Playing the ‘long game’: a strategic approach to advancing democracy


During a recent congressional hearing, the heads of three non-profit democracy assistance groups revealed the benefits of a strategic approach – playing “the long game” – in advancing democracy in other countries, notes Edward Hunt.

The three officials – the National Endowment for Democracy’s Carl Gershman, the International Republican Institute’s Daniel Twining, and the National Democratic Institute’s Kenneth Wollack – told Congress about their long-term efforts to empower democratic activists and institutions in places as diverse as Malaysia, Nicaragua, China, Russia, and North Korea, he writes in a biased but inadvertently informative account for the left-wing LobeLog:

The general strategy of NED is to empower like-minded activists to build new political movements in their home countries. NED helps these activists become influential political actors, often with the goal of creating new possibilities for political change. Officials typically describe their approach as one of “democracy promotion.” They argue that they are helping democratic forces introduce democratic politics into countries ruled by authoritarian leaders.

“These leaders, their strategic Achilles heel is fear of their own publics,” Twining explained. “And I think we should think about the old Reagan message of exploiting that a little bit.” The strategy requires a long-term commitment in the countries where the NED is active. Twining calls it “playing the long game.” Gershman (right) calls it “long-term work.”

The NED has also been active in Nicaragua, where opposition forces are organizing major protests against the Nicaraguan government…..“We have been working on youth leadership programs and have worked with more than 8,000 youth on a very extensive coursework and academies to develop U.S. engagement,” Wollack said.

“We’re not asking people to do anything that they don’t want to do,” said the NED’s Gershman. “We’re supporting their own aspirations and giving them some of the tools to realize those aspirations.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email