Advancing democracy and liberty should be reinforced as a priority in American foreign policy for both values-based and strategic reasons, according to Mark Green, President of the International Republican Institute.
Administrations should integrate democracy assistance into foreign policy and “reach out to civil society leaders to both learn about the challenges they face and to demonstrate solidarity,” he told this week’s Senate sub-committee on Western Hemisphere, Transitional Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.
“Within our country’s foreign assistance framework, I would encourage the Administration to ensure that our tools for supporting democracy and liberty remain strong,” he added:
In the long run, our nation’s investments in global health, nutrition and infrastructure around the world are unlikely to succeed if the governments with whom we partner lack strong, citizen-centered institutions…..Generally speaking, democracies – citizen-centered, citizen-responsive governments – are more adaptable to change and are therefore more stable. They tend to be more prosperous, which makes them better trading partners and markets for U.S. goods. Because they tolerate diversity of opinion and allow for dissent, they are less likely to produce terrorists, proliferate weapons of mass destruction, or engage in armed aggression. That makes them better neighbors and makes their regions more secure.
“America’s most effective foreign policy is one that taps into all the sources of our strength and mobilizes all our tools of leadership,” said Green. “Military might is irreplaceable; economic vitality makes so much possible. But our core national values – democracy and human liberty – and our willingness to foster and encourage them in others, are a critical tool in shaping an often turbulent world.”