Autocracies failed and unfailed: limited strategies for state building

The fundamental challenge for modern wealthy democracies committed to promoting better governance is that their opportunities are hostage to the preferences of national elites in closed-access polities, where political power is exercised in arbitrary ways, and where most of the population lacks access to services, including the rule of law.

In the third paper of the Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series, Stephen D. Krasner, the Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations at Stanford University, argues that successful democratization attempts depend mostly on the interests of local elites. To address this “fundamental challenge,” Krasner outlines the three elements of “good enough governance” that contribute to a relatively successful democratization effort: 1) security; 2) better service provision; and 3) economic growth. James B. Cunningham, former Ambassador to Afghanistan, authors the foreword.