In 1989, political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted the “end of history,” arguing that democracy coupled with a market economy would replace other forms of government. Giuliano Amato, former prime minister of Italy, disputed this during his October 17 lecture on the state of democracy, which was hosted by the Center on Law and Security. The years since the demise of the Soviet Union have not supported Fukuyama’s prediction, he argued.

“One way or another,” said Amato, “we are surrounded by other countries who tend to be different and tend to reject the model that we embody. It’s precisely the opposite of democracy spreading at the end of history.”

Amato served two terms as the Italian prime minister (1992-3, 2000-1) and was the vice president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, which drafted the new European Constitution. He is a judge of the Constitutional Court of Italy.

The past few years have been disillusioning for the proliferation of democracy. “The Arab Spring was excellent at getting rid of old regimes but less successful in producing new, solid democratic regimes,” he said. Libya remains an “ongoing disaster.” These pressing problems need us to reevaluate our foreign policy. He posited that, as Henry Kissinger once argued, we can ally pragmatically with countries on specific issues in which our mutual interests align, even if those governments are not similar to ours. For example, the fight against the Islamic State needs Iran, which can monitor Afghanistan.

As for the larger question of nurturing the spread of democracy, he drew on former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s argument, saying we need to recognize that the strength of democracies doesn’t come from the military. “It’s from being perceived as open societies that defend values.” Because other nations will not necessarily adopt a “French-style” democratic model, the US needs to learn how to accept different manifestations of democracy. Muslim societies, he pointed out, share many of the core values espoused by western democracies.

“We can’t expect to export our democracy,” Amato advised. “What we can expect is to multiply the roots in the world of the rule of law, nurtured by our values of human rights, transparency in public offices, and gender equality.”

Posted October 22, 2014