28 May 2010

Article: The Abandonment of Democracy Promotion

Tara McKelvey's article "The Abandonment of Democracy Promotion" was published in the contributed volume "New Threats to Freedom", ed. Adam Bellow (Templeton Press, May 2010: pp. 171-80):


Excerpts: "Democracy has been taking some serious knocks in countries around the world. [...] Yet despite the threat to political freedom in Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and other countries [...], Americans have begun to show considerably less interest in helping to promote democracy as part of the nation's foreign policy. These trends will reinforce each other in the coming years [...]. Americans have turned away from the principles of democracy promotion largely in response to President George W. Bush's disastrous efforts in this area. It may seem natural to scale back on this aspect of foreign policy after the excessive zeal of the Bush administration. [...]

"President Obama has demonstrated that he is significantly less interested in democracy promotion than his predecessor; moreover, top members of his cabinet share his views. [...] Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have sent a national-security memo to President Obama, urging him to abandon democracy promotion in Afghanistan, and in the president's proposed 2010 foreign operations budget, funding for democracy projects in the Middle East and North Africa has gone down. [...] [S]ome U.S. officials seem almost disdainful of the attempts at building a democratic society [in Afghanistan] that are currently under way."

Tara McKelvey is a Senior Editor at the liberal magazine "The American Prospect" and an Alumni Fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security.

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