U.S. DEMOCRACY PROMOTION SINCE THE COLD WAR


A professed commitment to international democracy promotion has been a central char- acteristic of U.S. foreign policy for decades. Professor Nathan Brown, one of the guest speakers for the Leaders for Democacy Fellows program, critically evaluated this policy from a historical perspective. In his March 25, 2009 lecture, he addressed three main questions: 1. How did democ- racy promotion arise as an element of U.S. policy? 2. How did the Bush Administration’s “Freedom Agenda” change things? 3. What is the likely course of democracy promotion in the wake of Bush’s “Freedom Agenda?” After describing the limitations of the conventional narrative, Brown explained that factors such as Cold War morality, Jimmy Carter’s human rights policy, and Ronald Reagan’s neoconservatism played important roles in the development of U.S. democracy promo- tion policy. According to Brown, George W. Bush’s administration’s “Freedom Agenda,” which emphasized democracy promotion, challenged the previous consensus on promotion policy. Brown predicted this experience would lead to the return of realism, with only a drop of idealism.