, practical ideas for the rebuilding effort. We aim to provide a framework for reconstruction that empowers government policymakers, private sector actors, and non-government leaders to be ambitious and accountable.

This workshop brings together a broad set of experts to define the problem, outline the cornerstones of an effective framework, and lay the foundations for future action. We hope that the conversations we start together at Stanford will serve as a springboard for productive collaborations in the months and years ahead.

Organized by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, and Economists for Ukraine.

7:30 - 8:10 am — Arrival and breakfast

8:10 - 8:15 am — Welcoming remarks

Kathryn Stoner (Stanford)
Dmytro Kushneruk (Consulate of Ukraine in San Francisco)

8:15 - 8:30 am — Opening remarks

Anastassia Fedyk (UC Berkeley)
Michael McFaul (Stanford)

8:30 - 9:00 am — Keynote Address

Mustafa Nayyem (State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine), via Zoom

9:00 - 9:45 am — Taking stock: The Scale of Destruction and Scope of Reconstruction so far

Tymofiy Mylovanov (Kyiv School of Economics), via Zoom  
Nataliia Shapoval (Kyiv School of Economics), via Zoom

9:45 - 10:00 am — Coffee break

10:00 - 11:30 am — Getting the Economics Right. The Policies and Sequence of Reform and Reconstruction

Chair: Anastassia Fedyk (UC Berkeley)

Torbjorn Becker (Stockholm School of Economics)  
Barry Eichengreen (UC Berkeley)  
James Hodson (AI for Good Foundation)  
Marianna Kudlyak (Federal Reserve Bank San Francisco)  
Denis Gutenko (former Head of State Fiscal Service)

11:30 - 11:45 am — Coffee break

11:45 am -1:15 pm — Getting Governance Right. Strengthening Democratic Accountability and Expanding Civic Engagement

Chair: Anna Grzymala-Busse (Stanford)

Francis Fukuyama (Stanford)  
Luis Garicano (University of Chicago), via Zoom  
Ilona Sologoub (Vox Ukraine; Economists for Ukraine)  
Eva Busza (National Democratic Institute)  
Olexandr Starodubtsev (National Agency on Corruption Prevention), via Zoom

1:15 - 2:00 pm — Lunch

2:00 - 4:00 pm — Getting International Financing Right. The Structure, Sources, and Types of International Assistance

Chair: Erik Jensen (Stanford)

General Principles and Problems 
Panelists: Yuriy Gorodnichenko (UC Berkeley); Roger Myerson (University of Chicago)

The View from the U.S. Administration  
Panelists: Erin McKee (Bureau for Europe and Eurasia (E&E), USAID), via Zoom
Dafna Rand (Office of Foreign Assistance (F), Department of State), via Zoom

The View from International Financial Institutions 
Panelists: Vladyslav Rashkovan (IMF), via Zoom; Michael Strauss (EBRD)

4:00 - 4:15 pm — Coffee Break

4:15 - 6:00 pm — Sectoral and Regional Rebuilding. Ukrainian Reconstruction as a New Model for Sustainable Development

Chair: Kathryn Stoner (Stanford)

Tatyana Deryugina (UIUC; Economists for Ukraine)  
Yulia Bezvershenko (Stanford)  
Andrii Parkhomenko (USC)  
Iryna Dronova (UC Berkeley)  
Eric Hontz (Center for International Private Enterprise) 
Roman Zinchenko (Greencubator), via Zoom

6:00 - 6:30 pm — Takeaways and Next Steps

Moderators: Anastassia Fedyk and Michael McFaul

6:30 - 7:00 pm — Reception

7:00 pm — Working Dinner: Takeaways and Next Steps

By invitation only. Not open to the public.

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Despite their many differences, Taiwan and Ukraine have been portrayed as two fronts in a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. The interrelations between the two geopolitical flashpoints took center stage at the recent Yomiuri International Conference, Taiwan and Ukraine: Challenging Authoritarianism. Cohosted by APARC’s Japan Program, the Yomiuri Shimbun, and the Asia Pacific Initiative, the conference was held on January 16, 2023 at the International House of Japan (IHJ) in Tokyo. It examined paths to addressing autocratic challenges to democracy and offered recommendations for coordinated deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region by the United States and its allies.

The forum included two sessions with Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) experts. The first session, moderated by Ken Jimbo, IHJ managing director and API president, featured panelists Oriana Skylar Mastro, FSI center fellow at APARC, and Michael McFaul, the director of FSI. They examined the fallout of the war in Ukraine, the risks of a Taiwan crisis, and their implications for security in East Asia, including Japan. The second session, moderated by Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the deputy director of APARC and director of the Japan Program, featured panelists Larry Diamond, Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI, and Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at FSI. They considered the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan against the struggle to bolster the liberal international order.

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Military Miscalculations, Economic Dislocations

McFaul opened the first session by reviewing some of the lessons from the war in Ukraine. The international community underestimated the Ukrainian military, he said. Putin, however, miscalculated the response of the United States and NATO, on the military side, and the scope of the sanctions the global community of democratic states, including Japan, would be willing to impose on Russia, on the economic side. 

It turned out, noted McFaul, that it was possible to reduce drastically Russian oil and gas coming into Europe, and Russia today has significantly fewer resources to fight Ukraine than it had anticipated. “I think it is very important to look at just how much economic dislocation happened with Russia, a country that was not integrated into the global economic world in the same way that China is,” McFaul said. He pointed out that the international community might also be underestimating the political pressure and dislocation that will erupt if, unprovoked, China invades Taiwan. “It will have very deep economic consequences for the Chinese economy,” said McFaul.

It is important to remember that the international community did not make credible commitments to deterring Russia before 2022, McFaul noted. In the case of China, he emphasized the imperative of considering concrete ways to enhance deterrence against a Chinese invasion of Taiwan before military action begins. 

Rethinking Defense and Deterrence

China, however, is not easily deterrable, as Mastro explained in her following remarks. President Xi has been clear from early on that enhancing China’s role on the international stage would be a key part of the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda. Taiwan is a top priority issue in the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term thinking, said Mastro. She reminded the audience that at the recent CCP Congress, President Xi reaffirmed that China will not rule out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. He also elevated Party members with extensive expertise in the joint operational domain and with Taiwan contingencies to the Central Military Commission, the Chinese top decision-making body for military affairs.

I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.
Oriana Skylar Mastro

How, then should the United States and its allies approach the question of deterring China? Mastro emphasized three conditions that U.S and Japanese defense policy must meet.

First, whatever the United States and Japan do in the defense realm must have an operational impact. For example, U.S. carriers will do nothing to prevent China from taking Taiwan in a wartime scenario, Mastro argued. “And along those lines, from the Japanese point of view, enhancing defense of the Senkaku Islands does nothing to deter China from taking Taiwan unless Japanese operations are going to be involved directly in stopping a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.”

The second condition is that China has to know about any defense changes the U.S. and its allies are making. For instance, if, in peacetime, there is no indication that the Japanese military is engaging in Taiwan Strait transits with the United States and the Chinese do not know about such activities, then they do not enhance deterrence.

Third, deterrence must happen before a war starts. It may seem an obvious point, but if the prevalent view is that, for example, the Japanese public will support the United States once a conflict over Taiwan erupts, then this approach does not deter China. “We have to let the Chinese know now that there is such support,” Mastro stated.

One issue China is concerned about, Mastro noted, is widening a Taiwan contingency. “China only wins Taiwan if the war is short, geographically limited to Taiwan, and only involves the United States, potentially in Taiwan,” she explained. “So I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.”

Ultimately, the question before the United States and its allies is: “Do we want a happy China that is undeterred or an unhappy China that's deterred,” Mastro concluded. “Those are our only two options.” Deterrence is expensive and requires tradeoffs, but one thing that is costlier than deterrence is a major war, she emphasized.

“Let’s start thinking about how to actually change the environment with the sense of urgency that we need, because my biggest fear is that we're going to find ourselves in a major war with massive cost,” she urged the audience. There will be sacrifices to make, but the alternative, in Mastro's view, is worse.

Opportunities and Perils for Democracy

In the second session of the conference, panelists Larry Diamond and Francis Fukuyama examined the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan from the lens of democratic decline and its implications for the liberal international order.

Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last two decades, yet the picture is not as bleak for democracies as it was just two or three years ago, said Diamond. In the United States, reforms at the state level have occurred, election deniers took control of Congress seats by a much smaller margin than predicted before the 2022 midterms, and extreme election deniers in crucial swing states were virtually defeated. Meanwhile, on the international stage, 2022 spotlighted autocrats’ inevitable shortcomings. In Russia, Putin has catastrophically miscalculated the war in Ukraine. In China, Xi has massively mismanaged the COVID pandemic, and the country’s economic growth is severely impaired.

It's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.
Larry Diamond

Fukuyama said he was encouraged by the democratic solidarity shown in response to the war in Ukraine, especially in Europe, within NATO, and in Japan. Germany’s and Japan’s decisions to increase their defense budgets have been remarkably reassuring signals of strength among democracies, he noted.

But we sometimes forget that many countries in the Global South and elsewhere do not buy into this narrative, cautioned Fukuyama. Among the big disappointments in this regard is India, he stated, which raises the question of whether the issue at stake is indeed a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

Indeed, democracies still face intractable challenges, Diamond explained. These include the corrupting influence of dirty money around the world, the trends of de-industrialization and hollowing out of the working class in advanced democracies, and social media, which Diamond sees as the single biggest driver of democratic decline. “I cannot tell you how much damage social media has done to destroy the social fabric of Truth and credibility and polarize society into tribal camps who don't have the same facts,” he said. “We have not found a way to temper that impact and win the battle For Truth.”

Taiwan and Deterrence

When it comes to the question of Taiwan, Diamond says he is worried. “There is going to be a PRC military invasion of Taiwan, probably in this decade, unless it is deterred,” he said. The three most crucial actors in deterring China are Taiwan, the United States, and Japan, he explained. Successful deterrence must involve coordination among all three in multiple arenas — from military cooperation to increased defense capacity and preparedness to impose such heavy costs in response to a Chinese invading force that will change Xi’s calculus.

Diamond observed that democracy is about uncertainty, of which there is now plenty in Taiwan as it looks ahead to a January 2024 contentious presidential election. Diamond’s prediction is that "China will intervene however it thinks it can” in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election, as Xi would certainly prefer to pick up the island peacefully than by force, he said. “I think it's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.”

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Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama at Encina Hall, Stanford, in conversation.

A Resurgence of Democracy?

A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order
A Resurgence of Democracy?
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At the Yomiuri International Conference, Freeman Spogli Institute scholars Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, Oriana Skylar Mastro, Michael McFaul, and Kiyoteru Tsutsui examined lessons from the war in Ukraine, the risks of a crisis over Taiwan, and the impacts of both geopolitical flashpoints for defending democracy and for a coordinated approach to deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.

The Monument of Independence in Kyiv, Ukraine prior to February 24, 2022.
The Monument of Independence in Kyiv, Ukraine, photographed prior to February 24, 2022. Gleb Albovsky, Unsplash

February 24 marks the first anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.  Though Ukraine has won many battles, the war for Ukraine’s right to exist as an independent, democratic nation rages on, at a very steep humanitarian cost.

To commemorate this important day for Ukraine and the world, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law are honored to co-host a panel of high-profile Ukrainian leaders currently based in Kyiv for a discussion of the impact of the war on daily life, the global democratic order, and Ukraine's future.

The panel will be introduced by Kathryn Stoner, the Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, and moderated by Michael McFaul, the director of FSI and a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

The panel discussion will be followed by Q&A with the audience. Attendees are encouraged to wear yellow and blue.

For those unable to join us in person, a livestream of the panel is available below.

Meet the Panelists

Oleksiy Honcharuk served as the 17th prime minister of Ukraine from 2019-2020, during which time he introduced important policy initiatives in Ukraine including the institution of business privatization processes, efforts to combat black markets, and the launch of the Anti-Raider Office to respond to cases of illegal property seizures. Prior to serving as prime minister, Honcharuk was deputy head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine and was a member of the National Reforms Council under the president of Ukraine. In 2021, he was the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

Oleksiy Honcharuk

Oleksiy Honcharuk

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine
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Serhiy Leshchenko is formerly a journalist with Ukrainska Pravda and member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019). He first rose to political prominence during Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan Revolution, and has continued to serve in government and civil society since. He is an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief-of-staff, working and living in the governmental bunkers during the start of Russia's invasion and siege on Kyiv in 2022. He is an alumnus of the 2013 cohort of the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program at FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.

Serhiy Leshchenko

Serhiy Leshchenko

Advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Chief of Staff
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Oleksandra Matviichuk is a human rights advocate and founder of the Center for Civil Liberties, which was recognized as a co-recipient of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. The mission of the Center for Civil Liberties is to protect human rights and establish democracy in Ukraine and the OSCE region. The organization develops legislative proposals, exercises public oversight over law enforcement agencies and judiciary, conducts educational activities for young people, and implements international solidarity programs. Matviichuk was a visiting scholar from 2017-2018 with the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

oleksandra hs

Oleksandra Matviichuk

Founder of the Center for Civil Liberties
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Oleksandra Ustinova is the People's Deputy of Ukraine and a member of Ukraine’s parliament. Since the beginning of Russia's invasion in 2022, she has met repeatedly with lawmakers in the United States to advocate on behalf of Ukraine, including an address before the U.S. House of Representatives on February 28, 2022. Prior to her government service, Ustinova was the head of communications and anti-corruption in health care projects at the Anti-Corruption Action Center (ANTAC), one of the leading organizations on anti-corruption reform in Ukraine. She was a visiting scholar with the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law from 2018-2019.


Oleksandra Ustinova

People's Deputy of Ukraine
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Michael A. McFaul
Michael McFaul
Oleksiy Honcharuk Former Prime Minister of Ukraine
Serhiy Leshchenko Advisor to Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy's chief of staff
Oleksandra Matviichuk Founder of the Center for Civil Liberties, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize recipient
Oleksandra Ustinova People's Deputy of Ukraine, Member of Verkhovna Rada
Film Screenings
Kim Namseok, Munhwa Ilbo Correspondent
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This article originally appeared in the Korean daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo on January 2, 2023. It was translated from Korean by Raymond Ha.

In an exclusive interview for the Munhwa Ilbo, Stanford University professors Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama had a conversation on a wide range of topics including the war in Ukraine, U.S.-China competition, and North Korea policy.

The world faces a crisis of political leadership as each country pursues its own interests. Fukuyama stressed the importance of robust international institutions, instead of relying solely on great leaders. He pointed to NATO and the U.S.-Korea alliance as examples of institutions that uphold the liberal international order. In terms of the U.S.-China competition, he said without hesitation that “a democracy like Korea…has to make the decision that it is going to be on the side of democracy.” Fukuyama also noted that in the event of an armed confrontation over Taiwan, Korea would almost certainly be pulled in, given the significant U.S. military presence there. He was skeptical about prospects for progress over North Korea, pointing to the long history of failed negotiations and the lack of viable alternatives. “Not every problem has a solution,” he said.

Gi-Wook Shin, who led the interview, observed that the global decline of democracy appears to have hit a turning point, “although it’s too early to say if there will be a rapid recovery…or a more gradual shift.” As for the state of democracy in the United States, he said, “We will have to wait and see what happens in the 2024 presidential election.” Even though Trump’s political influence may be weaker, he observed, “pro-Trump forces are still part of the system.” In terms of Korea’s foreign policy, Shin emphasized that Seoul “should take [the Taiwan] problem much more seriously.” A crisis in the Taiwan Strait “could become the biggest challenge for the Yoon administration’s foreign policy, not North Korea,” and domestic polarization over China policy is one issue that could threaten to “become extremely controversial.”

The interview was held in-person for one hour at Stanford on December 8, 2022, with a follow-up interview held over the phone on December 27.  

[Gi-Wook Shin] Let’s start by looking back on 2022. How would you summarize this year?

[Francis Fukuyama] I think 2022 was a very good year, where we may have bottomed out in this global move away from democracy and toward authoritarian government. The year really started out in February with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which looked very, very threatening. China was on a roll. It looked like they were beating everybody in terms of COVID policy. Then, by the end of the year, the Russians got completely bogged down. China experienced mass protests, and there were protests also in Iran. In America’s elections on November 8, all the pro-Trump forces failed to make gains and, in fact, lost almost everywhere. I think that maybe we will look back on 2022 as the year when this democratic recession that has been going on for over 15 years finally bottomed out.

[GWS] I agree, although it’s too early to say if there will be a rapid recovery toward democracy or a more gradual shift. In the United States, we will have to wait and see what happens in the 2024 presidential election. Former President Trump may be weaker politically, but pro-Trump forces are still part of the system. As for the Ukraine war, many people thought Russia would win quite easily, but now it looks like they are struggling. It’s a big question, of course, but how do you think the war will be remembered in history?

[FF] I think that it is going to be remembered as one of the biggest strategic mistakes made by a great-power leader in a very long time. I think that the mistake is directly due to the nature of the political system. You remember that Vladimir Putin was sitting at the end of this 25-foot table with his defense minister because he was so afraid of COVID. He was extremely isolated during the whole pandemic, and he had already isolated himself in a political system where he doesn’t face checks and balances. That kind of decision-making system makes you prone to make even bigger mistakes, because you don’t have other people to test your ideas against. He was completely uninformed about the degree to which Ukraine had developed a separate national identity and that the Ukrainian people were willing to fight for it. He didn’t have any idea how incompetent his own army was. If he had been in a more democratic country that required him to share power with other people, I don’t think he could have made that kind of mistake.


The most important thing is the breakdown of the Chinese economic model. For the past decade, the Chinese model has been to pump a huge amount of money into the real estate sector. That model is collapsing. The other big problem is that they don’t have economic growth anymore.
Francis Fukuyama

[GWS] Putin is struggling, as you said. There are a lot of problems in China, but Xi Jinping secured a third term. Authoritarian leaders elsewhere still hold power. By contrast, I don’t think President Biden has shown powerful leadership at home or globally. I don’t see any strong political leaders in the U.K., France, or Germany either.

[FF] I think that although Xi Jinping may succeed in stabilizing the situation in China with the protests over COVID in the short run, he is in a lot of trouble. He was creating all this social instability with the zero-COVID policy. Now that they’ve started to relax it, I think the number of cases and deaths is going to go up very dramatically, but I don’t think they’ve got much of a choice. I think this has probably damaged the people’s sense of Xi’s authority and legitimacy, and I’m not sure he can recover from that.

The most important thing is the breakdown of the Chinese economic model. For the past decade, the Chinese model has been to pump a huge amount of money into the real estate sector. That model is collapsing. The other big problem is that they don’t have economic growth anymore. Some economists think that they’re actually in a recession, with negative growth. This is like what Japan went through in the 1990s. So much of the Chinese government’s legitimacy has been based on having extremely high growth rates, and that period is over. I don’t see how they get it back, and they certainly won’t by inserting the state into every economic decision and controlling their high-tech sector. Their population is shrinking now. I’m not sure that Xi Jinping, in the longer run, is actually going to look like a very effective leader.

[GWS] But in the short term, say the next three to five years, won’t authoritarian leaders be powerful in comparison? Just as “America First” shows, some say there is a crisis of political leadership among Western democracies, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

[FF] I think that apart from President Zelenskyy in Ukraine, we don’t see any really inspiring leaders in Germany or France or the United States. On the other hand, the nice thing about democracy is that it’s an institutional system for managing change. Biden has turned 80, and Trump himself is in his upper 70s. The leadership in Congress and the Democratic Party are all elderly, but they’re all about to change. In the next election cycle, there is going to be a whole new generation of people that are up-and-coming. I don’t think you need a charismatic leader with great vision, necessarily, to run any of the countries you mentioned.

[GWS] Another question is if the United States can provide global leadership. When Trump was defeated, there was a strong expectation for the Biden administration to restore global order and to do much better than its predecessor. I’m not sure whether that’s happening.

[FF] Again, I think that’s why you want to have international institutions rather than being dependent simply on leaders. This gives an institutional basis for continuity in policy. There are all of these alliance structures, like NATO. People thought that NATO was obsolete and was going to go away. It has actually proved to be very durable. The United States has security ties with Korea and Japan that also are quite old, but they’re still durable. It’s interesting that the authoritarian countries have not been able to create anything comparable to that set of alliances. There is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but all the Central Asian states don’t want to be part of this China-Russia dominated organization. We can’t just depend on great leadership.

Korea should proactively participate in upholding and creating an international order that facilitates a resurgence of democracy. Korea has not really played this role before, but with the 10th largest economy in the world, it is now in a position to play a positive role.
Gi-Wook Shin

[GWS] To add on to that, I think Korea should proactively participate in upholding and creating an international order that facilitates a resurgence of democracy. Korea has not really played this role before, but with the 10th largest economy in the world, it is now in a position to play a positive role.

[FF] There is a set of values that underpin America’s alliances, both in Asia and Europe. Throughout the whole Cold War, the Soviet Union never actually invaded a Western democracy, but that’s what Russia did. NATO has suddenly become very relevant once more. I think that both in Korea and Japan, there is also recognition of a comparable challenge from an authoritarian China. Unless all democracies work together and show solidarity with one another, they could be picked off by these two authoritarian powers.

[GWS] There is a lot of debate about whether China is going to invade Taiwan or not. I have a two-part question. First, could the situation in Ukraine reduce the possibility of China invading Taiwan? Second, if China still invades nevertheless, what should Korea do? This is a difficult question for Korea. It cannot say no to the United States as a military ally, but at the same time, it cannot antagonize China. I think this is the most difficult question for Korea at the moment.

[FF] This is a difficult question for the United States because it’s not clear that Congress or the American people actually want to go to war with China in order to save Taiwan. I think if you ask them a polling question stated like that, probably a majority would say, “No, we’re not going to send our troops to die.” But I think it’s likely that the United States will get dragged into such a conflict one way or the other. Among other things, the Chinese would probably have to preempt some of the American forces that are in the theater. American military personnel will get killed as the Chinese attack unfolds, and I think there will be a lot of political pressure to help Taiwan.

[GWS] How much can the United States be involved? Some in Korea are skeptical that Washington will step in.

[FF] This is really the problem. During the Cold War, we had a good idea of what a war would like look like if it actually happened. The military planning was very concretely designed against certain types of escalation. With China, we don’t have a clear set of expectations for what escalation would look like. It could just start with a Chinese invasion. It could start with a blockade. It could start with something in the South China Sea. It could actually start on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea doing something. If it happens, it’s going to be much more devastating than the war in Ukraine. So much of global production comes out of Asia, and there’s a strong incentive not to let things get out of hand. Whether we have the wisdom to do that is not clear. I also think that people’s expectations and opinions will change once the conflict begins. The moment people see cities being bombed, they will change their minds.

Francis Fukuyama conversing in Gi-Wook Shin's office at Stanford University.
Francis Fukuyama. Kim Namseok/Munhwa Ilbo

[GWS] I also think that a conflict over Taiwan would affect the American people more directly than what is happening in Ukraine. What’s your view on how seriously Korea should be taking this possibility?

[FF] It is likely enough that it is absolutely important for everyone to take it seriously and plan against it. What you want to do is deter China from taking any military action against Taiwan. They’re not going to be deterred unless they see that there’s a response on the other side that is going to raise the cost for them. That’s not going to happen unless people take the scenarios seriously and start thinking about concrete ways that they could help Taiwan or stymie any kind of Chinese attack. I think it is very important for Korea to think this through and think about ways they could support Taiwan and be part of a larger alliance that can push back against China.

[GWS] I keep telling my friends and colleagues in Korea that they should take this problem much more seriously. Taiwan could become the biggest challenge for the Yoon administration’s foreign policy, not North Korea. China policy has become an extremely divisive partisan issue in South Korea, and it could tear the country apart. What advice would you have for President Yoon?

[FF] There’s two things. First is the rhetorical position. Korea should make its position clear in advance that it would oppose Chinese military action and would support the United States, for example. Korea is going to get dragged into this because so much U.S. military equipment is in Korea, and that is going to be moved in closer to the theater. I think making that position clear in advance is important.

The other thing that’s been very clear from the Ukraine war is that democracies are not prepared for an extended conflict. Everybody is running out of ammunition in Europe and the United States is running low on certain types of ammunition. The Ukrainians have used so much of it just in the 10 months they have been fighting. I think that any high-intensity conflict in East Asia is also going to be very costly in terms of supplies. South Korea is in a better position than other countries because it has been preparing for a North Korean attack for decades. Everybody needs to be prepared for an extended conflict. It may not be over in 48 hours.

[GWS] Koreans are quite nervously watching the ongoing escalation of tensions between the United States and China. In the past, the paradigm was “United States for security, China for the economy” (an-mi-gyeong-joong). Now, security and the economy are linked together. The Yoon government is promoting the strengthening of the alliance with the United States, but South Korea faces the fundamental problem of how to position itself as U.S.-China tensions escalate. Do you have any wisdom for Korea?

[FF] I don’t know if it’s wisdom, but I think Korea needs to take a clearer position. Under the previous government, there was a belief that Korea could somehow be halfway between China and the United States. That’s just not a tenable position. The tension between the United States and China has really been driven by China ever since 2013, when Xi Jinping took power. China has become a much more severe dictatorship internally, and it has become much more aggressive externally. You see the influence of the Belt and Road Initiative and the militarization of the South China Sea. In the last 10 or 15 years, China has been picking fights with India, Japan, Korea, and all of Southeast Asia over territorial issues. They built the size of their military much more rapidly than any other great power in that period of time. As a result, the United States and other countries have simply reacted to this. I think that a democracy like Korea cannot pretend that it is somehow in between the United States and China. It has to make the decision that it is going to be on the side of democracy.

[GWS] I agree that an-mi-gyeong-joong is now obsolete, but I think that South Korea must be more sophisticated in its response. As they say, the devil is in the details. On the economy, Seoul can actively work with Washington on areas closely related to security, but it can still partner with Beijing on sectors that are not. There can be a fine-tuned policy.

I now want to ask about North Korea and U.S. policy. I have been saying that the Biden administration policy is one of “strategic neglect,” not the “strategic patience” of the Obama administration. Kim Jong-un keeps testing missiles and provoking, and South Koreans are puzzled by the lack of response from Washington. Why is that? Is it because all the attention is on Ukraine and China?

[FF] Not every problem has a solution, and I don’t think this problem has a solution. You could use diplomacy. You could use military force. You could use deterrence. There are a limited number of possible approaches, and I think none of them are going to work. There has been a long history of negotiation. That has not worked. I think confrontation is not going to work. I think preemption is certainly not going to work. I just don’t think there’s a good solution, so we’ve ended up with trying to ignore the problem by default. Part of the reason North Korea is launching all of these missiles is that they want people to pay attention to them. Ignoring the problem is not much of a solution either, but it’s not as if there is a better solution.

[GWS] I agree with you that for many people in government, North Korea has been a hot potato. You don’t want to touch it because there is no clear solution, and it won’t help your career. But if we just ignore the problem, then five years later it’s going to be worse. What kind of North Korea are we going to face in five or ten years?

[FF] Everybody has been hoping that something would happen internally. It’s fine to think that, but it’s also not taking place. That said, Kim Jong-un is obese and unhealthy. Who knows what might happen?

We've had four elections now where [Trump] was playing a major role in the Republican Party. In three of those elections, he really hurt his own party. He can stir up a third of the electorate that loves him, but it’s never enough to win an election, especially in a swing state.
Francis Fukuyama

[GWS] Let’s now turn to domestic politics here in the United States. I think many Americans were relieved by what happened in the midterm elections last month. Trump’s influence was much more limited than what people thought. But he’s still there, and he’s likely to run again. I think he is still a strong candidate for the Republicans.

[FF] He declared his candidacy, but I think that he is declining very rapidly in influence. We have had four elections now where he was playing a major role in the Republican Party. In three of those elections, he really hurt his own party. He can stir up a third of the electorate that loves him, but it’s never enough to win an election, especially in a swing state. I think he’s gotten crazier in recent months. He is doing so many self-destructive things, having dinner with neo-Nazis and repeating all these conspiracy theories. These are things that no rational candidate would do. The Republicans are going to want somebody that can actually beat the Democrats, and I don’t think it’s going to be him.

[GWS] You don’t expect a rematch between Biden and Trump in 2024?

[FF] This gets into a technical issue, but the Republican primaries are mostly winner-take-all primaries. Any candidate that can get 30% of the vote is likely to be nominated. If you have a Republican field that has several people competing, they may split the alternative vote and Trump may end up winning. I think he still has a good chance of being the Republican nominee. If you’re a Democrat, that’s not the worst thing in the world. It is probably easier to run against Trump than a more normal Republican candidate.

[GWS] Two years is still a long time in politics. You said that Trump is likely to be nominated. Would Biden also run again?

[FF] I think that Biden is going to run again. Part of the problem is in the Democratic Party. It’s not clear who the successor would be. There are a lot of potential new-generation politicians, but I don’t think any of them has enough presence and attention that they can clearly take over the mantle to run as the Democratic candidate. If there is a rematch, I think Biden will win.

[GWS] Now to South Korea. Last June, I did some interviews advocating a parliamentary system, and they received good attention. There is still a lot of hesitancy among Koreans, though. I think there are a few reasons. The first is that we need a strong presidential system to deal with North Korea. There’s no stability if the prime minister keeps changing. Second is that it may drive politicians closer to big business (chaebol) because there’s less direct accountability. What would you suggest for South Korea in terms of institutional reform?

[FF] There are several possibilities even short of a parliamentary system. You can coordinate the presidential and parliamentary terms. It’s still the case that the president has a five-year term, but the legislature is on an even-year term. If you want to have strong government, you need a president that has majority support in the legislature. If they get elected simultaneously on a regular basis, you’re more likely to see strong leadership emerge. In a presidential system, the legislature itself is a check against the president. If you don’t have a strong majority in the legislature, you can’t do anything.

[GWS] That is what is happening right now in Korea.

[FF] In a parliamentary system like the British one, if you have a majority in parliament, you can do what you want. I think the presumption that somehow a presidential system is inevitably stronger than a parliamentary system is not historically correct.

[GWS] Is a parliamentary system maybe one solution to political polarization?

[FF] Sometimes a parliamentary system will have that effect, but the kind of plurality voting system that we have in the United States and in Britain tends to promote polarization. To the extent that you make it possible for third parties to run, that’s probably a better system. If you have more parties and it becomes harder to get a majority in the legislature, that forces coalitions and some degree of power sharing.

Francis Fukuyama 2022

Francis Fukuyama

Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Director of the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy, and Professor by Courtesy, Department of Political Science
Full Biography
Gi-Wook Shin

Gi-Wook Shin

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Professor of Sociology, William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea, Director of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, and Director of the Korea Program
Full Biography

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A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order

Stanford Graduate School of Business 
655 Knight Way 
Stanford, CA 94305 

John H. Scully Professor in Cross-Cultural Management and Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford GSB
Professor of Psychology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences

Michele Gelfand is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Professor of Psychology by Courtesy at Stanford University. Gelfand uses field, experimental, computational, and neuroscience methods to understand the evolution of culture — as well as its multilevel consequences for human groups. Her work has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Voice of America, Fox News, NBC News, ABC News, The Economist, De Standard, among other outlets.

Gelfand has published her work in many scientific outlets such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Psychological Science, Nature Scientific Reports, PLOS 1, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Research in Organizational Behavior, Journal of Applied Psychology, Annual Review of Psychology, American Psychologist, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Current Opinion in Psychology, among others. She has received over 13 million dollars in research funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and the FBI.

She is the author of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World (Scribner, 2018) and co-editor of the following books: Values, Political Action, and Change in the Middle East and the Arab Spring (Oxford University Press, 2017); The Handbook of Conflict and Conflict Management (Taylor & Francis, 2013); and The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture (2004, Stanford University Press). Additionally, she is the founding co-editor of the Advances in Culture and Psychology Annual Series and the Frontiers of Culture and Psychology series (Oxford University Press). She is the past President of the International Association for Conflict Management, past Division Chair of the Conflict Division of the Academy of Management, and past Treasurer of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. She has received several awards and honors, such as being elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2021) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019), the 2017 Outstanding International Psychologist Award from the American Psychological Association, the 2016 Diener Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Annaliese Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

CDDRL Affiliated Faculty
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In October 2022, the Chinese Communist Party elected Xi Jinping for a third term as general secretary, setting Xi on a path to be the longest-serving leader since Mao Zedong’s rule ended in 1976.

The extension of Xi’s rule carries significant implications not only for China, but for the broader Indo-Pacific region and global geopolitical order. No country is more aware of this than Taiwan, which has carefully walked the line between its own autonomy and Beijing’s desire for reunification since the 1940s.

After a summer of rising tensions, many experts believe that Beijing’s timeline for an attempt at reunification is much shorter than conventional thinking has assumed. On the World Class podcast, Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, discusses the prognosis for Taiwan with Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert on the Chinese military and security, and Larry Diamond, a scholar of China’s sharp power and the role of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region.

Listen to the full episode and read highlights from their conversation below.

Click the link for a full transcript of “What We Need To Talk About When We Talk About Taiwan.“

The Likelihood of Invasion

In stark terms, Oriana Skylar Mastro, a center fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, believes there’s a 100% chance China will use some sort of force against Taiwan in the next five years. For the last twenty years, China has been making concerted efforts to modernize its military and increase its capabilities not only to assert force against Taiwan, but to deter intervention from the United States.

In the majority of scenarios, the United States wins in a conflict with China over Taiwan. But the United States also carries a distinct geographic disadvantage. The distance across the Taiwan Strait between the island and mainland China is approximately 100 miles, which is roughly the distance between Richmond, Virginia and Washington D.C. If China moves quickly, PRC forces could take Taiwan before U.S. forces have time to move into position.

When considering possible outcomes in Taiwan, it is equally important to consider the motivations driving Beijing’s ambitions. The leadership on the mainland has been planning and thinking about how to retake Taiwan since 1949. With the modernized capabilities coming online, the balance of power has shifted in China’s military favor, and the cost-benefit calculus favors Beijing’s ambitions. The long-term planning stage is now reaching its end, and the prospects of direct action are increasing.

The clock is ticking. The problem is we don’t know how fast it’s ticking. But we need to move faster than we're moving.
Larry Diamond
Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI

The View from Taipei

Political leaders in Taiwan recognize the growing danger they face across the Strait. In Larry Diamond’s assessment, the end of Hong Kong's autonomy and the suppression of the “one country, two systems” model, the rising military incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone and coastal waters, and the whole rising pace of Chinese military intimidation has sobered Taiwan and visibly impacted Taiwanese public opinion.

Concerningly though, while the political elite recognize the real and present danger of the situation, polling of the general Taiwan public suggests that the vast majority of citizens still feel like an attack or an invasion by China is unlikely. Similar majorities suggest that they would be willing to fight in Taiwan’s defense, but volunteering for military service remains at a minimum.

To maximize safety, Taiwan needs to find ways to strengthen itself in its ability to defend, resist, and deter China, while still avoiding any appearance of moving toward permanent independence or any other action that could be deemed by Beijing as a provocation, says Diamond.

There are things that can completely change Beijing's calculus, but it takes a lot of work, and I just don't see us doing the work yet.
Oriana Skylar Mastro
FSI Center Fellow

What the United States Can Do

When it comes to the defense of Taiwan, the strategic crutch hobbling the United States is geography. Most of the U.S. Pacific forces are not in Asia. The majority are in Hawaii and California, as well as a few bases and airfields in Japan. To be able to effectively deter China, the U.S. needs far greater forward deployed military capability in order to be able to either stop or stall the movement of Chinese troops into Taiwan, says Mastro.

Taiwan needs greater onshore military deterrence capabilities as well. One such strategy is the “porcupine approach,” which increases the number of smaller mobile lethal weapons. By Larry Diamond’s assessment, increased citizen participation in military training is also crucial, with an emphasis on weapons training and urban defense tactics. The U.S. could support these aims by overhauling the current system for weapons procurement to speed up the production and delivery of weapons systems not just for Taiwan, but to the benefit of U.S. defense and other contingencies as well. Working with leadership to create strategic stockpiles of food, and energy should also be a priority, says Diamond.

The U.S. also needs to put much more effort into its diplomatic efforts on behalf of Taiwan. Many U.S. allies and partners are reluctant to ostracize China because of economic ties and concerns over sparking their own conflict with China in the future. A key ally in all of this is Japan. If Japan fights with the United States on behalf of Taiwan, it is a guaranteed win and enough to effectively deter China. But much more needs to be done much more quickly in order to secure those guarantees and present them in a convincing way to Beijing.

“The clock is ticking,” Larry Diamond says. “And the problem is we don’t know how fast it’s ticking. “Taiwan is moving in the right direction. But we need to move faster than we're moving.”

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Larry Diamond speaking in the Bechtel Conference Center in Encina Hall

"We Have Entered a New Historical Era": Larry Diamond on the Future of Democracy

Speaking at the April 2022 meeting of the FSI Council, Larry Diamond offered his assessment of the present dangers to global democracy and the need to take decisive action in support of liberal values.
"We Have Entered a New Historical Era": Larry Diamond on the Future of Democracy
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Larry Diamond and Oriana Skylar Mastro join Michael McFaul on the World Class podcast to discuss China’s ambitions against Taiwan, and how the U.S. and its allies can deter Beijing.


Research has documented labor conflict within foreign-owned, and especially Chinese-owned, manufacturing firms in sub-Saharan economies. Yet, systematic comparisons of foreign versus domestic firms are rare, and it remains unclear whether labor conflict is a phenomenon that affects emerging industries or is specific to foreign firms. Drawing on a large firm survey in Ethiopia, we show that foreign firms hire similarly educated and experienced workers. They also offer comparable salaries, benefits, and hours than domestic firms, after controlling for firm size and age. Nevertheless, they experience more complaints, strikes, and protests, with Chinese-owned firms reporting particularly high rates of labor conflict. To scrutinize these findings, we conduct case studies of labor management in six domestic and eight foreign-owned firms around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We observe antagonistic labor relations in five foreign-owned firms, four of which are Chinese-owned. In these firms, managers perceive employees as using labor laws to take advantage of them, whereas employees see labor laws as a basis for harmonious labor relations. In the remaining firms, managers frame their firm policies as consistent with employee perceptions of labor laws. We conjecture that the visibility of formal labor institutions leads employees to interpret disagreements as intentional disrespect, rather than ignorance. Our findings suggest that misaligned perceptions about the role of local labor institutions may be an important driver of conflict in foreign-owned firms.

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Journal Articles
Publication Date

A large firm survey shows that labor conflicts in Ethiopia are more frequent in foreign-owned firms, especially those that are Chinese-owned. Foreign firms hire similarly educated and experienced workers, while offering similar salaries and benefits. We draw on case studies to explore reasons why foreign, and especially Chinese-owned firms, face exceptional levels of labor conflict. Misaligned perceptions about the role of local labor laws may be an important driver of conflict.

Journal Publisher
World Development
Marcel Fafchamps
James Chu
November 2022, 106037
Clifton B. Parker
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Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine hits close to home – quite literally – for Ukrainian alumni, fellows, and students in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies community.

Shared values and a commitment to democracy, freedom, and civil society define the longstanding relationship between FSI and Ukraine. Since 2005, FSI has trained and educated more than 225 Ukrainians in the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program (UELP), the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program, and the Leadership Academy for Development (LAD). The Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow program has also hosted Oleksiy Honcharuk, a former Ukrainian prime minister, for research, writing and teaching.

“We made a big bet way back in 2005 on Ukraine’s cause, and we view it as a frontline country in the global struggle for democracy,” said FSI Director Michael McFaul. He noted FSI’s first effort 17 years ago, the Summer Fellows program, which later became the Draper Hills program, has offered training for mid-career professionals from emerging democracies, including Ukraine among others.

In 2021, in another affirmation of FSI’s special connection with Ukraine, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the institute and gave a historic speech in which he said, “The people of our country love democracy and freedom … we know that anything is possible.” It was the first and only speech Zelenskyy has given so far at an American university.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses an audience at the Freeman Spogli Institute on September 2, 2021 during his historic visit to California and Stanford University.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses an audience at the Freeman Spogli Institute during his historic visit to California and Stanford University. The Office of the President of Ukraine

FSI scholars are now engaged with their network of Ukrainian alums, checking in on their safety and plans, while also advocating on behalf of a democratic Ukraine in major media outlets. McFaul has given Congressional testimony, written op-eds, been involved in back-channel discussions with senior administration officials, and even appeared on the Stephen Colbert show to discuss the issue. He is the co-editor of "Revolution in Orange," a 2006 book that examines Ukraine’s democratic breakthroughs.

Francis Fukuyama, the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow and former director of FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), has recently published articles on the strategic situation in Ukraine while sharing everyone’s deep concerns for Ukrainians under assault.

“We’ve been trying to help them in any way we can,” he said.

To deepen FSI’s expertise on Ukraine, the institute has established a Director’s Fund for Ukraine Initiatives, which will provide discretionary support for research, teaching, and policy outreach on Ukraine.

From Activism to Political Leadership

Well before the Russian invasion, FSI was already helping Ukraine cultivate its democracy.

“Our theory of change,” Fukuyama said, “is that we understand we can’t do things like provide policy advice very well to a country that’s so far away from us. But what we can do is try to help train a new generation of leaders who will inherit power, and in the near future, hopefully lead the country to a better outcome as we keep in touch with and support them.”

Toward this, the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program provides a 10-month academic training fellowship in support of three mid-career practitioners working actively as policy-makers, legal professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders of civil society organizations in Ukraine.

We made a big bet way back in 2005 on Ukraine’s cause, and we view it as a frontline country in the global struggle for democracy.
Michael McFaul
FSI Director

Alums of this and other programs include Artem Romaniukov, a civil society activist now in Ukraine who trained in the Emerging Leaders Program during 2019-20; the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, a visiting scholar in 2021; and Nataliya Gumenyuk, a Draper Hills alum from 2018 and Ukrainian journalist who’s now writing about the war, including social media posts in real-time – “I’m reporting on the ground in Kyiv on what I see with my own eyes,” she wrote.

Oleksandra “Sasha” Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and alum of the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program (2018-19), is lobbying members of Congress. “We are still negotiating for help. And I tell them that every day of negotiations is thousands of lives,” Ustinova told the Washington Post. She was in Washington, D.C., when Russia invaded Ukraine, and has been unable to return.

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, a Ukrainian rock musician who also holds a degree in theoretical physics, was a visiting scholar in 2017-18. After his time at Stanford he created a new political party, Holos, in his country. More recently, after the Russians bombed a children’s and maternity ward in Mariupol, he posted a video on Twitter on his observations while assisting on the scene there. In another video, Vakarchuk is seen singing to Ukrainians who are sheltering in the subways. He has traveled to major cities during the conflict — including badly targeted ones such as Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhzhya — raising morale among troops and civilians.

Changes may be afoot for the Emerging Leaders Program. Fukuyama said it may not be viable for next year, because Ukrainian men are currently not allowed to leave the country. “One thing we’ve been thinking of is possibly converting that program into a more research-oriented program on Ukraine,” he said.

Fukuyama said that for the Leadership Academy for Development, rather than bringing people to campus, FSI sends faculty to countries like Ukraine to deliver one-week intensive training sessions to classes of 25. He says the academy has been held in Ukraine a half dozen or so times, including in its capital of Kyiv, with an estimated 150-200 participants.

Making the transition from civil society into actual politics is one of the key messages in the 17-year-old Draper Hills Summer Fellows program, Fukuyama noted. An alumna, Svitlana Zalishchuk (’11), won a seat in Ukraine’s parliament, along with alumni Serhiy Leshchenko (’13) and Mustafa Nayyem (’14). Before joining government, Zalishchuk led a Ukrainian NGO focused on freedom of speech. After serving in parliament, all three of these alums are now working directly to defeat Putin’s invading army: Leshchenko is an aide to Zelenskyy’s chief of staff; Nayyem is the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, and Zalishchuk works for Ukraine’s state-owned gas company, Naftogaz.

In a recent BBC interview, Zalishchuk said, “I think the Ukrainian president made it very clear — he will not surrender, the Ukrainian army is backing him, the Ukrainian people are backing him, and the international community also demonstrated an incredible unity to stand up to Putin.”

Long before the Russian invasion, FSI’s special relationship with Ukraine attracted prominent coverage. In 2016, The New Yorker article, “Reforming Ukraine After the Revolutions,” described how the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program helped Ukrainian journalists Leshchenko and Nayyem rise to political leadership around the time of Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution in 2014.

We understand we can’t do things like provide policy advice very well to a country that’s so far away from us. But what we can do is try to help train a new generation of leaders who will inherit power, and in the near future, hopefully lead the country to a better outcome.
Francis Fukuyama
Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at FSI

Fukuyama explained how the program works: “We teach them about the structures of democracy as if they were Stanford undergraduates – this is what different political systems look like, here is how you can effect political change.”

Another on-campus program designed to offer research and teaching opportunities to former senior government officials is the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow program, which brought the former prime minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, to FSI in 2021. Honcharuk said then, “Stanford is the best place to rethink Ukraine’s past and plan the future, and that’s why I am especially happy to be here and add my expertise and experience to this important process.”

Alum Perspective from the Frontlines

Artem Romaniukov ('20), is now in Ukraine fighting the Russians with a rifle in hand and his family nearby.

“I was with my wife and six-year-old daughter in Kyiv when Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began. I grabbed my family and brought them to a place I thought they would be safer. Then I immediately volunteered to join the Ukrainian Defense Force. I have already seen active fire, which has resulted in a dreadful number of casualties, both for Ukrainians and Russians,” he wrote in an article for FSI. He is currently in Western Ukraine awaiting a new deployment.

Lieutenant Artem Romaniukov, on active duty at the Ukrainian Defence Forces, March 2022.
Lieutenant Artem Romaniukov on active duty with the Ukrainian Defence Forces, March 2022. Artem Romaniukov

An entrepreneur with his own start-up company, Mriya, Romaniukov worries about the consequences the war is having on Ukraine's economy. 'For my own company, and with many Ukrainian businesses, we have managed to move our operations to safe places and are ready to export services. But international companies are concerned about the security situation and whether it is viable to place orders with Ukrainian firms. But it is crucial to keep the Ukrainian economy working right now.”

Ukrainian Student Perspectives

In a time of great uncertainty and anxiety, Ukrainian and other students on campus have found solace and solidarity at teach-ins and events hosted by FSI scholars, sharing what they’re doing to help family and friends back home and to raise awareness on campus.

Writing in the Stanford Magazine, Anastasiia Malenko, a junior studying economics and political science, described an online chat she was participating in with friends back home when the first Russian bombs began hitting Ukrainian cities. On the day after the invasion, Malenko organized a protest with a Stanford Ukrainian student group, urging immediate sanctions on Russia as well as military and humanitarian aid to the country. She also helped create a website,, and joined in the writing of a Stanford Ukrainian Community Joint Statement on Russia’s War Against Ukraine.

She later wrote in an email, “My family and friends are now demonstrating continued resilience in their fight for freedom against the Russian invaders. From coordinating humanitarian aid to managing local volunteer networks, they are writing the history of an independent democratic Ukraine.”

Malenko, who will join the CDDRL honors program as a senior, considers herself fortunate be in touch with friends and family back home. “As the rest of the world, I am hearing their stories of resilience, perseverance, pain, and calls for help … One of the bright moments is telling them about the support I’ve been witnessing on the Stanford campus and beyond — it makes them feel seen.”

She said FSI’s programs fully demonstrate the institute’s commitment to Ukraine. “Through my undergraduate career, these programs have been invaluable as they provided room for Ukrainian perspective in a field of Eastern European studies, usually dominated by the focus on Russian colonial history.”

Stanford’s Unwavering Support

FSI’s support of Ukrainian democracy reflects what Stanford stands for as a university dedicated to research, teaching and engagement – its slogan is “the winds of freedom blow.” When President Marc Tessier-Lavigne addressed the Faculty Senate on Feb. 24 shortly after the Russian invasion, he said, “There are scholars within our community who bring experience and deep insight to this range of issues, and who will help policymakers as they navigate this situation.”

He added, “It is important to remember that an international conflict of this scale will have effects and consequences for many members of our community, in many different ways. This is a difficult moment, and my thoughts are with all who are affected.”

A few days earlier, as Russian forces massed and an attack loomed, Tessier-Lavigne had joined McFaul to meet with Ukrainian students and scholars who had assembled for a dinner gathering at the latter’s home. The Stanford president was also instrumental in lighting up the iconic Hoover Tower on March 11 in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag as a show of solidarity with the country and its people.

Policy, Research and Discovery

Steve Pifer, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and William J. Perry Research Fellow at FSI’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), said the Ukrainians have resisted the Russian invasion with courage, tenacity and determination, surprising many, particularly in the Kremlin, which significantly underestimated the resistance that the Russian military would encounter.

“For many Ukrainians, this is an existential fight.  If they lose, they lose their democracy, however imperfect it might be.  And they also lose the vision that many, particularly the young, hold for Ukraine: to become a normal European state, such as the Czech Republic or Slovenia” he said.

Pifer has worked with CDDRL on conferences and panels on Ukraine and has many relationships with fellows from the Emerging Leaders Program. “That is a great project that gives young, rising Ukrainians the chance to study and think at Stanford about how best they can develop a modern Ukrainian state. And they have gone back to do some remarkable things.”

He says CDDRL maintains an active network of Ukrainian alumni of its programs:  “It has been interesting to keep up with some of them, both via Zooms and in person when I have visited Kyiv.”

FSI scholars like Pifer have long studied Ukraine, Russia and post-Soviet bloc nations in the context of emerging democracies. In 2002, McFaul wrote about the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the prospects for democracy in Eastern European countries like Ukraine.

Stanford is the best place to rethink Ukraine’s past and plan the future.
Oleksiy Honcharuk
Former Prime Minister of Ukraine

In his article “The Fourth Wave of Democracy and Dictatorship: Noncooperative Transitions in the Postcommunist World,” McFaul noted that “the balance of power and ideologies at the time of transition had path dependent consequences for subsequent regime emergence,” whether democratic, partially democratic or autocratic.

In another essay, “Indifferent to Democracy prescient of FSI’s future Ukrainian efforts, he argued for boosting democratic aspirations in those countries by “empowering human rights activists through high-level meetings with U.S. officials” and launching “assistance programs designed to strengthen the independent media, trade unions, political parties, civil society and the rule of law.”

In February of this year, as Russia built up its forces near Ukraine, McFaul wrote about Russian president Putin’s greatest fear: “To Putin, the Orange Revolution undermined a core objective of his grand strategy: to establish a privileged and exclusive sphere of influence across the territory that once comprised the Soviet Union.”

Rose Gottemoeller, the former Deputy Secretary General of NATO and Steven C. Házy Lecturer at CISAC, has written that, “In some ways, the simplest solution for NATO and the United States would be for Ukraine to decide that it didn’t want to join NATO, take it out of the constitution, and reinsert a provision about nonalignment.” However, she notes that the U.S. should make it clear that Ukraine won’t be ready for this for decades, and that a “moratorium is the best way of doing this at this point.”

On Russia’s misinformation efforts, Kathryn Stoner, the Mosbacher Director at CDDRL and an expert on Russian politics, told the Los Angeles Times that Russian outlets like RT harbor Russian propaganda.

“It is definitely the mouthpiece of the Russian government,” said Stoner, author of the 2021 book, "Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order."

Fukuyama makes an optimistic case for what the post-invasion world might look like: “A Russian defeat will make possible a ‘new birth of freedom,’ and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy. The spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.”

Scholars Making an Impact

Beyond direct efforts to support Ukraine and engagement with students and alumni, many FSI faculty are conducting research and sharing expertise on issues related to the conflict.

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Since 2005, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies has cultivated rich academic ties and friendships with Ukrainian scholars and civic leaders as part of our mission to support democracy and development domestically and abroad.


Experts from Ukraine, all former visiting scholars at Stanford, will share their professional perspectives and personal experiences on the current war.

Voices From Ukraine speakers

  • Sofia Dyak, Director, Center for Urban History, L’viv
  • Andriy Kohut, Director, Sectoral State Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine
  • Dmytro Koval, Associate Professor of Law, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy; Program and Legal Officer, Democracy Reporting International
  • Dariya Orlova, Senior Lecturer, Mohyla School of Journalism, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, The Europe Center, and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

Online via Zoom

Sofia Dyak
Andriy Kohut
Dmytro Koval
Dariya Orlova
Panel Discussions
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