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Critical Mission

Critical Mission: Essays on Democracy Promotion

Thomas Carothers
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 297
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  • Book Info
    Critical Mission
    Book Description:

    Demand for practical knowledge and lessons about how the United States and other countries can more effectively promote democracy around the world has never been higher. This timely book by Thomas Carothers, one of the foremost authorities worldwide on democracy building, helps meet that need. Critical Mission draws together a wide-ranging set of Carothers's many seminal, widely cited essays, organized around four vital themes: the role of democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy the core elements of democracy aid the state of democracy in the world the new U.S. push to promote democracy in the Middle East From puncturing myths about promoting civil society to sizing up the prospects for democracy in the Arab world, Carothers is consistently penetrating, incisive, and challenging to policymakers, democracy activists, and scholars alike.The book also includes the only up-to-date, comprehensive bibliography on democracy promotion.

    eISBN: 978-0-87003-289-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jessica T. Mathews

    FOR YEARS, DEMOCRACY promotion sat on the sidelines of American foreign policy. Foreign policy specialists paid ritualistic deference to it, respecting the ideal, but invested little close attention to the actual practice. Now that has all changed. Over the last year and a half the entire world has watched the unfolding drama of the United States and its coalition partners struggling to transform Iraq into something resembling a working democracy. Moreover, the United States and Europe are in the early phase of what they declare to be a historic new commitment to helping the entire Middle East find a democratic...

  4. SECTION ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    DEMOCRACY PROMOTION IS much in the news these days. The strenuous effort by the United States and its coalition partners to carry off a democratic transformation of Iraq has provoked a fierce, global debate over the legitimacy and limits of Western democracy promotion. The broader U.S. and European commitment to supporting a democratic transformation of the Middle East—rooted in the hope that positive political change in that region can be an antidote to radical Islamist terrorism—has stirred up vivid emotions in the Arab world and many other quarters. Democracy promotion has in a short time become fused with...

  5. Section Two. The Place of Democracy Promotion in U.S. Foreign Policy

    • [Section Two. Introduction]
      (pp. 7-8)

      ASSESSING THE PLACE of democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy is a complex undertaking. The story stretches back across most of the previous century and has long been subject to sharply conflicting interpretations, ranging from glowing portrayals of America as a uniquely noble, pro-democratic force in the world to dark portraits of a sinister superpower, habitually backing tyrannies and other forces of oppression. The essays in this section examine the most recent chapter of that story—the period from the end of the Cold War to the present day. And they aim for what I hope is a balanced view....

    • CHAPTER ONE Democracy and Human Rights: Policy Allies or Rivals? (1994)
      (pp. 9-22)

      FOR MANY PEOPLE involved in the field of democracy promotion, the relationship between U.S. efforts to promote democracy and to promote human rights abroad is simple—the two areas of activity are two sides of the same coin. This view is based on the assumption that human rights, or more particularly, political and civil rights such as the rights to free expression, free association, freedom of movement, and equality before the law, are defining elements of democracy. It follows from this assumption that bydefinitionpromoting democracy entails promoting human rights and conversely that promoting human rights is a form...

    • CHAPTER TWO Democracy Promotion under Clinton (1995)
      (pp. 23-38)

      IN HIS FIRST foreign policy speech of the 1992 presidential campaign, then-Governor Bill Clinton called for “an American foreign policy of engagement for democracy.”¹ Throughout the campaign and since becoming president, Clinton has continued to emphasize the democracy promotion theme. He and his advisers have also set out an often confusing mix of other foreign policy themes, ranging from economic security and international engagement to multilateralism and “new global issues.” But it is democracy promotion that appears most frequently in their speeches on foreign policy. And it is only democracy promotion that they have attempted to elaborate as a comprehensive...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Clinton Record on Democracy Promotion (2000)
      (pp. 39-52)

      MANY FOREIGN POLICY themes have come and gone in the Clinton years, from assertive multilateralism and humanitarian intervention to strategic partnerships and the indispensable nation. One theme, however, has stayed the course. As a presidential candidate in 1992, Bill Clinton made democracy promotion the organizing concept of his proposed foreign policy. Throughout his presidency he and his top advisers have returned to the theme again and again. They have sounded the Wilsonian trumpet on democracy, but also argued that it is rooted inrealpolitik, that in the post–Cold War world American ideals and interests have fused. In nearly every...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Ousting Foreign Strongmen: Lessons from Serbia (2001)
      (pp. 53-62)

      DURING HIS FINAL YEAR in power, Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic found himself contending not only with rising social discontent and political opposition, but with a remarkably extensive set of Western aid initiatives aimed at speeding his ouster. When he did fall—after losing to Vojislav Kostunica in the first-round elections on September 24, 2000, then denying those results, and finally giving way in the face of enormous popular protests on October 5—Washington policy makers and aid officials celebrated. Milosevic’s departure was only one step in what will inevitably be a drawn-out, difficult process of democratization in Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, it...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror (2003)
      (pp. 63-74)

      WHEN GEORGE W. BUSH TOOK OFFICE two years ago, few observers expected that promoting democracy around the world would become a major issue in his presidency. During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisers had made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion. And as expected, the incoming Bush team quickly busied itself with casting aside many policies closely associated with President Bill Clinton. Some analysts feared democracy promotion would also get the ax. But September 11 fundamentally altered this picture. Whether, where, and how the United States should...

    • CHAPTER SIX Democracy Promotion: Explaining the Bush Administration’s Position (2003)
      (pp. 75-80)

      THOMAS CAROTHERS’FOREIGN AFFAIRSARTICLE “Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror” (January/February 2003) critiques the Bush administration’s democracy promotion record and offers some broad recommendations on how best to integrate human rights causes into American foreign policy. The author’s long-term involvement in democracy-related activities and his passion about this subject are commendable, but both his analysis and his policy prescriptions are unpersuasive.

      Carothers alleges that, driven by imperatives related to the war on terrorism, the administration has come to cooperate with a number of authoritarian regimes and turned a blind eye to various antidemocratic practices carried out by these newfound allies....

  6. Section Three. Core Elements of Democracy Aid

    • [Section Three. Introduction]
      (pp. 81-82)

      THREE OF THE BIGGEST enthusiasms in the democracy aid world have been election observing, civil society promotion, and rule-of-law development. Probably no other element of the democracy aid repertoire has achieved the visibility and public recognition of election observing; indeed it is as close as democracy aid gets to having an archetypical activity. At nearly every important election in the developing and postcommunist worlds since the late 1980s, hundreds and sometimes thousands of international observers have been present. Domestic observers, usually funded and trained by U.S. or other international democracy groups, have become increasingly active as well.

      Election observing plays...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Rise of Election Monitoring: The Observers Observed (1997)
      (pp. 83-98)

      THE SCENARIO BY NOW is familiar. Elections are announced in a politically transitional country of importance to the international community, elections that look as if they will be pivotal to the country’s democratic prospects. Several months before the vote, the first foreign observers arrive, a few people from the United States or Western Europe who settle in to monitor the electoral process from start to finish. Around the same time, a small team of Western technical advisors sets up shop in the country to assist the national election commission with its task of administering the elections. After the electoral process...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Civil Society: Think Again (1999)
      (pp. 99-106)

      ENLIGHTENMENT NEEDED. The termcivil societycan be traced through the works of Cicero and other Romans to the ancient Greek philosophers, although in classical usage civil society was equated with the state. The modern idea of civil society emerged in the Scottish and Continental Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century. A host of political theorists, from Thomas Paine to Georg Hegel, developed the notion of civil society as a domain parallel to but separate from the state—a realm where citizens associate according to their own interests and wishes. This new thinking reflected changing economic realities: the rise of...

    • CHAPTER NINE Western Civil Society Aid to Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (1999)
      (pp. 107-120)

      I HAVE BEEN ASKED to offer some reflections on Western aid for civil society development in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, to look back on the past ten years, to consider the challenges of the next decade, and also to place the aid in the context of developments in the region.

      I do this as someone who is in between the categories of donor and recipient. I have worked on some democracy-related aid projects in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But my main involvement with the subject has been in studying the burgeoning world of aid...

    • CHAPTER TEN The Rule of Law Revival (1998)
      (pp. 121-130)

      ONE CANNOT GET through a foreign policy debate these days without someone proposing the rule of law as a solution to the world’s troubles. How can U.S. policy on China cut through the conundrum of balancing human rights against economic interests? Promoting the rule of law, some observers argue, advances both principles and profits. What will it take for Russia to move beyond Wild West capitalism to more orderly market economics? Developing the rule of law, many insist, is the key. How can Mexico negotiate its treacherous economic, political, and social transitions? Inside and outside Mexico, many answer: establish once...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: The Problem of Knowledge (2003)
      (pp. 131-144)

      WHEN RULE OF LAW aid practitioners gather among themselves to reflect on their work, they often express contradictory thoughts. On the one hand, they talk with enthusiasm and interest about what they do, believing that the field of rule of law assistance is extremely important. Many feel it is at the cutting edge of international efforts to promote both development and democracy abroad. On the other hand, when pressed, they admit that the base of knowledge from which they are operating is startlingly thin. As a colleague who has been closely involved in rule of law work in Latin America...

  7. Section Four. The State of Democracy

    • [Section Four. Introduction]
      (pp. 145-146)

      FOR MOST OF THE FIRST DECADE after the end of the Cold War, the dominant outlook in the democracy promotion community was expansive and optimistic. Democracy was “on the march” in the world, and democracy-building work was helping move democracy along its successful path. Many practitioners acknowledged that democracy was not going to be easy to achieve, but a contagious optimism, often verging on triumphalism, was the spirit of the day.

      By the late 1990s, however, it was increasingly evident that many of the efforts to achieve positive political change around the developing and postcommunist worlds were proving much harder...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Promoting Democracy in a Postmodern World (1996)
      (pp. 147-154)

      I WAS IN KAZAKHSTAN not long ago, on a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to assist the Kazakh Parliament with its drafting of an electoral law. The trip was going smoothly until a critical moment occurred. I was working closely with a senior member of the Parliament, a wise and patient man who approached his work with great seriousness. I had just reviewed a number of provisions of the draft law and highlighted some choices open to his drafting committee. He looked at me gravely, pushing slowly aside with one hand the raft of possibilities I...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Democracy without Illusions (1997)
      (pp. 155-166)

      THOUGH OFTEN OVERSOLD, the trend toward democratic government that began in southern Europe in the mid-1970s, swept through Latin America in the 1980s, and spread to many parts of Asia, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Africa in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been an important phenomenon. Together with the demise of Soviet-sponsored communism and the globalization of the international economic system, it propelled the world from the postwar period into a new era. The spread of democracy has by no means eradicated political repression or conflict, but it has tremendously increased the number of people who...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN The End of the Transition Paradigm (2002)
      (pp. 167-184)

      IN THE LAST QUARTER of the twentieth century, trends in seven different regions converged to change the political landscape of the world: (1) the fall of right-wing authoritarian regimes in Southern Europe in the mid-1970s; (2) the replacement of military dictatorships by elected civilian governments across Latin America from the late 1970s through the late 1980s; (3) the decline of authoritarian rule in parts of East and South Asia starting in the mid-1980s; (4) the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s; (5) the breakup of the Soviet Union and the establishment of fifteen...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Debating the Transition Paradigm (2002)
      (pp. 185-218)

      Guillermo O’Donnell is the Helen Kellogg Professor of Government and International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His most recent book isCounterpoints: Selected Essays on Authoritarianism and Democratization(University of Notre Dame Press, 1999).

      THOMAS CAROTHERS HAS WRITTEN a timely and important essay that deserves wide attention. His goal is the healthy one of sparking discussion among both scholars and those who are “practitioners” of democracy—government officials, civil society activists, or professionals who work in the field of democracy promotion. Since I am a scholar, I will focus on what Carothers has to say concerning academic writings about...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Zakaria’s Complaint (2003)
      (pp. 219-226)

      FOLLOWING THE PATHS of Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kaplan, and other authors of highly successful “state-of-the-world” articles, Fareed Zakaria has turned his much discussed 1997Foreign Affairsessay, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” into a book.¹ With more than five years having elapsed in the passage, his slim volume is well-shielded against the possible charge that it is merely an “instant book.” The intervening years also allowed a longer-term evaluation of how his original thesis is holding up.

      Zakaria’s original article hit a major nerve. Enthusiasm about “the worldwide democratic revolution” was rampant in the 1990s. Perceptively sensing that...

  8. Section Five. Into the Middle East

    • [Section Five. Introduction]
      (pp. 227-228)

      ONE REGION WAS conspicuously absent from the democratic wave of the 1980s and 1990s and from the priority target list of Western democracy promoters. That region, of course, was the Middle East. Yet quite suddenly in the last two years, the U.S. government has shifted gears and now ranks a democratic transformation of the Middle East as one of its top foreign policy goals. Europe has joined in, disagreeing with the United States on some important elements of Middle East policy, but agreeing with the broader idea of making a major pro-democratic push there.

      The intervening factor of course was...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Democratic Mirage in the Middle East (2002)
      (pp. 229-236)

      FROM WITHIN THE Bush administration and on the editorial pages of America’s major newspapers, a growing chorus of voices is expounding an extraordinarily expansive, optimistic view of a new democratizing mission for America in the Middle East. The rhetoric has reached extraordinary heights. We are told that toppling Saddam Hussein would allow the United States to rapidly democratize Iraq and by so doing unleash a democratic tsunami across the Islamic World. Some believe that a pro-democracy campaign in the Middle East could produce a democratic boom comparable in magnitude and significance to the one produced by the end of the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Is Gradualism Possible? Choosing a Strategy for Promoting Democracy in the Middle East (2003)
      (pp. 237-250)

      THE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States have led George W. Bush’s administration to reassess America’s traditional acceptance of Arab autocracies as useful security partners and to engage more seriously than any previous administration with the issue of whether and how the United States can promote democracy in the Middle East. The administration’s post–September 11 declarations and actions on democracy in the region have thus far followed two distinct lines, one hard and one soft. The hard line aims at regime change in countries with governments hostile to the United States. The ouster of Saddam Hussein...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Democracy: Terrorism’s Uncertain Antidote (2003)
      (pp. 251-258)

      THE TERRORIST ATTACKS of September 11, 2001, threw into serious question a long-standing tenet of U.S. policy toward the Middle East: the assumption that nondemocratic, pro-Western regimes such as those in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait are bulwarks against Islamic radicalism. The fact that the 9–11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt provoked many American observers to ask whether such regimes are instead breeding grounds for terrorism. In the months immediately following September 11, U.S. policy makers began to talk about the need to pay more attention to the absence of democracy in the Arab world....

  9. SECTION SIX Afterword
    (pp. 259-264)

    ALTHOUGH FADDISH IDEAS and initiatives frequently afflict the field of democracy promotion, the overall enterprise is not a fad. It is here to stay as a significant element of foreign aid, diplomacy, and international relations more generally, for several reasons.

    To start, democracy has become part of the development consensus. From the 1960s through the 1980s, the international donor community that arose as a response to the challenge of fostering socioeconomic development in the poorer countries of the world paid relatively little attention to the political side of the development equation. To the extent aid providers did concern themselves with...

  10. Bibliography on Democracy Promotion
    (pp. 265-282)
  11. Index
    (pp. 283-298)
  12. About the Author
    (pp. 299-299)
  13. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    (pp. 300-300)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)