Student Session on Careers in Government

Attention all students interested in careers in government and public diplomacy!

Join CDDRL for a unique opportunity to meet with representatives from the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy on Thursday, April 13.

During this event, you'll have the chance to learn about the Commission's work to promote the understanding of U.S. policies and culture overseas, ask questions, and network with professionals with decades of experience in government and public service.

This event is perfect for students interested in pursuing careers in government, international relations, public diplomacy, and related fields. Don't miss out on this chance to connect with professionals and gain valuable insights into the world of public diplomacy.

This event is only open to students.

About the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

Since 1948, the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) has been charged with appraising U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics and to increase the understanding of, and support for, these same activities. The ACPD conducts research and symposiums that provide honest assessments and informed discourse on public diplomacy efforts across government. Supported by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, the Commission reports to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress.

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This Piece argues that Americans need to shed their anti-partyism and take a second look at parties: Political parties are the only civic associations with the capacity to organize at a scale that matters and the only intermediaries that both communicate with voters and govern. The Piece, however, advances a fundamentally different orientation to party reform—one that pushes beyond a view of parties as vehicles for funding elections, policy-demanders, or heuristic brands. Instead, it offers a conception of party strength that emphasizes political parties as organizations, and it offers a blueprint for party reform that emphasizes strengthening the organizational and associational features of political parties. Finally, the Piece offers strategies for associational party-building that do not depend on federal legislative intervention—or any legislative intervention. Throughout, it grounds the theoretical intervention in empirical evidence from recent trends in state and local party-building to show that associational party-building is a feasible direction for party reform. In sum, it explains why Americans need strong parties, how we should conceive of them, and how we might get there.

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Columbia Law Review Forum
Didi Kuo
Tabatha Abu El-Haj
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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.

US Infrastructure Investment Forum

The US infrastructure investment industry is undergoing a period of rapid change today, which presents public sponsors, federal agencies, and industry leaders with a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

The US Infrastructure Investment Forum aims to share information, identify challenges and policy reforms, and foster collaboration to deliver on the potential of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

Forum topics will include the impact of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, federal permitting regulations, and key challenges to US infrastructure development.

This half-day forum is open to the public and will be of particular interest to federal, state, and local transportation officials along with infrastructure investment industry executives and academic or nonprofit organization representatives.

The forum is hosted by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) and organized in collaboration with the Build America Center (BAC), the Build America Bureau (BAB), the National Governors Association (NGA), and the Global Infrastructure Investors Association (GIIA).

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William Blount Hall
David & Joan Traitel Building, Hoover Institution
435 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305

The Role of Public Diplomacy in Democracy Promotion

In partnership with the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host a moderated panel discussion on the role of public diplomacy in democracy promotion at Stanford University.

A distinguished panel of experts, including Larry Diamond, Michael McFaul, and Kathryn Stoner, will discuss how USG public diplomacy programs can most effectively promote and defend democratic values in an increasingly authoritarian and illiberal global context.  The panel will also consider whether the U.S. is still a credible force in championing democracy around the globe. Finally, we hope this panel will yield insights into how public diplomacy programs can better shape the way foreign publics perceive and act upon their citizen rights and responsibilities.

Intended for an audience of public diplomacy practitioners, policymakers, scholars, and Stanford professors and students, this panel will also be of interest to think tanks, NGOs, and academic institutions and centers devoted to the study of the diplomacy/democracy nexus. Participants can join in person or online.

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Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Online: Via Zoom

Panel Discussions
Giulia P. Davis
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To celebrate Black History Month and in support of this year's theme of "Black Resistance," the World House Project at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law is honored to share its award-winning short documentary, When I Get Grown: Reflections of a Freedom Rider, for free throughout the month of February.

When I Get Grown, a film based on World House Project director Dr. Clayborne Carson's interviews with American civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette, explores Lafayette's experiences as a Freedom Rider and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. The film highlights the Freedom Riders' commitment to end segregation and underscores the importance of black resistance in the struggle for equal rights and justice.

Bernard Lafayette's story is deeply intertwined with the theme of "Black Resistance," and his unwavering spirit of defiance against discrimination serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come.

You can view the film's trailer below and watch it free online here.




  • Best Short Documentary (Harlem International Film Festival, 2022)
  • Best Short Documentary (Coronado Island Film Festival, 2022)
  • Audience Award, Best Documentary Short (Coronado Island Film Festival, 2022)
  • Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking (The Roxbury International Film Festival, 2022)
  • Most Inspiring — USA (The NewsFest — True Stories International Film and Writers Festival, 2022)
  • Best Documentary, 15-30 Minutes — Historical (The NewsFest — True Stories International Film and Writers Festival, 2022)
  • Best Trailer — Historical (The NewsFest — True Stories International Film and Writers Festival, 2022)
  • Best News Story — Historical (The NewsFest — True Stories International Film and Writers Festival, 2022)
  • Best Animation (The NewsFest — True Stories International Film and Writers Festival, 2022)




  • Harlem International Film Festival (World Premiere), 2022
  • American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, 2022
  • United Nations Association Film Festival, 2022
  • Coronado Island Film Festival, 2022
  • Studio City International Film & TV Festival, 2022
  • Social Justice Film Festival, 2022
  • Sidewalk Film Festival, 2022
  • Montreal International Black Film Festival, 2022
  • Los Angeles Black Film Festival, 2022
  • New York City Independent Film Festival, 2022
  • Pan African Film Festival, 2022
  • American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, 2022
  • Roxbury International Film Festival, 2022
  • The NewsFest — True Stories International Film and Writers Festival, 2022
  • The World House Documentary Film Festival, 2023

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2023 World House Film Festival

MLK Weekend Film Festival Explores "The Crisis of Democracy in the World House"

The World House Project's annual documentary film festival highlights the voices of marginalized communities and honors Martin Luther King Jr. and the movements he inspired.
MLK Weekend Film Festival Explores "The Crisis of Democracy in the World House"
Arrival at Schiphol of the pastor and civil rights activist Martin Luther King and his wife, on the occasion of receiving an honorary doctorate in social sciences from the VU University in Amsterdam

Explore the Lives and Shared Legacy of Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr. with Clayborne Carson

Available through Stanford Continuing Studies, "Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr.: Their Lives and Shared Legacy" is a new online course that will run for four weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 17 through February 9, 2023. Enrollment is open now.
Explore the Lives and Shared Legacy of Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr. with Clayborne Carson
Staff of The World House Project on the stairs of Encina Hall

The World House Project, Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Vision of a More Just and Peaceful Future, Launches at FSI

Led by Clayborne Carson, the new project works to realize King's vision of the world as a large house in which "we must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”
The World House Project, Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Vision of a More Just and Peaceful Future, Launches at FSI
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“When I Get Grown: Reflections of a Freedom Rider,” a film based on Dr. Clayborne Carson's interviews with American civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette, is available to stream for free throughout the month of February.

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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.

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

Room N346, Neukom Building
555 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305

Associate Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

Diego A. Zambrano’s primary research and teaching interests lie in the areas of civil procedure, transnational litigation, and judicial federalism. His work explores the civil litigation landscape: the institutions, norms, and incentives that influence litigant and judicial behavior. Professor Zambrano also has an interest in comparative constitutional law and legal developments related to Venezuela. He currently leads an innovative Stanford Policy Lab tracking “Global Judicial Reforms” and has served as an advisor to pro-democracy political parties in Venezuela. In 2021, Professor Zambrano received the Barbara Allen Babcock Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Zambrano’s scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming at the Columbia Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Virginia Law Review, among other journals, and has been honored by the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) and the National Civil Justice Institute. Professor Zambrano will be a co-author of the leading casebook Civil Procedure: A Modern Approach (8th ed. 2024) (with Marcus, Pfander, and Redish). In addition, Professor Zambrano serves as the current chair of the Federal Courts Section of the AALS. He also writes about legal issues for broader public audiences, with his contributions appearing in the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, and Lawfare.

After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School in 2013, Professor Zambrano spent three years as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb in New York, focusing on transnational litigation and arbitration. Before joining Stanford Law School in 2018, Professor Zambrano was a Bigelow Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.

CDDRL Affiliated Faculty
Book Launch: Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World

To mark the eleven-year anniversary of the Arab Uprisings, The George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies (IMES) and Stanford University’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD) invite you to a series of panels examining major findings from the edited volume Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World: Regimes, Oppositions, and External Actors after the Spring, edited by Lisa Blaydes, Amr Hamzawy, and Hesham Sallam and published by the University of Michigan Press (2022).

About the Volume:

The advent of the Arab Spring in late 2010 was a hopeful moment for partisans of progressive change throughout the Arab world. Authoritarian leaders who had long stood in the way of meaningful political reform in the countries of the region were either ousted or faced the possibility of political if not physical demise. The downfall of long-standing dictators as they faced off with strong-willed protesters was a clear sign that democratic change was within reach. Throughout the last ten years, however, the Arab world has witnessed authoritarian regimes regaining resilience, pro-democracy movements losing momentum, and struggles between the first and the latter involving regional and international powers.

This volume explains how relevant political players in Arab countries among regimes, opposition movements, and external actors have adapted ten years after the onset of the Arab Spring. It includes contributions on Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, and Tunisia. It also features studies on the respective roles of the United States, China, Iran, and Turkey vis-à-vis questions of political change and stability in the Arab region, and includes a study analyzing the role of Saudi Arabia and its allies in subverting revolutionary movements in other countries.



8:00-8:30 am: Coffee and light breakfast

8:30-9:00 am: Opening Remarks

Mona Atia, IMES, The George Washington University
Larry Diamond, CDDRL, Stanford University
Hicham Alaoui, Hicham Alaoui Foundation

9:00-10:45 am Panel I: Authoritarian Survival Strategies after the Arab Uprisings

Michael Herb, “The Decay of Family Rule in Saudi Arabia”
Farah Al-Nakib, “Kuwait’s Changing Landscape: Palace Projects and the Decline of Rule by Consensus”
Samia Errazzouki, “The People vs. the Palace: Power and Politics in Morocco since 2011”
Moderator: Hesham Sallam, CDDRL, Stanford University

10:45-11:00 am: Coffee break

11:00 am -1:00 pm Panel II: Opposition Mobilization and Challenges to Democratization

Khalid Medani, “The Prospects and Challenges of Democratization in Sudan”
Sean Yom, “Mobilization without Movement: Opposition and Youth Activism in Jordan”
Lina Khatib, “Cycles of Contention in Lebanon”
David Patel, “The Nexus of Patronage, Petrol, and Population in Iraq”
Moderator: Ayca Alemdaroglu, CDDRL, Stanford University

1:00-2:00 pm: Lunch

2:00-3:45 pm Panel III: External Actors and Responses to Popular Mobilization

Sarah Yerkes, U.S. Influence on Arab Regimes: From Reluctant Democracy Supporter to Authoritarian Enabler”
Ayca Alemdaroglu, “Myths of Expansion: Turkey’s Changing Policy in the Arab World”
Moderator: Nathan Brown, The George Washington University



Hicham Alaoui is the founder and director of the Hicham Alaoui Foundation and a scholar on the comparative politics of democratization and religion, with a focus on the MENA region.

Ayça Alemdaroğlu is a Research Scholar and Associate Director of the Program on Turkey at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University.

Mona Atia is Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Nathan Brown is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Larry Diamond is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he serves as director of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy.

Samia Errazzouki is a PhD candidate in history at the University of California Davis and a former Morocco-based journalist.

Michael Herb is Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University.

Farah Al-Nakib is Associate Professor of History at the California Polytechnic State University.

Lina Khatib is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House.

Khalid Mustafa Medani is Associate Professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies at McGill University.

David Siddhartha Patel is a Senior Fellow and Associate Director for Research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.

Hesham Sallam is a Research Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Sarah Yerkes is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sean Yom is Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Board Member of the Hicham Alaoui Foundation.

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