“Why Promoting Democracy is Smart and Right”
On Friday the Center for American Progress and the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a statement of principles signed by a high-level working group entitled “Why Promoting Democracy is Smart and Right.” The group was chaired by Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber and included John Podesta, Daniel Runde, Tom Carothers, Larry Diamond, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, among others. The group’s overview notes that “a freer and more democratic world helps create a virtuous circle of improved security, stronger economic growth, and durable alliances.” It asserts that “given their modest scale and numerous benefits, America’s official investments in promoting democracy and governance abroad deserve to be sustained.” It concludes that “promoting free and accountable governance is both morally and substantively imperative.”
In the statement the signees argue, “Today’s ‘Three Ds’ of U.S. international engagement should…become “Four Ds”: defense, diplomacy, development, and democracy. Our foreign assistance budget should reflect these priorities.” They note that “we are at a critical juncture…in the history of human freedom” and caution that by not sustaining investments, “we not only jeopardize the chances of those pushing for greater freedom in their countries, but we also risk forsaking the benefits to the United States that accompany increased freedom abroad.” The group cites the importance and success of American investments in improving democracy and governance historically. Ultimately, the signees believe that the U.S. “should view democracy and governance as a central pillar of national security” and “should sustain our official investments in democracy and governance funding even as we deal with very real budget challenges.”
During the associated press call, Albright, Weber, Podesta, and Runde all acknowledged the difficulty of the fiscal situation, but Podesta especially emphasized that democracy investments are “extremely cost effective dollars.” Albright said, “It would be a disaster if there was a reduction of the funding of these programs.” She also noted that U.S. funding can act as a magnet to attract other investors, and Runde added that the U.S. is often the only actor that can play this leadership role.