US Public Diplomacy and Democratization

From the Spanish Case to the Arab Spring

The Portuguese revolution of April 1974, the end of the Greek dictatorship in July of that year, and the Spanish transition to democracy in 1975 have been commonly considered parts of the "Third Wave of Democratization." This term was coined by Samuel P. Huntington right after the fall of the Berlin Wall and used in order to explain the transition to democracy in the former European satellites of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. More recently, some scholars have argued that the riots and demonstrations in the Middle East (Arab Spring) could be understood as an "emerging fourth wave." U.S. public diplomacy efforts to promote and to spread the American political model might have played an important role in these events.

This conference served as a platform for an interdisciplinary dialogue between historians of the U.S. Information Agency, the U.S. Educational Exchange Programs, and political scientists. Scholars discussed the connections, consequences, and weakness of that supposed causality.