In a recent conference at the University of South California, Professor Arman Grigoryan discussed why some former Soviet Republics were successful in their transition to democracy, while others were not. Specifically, why had the country of Armenia been unsuccessful in becoming a prosperous democratic state? “In the first half of the nineties, Armenia was often referred to in the Western media as an ‘island of democracy,’” said Grigoryan. “It had a government that had been elected in free and fair elections and had embarked on a fertile period of legislative reforms.” He believes that it is a result of conflicts that took place soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. “Such environments empower the state and weaken society,” Grigoryan said during his talk. “This is natural because a state that is in a bad security environment—or is fighting a war—has to have an increased and uncontrolled executive authority. It has to have the ability to extract resources from its society. It has to have the ability to deter resistance against that extraction. It has to have the ability to make all sorts of difficult and unpopular decisions. It has to have the ability to make quick decisions without worrying about checks and balances. And, it has to have the ability to control information.” Click to see more.