The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2018 9 manship,” suggesting he should hasten a transition process. Suharto stepped down on May 21. In recognition of the 20th anniversary of Indonesia’s relatively successful experi- ment with democracy, retired FSO Ed McWilliams (my former boss in Jakarta), offers a progress report. The focus section includes evalua- tions of the state of democracy in other regions. David Kramer, former president of FreedomHouse, looks at a decade of backsliding in Europe and Eurasia. USA ID FSO Alexi Panehal provides an overview of worrisome trends in Latin America. USAID’s Assia Ivantcheva covers the field of electoral assistance. Also from USAID, Mariam Afrasiabi and Mardy Shualy look at the how the United States supports civil society in the face of “clos- ing space.” Amb. (ret.) Jerry Feierstein evaluates Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan for eco- nomic and social change, and journalist Ben Barber shares his views on growing authoritarianism in Southeast Asia. On the home front, former Senior Advisor to the Director General Alex Karagiannis examines the state of U.S. diplomatic capacity following the Rex Til- lerson tenure, and offers suggestions for the new Secretary. FSO Phil Skotte speaks out about the critical role of cultural and language expertise. Also notable are the responses to the March Speaking Out on the need for support for FS families with special needs kids, including a response from Medical Director Charles Rosenfarb. n LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Whither Democracy? BY SHAWN DORMAN T his month we examine the state of democracy in the world, a timely topic today as we consider the resilience of our own democracy in the face of numerous challenges. In her new book, Fascism, A Warn- ing, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sounds the alarm against a U.S. retreat from the world, noting that at a time when authoritarianism is growing in many countries, American leadership is “urgently required.” “I don’t see America as a victim,” Albright said on Fresh Air April 3. “I see America as the most powerful country in the world that has a role to play, stand- ing up for democratic ideals and human rights across the board.” That sentiment was certainly true 20 years ago, when I was a junior political officer at Embassy Jakarta with a portfolio including student and youth affairs. It was spring 1998, and young Indonesians were leading the “Reformasi” movement— protesting the corruption, collusion and nepotism of the 32-year repressive Suharto regime and calling on the presi- dent to step down. They looked to the United States for inspiration—we had the freedoms to which they aspired. It was important for the United States to be on the right side of that bold democ- racy movement. On May 20, 1998, Sec. Albright said publicly that Pres. Suharto had an “opportunity for an historic act of states- Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal.