Democracy Promotion: A U.S. Policy Tradition?

Michael Allen writing at Democracy Digest defends the importance of American democracy promotion abroad. Allen notes that democracy promotion as a key U.S. policy initiative does not currently enjoy popular support among policymakers, pointing to a July 2009 poll that found that 51% of Republicans, 63% of Democrats, and 62% of Independents do not believe that democracy promotion is America’s responsibility. Against allegations by some that former President George W. Bush‘s Freedom Agenda represented a radical departure from traditional American realist policy, Allen quotes Colin Dueck, author of the forthcoming novel Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II, who states, “A common assumption or animating vision throughout the history of American diplomacy has been that the spread of democracy and trade overseas will create a more peaceful, transformed international system, friendlier to U.S. interests and to the democratic way of life.” However, Allen notes that Dueck also cautions that “democracy promotion overseas cannot be divorced from a truly well-informed sense of local political and cultural conditions.”