American Democracy Promotion: Impulses, Strategies, and Impacts

American Democracy Promotion: Impulses, Strategies, and Impacts

American Democracy Promotion: Impulses, Strategies, and Impacts

American Democracy Promotion: Impulses, Strategies, and Impacts

Synopsis

'This excellent edited volume brings together a distinguished group of international scholars to examine US efforts to promote democracy abroad.' -Journal of Peace Research'This is a hugely impressive collection of essays, viewpoints and analyses. It represents the most important published attempt to come to grips with an issue which lies at the heart of contemporary international politics.' - The World Today'Consisting of fifteen illuminating essays, American Democracy Promotion offers a vigourous debate about the current direction of U. S. Foreign Policy. Anyone interested in international affairs -which should be all of us- should read this truly path-breaking book.' -Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies and Professor of History at the University of New OrleansWhy does the United States promote democracy? How successful has it been? And why do critics often attack it for doing so? These are some of the questions examined by a distinguished group of analysts, in this wide-ranging discussion of American efforts to recast the international order in its own political image.

Excerpt

Steve Smith

This chapter focuses on a theoretical critique of the assumptions underlying US democracy promotion polices. This is not an easy task, because although I have serious worries about such policies, to criticise them risks easy characterization as being either anti-US or anti-democracy—or both!—and I think I am neither. Having said that, it is probably necessary, in view of the argument that follows, to make explicit at the outset the point that I, too, want to see democracy extended, and certainly prefer it to autocratic regimes. I am not at all a moral relativist on that point; but, in typical social science fashion, I want to insist that the merit of the moral claims about democracy as opposed to other forms of government depend ultimately on exactly what is meant by the term 'democracy'. My underlying worry is that the entire debate about democracy promotion is set up in such a way as to make criticism particularly difficult. Like apple pie, how can anyone be against the expansion of democratic rights to parts of the globe that are currently ruled by despots? My problem is that I do indeed want to criticize aspects of that policy, but not on the grounds of opposing democracy or indeed of opposing the US playing a major role in shaping international society. Rather, I want to voice a set of reservations based upon the form of democracy that is being promoted, and specifically on the relationship between this geopolitical policy and America's geoeconomic policy. Put simply, I think that the latter drives the former, to such an extent that it results in the form of democracy promoted being particularly narrow and thereby suitable for supporting US economic interests.

My reservations apply both to America's historical record and to the role of democracy enlargement as the central theme in the foreign policy of both the first and the second Clinton administrations. With regard to the former, I believe that America's record in promoting democracy is less positive than

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