Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Democratic Politics, Democratic Culture

Democratic Politics, Democratic Culture

The Clinton administration has made spreading democracy, along with halting the spread of destabilizing weaponry and modernizing the armed forces, one of the central organizing principles of its foreign policy. This position echoes rising voices from various ends of the political spectrum, urging that the promotion of democracy be included as a major U.S. foreign policy goal. From the liberal side of the aisle, Senator Joseph Biden has said, “It falls to this generation of Americans to complete the task that Woodrow Wilson began [of] bringing the worlds major nations into a concert of cooperating democracies,” while the prominent neoconservative thinker Joshua Muravchik has said that promoting democracy would create “a Pax Americana unlike any previous peace, one of harmony, not of conquest.“ That this should be the case is not surprising, insofar as the noble goal of democratization is in some ways the logical follow-up to the end of the cold war, and indeed had appeared in some of the Bush administration’s official statements on the shape of post-cold war policy, such as the following by former secretary of state James Baker:

Our idea is to replace the dangerous period of the Cold War with a democratic peace–a peace built on the twin pillars of political and economic freedom. Shared democratic values can ensure an enduring and stable peace in a way the balance of terror never could . we plan to build a democratic peace by pursuing a straightforward policy of American leadership called “collective engagement.”

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