Departures Podcast featuring Charles Dunst, author of ‘Defeating the Dictators: How Democracy Can Prevail in the Age of the Strongman’

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Democracy, in terms of its branding, has had a fairly rough decade. Numerous authors we have had on this podcast have highlighted and explained its global decline, discussed the expansion of nationalist movements which have eaten away at rule of law and institutional integrity, and the frustrating resilience of some of the world’s most established authoritarian leaders, who seem to weather every storm keep their grip on power intact. 

So it’s such a refreshing change to pace to receive such a well researched and sharply argued case for optimism for the power of democracy to continue attracting those seeking freedom and opportunity from Charles Dunst in his new book, “Defeating the Dictators: How Democracy Can Prevail in the Age of the Strongman.”

Dunst, who is deputy director of research and analytics at The Asia Group and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says that he approached his book with the goal of offering a tangible roadmap for combatting autocracy, focusing on practical and commonsense ways that US foreign policy (and foreign policies of other leading Western nations) can be marshaled toward producing better democratic outcomes.

In this spirited discussion with Robert Amsterdam, Dunst explains how he sees immigration playing such a crucial role in helping democracies thrive, and how Washington, despite having to take a nuanced approach in dealing with allies which have hybrid qualities of both democracies and dictatorships, nevertheless has seen clear evidence of the enduring value of its soft power, continuing to be a promoter of rule of law, human rights, and equality.