International Forum for Democratic Studies Research Council Member

Alexander Cooley

Barnard College

Alexander Cooley is professor of political science at Barnard College  and director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute in New York. He also is a PhD Advisor at Columbia University and a Faculty member of the Saltzman Institute for War & Peace Studies. Professor Cooley’s research examines how external actors have shaped the political development, regime survival and sovereignty of the post-Communist states, with a focus on post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus.

He is the author of dozens of articles and four academic books. His most recent book, Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia (Oxford 2012) examines U.S.–Russia–China relations in Central Asia from 2001-2010 as a case study of the emerging politics and values promoted by a multipolar world. Prof. Cooley’s previous book, Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military Overseas (Cornell 2008), drew upon field research in a dozen countries to explore how democratization and political transitions in countries hosting U.S. military bases impact the standing of their security agreements with the United States. Cooley is now researching the rise of new norms and regional legal frameworks that are facilitating counter-democratic and human rights practices across Eurasia and the Middle East.

In addition to his academic work, Prof. Cooley serves on several international advisory boards and working groups and has contributed pieces to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. He is a frequent commentator on Eurasian issues for international media outlets, while his work has been supported by fellowships with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and Open Society Foundations, among others. He earned his MA and PhD in Political Science from Columbia University.

Forum Events

“The Global Campaign Against Democratic Norms,” Panel Event, International Forum for Democratic Studies (Jul. 15, 2015)

“Reconsidering Democratic Transitions”, Panel Event, International Forum for Democratic Studies (Sept. 19, 2013)

“Reconsidering Democratic Transitions: The Arab Spring and the Color Revolutions,” Roundtable Discussion, International Forum for Democratic Studies (Dec. 17, 2012)

Forum and Related Publications

“Authoritarianism Goes Global: Countering Democratic Norms,” Journal of Democracy (Jul. 2015)

“Vote of the Living Dead,” co-authored with Christopher Walker, Foreign Policy Democracy Lab (Oct. 31, 2013)