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A nation must think before it acts.
Confidence in the future of democracy has been shaken by the authoritarian resurgence of the past decade, and some now argue that it is not realistic for the U.S. to continue to champion democracy abroad. Does Democracy Matter? provides the conclusions of eleven scholars and practitioners from widely different backgrounds who ask whether and, if so, how the U.S. should support democracy beyond its own borders. Although all of the authors agree that American strategic interests are better served in the long run by the consolidation and spread of democracy abroad, they differ as to the role that democracy support should play in the overall U.S. national security calculus. They also discuss how and where—if at all—such assistance should be delivered. In the concluding chapter, two former American ambassadors lay out a system of “triage” designed to ensure that U.S. democracy assistance is targeted in a way that is effective and contributes to our overall security and prosperity as a nation.
Finally, the democracies of the world should bear in mind one thing, above all else. We have the better set of ideas. Democracy may be receding in practice, but it is still ascendant in peoples’ values and aspirations. Some people may accept authoritarian rule as a useful or necessary political order at a certain historical moment or phase of development. But aside from some self-serving rulers and ruling establishments, few people in the world today celebrate authoritarianism as a superior moral system, the ultimate destination, the best form of government.
Do you agree with this argument? If so, what evidence would you use to support it? What contrary evidence would you need to take into account? If you do not agree with Diamond, what evidence and arguments would you use to argue against his claim?
The most important finding regarding civil society—and one that holds throughout the world—is that democratic change initiated by broad-based, nonviolent mass movements is much more likely to result in lasting, durable democratization than change resulting from violent revolutions, coups, or any other form of overthrowing autocracy.
Find a few of the articles she cites in support of this statement and examine their methodology and evidence. Based on these studies and evidence, do you find the claim about the value of nonviolent democratic change persuasive?
Does Democracy Matter? The United States and Global Democracy Support is available for purchase on Amazon.