Can Democracy Survive?

In the face of democratic backsliding around the world, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Anne Applebaum and Richard Haass discuss what needs to happen for democracy to survive.

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
  • Richard Haass
    President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations
Episode Guests
  • Anne E. Applebaum
    Staff Writer, Atlantic

Show Notes

About This Episode


Will democracy have to evolve to survive in the twenty-first century? Richard Haass sits down with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Anne Applebaum to discuss this question and more on the second episode of Nine Questions for the World. What lessons can the United States learn from other democracies? And how alarmed should Americans be about democratic backsliding?  


This podcast series was originally presented as “The 21st Century World: Big Challenges and Big Ideas,” an event series in celebration of CFR’s centennial. This episode is based on a live event that took place on May 4, 2021.


See the corresponding video here.


Dig Deeper


From Anne Applebaum


The Bad Guys Are Winning,” Atlantic


How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire,” Atlantic


There are many ways for democracy to fail,” Washington Post


From CFR 


Elliott Abrams, “Reorganizing U.S. Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights” 


Stewart M. Patrick, “With the United States Backsliding, Who Will Defend Democracy in the World?


Yascha Mounk, “How Populism Has Proven Lethal in This Pandemic” 


Democracy Tested: The Global Democratic Recession, With Yascha Mounk,” The President’s Inbox


John Campbell and Nolan Quinn, “What’s Happening to Democracy in Africa?


Read More


Jill Lepore, “The Last Time Democracy Almost Died,” New Yorker


Robert Kagan, “Is Democracy in Decline? The Weight of Geopolitics,” Brookings Institution


Marc Rotenberg, “Democracy and the Internet,” New York Times


Watch and Listen

How democracies can win the war on reality,” Democracy Works, Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Aging, Youth Bulges, and Population

Birth rates are booming in some countries and plummeting in others. Leading demographer Nicholas Eberstadt and Richard Haass analyze the most important trends and their consequences.

Climate Change

Richard Haass and economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, discuss the realities of climate change as well as renewable energy, carbon pricing, and the prospect of building a carbon-neutral economy.

Technology and Innovation

Richard Haass and Stanford University Professor Fei-Fei Li discuss how to contend with technologies that can do both good and harm.

Top Stories on CFR


Iranian support has boosted the military prowess of Yemen’s Houthis, helping them project force into the Red Sea. In return, the group has extended the reach of Iran’s anti-West axis of resistance.

International Law

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC),[1] Karim A. A. Khan,[2] faces several challenging policy issues in the months ahead regarding the Israel-Hamas situation.[3] In this co…


Nigeria needs a change of direction, not a change of government.