We cannot “make America great again” unless America is secure both at home and in its global position. But what does this have to do with democracy?
During the first decade after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, President George H. W. Bush’s goal of “a Europe whole and free” and a wider world largely at peace seemed within reach. The deadly threats of the Cold War were gone, and the democratic revolutions that appeared to be sweeping through eastern Europe and elsewhere created optimism as to the continuing progress of a liberal international order.
Now, two and a half decades later, that promising trend is being reversed. The authoritarian resurgence in Europe and elsewhere over the past decade has shaken our confidence that liberal democracy, free markets and peaceful borders will continue to dominate the post–Cold War international order.
From our being the “sole superpower” in the 1990s, U.S. global influence and effective power are now challenged by China and Russia, the weakening of the European Union and the sharp domestic divisions revealed by the U.S. presidential campaign. The United States and Europe are threatened by radical terrorists, challenged by territorially expansionist autocracies, and targeted by covert action, massive disinformation and propaganda offensives.