Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2009

Enhancing Democracy Assistance

Lincoln A. Mitchell, David L. Phillips

January 2008

Atlantic Council


This report recognizes that democracy assistance is essential to the promotion of US foreign policy and global interests, and offers political and technical recommendations in order to enhance democracy assistance.

Today's global setting poses several distinct challenges to democracy assistance. Countries such as China offer an alternative model of governance that promotes economic development without political reform, while wielding substantial economic leverage. Populist authoritarian regimes and illiberal democracies, such as those of Venezuela and Iran, claim popular legitimacy while cracking down on internal dissent. Challenges to democratization have also been exacerbated by the Iraq War and the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which have fueled anti-Americanism around the globe, undermined US credibility, overstretched US resources, and compromised domestic support for democracy assistance.