10 February 2004
Spread of Democracy Called Essential Part of War on Terrorism
Paula Dobriansky address to Baltimore foreign affairs group
The war on terrorism must be fought on many fronts, says Paula
Dobriansky, under secretary of state for global affairs, not on
the field of battle alone. "It is our belief," she says, "that
the spread of liberal democracy is an essential part of a long-term
strategy" to win that war.
The U.S. resolve to spread democratic values begins "with
our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq," she said in a February
9 speech to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs, but the United
States is also "committed to supporting democracy in every
country, on every continent."
Dobriansky named several international projects to strengthen
democracy that the United States is supporting. Among them:
-- The Community of Democracies, "a new international network
in which young and old democracies of different size and form,
gather to strengthen representative government, to share experiences,
to help one another, and to coordinate policies in areas of common
-- The National Endowment for Democracy, a private, non-profit
organization supported predominantly by the United States government
that "has worked for over twenty years to strengthen democratic
institutions through its multiple components...as well as direct
grants to non-governmental organizations."
-- The Millennium Challenge Account, a new U.S. foreign aid program
designed "to reward the countries that work the hardest for
the interests of their people...that are committed to governing
justly, investing their own resources in their people, and working
to provide a proper climate for economic growth."
"Our long-term strategy," she said, "is to strike
at the heart of terrorism by depriving it of its havens, its recruitment
grounds, and its foot soldiers. We will do this in no small measure
through the avid promotion of democracy and freedom.
Following is a transcript of Dobriansky's speech:
Promoting Democracy in the 21st Century: An Essential Tool Against
Remarks by Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky
Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Remarks to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs
February 9, 2004
Good evening. I'm delighted to be here at the Baltimore World
Affairs Council to talk about the advancement of democracy and
its role in the War on Terror. Over the past two-and-a-half years,
the war has been fought on many fronts and in many ways. This is
a war that will not be won on the field of battle alone. While
at times we are left with no choice but to defend American interests
with the force of arms, this is our last resort. America always
seeks other ways to provide for our safety and that of our allies,
just as we prefer to forestall threats before they become an immediate
danger. It is our belief that the spread of liberal democracy is
an essential part of a long-term strategy for preventing danger
to America and our friends from materializing.
Promoting democracy is a key component of the National Security
Strategy initially released in September 2002. This document, which
outlines the Administration's overall plan for defending the United
States and advancing its interests and values, declared that "America
must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity:
the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free
speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women; religious
and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property." It
noted further that "We will actively work to bring the hope
of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every
corner of the world."
President Bush is committed to these objectives not only because
they are right, but also because they are essential to winning
the War on Terror. In his speech at Whitehall Palace in London
last November, the President said that "We cannot rely exclusively
on military power to assure our long-term security. Lasting peace
is gained as justice and democracy advance. In democratic and successful
societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents
and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better
lives. And democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps
or attack their peaceful neighbors; they honor the aspirations
and dignity of their own people. In our conflict with terror and
tyranny, we have an unmatched advantage, a power that cannot be
resisted, and that is the appeal of freedom to all mankind."
But promoting democracy does not mean imposing the American model
on other countries. On the contrary, democratic reforms inherently
demand that citizens in emerging democracies must be free to develop
institutions compatible with their own cultures and experiences.
Democratic aspirations and rights are universal-they belong to
all mankind-but the specific institutional forms and expressions
of democracy will naturally vary by country.
What is essential is that democratically-elected leaders are accountable
to their fellow citizens. Non-elected leaders are at best detached
and unaccountable, and at worst isolated and tyrannical. More broadly,
those outside their inner circles have limited influence on policy
and, in many cases, cannot even express their views without fear
of persecution. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the
right to peaceably assemble, serve to empower citizens, legitimize
debate, and provide alternatives to violence.
The fair and independent judicial systems present in liberal democracies
play a similar role. A truly independent judiciary is a vital check
on executive power and a protector of those exercising their rights
to free expression. Ensuring that no group is above the law also
gives average citizens a greater stake in their political systems.
Absent these democratic attributes, we find conditions that in
some instances give rise to sympathy for terrorism. This is especially
true in nations where demagogues who preach the language of hate
under the guise of religion are the only alternatives to a corrupt
or brutal elite. Today, the danger to America comes not exclusively
from dictators who make war directly upon us, our allies and our
interests-it also emanates from dictators who create an atmosphere
so poisonous and so brutal that evil sprouts and motivates a small
but radicalized cadre to terrorism.
The United States is committed to supporting democracy in every
country, on every continent. This begins with our efforts in Afghanistan
and Iraq. In those two nations, we have clearly demonstrated our
resolve-first in subduing an immediate threat, then in staying
the course to help establish a free and lasting peace. This resolve
has had numerous benefits beyond the initial military victory.
It has lent credibility to our diplomacy by showing that the United
States is committed for the long haul. It has also enabled us to
take a new look at old policies and to seek accelerated democratic
reform in the region. During his visit to Great Britain last November,
President Bush noted "We must shake off decades of failed
policy in the Middle East. Your nation and mine, in the past, have
been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the
sake of stability. Longstanding ties often led us to overlook the
faults of local elites. Yet, this bargain did not bring stability
or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered
and ideologies of violence took hold." The change of the status
quo in the Middle East, and the prospect of a free and vibrant
Iraq offer an enormous opportunity for democracy in the region,
which will also set an example for the whole world. This is an
opportunity to help millions of people, and while doing so, undermine
the terrorists and enhance our security.
In addition to our efforts on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan,
we are engaged in promoting democracy at the global level through
such initiatives as the Community of Democracies. The Community
is a new international network in which young and old democracies
of different size and form, gather to strengthen representative
government, to share experiences, to help one another, and to coordinate
policies in areas of common interest. Well over one hundred free
nations have come together-first in Warsaw in 2000 and then again
in Seoul in 2002-to reaffirm their commitment to consolidating
their own democratic institutions and working with other countries
to help them along the path of democratization. The next gathering
of the Community of Democracies will take place in 2005 in Chile.
The goal of the Community is to achieve practical results that
directly benefit democracies and to refocus other international
organizations on the ideals of liberty and self-determined government,
which are frequently espoused but less frequently attained.
Despite its youth, the Community of Democracies has achieved promising
results. In Seoul, we discussed threats to democracy, which ranged
from terrorism to coups. Because the security issues facing open
societies are different from those of non-democracies, this was
a useful discussion among free nations adjusting their security
postures to handle new dangers. At the conclusion of the meeting
in Seoul, the Community issued a Plan of Action vowing to bolster
democracy within their own borders, and to support other governments
in their commitment to democracy.
The Community is also assisting individual governments like East
Timor, one of the world's newest democracies. Specifically, the
Community is preparing to send a multinational delegation to East
Timor to share their experiences in police training, rule of law
and political party development.
Many nations in the Community have also joined in seeking a democracy
caucus at the United Nations. We are committed to helping reform
the UN, and we believe a caucus of free nations with representative
governments will advance this goal. It could also help to refocus
the organization on the all-too-often neglected principles of its
founding Charter. A democracy caucus is also critical to generating
credibility for the UN Commission on Human Rights-a forum populated
by too many non-democratic states-like last year's chair, Libya-whose
participation mocks the very purpose of the organization.
America is also enlisting the creativity and flexibility of the
non-governmental sector to help advance our goals. The National
Endowment for Democracy (NED)-a private, non-profit organization
supported predominantly by the United States government-is an excellent
example. NED has worked for over twenty years to strengthen democratic
institutions through its multiple components: the American Center
for International Labor Solidarity, the Center for International
Private Enterprise, the International Republican Institute, and
the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, as
well as direct grants to non-governmental organizations. In his
State of the Union Address, President Bush announced that he will
seek from Congress a doubling of the Endowment's annual budget
through the appropriation of an additional $40 million to be used
for programs supporting democracy in the Middle East. Organizations
like Freedom House also play an invaluable role in promoting democracy
and holding non-democratic countries accountable for their actions.
Others, such as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems,
focus on elections and civil society. And there are many more.
We have redesigned our foreign aid to reward the countries that
work the hardest for the interests of their people. The Millennium
Challenge Account, as this initiative is called, breaks with past
development assistance programs by providing increased assistance
to countries that are committed to governing justly, investing
their own resources in their people, and working to provide a proper
climate for economic growth. This proposal implements the President's
commitment to increase core development assistance by fifty percent
over the next three years, thus adding $5 billion to the $10 billion
now spent on these programs by fiscal year 2006. The MCA will help
these nations spark what economists refer to as a "virtuous
cycle," in which improved governance and adherence to the
rule of law leads to increased capital flows from the private sector,
which will in turn lead to economic growth and stability.
We have also reinvigorated our efforts at disseminating information
about America, and about the universal values of democracy and
freedom. Dictators and terrorists have no greater enemy than the
truth, and as we did during the Cold War, we are striving to provide
those who lack access to a free press with information that can
empower them and steel them in their determination to make liberal
democracy a reality in their own countries. President Bush recently
spoke of the need to "cut through the barriers of hateful
propaganda" that are found in parts of the world-especially
in the Middle East. We are doing this by expanding the programming
of Voice of America and other broadcast services, including a new
Arabic television service. We seek to ensure these tools have the
resources they need, and are focused on the critical task of changing
To counter terrorism, we seek genuine representative government
that brings liberty and democracy to all of a country's citizens,
including those who often have been excluded-especially women.
Women have a critical role to play in democracy, in civil society,
and in ensuring that democratic ideals are instilled in future
generations. As Queen Rania of Jordan said recently, "Development
will not achieve its goals unless women participate in it as complete
and effective partners in all fields. We are in this together;
we all share in a common future." We have pushed governments
to extend to women the prerogatives that are their birthright,
and we commend nations that have made strides in achieving this
equality. One such nation is Morocco, which recently did away with
a system that made women legally inferior to men. We are encouraging
other nations in that region and elsewhere to follow suit, through
programs like the Middle East Partnership Initiative, which is
reaching out to talented women in the Middle East and encouraging
them through education and training to take their rightful places
in their societies.
The battles waged so far in the War on Terror have involved coalitions
of the willing that vary with the individual mission. I am often
asked if our engagement of non-democratic nations in our campaign
against the terrorists has sidelined U.S. efforts to promote democracy
in those nations. The implication is that we cannot ask countries
for help at the same time we pressure them to change. The reality
is counterintuitive. In some instances, the War on Terror has given
us increased access to nations with which we previously had limited
interaction. By engaging these countries, by forging ties and by
finding areas to work together, we have gained influence and leverage.
We have explained to them that a society that protects the freedoms
of all citizens, pursues a rule of law, and provides citizens the
right to have a say in their future, is a more secure society.
We have made clear that fighting terrorism and promoting freedom
are not mutually exclusive-in fact, they are one and the same.
While we would like to see more rapid change in many instances,
we believe we are making more progress than we were before we asked
for these nations' assistance.
We also make it clear that our ultimate desire is to see freedom
and democracy flourish in all nations. Every day a country deprives
its people of these rights, it falls farther behind the free world
in development, and runs the risk of catastrophic instability.
The 2002 Arab Human Development Report, which links low standards
of living to the absence of democracy in the Arab world, makes
this case starkly. This Administration will always speak up for
those who strive for democracy. Speaking about the heroic democratic
dissidents of the 20th century, President Bush said, "they
knew of at least one place-a bright and hopeful land-where freedom
was valued and secure. And they prayed that America would not forget
them, or forget the mission to promote liberty around the world." We
will not forget, and there should be no doubt that we stand with
those who yearn for liberty from Damascus to Tehran, from Rangoon
to Harare, from Pyongyang to Havana, and in all places where freedom
and representative government are not the norm.
The United States will conduct the War on Terror on many fronts
with various tools. Our long-term strategy is to strike at the
heart of terrorism by depriving it of its havens, its recruitment
grounds, and its foot soldiers. We will do this in no small measure
through the avid promotion of democracy and freedom. Last month,
President Bush made our intentions crystal clear: "America
is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most
basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire.
Our aim is a democratic peace-a peace founded upon the dignity
and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with
friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling:
This great republic will lead the cause of freedom."