Engineering Revolution: The Paradox of Democracy Promotion in Serbia

Engineering Revolution: The Paradox of Democracy Promotion in Serbia

by Marlene Spoerri


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The nonviolent overthrow of Balkan dictator Slobodan Milošević in October 2000 is celebrated as democracy promotion at its best. This perceived political success has been used to justify an industry tasked with "exporting" democracy to countries like Belarus, Ukraine, Tunisia, and Egypt. Yet the true extent of the West's involvement in Milošević's overthrow remained unclear until now. Engineering Revolution uses declassified CIA documents and personal interviews with diplomats, aid providers, and policymakers, as well as thousands of pages of internal NGO documents, to explore what proponents consider one of the greatest successes of the democracy promotion enterprise.

Through its in-depth examination of the two decades that preceded and followed Milošević's unseating, as well as its critical look at foreign assistance targeting Serbia's troubled political party landscape, Engineering Revolution upends the conventional wisdom on the effectiveness of democracy promotion in Serbia. Marlene Spoerri demonstrates that democracy took root in Serbia in spite of, not because of, Western intervention—in fact, foreign intervention often hurt rather than helped Serbia's tenuous transition to democracy. As Western governments recalibrate their agendas in the wake of the Arab Spring, this timely book offers important lessons for the democracy promotion community as it sets its sights on the Middle East, former Soviet Union, and beyond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812246452
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press - University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date: 10/22/2014
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Marlene Spoerri is United Nations Officer at Independent Diplomat in New York City.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Promoting Democracy and Aiding Political Parties Abroad
Chapter 2. The Absence of Aid in Milošević's Serbia, 1990-1996
Chapter 3. Preparing for Regime Change, 1997-2000
Chapter 4. Democracy Promotion in Milošević's Shadow, 2001-2012
Chapter 5. Rethinking Aid's Legacy in Serbia

Appendix. Interviewees


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