Democracy in U.S. Security Strategy

The Democracy in U.S. Security Strategy Project helps understand the strategic community’s perceived shortfalls in democracy promotion today and shapes alternatives for how it might be recast.

Strategic thinker Raymond Aron counseled, “the strength of a great power is diminished if it ceases to serve an idea.” Without such an idea today, the United States risks eroding its great power status by making other states more likely to resist and balance against it. From the Founding Fathers through Wilson’s Fourteen Points to the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush administrations, the United States has pursued some form of democracy promotion as that idea.

Yet recent experiences have damaged democracy promotion’s reputation among strategic experts and the public. Given these experiences, is such a policy sustainable? Should it guide U.S. grand strategy, be adjusted, or even be replaced? Given its historical role, future administrations are more likely to revisit, and possibly reframe, the place of democracy promotion in U.S. strategy based on recent experience, rather than dismiss it entirely. How, if at all, should it shape the U.S. national security strategy and public diplomacy?

Under project director Alexander T. J. Lennon, CSIS is identifying the perceived shortfalls of democracy promotion in U.S. grand strategy today, exploring alternatives for how it might be recast, and will recommend the role for democracy promotion in the next administration’s national security strategy and public diplomacy.

Advisory Committee

Thomas Carothers
Larry Diamond
Elizabeth Dugan
Peter D. Feaver
Stephen J. Flanagan
Francis Fukuyama
Michael Fullilove
Michael J. Green
Robert E. Hunter
Gerald Hyman
G. John Ikenberry
Michael A. McFaul
Mark Palmer Rend Al-Rahim
Mitchell B. Reiss
William & Mary
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Ashley J. Tellis
Almut Wieland-Karimi
Friedrich Ebert Foundation
Jennifer Windsor
Freedom House