Good morning, everyone, on this surprisingly snowy day in Ottawa.
We are beginning our study into threats to liberal democracy in Europe. We're pleased to welcome our guests for the first hour.
From the Atlantic Council, we have former ambassador Daniel Fried, distinguished follow at the Atlantic Council and also former special assistant and NSC senior director for presidents Clinton and Bush, ambassador to Poland and assistant to the secretary of state for Europe. Welcome, Ambassador Fried.
We also have Mr. Benjamin Haddad, Director, Future Europe Initiative. He's an expert in European politics and transatlantic relations. He has notably advocated for transatlantic unity in the face of Russian aggression, greater European responsibility and investment on strategic matters.
We also have Dr. Staffan Lindberg, Professor in the Political Science Department and Director of the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg.
I would like to start with our guests from the Atlantic Council, who can take 10 to 12 minutes for some introductory remarks.
Dr. Lindberg, we'll then move to you.
Then of course we'll open it up to members because I'm sure they're going to have many questions for all of you.
With that, our guests from the Atlantic Council, please proceed.
Thank you for this opportunity.
I wish we were able to meet under more auspicious circumstances, but the fact is that the west, that is, the core of the world's democracies, comprising North America and Europe, is suffering a period of what I would call a democratic sag in self-confidence at the same time that authoritarians around the world—Russia, and in a different way, China—are finding themselves emboldened. This is a period of testing for the west and for our values. Since 1945, and again since 1989, we believed that our values and our interests would advance together or not at all. We built institutions reflecting the lessons we had learned in the first half of the 20th century.
The result was spectacular. It was the longest period of general peace in the west in recorded history, with world prosperity. Despite gaps, mistakes, blunders, hypocrisies and other mistakes made by the U.S. government and all governments, this period was a good one. From 1945 to 1989 we advanced a vision of a democratic world order within the space we had at our disposal. From 1989 we expanded that space and achieved a vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace.
That vision is under assault from both authoritarians without and doubts within. The problems that have weakened us have also been of our own making. Economic stresses, massive income disparities in the United States, a prolonged period of economic stagnation in Europe, and enormously high youth unemployment, plus issues of national identity in the face of massive immigration, Latino immigration mainly in the United States, and north African and Middle Eastern immigration in Europe have led to stresses on both sides of the Atlantic and a nativist counter-reaction.
We face a narrative in which the authoritarians, including especially the Chinese, may believe that their time has come and that the authoritarian model is actually more effective. This, in fact, is not new. This is a remake of an old movie we saw in the 1930s. I like remakes no better than the original, and in this case certainly not, but the challenge is not to be laughed at. I suppose the proof that the United States and Europe are part of the same civilization is that we are suffering—I won't speak of Canada, but certainly my country and Europe are suffering—the same kind of political and economic stresses at the same time. Whatever you think of Brexit or President Trump or the Italian government or whatever it is that we call what is happening in some countries in central Europe, we face common challenges.
Now, in the view of the Atlantic Council, at least, and in my own view, it won't do to wring our hands and complain or, being an American, to simply be mad at some of the narratives coming out of the Trump White House about nationalism or the unilateral nature of American foreign policy interests. Instead, the Atlantic Council, along with Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation, launched an effort to, as it were, plant the flag of values and what we stand for. Madeleine Albright, a former secretary of state; Steve Hadley, a former national security adviser; Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister; and Yoriko Kawaguchi, a former Japanese foreign minister, were leaders and co-chairs of an effort to write and then present a declaration of principles—what it is we stand for. Frankly, we were inspired by the Atlantic Charter, which set out the first set of foundational principles for the post-World War II world. This was not an official effort but an unofficial effort to set out principles for the 21st century.
It has seven statements about democracy, economic freedom and responsibility, about the right to protect and about human rights. I commend it to you. It was a joint U.S.-Canadian production. That is, CIGI and the Atlantic Council worked together on this. At the rollout at the Munich Security Conference in February, the took part of the town hall meeting to explain the document. The purpose of this is to rally the forces of—if I may use the phrase—the free world, rally ourselves and then, when we have consolidated our thinking, find ways to reach out to others.
This isn't a western-only product. Former officials from India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Tunisia, Israel and South Korea have all signed this, as well as a number of Europeans. We want to reach out to countries, democracies around the world, and then reach out to see whether we can develop common ground with countries like China, because we do want China involved in the making of a 21st century system. We just don't want to have to compromise our basic values to bring it on board.
Now there's much more to say about this effort, and I look forward to the discussion, but I will say that your inquiry, Canada's inquiry into the challenges to the liberal world order, is timely and important and we have work to do together.
I will yield the rest of my time to my colleague from the Atlantic Council.
Thank you for your invitation.
Let me just add a quick couple of words to what Dan just said about the threats to liberal world order. As we have talked about this a lot in the last few years both in the United States and Europe, it's important to define the words that we're talking about because we sometimes talk about democratic backsliding or the rise of the liberalism. I think what we're seeing is the rise of an alternative liberal model that is defined by authoritarianism, assault on the rule of law, a sort of direct connection between the leader and the people circumventing parliamentary power, civil society and NGOs. We see this all over Europe.
I really want to stress one of the points that Ambassador Fried put forward, the idea that a lot of the causes for this are self-inflicted, and it's true that we have maybe not been reactive enough to some of the economic inequalities that have been on the rise, a very high youth unemployment that you see all over Europe, as well as the ripple effect of what is seen by many in Europe as uncontrolled immigration and the effect on the transformation of national identity. To respond to those challenges, it is very important to be able to differentiate the illiberal measures taken by some leaders from maybe legitimate differences in policy, such as the reaction to immigration.
I want to come especially to the question of European politics in the last few years, especially since the refugee crisis of 2015. There maybe has been confusion sometimes between, once again, some measures taken that are antithetical to the values of the European Union and the attachment to the rule of law and what could be seen as constituting legitimate policy disagreements about how to treat the immigration crisis. I think this difference has been exploited by leaders, especially in Poland and Hungary, saying that the voters didn't have a choice but to side with them including when they took measures that were seen as threatening the rule of law.
I think it's really important to make this point because, as you see the European Union, you have countries that come with very different historical cultural traditions, very different relationships to the notion of sovereignty and national identity. These are linked mostly to dramatically different experiences in the 20th century. Western European countries, like France and Germany, joined the European Union—created the European Union—to a large extent as a way not to reproduce the ills of the first part of the 21st century, nationalism and border-strong identity. Countries that are left behind the Iron Curtain to a large extent saw the integration in the European Union and NATO as a way to protect their national identity and sovereignty. From this you can have very different reactions to issues like immigration that need to be understood and not confused with legitimate criticism over the rule of law.
Once again, understanding the concerns of voters on these issues without giving in to illiberalism is a key element, in my view, to respond to what we're talking about today. I'd be happy to expand this in a conversation a little later.
Thank you very much, and apologies if the mistake is mine.
I just want to give you the background, in the sense that I represent what is now the largest-ever social science international collaboration to measure and study democracy, and now, the autocratization [Technical difficulty—Editor].
This represents a collective effort of a total of 3,000 academics and other experts from 180 countries in the world.
What we have been establishing is that this current wave of autocratization affects large portions of the world. We are in a third wave at present. It affects large influential countries. The way things happen, as I'm sure many honourable members are aware, is that media and civil society are often attacked first and then rule of law. But different from what we were used to is that the current wave of autocratization is very incremental. It is very slow and gradual. That makes it hard to detect and hard to react to.
This is a visual of what has happened since 1972. To the left, you see the regular sort of country averages of the level of democracy in the world, liberal democracy, and you can see there is some backsliding, according to this measure, in the last five to 10 years.
If we—on the right-hand side panel—weigh this by population size in these countries, then these trends are much more pronounced. The top line there is North America and western Europe. Then you have the green line, which is Latin America, and the black line is the world average.
We established last year that 2.5 billion people, or a third of the world's population, live in countries that are undergoing autocratization rather than the opposite, democratization.
Here is entirely new data. This was ready two days ago. It covers up to the end of 2018 and is comparing things to those in 2008. If a country is below the line, things have gotten worse. If you're above the line, things have gotten better. We put names on the countries in which we can establish that there has been a statistically significant change. Only those countries are marked. But you can see some of the countries that are there: the United States, and the Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, and Serbia in Europe. Then there are other big countries like Brazil and India with its 1.3 billion people. And, of course, down there is Turkey. That's an electoral autocracy today, or electoral dictatorship if you want.
If we look at the last couple of years, for Europe it's even worse. Of the four countries that have backslid the most, three are in Europe: Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. When they are backsliding, these are the areas that are affected the most. Again, below the line over the last 10 years, more countries have become worse in that aspect, and above the line, things have gotten better.
You'll see that it's freedom of expression, in which you also have freedom of the media, that is the worst affected, along with freedom of association and rule of law to some extent.
If we look at that liberal democracy index in Europe, you have the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine that have gotten worse. Here it's from 2009 to 2018, so it's a perfect 10 years. Also, in these countries, it's largely freedom of association that is the most negatively affected.
I just want to give you one visual of that. One of the indicators we have that have to do with freedom of the media is government censorship efforts when it comes to the media. Here, again, even on these specific indicators, you see there are many of the same countries again, but also, in some of the countries, this aspect of democracy—a very precise, specific indicator—has gotten worse, although in the aggregate, when we look at liberal democracy as a whole, the changes are not yet so big that we can say that democracy has slid back as a whole.
This is one of the, so to speak, early warning signals in the battery of indicators of liberal democracy that tend to move early. This is, for us, a very worrying picture, if nothing else, because of this. I'm sure you've seen similar pictures online at certain points. First they came for the journalists and then we don't know what happened.
On that note, let me just say thank you. I'll be happy to answer any questions that the honourable members may have.
Have we identified the problem? I think that depends on what you mean by “the problem”. Do we know that there's backsliding going on? Yes. Do we know where it's going on? Yes, and with our data you can see the details of it, but is that the problem? Is it that we see backsliding?
In that sense, yes, we can identify the problem, but along with the problem, do we know why this has happened or is ongoing in so many countries, and not only in Europe? I think we need to have a global perspective here. It's ongoing in very much the same ways and manners in India and in the Philippines. You talked about the United States, and I agree with that.
Do we know why this is happening? Yes, we have hunches, and I think we heard some good hunches from my colleagues at the Atlantic Council. Do we know that those are the drivers? No, we don't. We still need to study that a lot more, unfortunately.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Dr. Lindberg, I'd like to begin with you.
You've done a lot of statistical analysis and diving into numbers. I'd like to dive into some numbers in Europe. It's how elections have played out.
There seems to be a pattern, whether it be the AfD, the Five Star Movement or France's National Front. The Five Star Movement received 32% of the vote. The National Front, Le Pen's party, received 34% of the vote. It seems that in Europe the numbers cap at that one-third of the population that it resonates with.
The Pew Research Center did something quite interesting. Last spring, in most of the democratic countries—or some that are slipping—they put a question to the population: Do immigrants make our country stronger? What's fascinating is in countries like France or Germany, 59% of the population agreed with that premise. It seems there's a hard base of about 32%, with perhaps a little room for growth. Then there's something really odd that happens.
I'd like to note, by the way, that Canada ranked the highest in terms of people agreeing that immigrants make our country stronger. Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians agreed with that. That was the highest in the world.
In Hungary, it was only 5%, and it really stands out when we look at what perhaps happens in Hungary that's different from the AfD or the Five Star Movement. Whereas there seems to be a creep of autocratization in many of these countries, in Hungary there's kind of a sneaky way of eroding democracy. Orbán has codified this whole concept of Christian democracy with three clear principles. He propagates that view and you see it translate in very dangerous ways in the numbers. On that point of view, he seems to have the backing of over 90% of the population.
Diving into that data, and looking at it through that particular lens, it would seem there's a base of 32%. Once they are in power, and once they begin this process, if it's codified in a succinct, clean way, as we see in the example of Hungary, what do you believe could happen in some of the other European countries? Of course, Mr. Orbán is spreading this ideology beyond Hungary.
I would like to turn to Ambassador Fried. You had referenced Russia and China. During the Cold War, we had proxy wars in different parts of the world. Now we have a hybrid war, and when you take a look at what the Kremlin's role is in particular in these trends in Europe, perhaps you would like to comment on that because we're well aware that they do things.
We've seen the Schroederization of politicians in Europe. We see substantial loans to Marine Le Pen's party in France. They are engaged in false flag tactics like the fire bombing of a Hungarian—and this is where it gets really complicated—cultural centre in western Ukraine to stir up interethnic animosities. The culprits were caught. They were Polish white supremacists who by chance ended up getting caught. Then they spilled the beans that it was an AfD official from Germany who paid them to do this, and the money came from handlers in Russia.
It shows a multi-layered approach to destabilizing liberal democracy in Europe. You have those very active engagements, and then you have China with Huawei where they go around to a lot of these countries and say, “Look. Forget about even pretending to have elections with this equipment. It's cheaper than western equipment, plus you can watch your citizenry with this equipment.”
I was wondering if you would like to comment on those—
Mr. Lindberg, first of all, I just want to say that I didn't want to embarrass you. As Mr. Levitt said, the committee is responsible for ensuring that all documents are sent to us in English and French. It's not your fault. The committee should have done its job.
That said, I'll move on to my questions.
I think that today's well-functioning democracies are the democracies that run the same way as they did before the rise of autocracy. These democracies seem to have the same communication methods, the same approaches and the same diplomatic process.
I think that protection against the threat posed by the rise of autocracy in well-functioning democracies depends heavily on communication and a proper approach to the problem.
I'll provide an example of what we've seen not only here in Canada, but around the world. I'm talking about the reaction to the United Nations migration pact. This pact was intended to initiate the start of communication to end the chaos caused by migration. However, various autocratization forces used the pact as a lightning rod, in order to gather behind a standard.
Do you agree with this analysis? How could we address the issue of communication or approaches in our democracies? Do you have any proposals in this regard?
You're right. The French leader said, something like 25 years ago, that populists ask the right questions and give the wrong answers. It's true that this issue of immigration has been hijacked, in terms of fear, by nativist rhetoric. If we want to be able to respond to these fears responsibly, we have to understand where they come from. If you look at the refugee crisis in 2015, there initially was objectively a failure from the European Union to anticipate and respond effectively to the refugee crisis. I think we have seen a lot of measures since then, with a lot of coordination among European countries to be able to respond effectively in three ways.
The first way is to welcome with a humane and generous philosophy the refugees and asylum seekers in the European Union. There's still ongoing debate right now in Europe about how to be able to share the...I don't want to use the term “burden”, which is often used, but to share the refugees around European countries.
The second one is to clearly bolster border control. We have seen increased resources in terms of both manpower and financial resources that have been allocated to the European border control agency, Frontex. You still have this debate going on right now in Europe with the European Commission putting forward more resources.
Finally, and I think this is really key, is understanding that this immigration is as a result of instability in the periphery of the European Union. It's a result of crisis and conflict in Libya, in Ukraine, in Syria, so there is absolutely no way—I think you made that point in your question—for Europeans to shield themselves and to think that they can “bunkerize” themselves from the rest of the world. Economic aid and sometimes also military involvement will be critical for Europeans to be able to respond to these challenges.
I really want to stress the fact that it is important and completely legitimate for voters and citizens to feel that at least their institutions are in control of this phenomenon. You can be humane, generous and open and at the same time show that you are in control of your own immigration policy. I think it is one of the great successes of Canada that it is a country that has a fairly strict and controlled immigration policy and at the same time is open and generous. It has shown itself to be extremely open to refugee and asylum seekers in the last few years.
This question is for Mr. Haddad and Mr. Fried.
You mentioned the immigration issue which started in 2015. When we look at Europe, part of the criticism was that the Schengen agreement was not as strong as it could have been. More importantly, Hungary has now been censured by European lawmakers where it has gone to a majority. Now it will go on to the 28 member states. There has to be unanimity if any sanctions or any repercussions are going to happen to Hungary, but as you know, Poland is going to veto that.
How much of this is actually creating a new normal? If you look at what's happening in Europe now with some of the political changes in the other stronger democracies, it seems that a new normal has now been accepted. Dr. Lindberg has said that the depletion rate now, when it comes to democracy, is about 8%. You have this creep, or democratic erosion. It's happening so slowly that other countries are now beginning to accept that they used to be here, but now they will accept this as a new normal to somewhat keep the peace. Right now Europe is going through a lot of transition, especially with Brexit and with the hard border in Ireland, so maybe they think it's just better to accept certain things just to keep the peace at the new normal, or.... What should be the response to that?
We're going to start with our second panel as we continue with our study on threats to liberal democracy in Europe.
I'd like to welcome, as an individual, Dr. William Galston, the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair and Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Galston is the author of nine books and more than 100 articles in the fields of political theory, public policy and American politics.
Dr. Galston, thank you for joining us from Washington, D.C., this morning. I would ask you to provide your opening remarks, and then we will open it up to our colleagues on the committee for questions.
Thank you very much, Chairman Levitt. It's an unexpected honour to be asked to testify before this important committee.
Your staff very usefully provided me with five questions to address. Two of them concern Canada's transatlantic alliances and policies for bolstering the liberal international order. Coming from a country that has made a total hash of these issues recently, I'm a little reluctant to offer my advice, but if you press me during the question period, I will do so.
Of the remaining three questions, the responses to which will form the bulk of my opening testimony, the first concerns the factors driving the popular and populist resentment, the upsurge in this resentment in most of Europe's liberal democracies. Happily, after a period of confusion, something of a scholarly consensus is emerging as to the major causes of this upsurge.
A familiar place to begin is with the impact of technology and globalization on the economies of advanced western democracies. This has triggered, among many other pathologies, the end of the 40 years of postwar convergence between more prosperous and less prosperous regions, and instead the rise of massive and steadily increasing regional inequalities. One economic geographer has recently labelled the upsurge of populism “the revenge of 'left-behind' places”, and I think there's a lot to that.
Second and relatedly is the collapse of traditional manufacturing in many areas, including many former urban manufacturing centres, particularly in France and the U.K. This hit the industrial working class very hard. At the same time, centre-left parties updated or modernized their programs away from working-class concerns toward the concerns more characteristic of upscale professionals. This left the working class in many countries feeling resentful and politically homeless. They decoupled from their traditional alliances with centre-left parties and became the most unstable force in European politics and, I would add, in American politics as well.
Third is the impact of immigration, which has triggered a host of identity concerns and issues. If I had a lot of time, I could go through a series of decisions by European leaders, such as Tony Blair and Angela Merkel, which contributed to the impact of immigration on the population of European countries. Suffice it to say that we have the AfD in Germany, the League in Italy and Brexit in the U.K. in no small measure as a direct response to public concerns about immigration policy.
I should add parenthetically that one of Canada's distinctive features against this backdrop is its immigration policy, which not only serves your national interests pretty well, but also enjoys broad-based public support, the last time I checked. This is very unusual and accounts, I think, for the decidedly more positive and healthy tone of Canada's democracy, relative to most of the rest of the west.
The fourth cause for popular and populist discontent was the mismanagement of the financial crisis and its aftermath. European elites did not distinguish themselves in their handling of the post-crisis recovery. Failed austerity policies raised questions about the elites' competence and their concern for ordinary people.
Fifth and finally, there are growing conflicts between elites, most of whom are urban-based, and those in small town and rural areas about cultural change and the rapid evolution of social norms. In this respect, I would note the increasing importance of educational differences. One of the great dividing lines that have emerged in western democratic politics is between people who have gotten a college education and people who haven't. This is more than a question of economic opportunity. It also shapes fundamental outlooks on a host of cultural issues.
So much for question one.
Next is question two: What are the main threats facing liberal democracies in Europe today? Here I can be briefer. I think we have to distinguish first between established democracies and new democracies, especially the post-communist democracies. The main problem is with the latter, not the former. I am not saying that large established democracies in Germany and France are going to get off scot-free, but I do not expect them to morph into something illiberal, let alone undemocratic. I am much less sure about the new post-communist democracies.
In this respect, I would cite the growing cross-national appeal of what I will call “Orbánism”. Viktor Orbán of Hungary, of course, has originated what he calls illiberal democracy, which gives you the trappings of democratic elections without liberal restraints such as a free press, an independent judiciary, robust civil society and protections for individuals and minority groups.
The problem with Orbánism and this whole idea of illiberal democracy is that it is not a stable political position, for two reasons. First of all, the centralization of power tempts leaders to put their fingers on the electoral scales. We have seen this happening in Hungary and in many of the countries influenced by Orbán's ideology. Second—and this is even graver—is that the reliance on the people, the idea of pure majoritarianism, in practice gives way to exclusionary definitions of the people, based on differences of religion, ethnicity, language, etc.
The third and final question I will address is: What can and should be done? Here, very briefly, let me just tick off a few points. First of all, whatever neoclassical or neo-liberal economics may say, it is increasingly important to take place seriously as the basis for economic policy. The exacerbation of regional differences has created serious strains within European countries and between them, and there are active discussions going on in the United States, the U.K. and the EU as to what can be done to put in place more effective, place-sensitive economic policies.
Second, the kinds of immigration policies that leaders such as Tony Blair and Angela Merkel put in place are not politically sustainable. Immigration policy must be rethought to meet public qualms halfway and to establish a basis for a sustainable immigration policy that enjoys a broad measure of public support.
Third, the EU should be very careful and restrained in imposing elite cultural preferences on populations that may have a more traditional set of views. Take Poland, for example, where the influence of the Catholic church is particularly profound. The conflict between EU cultural norms and what most people in Poland believe is correct is an increasingly troubling issue.
Finally, I think it's important to acknowledge the power of the desire to retain a measure of control over one's national destiny. It turns out that nationalism is not dead, and because it's alive—but not only because it's alive—it shouldn't be treated as a dirty word. I think it's going to be important to work for a new balance between the imperatives of nationalism on the one hand and of European integration on the other.
In conclusion, I will say that, as an overarching goal, an ever-closer union may be past it's sell-by date.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I'll be happy to answer your questions.
Thank you very much, Chair.
Thank you very much, Dr. Galston.
I was a diplomat for Canada for 15 years and I have to say that I'm a big fan of the Brookings Institution. I retweet your stuff frequently and I believe many of the ideas that you've outlined were also outlined in Stephen Harper's recent book, Right Here, Right Now. However, I'm very interested, as my colleagues are, in regard to.... You talk about the practicalities of things we must do to help these established democracies. I certainly agree with them, but I'm looking for your opinion—I know you said you would give it if you were pressed, and I will press—on a mentality, vision or approach for Canada to take with respect to our foreign affairs agenda.
I'm just going to quote the recently published “2019 Trudeau Report Card”, which was issued not by me or my party but by the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton, a major university in our capital city. In the report they discuss two types of approaches to foreign affairs. I'm going to ask which approach you think is better for these established democracies in Europe that are troubled right now, and how we can best assist them.
The first approach is one that the Harper government is known for having used. It is more hawkish: to stand in the face of dictators and to directly promote democracy abroad. In fact, it has been noted that the current Minister of Foreign Affairs,, has used this as well. I genuinely believe that the difference is that—and this is stated in the report; these are not my words—the Trudeau government relies on “virtue signalling” and as opposed to a grand strategy, sort of a more piecemeal, ad hoc approach. With the Harper government, we did a have a direct strategy. I would say it was a more fulsome strategy.
The alternative—and the current government is criticized for this, but we were criticized for it as well—to this hawkish outlook is one of more diplomacy. In the recent example of Venezuela, Canada having taken a leadership position in the Lima group, some are saying this degrades our ability to act as a fair broker, which of course, since the time of Pearson, we are historically known for doing.
In your opinion, in regard to Europe, which is better, the more hawkish approach or the more diplomatic approach?
I will respond to the member's question as follows.
I think Canada has a nearly unique position of moral strength and credibility on the global stage. I'm not saying this to be flattering; I genuinely believe it to be true. I think you are seen as a country that has articulated a set of principles and has done its best to live by them, and this perception of moral credibility I think should be the foundation of Canada's foreign policy.
Now, with regard to the substance of that policy, I believe that Canada should be forthright in a principled defence of liberal democracy as the best form of government and of the liberal international order as the best way of maintaining peace and sustaining prosperity and progress among nations. Does that mean a policy of active intervention? It depends on what you mean. It certainly means the use of your moral pulpit to criticize undemocratic decisions and tendencies in Europe and elsewhere, where they occur.
With regard to Venezuela, for example, I think it's possible to be part of the solution and at the same time to say forthrightly what I believe to be the fact of the matter, and that is that Mr. Maduro is a dictator who is increasingly isolated from his own people and has shown by his actions in recent months that he really doesn't care very much about their well-being. You all know what I'm referring to.
Therefore, I'm not sure there's a really bright line between the diplomacy track and what the member characterized as a harder line track. I think Canada should be hard line in defence of principle and flexible in the policies it uses in order to defend and promote those principles. What that looks like on an event-by-event basis, I can't tell you. I will say that your foreign minister, , has evoked a lot of admiration.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would reply to the member's question as follows.
I personally believe that the results of the election in Slovakia were encouraging for the forces of liberal democracy. Whether the election of women is always encouraging for the future of liberal democracy is another question altogether. I don't think, for example, that Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine did very much for the development of Ukrainian liberal democracy, but we can have a long discussion about that.
Sir, let me put your question in a larger context. The fact that democracy in Europe has suffered some serious reversals does not mean, in my judgment, that it is on the verge of collapse in most European countries. There are enough resources through democratic electoral procedures, and also for forces of resistance in civil society and the press and elsewhere, to sustain a public protest against the excesses of illiberal tendencies in many parts of eastern and central Europe.
I would say further, if you look at the outcome of the recent municipal elections in Turkey, I think it is absolutely astonishing that after Mr. Erdogan did everything possible to put his finger on the scales, the people of Turkey were still able to deliver a major rebuke to the policies of the AK Party and to the leadership style and increasingly anti-democratic tendencies of Mr. Erdogan himself.
I think, after the shock of 2015 and the immigrants, 2016 and Brexit and the U.S. election, 2017 and 2018, with the surge of anti-immigrant populist parties throughout Europe, we may be at a hinge moment now when the forces who believe in more traditional liberal democracy are beginning to regroup.
On the previous panel, Ambassador Fried noted that one of the most important battles for liberal democracy is playing out in Ukraine. What we tend to focus on are the Russian military occupations, which have undermined the international rule of law and gone back to the 1930s in regard to changing of borders through brute force.
However, there's a battle when it comes to the concept of liberal democracy. This last round of elections was particularly encouraging. The far right only received less than 1.5% of the vote, which stands in stark contrast to...never mind the Visegrad countries, but also western European countries, where the far right gets up to about a third of the vote.
I am wondering whether you would like to comment on the fact that it appears that in Ukraine all the polling shows that a vast majority of the citizenry see their future as a liberal democracy in the European Union mould. There seems to be a lack of imagination in how we encourage that other battle taking place in Ukraine.
Would you like to comment on that?
Thank you, Mr. Galston.
I'll talk about economics. You said that the rise of populism could coincide with mismanagement by the economic establishment. You mentioned the manufacturing sector. We saw this in the United States, when the Rust Belt and other sectors supported Mr. Trump. We also saw this in the case of Brexit. Yes, it was related to immigration, but also mainly to the economy. The decline of the manufacturing sector in areas where the sector used to be strong coincides with the further liberalization of markets, including through trade agreements.
Do you agree that mismanagement by the economic establishment, which you call the elites, is the result of not paying enough attention to the negative impact of trade agreements? These agreements can help promote trade, but they also lead to economic dislocation. They may help promote sectors with higher wages. However, the new jobs wouldn't necessarily be available to people who have been uprooted and forced to move, for example in the manufacturing sector.
My question arises from this issue. What would you tell the elites, the leaders, to limit the dislocation resulting from these economic changes?
I would respond to the member's question as follows.
Let me just talk about the case I know best, that of the United States.
I was a member of the Clinton administration. I did not have any responsibility for China policy, but it is certainly the case that the major thrust of the Clinton administration's China policy was to open up world markets to China and vice versa. This policy culminated in the accession of China to the WTO in 2001. I believe that American policy-makers dramatically underestimated the impact of Chinese competition on the U.S. manufacturing sector. It is a matter of fact that between 2001 and 2007, before the great recession hit, the United States lost 3.3 million manufacturing jobs. That was more than 15% of its manufacturing base. We did not have policies in place to mitigate either the economic or the social consequences of that disruption.
I believe it is too late to reverse those consequences. I do not believe that the effort to dial the economic clock back 25 years and restore the iron and steel industry, the aluminum industry and mass manufacturing to the place that they enjoyed as recently as the 1990s can succeed. That's a policy of nostalgia.
All the horses have left the barn, but one reason that Mr. Trump is president is that he promised to do something about that. I believe that any leader of the United States or any country facing massive dislocation because of the disruption of the manufacturing sector has to have a plausible plan to address that.
I would respond to the member's question by saying that the Balkans now are what they were a century ago, namely, a venue for great power competition. I'm going to refrain from passing judgment on that fact, but simply say that it is a fact.
The good news is that most Balkan countries are being allowed to make their own choices. You have, for example, Slovenia, which has integrated quite comfortably into the European economy and society, as far as I can tell.
You have Montenegro, which is joining NATO.
Encouragingly, you have a concord between Greece and what's now known as North Macedonia. I think the world breathed a sigh of relief when the Greek prime minister, at some considerable political risk to himself, was able to stand up and defend that agreement and allow it to go forward.
So yes, there is great power competition in the Balkans, but at the same time, at least so far, the great powers have refrained from preventing individual Balkan countries from making their own choices.
Now, there are some very complicated cases like Kosovo, for example, and I don't think it would be useful to start drilling down into the micro-texture of that issue. But I am modestly encouraged. The Balkan countries, for the most part, are trying to govern themselves democratically. They have ethnic issues left over from centuries. Those aren't going to go away overnight, but at least they're not slaughtering each other anymore.
You declined to get into some of the details on places such as Kosovo. Now that we have some additional time, I was wondering if perhaps you'd like the opportunity to provide some details.
Kosovo, of course, is facing some incredible challenges with this whole concept of border adjustments or readjustments—the terminology that's currently being used. If Kosovo is to have a peace agreement, lasting peace, Belgrade, with the backing of the Kremlin, is saying that it can only happen if there are border readjustments.
That's compounded by the European Union turning around and saying to Kosovo that, notwithstanding they've fulfilled all of the requested 104 items in terms of legislative and administrative changes, they will continue to require visas for citizens to travel into the European Union.
In a certain way, is this not an abandonment by the European Union of a small country right on their borders and in a zone where, as you said, we have great world powers at play?
As to the member's question, I don't think the EU has been a profile in courage in dealing with Kosovo, regrettably.
On the other hand, I think the attainment of a permanent and sustainable peace between Serbia and Kosovo is important enough to warrant the consideration of measures which, in other circumstances, would not have to be considered. I don't need to tell anybody on this committee about the extraordinary interpenetration of peoples and ethnic groups throughout the Balkans and the extraordinary difficulty of any sort of surgical division of any territory that corresponds precisely to ethnic conglomerations.
However, if there were modest adjustments to the borders that would lead reasonably quickly to a permanent peace between Belgrade and Kosovo, I think that would unlock the European Union to do the right thing, which it has not done up to now.
Obviously, the devil is in the details here, and if this were the equivalent of asking Czechoslovakia to surrender Sudetenland, no reasonable person could be in favour of it. I think that more modest adjustments are worth considering.
I'd like to challenge you on that premise, actually.
You yourself have just said how difficult it would be to create surgically precise borders in places where there has been a lot of ethnic intermixing on territory. As you also said, the Balkans have a history. As soon as borders start switching, the peoples in the Balkans have a history of things spinning out of control and leading to people slaughtering each other.
Would that not also open up the potential of pre-World War II principles of might makes right and play right into the hands of the Kremlin when it comes to their case on whether it's Crimea, Donbass as you referenced, Transnistria, South Ossetia, or Abkhazia, a very different world order?
While that may seem to be small and insignificant, it has two extreme dangers. First, it could be a domino effect and things could go seriously wrong, and of course, the Kremlin loves it when chaos occurs. They've proven themselves, in many places in the world, to be very adept at working in those circumstances. Second, it undermines that principle of the unviolability of orders.
Dr. Galston, I mentioned Stephen Harper's book. Another book I've read recently which I've had a great interest in relative to this subject is How Democracies Die. I'm sure you're familiar with the authors there, as well: Mr. Levitsky and Mr. Ziblatt.
In that book, they talk a lot about forbearance. This was something that our previous witnesses mentioned significantly, the erosion of democracy over time. It's unfortunate for me to say, but I think we might be seeing this in Canada as well with this recent government, where we go from a full democracy to a flawed democracy, referencing The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2018 democracy index, and not only with that, but I'm sure you might have read the recent articles in the New York Times indicating the same thing, which I believe the Brookings Institution might possibly support as well.
Perhaps you could discuss the presence of forbearance in these European countries we are discussing here today and what we can do, as Canada, to discourage this forbearance, to discourage the erosion of the rule of law and the erosion of these historic customs that preserve democracy, not only in Canada but in all established democracies and evolving democracies throughout the world.
I'd like to go back to what you were saying about the role of the great powers. In particular, you look at the Balkans. One of the things we know is that one of Russia's goals is destabilization, not just of the post-transition countries, but also of established democracies. We've seen that in multiple areas.
One of my concerns in the rejigging of borders in that area is that as soon as you start, you get the domino effect. Then you have Republika Srpska, North Macedonia, the Albanians. I wonder how much of that might be a destabilization effort. More importantly, I'm interested in this intersection between authoritarianism and nationalism, because particularly in transition countries, for example in the former Yugoslavia, there is a nostalgia for the good old days of Tito, because he kept nationalists in check, because there was prosperity. There is this looking back to an authoritarian past through rose-coloured glasses, because of what are seen as the failings of democracy and the promise of democracy that hasn't necessarily panned out. You mentioned youth unemployment and other issues like that.
Where is that intersection? We talked about nationalism, but in some ways nationalism was kept in check by authoritarianism. Obviously, we want to see democracies thrive. We don't want to see destabilization.
This is an issue that has been much debated in the United States in recent years. To the American civic identity, defined by crucial founding and refounding documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address and the “I have a dream” speech, this is foundational. I can't imagine an American nationalism that I would associate myself with that did not have that kind of civic foundation.
However, people who've looked profoundly at the United States have never believed that the civic definition of our unity would be sufficient. It was necessary, but not sufficient, so throughout our history, there has also been an appeal to other kinds of commonalities, including the joint efforts that we have made.
In Abraham Lincoln's first address, when he pleaded with the south not to leave the union, he invoked the mystic chords of memory, not principle. Lincoln, above all, knew what the principle of America was, but in appealing to the south, he wasn't talking about the principle of America; he was talking about the memory of shared struggle and shared sacrifice.
I would say that civic identity and national identity at their best can work together to produce a strong country.
I will necessarily be brief in my answer: clear-eyed realism.
I think it has taken the United States, for example, a long time to wake up to the fact that China is not a status quo power. It has no intention of integrating its economy into the western rules-based economic order. It wants to change that order. Similarly, it does not accept liberal democracy as the template for good government everywhere. In his address to the 19th party congress, Chairman Xi Jinping made it very clear that he regarded the Chinese model as preferable and exportable.
I think Russia is a failed state that has proved remarkably effective in mobilizing meagre military resources on behalf of mischief. It may be that Mr. Putin is now seeking to replay in Venezuela the low-cost success that he achieved in Syria. That's genuinely worrisome.
As for what to do in Venezuela, I honestly don't think that military intervention is the key. I'm not sure that we can do it, and I'm not sure that we can get away with it.