The forces working against democracy are not limited to any single country or region but instead have multiple sources, according to the National Endowment for Democracy’s Christopher Walker. First among these is a group of influential and ambitious authoritarian states that have organized themselves to directly contest democratic development and ideals. Regimes in Russia, China, Iran, and elsewhere are devoting vast resources – in the media sphere and elsewhere – to making the world more agreeable to their interests, he told the GLOBSEC 2017 Bratislava Forum.
A determined effort is needed to reclaim the initiative by defending democratic institutions and norms, and safeguarding the democratic information space. Such a response should include:
Inoculating democratic societies from the malign influence of increasingly sophisticated foreign forces through efforts to educate crucial audiences. The democracies have grossly underestimated the national security threat posed by the authoritarians’ export of manipulated media, cyber subversion, and various forms of corruption, including transnational networked kleptocracy…..
Affirming democratic ideals and standards as part of a dedicated effort to effectively compete with authoritarian power projection in the sphere of ideas. The leading democracies must explain their ideals and put down clear markers regarding their standards – or else others will continue to do this instead of the democracies. Autocratic regimes are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their international media infrastructure, while learning and modernizing their capacity to advance authoritarian views and interests.
“The democracies ignore this disparity and the challenge its presents at their peril, and must make a far more serious commitment to supporting independent journalism and modernized international broadcasting efforts that transmit independent news and information to unfree societies.” Walker adds.