Values + strategy can counter authoritarians’ asymmetric threat


The central challenge facing Western democracies is “a persistent asymmetric threat from authoritarian challengers who aim to reshape the global order in their favor,” says a recent meaty report from a bipartisan foreign policy task force, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes. But the challenge is in the implementation, she adds:

The difference between think tanks and foreign policy, Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress pointed out during a discussion hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, is that the latter requires people to roll up their sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty details. On human rights for example, we can, as Katulis put it, “virtue signal” with public reports and pronouncements, but real progress is often made in bilateral, nonpublic settings where we can quietly leverage aid, diplomatic support and defense cooperation to achieve human-rights gains.

The United States faces an array of challenges—political polarization, inequality and racism, erosion of traditional media, a growing tech-government divide, flawed and porous political influence systems, and impaired economic competitiveness—that threaten to undermine the United States’ competitive strengths, says the report, Linking Values and Strategy: How Democracies Can Offset Autocratic Advances, overseen by an Alliance for Securing Democracy task force of 30 leading American national security and foreign policy experts, including NED board member Scott Carpenter, National Democratic Institute president Derek Mitchell, and International Republican Institute president Daniel Twining.

The US shares the challenge facing all liberal democracies, the Post’s Rubin observes. Investing at home (and explaining to voters how it connects to national security), rebuilding our alliances and diplomatic corps, and consistently articulating our values can rebuild our influence and stature while delivering on promised productivity and security.


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