Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, March 04, 2013

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, March 04, 2013

Sixty years after the death of the Soviet dictator, Masha Lipman reports on the complex legacy of Joseph Stalin in today’s Russia.

Jeffrey Gedmin explains why — contrary to the claims of some Washington officials — the fact that Iranians can vote in elections doesn’t make their country a democracy.

Just in time for Kenya’s general election this week, Daniel Branch explores the contradictions of a place that combines a booming economy with political dysfunction. Seema Shah reports on Kenya’s new electoral commission, the key institution in the election.

Tom Pepinsky contends that Indonesia’s experience of political transition actually doesn’t offer relevant lessons for Egypt or Tunisia.

In his column, DemLab editor Christian Caryl examines the centrality of land disputes in political conflicts around the world — and why the people in rich countries often fail to notice.

Neha Paliwal wonders whether Bangladesh’s Shahbag Square protest is about receiving justice or getting revenge.

Mohamed Eljarh looks at Libyan society’s controversial efforts to purge the people of the old regime.

Visiting Morocco, Mohamed El Dahshan offers an update on the travails of that country’s pro-democracy movement.

And Robert Looney weighs in on the pros and cons of Evo Morales’ populist economic agenda in Bolivia.

And now for this week’s recommended reads:

Joshua Kurlantzick, writing in Foreign Policy, argues that democracy around the world is receding — and explains who’s responsible.

Hernando de Soto reminds readers in The Wall Street Journal of the centrality of the economic frustrations that fueled the Arab Spring.

Writing in Your Middle East, Musa al-Gharbi explains why the international community should develop flexible policies toward transitional countries where voters don’t necessarily embrace democracy.

The Irrawaddy examines Washington’s dealings with a Burmese business tycoon who’s still on a U.S. sanctions blacklist — underlining the ambiguities of the West’s relationship with the regime.

In a provocative review of the development bestseller "Why Nations Fail," Bloomberg’s Clive Crook reveals why he doesn’t entirely buy the authors’ argument.

Reuters reports on a museum opened by Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to document his rule.

Democracy Digest introduces a book by veteran journalist Carolyn Robinson on her experiences training journalists in post-revolutionary Libya.

The Council on Foreign Relation’s Tom Bollyky explains why the use of big data is crucial to combating the non-communicable diseases that still account for the world’s biggest health problems.

Challenging conventional wisdom, Juan Cole analyzes a backlash against the "Muslim religious right" in various parts of the Islamic world.

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