Security in the Age of Liberal Democratic Erosion

Thursday, May 13, 2021 to Thursday, May 20, 2021
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
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The Hoover Institution along with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Europe Center host Security in the Age of Liberal Democratic Erosion​ on Thursday, May 13 and Thursday, May 20.

Cosponsored by the Hoover Institution, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Europe Center, the virtual two-part panel series Security in the Age of Liberal Democratic Erosion will focus on the critical security challenges facing liberal democracies and examine the threats of external adversaries and how democracies can respond. 

Liberal democracy rests on the rule of law and common trust in fundamental institutions such as elections, courts, legislatures, and the executive branches of government. Yet both in the United States and elsewhere, trust in these institutions has eroded as charges of fake news, electoral fraud, biased courts, and increased authoritarianism have taken hold.

On May 13, 2021, the discussion will focus on Adversaries: how foreign actors such as Russia, China, and Iran interact with domestic threats to institutions and the functioning of liberal democracy. Panelists will examine dangers of sharp and soft power, misinformation, and attacks on sensitive electoral and physical infrastructure. The featured experts will be Elizabeth Economy, Michael McFaul, Abbas Milani, and Kate Starbird. 

On May 20, 2021, the discussion will focus on appropriate Responses, and whether and how liberal democracies should respond to these threats. Panelists will address the tools and policies available to combat such hazards, as well as their limitations. The featured experts will be Rose Gottemoeller, H. R. McMaster, Jacquelyn Schneider, and Amy Zegart. 

Both panel discussions will be moderated by Anna Grzymala-Busse and held at 10:00–11:15 am PDT via Zoom and are open to the public.




Elizabeth Economy is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2020, she was awarded the Richard C. Holbrooke Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. An expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Economy is the author of several books, most recently The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State (2018).

Rose Gottemoeller is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She also serves as the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). 


Michael A. McFaul is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as a professor of political science, director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He also currently works as a news analyst for NBC.  His areas of expertise include international relations, Russian politics, comparative democratization, and American foreign policy.  From January 2012 to February 2014, he served as the US ambassador to the Russian Federation.  Before becoming ambassador, he served for three years as a special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council.

H. R. McMaster is the Fouad and Michele Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and was the twenty-sixth assistant to the president for national security affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the US Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a lieutenant general in June 2018. He is author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World (2020).

Abbas Milani is a research fellow and codirector of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. In addition, Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University. His expertise is US/Iran relations and Iranian cultural, political, and security issues.


Jacquelyn Schneider is a Hoover Fellow at the Hoover Institution.  Her research focuses on the intersection of technology, national security, and political psychology with a special interest in cybersecurity, unmanned technologies, and Northeast Asia.  She is a non-resident fellow at the Naval War College's Cyber and Innovation Policy Institute and a senior policy advisor to the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.

Kate Starbird is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Cyber Policy Center and Associate Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington (UW). Starbird’s research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics—the study of the how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. She is a co-founder and executive council member of the UW Center for an Informed Public.

Amy Zegart is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Political Science (by courtesy) at Stanford University. She is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Chair of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence and International Security Steering Committee, and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. She specializes in U.S. intelligence, emerging technologies and national security, grand strategy, and global political risk management.


Anna Grzymala-Busse is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Grzymala-Busse is the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor in the Department of Political Science, the director of the Europe Center, and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford. Her research focuses on religion and politics, authoritarian political parties and their successors, and the historical development of the state.


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