Is advancing democracy a moral foreign policy?


Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has acknowledged that he could have done more to help the United Nations and other countries to save some of the lives that were lost in Rwanda, notes Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus and former dean of the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But this example is a reminder that good leaders today are often caught between their cosmopolitan inclinations and their more traditional democratic obligations to the people who elected them, he writes for The Texas National Security Review: @TXNatSecReview

While some commentators argue that liberal interventionism to promote democracy has “grown into ‘America’s self-designation as a special nation,’” there is an enormous difference between democracy promotion by coercive and non-coercive means. Voice of America broadcasts and the National Endowment for Democracy cross international borders in a very different manner than does the 82nd Airborne Division. In terms of consequences, the means are as important as the ends. 

In judging a president’s record of pursuing a moral foreign policy that makes Americans safer but also makes the world a better place, adds Nye adds. it is important to look at the full range of his or her leadership skills, to look at both actions and institutions, commissions and omissions, and to make three-dimensional moral judgments. RTWT

Some became so absorbed with how power was being deployed in the Middle East, Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg told 60 Minutes’ Margaret Brennan, that they neglected to articulate what liberals should be fighting wars for, The New Republic reports: “We were so horrified by the way that democracy promotion was done at gunpoint then, that it very nearly made our party into isolationists, when actually we’ve often been the ones who believed in more international engagement.”

Buttigieg does not believe liberal internationalism is a problem, let alone the problem; to him, its absence can only lead to a “total isolationism [that] is self-defeating in the long run”—and that creates a haven for America’s enemies and autocratic regimes.

An article on “Democracy Promotion in the Age of Trump” features in the latest issue of the @aminterest. Check out the case for optimism as outlined by @IRIglobal board’s David Kramer & ⁦⁦@NewYorker’s⁩ ⁦ @sbg1⁩ featuring ⁦@NEDemocracy⁩’s Carl Gershman, ⁦@CNASdc⁩’s ⁦@RHFontaine ⁩& @IRIglobal ‘s @DCTwining.

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