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SSI: Implications of the Rise of Populism in Europe and South America

Author: Steve C. Ropp
June 2005


The potential rise of populism in Europe and South America should not be viewed by policy planners as posing just another specific type of security threat. For unlike the traditional, irregular, catastrophic, or disruptive ones normally considered in future
scenarios, populism poses a potential challenge to the underlying political substructure that has given us the collective material capability and moral legitimacy to deal with all of these threats. In the final analysis, our ability to project power to deal with the whole
spectrum of security challenges that the United States will face in the future depends upon our ability to deal with the potential challenges emerging from within representative democracy itself.

This monograph takes a fresh look at the contemporary populist phenomenon in Europe and the Americas. It describes populism, discusses the global context in which it is emerging, and then paints a picture of its general characteristics in four subregions in Europe and South America. It concludes with four recommendations for
strategic planners as to how best to deal with it and with its potential consequences.

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