Democratic renewal requires collective resilience


With this week’s election results, Turkish democracy demonstrated its resilience and vibrancy, and hinted at a future beyond populist and divisive politics, notes analyst Sinan Ülgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels.

But in the face of the authoritarian resurgence, sustainable democratic renewal demands collective resilience through new patterns of cooperation, says a leading commentator. 

Earlier calls to create a “global NATO” or a “league of democracies” went nowhere, in part because there was not an obvious threat that would unite the world’s democracies. Today, however, circumstances are different, according to Hal Brands, the Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“The world is fragmenting as authoritarian powers, principally China and Russia, work to undermine, revise and perhaps upend the liberal international order built by the U.S. and its allies. They are also exporting the tools and examples of high-tech repression to fellow dictators around the world,” he observes.

Rather than some new military alliance, the key to building a stronger network of democracies is to gradually develop better cooperation against common dangers, says Brands, the co-author of “The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order”:

  • Given that so many democracies are struggling to defend themselves against information warfare, cyberattacks and electoral meddling, there is an opportunity for additional intelligence-sharing and exchange of best-practices in responding to these threats. …. Better still would be greater coordination in responding – whether through naming and shaming, diplomatic penalties or economic sanctions – to authoritarian efforts to subvert democratic processes.
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    Democracies across the world also have growing experience with authoritarian economic coercion and aggression short of war; they can work together to build resilience and push back against these tactics.

  • Finally, the more the democracies can join forces to support liberalizing movements in authoritarian countries, and to pressure democratic governments that are backsliding into authoritarianism, the better they can preserve a global climate in which autocracies are isolated and marginalized.

The goal is to build, over time, a common recognition that the world’s democracies truly are in it together, and to develop patterns of cooperation to beat back the authoritarian threat. RTWT

Democracy Under Assault: How American Foreign Policy Can Rise to the Challenge

Join Carnegie for a conversation with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on the challenges facing the liberal international order and how Congress can take steps to bolster it. Carnegie President William J. Burns (and NED board member – above) will moderate.

Location: 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20036

Date: April 10, 2019 Time:2:30 PM – 3:30 PM EST

Contact: Natalie Hall, Phone: 202-939-228

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