Democracy Promotion/Soft Power—Affirmative
Global democracy is under threat—the international image of democracy is the crucial variable
Walker 15 - Christopher Walker is Executive Director of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, a leading center for the analysis and discussion of the theory and practice of democratic development. (“The Authoritarian Resurgence,” Journal of Democracy, Volume 26, Number 2, p. 21, Project Muse, April 2015) STRYKER
Attentive readers of this journal will have already noticed that NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies is engaged in a study of what we have varyingly labeled the “world movement against democracy” or the “authoritarian resurgence.” This project is divided into two parts—one focusing on the countries that have been leading this resurgence, and a second examining some of the key “soft-power” arenas in which they have been seeking to weaken democracy. The first article generated by this project, Andrew J. Nathan on “China’s Challenge,” appeared in our January 2015 issue. In the pages that follow, we offer readers essays on four other major authoritarian countries—Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia—that are seeking both to gain ascendancy in their respective regions and to undercut the rules-based institutions that have been instrumental in setting global democratic norms. These regimes may disagree on many things, but they share the objective of obstructing the advance of democracy and weakening the influence of democratic principles in the world. Lilia Shevtsova analyzes the transformation of Russia’s kleptocratic regime into something far more belligerent and dangerous, and explains how Vladimir Putin’s new foreign policy is raising the stakes and reshaping the landscape in Europe and Eurasia. Javier Corrales shows that Venezuela under Hugo Chávez’s successor Nicolás Maduro has seen a “turn toward greater autocracy.” Abbas Milani evaluates the underpinnings of the clerical authoritarian regime in Iran, and in a companion piece Alex Vatanka looks at how Tehran is actively projecting its influence throughout its neighborhood. Frederic Wehrey examines Saudi Arabia, Iran’s great regional rival, and the negative impact of Saudi policies on democracy. Over the past decade, these regimes have proven adept at refining their techniques of repression and control. But all four of them have been buoyed by high oil revenues, and it remains to be seen how they will fare if the price of oil remains at sharply lower levels over an extended period of time. The authors of these essays explain the threat posed by these resurgent authoritarians, but also identify their inherent political and economic weaknesses, including rampant corruption. The established democracies have been slow to recognize the increasingly determined challenge from today’s authoritarians, perhaps because they hope that these regimes will be undone by their flaws. But given the resilience that the authoritarians have displayed so far, it would be rash for the democracies to underestimate the seriousness of the dangers that they pose.
Surveillance undermines the perceived viability of democracy
The Economist 13 - (“America against democracy,” http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/07/secret-government 7/9/2013) STRYKER
REVELATIONS in the wake of Edward Snowden's civil disobedience continue to roll in. The New York Times reports that the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, "has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come..." How is the FISA court like a shadow Supreme Court? Its interpretation of the constitution is treated by the federal government as law. The Times reports: In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said. Of course, there are important differences. None of the judges of the FISA court were vetted by Congress. They were appointed by a single unelected official: John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court. And then there's the fact that "the FISA court hears from only one side in the case—the government—and its findings are almost never made public." A court that is supreme, in the sense of having the final say, but where arguments are only ever submitted on behalf of the government, and whose judges are not subject to the approval of a democratic body, sounds a lot like the sort of thing authoritarian governments set up when they make a half-hearted attempt to create the appearance of the rule of law. According to the Times, Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, "said he was troubled by the idea that the court is creating a significant body of law without hearing from anyone outside the government, forgoing the adversarial system that is a staple of the American justice system." I'm troubled, too. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal adds some meat to the story by reporting that "The National Security Agency’s ability to gather phone data on millions of Americans hinges on the secret redefinition of the word 'relevant'". In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that "relevant" could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed, according to people familiar with the ruling."Relevant" has long been a broad standard, but the way the court is interpreting it, to mean, in effect, "everything," is new, says Mark Eckenwiler, a senior counsel at Perkins Coie LLP who, until December, was the Justice Department's primary authority on federal criminal surveillance law.[...]Two senators on the Intelligence Committee, Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Mark Udall (D., Colo.), have argued repeatedly that there was a "secret interpretation" of the Patriot Act. The senators' offices tell the Journal that this new interpretation of the word "relevant" is what they meant. Think about that. Doesn't that suggest to you that Messrs Wyden and Udall were afraid they might be subject to some sort of censure or reprisal were they to share with the public specific details about the official interpretation of the law to which the public is subject? And those specific details were about the interpretation of "relevant"? Now that that cat's out of the bag, I guess we're in danger? All this somehow got me thinking of the doctrine of "democracy promotion", which was developed under George W. Bush and maintained more or less by Barack Obama. The doctrine is generally presented as half-idealism, half-practicality. That all the people of the Earth, by dint of common humanity, are entitled to the protections of democracy is an inspiring principle. However, its foreign-policy implications are not really so clear. To those of us who are sceptical that America has the authority to intervene whenever and wherever there are thwarted democratic rights, the advocates of democracy-promotion offer a more businesslike proposition. It is said that authoritarianism, especially theocratic Islamic authoritarianism, breeds anti-American terrorism, and that swamp-draining democracy-promotion abroad is therefore a priority of American national security. If you don't wish to asphyxiate on poison gas in a subway, or lose your legs to detonating pressure-cookers at a road-race, it is in your interest to support American interventions on behalf of democracy across the globe. So the story goes. However, the unstated story goes, it is equally important that American democracy not get out of hand. If you don't want your flight to La Guardia to end in a ball of fire, or your local federal building to be razed by a cataclysm of exploding fertiliser, you will need to countenance secret courts applying in secret its own secret interpretation of hastily drawn, barely debated emergency security measures, and to persecute with the full force of the world's dominant violent power any who dare afford a glimpse behind the veil. You see, democracy here at home must be balanced against the requirements of security, and it is simply too dangerous to leave the question of this balance to the democratic public. Open deliberation over the appropriate balance would require saying something concrete about threats to public safety, and also about the means by which those threats might be checked. But revealing such information would only empower America's enemies and endanger American lives. Therefore, this is a discussion Americans can't afford to have. Therefore, the power to determine that this is a discussion the public cannot afford to have cannot reside in the democratic public. That power must reside elsewhere, with the best and brightest, with those who have surveyed the perils of the world and know what it takes to meet them. Those deep within the security apparatus, within the charmed circle, must therefore make the decision, on America's behalf, about how much democracy—about how much discussion about the limits of democracy, even—it is safe for Americans to have. This decision will not be effective, however, if it is openly questioned. The point is that is not up for debate. It is crucial, then, that any attempt by those on the inside to reveal the real, secret rules governing American life be met with overwhelming, intimidating retaliation. In order to maintain a legitimising democratic imprimatur, it is of course important that a handful of elected officials be brought into the anteroom of the inner council, but it's important that they know barely more than that there is a significant risk that we will all perish if they, or the rest of us, know too much, and they must be made to feel that they dare not publicly speak what little they have been allowed know. Even senators. Even senators must fear to describe America's laws to America's citizens. This is, yes, democracy-suppression, but it is a vitally necessary arrangement. It keeps you and your adorable kids and even your cute pet dog alive. Now, I don't believe I've heard anyone make this argument, no doubt because the logic of the argument cuts against it being made. Yet it seems similar reasoning must underpin the system of secret government that has emerged from the examination of Mr Snowden's leaks, and I cannot help but suspect that something along these lines has become the unspoken, unspeakable doctrine of Mr Obama's administration. Yet I remember when the Mr Obama announced this: My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. That would have been some real democracy-promotion, right here in the homeland. What happened? Is it naive to think Mr Obama really believed this stuff? I'll admit, with some embarrassment, that I'd thought he did believe it. But this "commitment" has been so thoroughly forsaken one is forced to consider whether it was ever sincere. It has been so thoroughly forsaken one wonders whether to laugh or cry. What kind of message are we sending about the viability these democratic ideals—about openness, transparency, public participation, public collaboration? How hollow must American exhortations to democracy sound to foreign ears? Mr Snowden may be responsible for having exposed this hypocrisy, for having betrayed the thug omertà at the heart of America's domestic democracy-suppression programme, but the hypocrisy is America's. I'd very much like to know what led Mr Obama to change his mind, to conclude that America is not after all safe for democracy, though I know he's not about to tell us. The matter is settled. It has been decided, and not by us. We can't handle the truth.
The plan sends the signal of credibility on democracy—domestic surveillance is both sufficient and necessary
Katulis 9 - Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who served on the State Department’s policy planning staff in the last years of the Clinton administration after living and working on the ground for the National Democratic Institute in Egypt and the Palestinian territories. (“Democracy Promotion in the Middle East and the Obama Administration,” https://www.tcf.org/assets/downloads/tcf-Katulis.pdf 2009) STRYKER
More broadly, the United States should take steps to restore habeas corpus and bring wiretap surveillance efforts back into the framework of the rule of law in the United States. Sending the signal that the United States is cleaning up its act on these fronts is a necessary step for reviving U.S. credibility on democracy promotion in the Middle East. Without some progress on these measures, anything else that the new administration tries to do on democracy promotion—whether it is political party building or civil society support, or any of the other traditional programs in the U.S. toolbox—will likely yield few results because of the substantial credibility gap. The new administration needs to send a clear message that the United States intends to practice what it preaches by adhering to the legal obligations it assumed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture, and other human rights treaties. Strengthening the legal framework for rule of law will require not only action on the part of the Obama administration but also engagement by leaders in the U.S. Congress. How the United States reintroduces itself to the world—keeping its national security policy in line with the highest human rights standards—will set the framework for how U.S. actions on the democracy promotion front are perceived throughout the Middle East.
Only domestic policy changes can make democracy promotion effective
Al-Rodhan 14 - Nayef Al-Rodhan is director of the Centre for the Geopolitics of Globalization and Transnational Security at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. (“Reforming Democracy and the Future of History: To spread Democracy, democratic nations must look inward first.” http://www.theglobalist.com/reforming-democracy-and-the-future-of-history/ 6/14/2014) STRYKER
In 1975, a report prepared by the Trilateral Commission, The Crisis of Democracy, signaled the pessimism and defeatism prevailing in Western democracies at the time about the future and sustainability of democracy. The report reflected a deep economic downturn, as well as social and political turmoil. This crisis of democracy was tightly connected with concerns about “monopoly capitalism,” rampant materialism and corruption. Four decades later, democracy is again in a state of crisis. This comes as somewhat of a surprise, given that successive waves of democratization have touched every region of the world over the past 40 years. What is becoming evident now is that an opposite trend has emerged. Democracy has in fact been in retreat for years, as many repressive governments became even more repressive, civil liberties were dropped and the military was empowered in many countries. The state of democracy today In the early 1990’s, the end of the Cold War had brought the revalidation of democracy with great vigour as the most representative form of government. Yet this exuberance has been counterbalanced with criticism of its failings and shortcomings. Democracies guarantee political freedom, the rule of law, human rights and a platform for citizens to engage in the political process. Yet, in practice, democracies feature numerous inadequacies. Inequality, economic disparity, disempowerment, lack of opportunity, infringements of civil liberties, ethnic, social and cultural discrimination, corruption and opaque honor titles systems are all present, and apparently not antagonistic to democracies. Globally, democracies have also acted in ways that suggest an outright renunciation of their principles at home. Irresponsible conduct, including unwarranted invasions, toleration of brutality, genocide, misuse of the UN veto system at the expense of global harmony and peace, as well geopolitical machinations or meddling in the affairs of weaker states — these are all traits that have characterized the foreign conduct of major democratic states at some point. Inequality alienates Western democracies like the United States, United Kingdom or France — traditionally considered “advanced democracies” — experience acute inequalities, and even cases of abject poverty. In 2009, a U.S. government report pointed to the dramatic increase in hunger and food insecurity. About 50 million people were identified as having suffered food insecurity at some point during the previous year. One in five people in the United Kingdom are also identified as falling below the poverty line. Growing inequality is at times reinforced by, and an enabler of, shrinking opportunity. This fuels disillusionment and low political participation. As Joseph Stiglitz has noted, “The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security — they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had.” Corporate financing of political campaigns have reinforced this, hijacking the democratic process. It further alienates voters who feel they are excluded from a process that is beyond their control. The role of money in politics is worth singling out as a major problem with democratic governance. Its effects are truly worrisome, especially when there is little transparency and regulatory mechanisms to limit the distorting role of money in politics. A check is worth a thousand words The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the “Citizens United” case openly enshrined the right of unlimited campaign spending, giving corporations, associations and billionaire donors the freedom to heavily and undemocratically influence government, perversely as an expression of their free speech. The “super PACs” have blurred the line between the personal and the political. They reinforce and perpetuate the rotation of policymakers in the U.S. Congress and the executive branch, many of whom are already part of the wealthiest 1% (and, under any circumstance, remain kept in office by money from the top 1%). Whatever constraints existed to this practice, they were expunged earlier in 2014 when the Supreme Court opened the door to even more money in politics by striking down the aggregate contribution limits for campaigns. The decision means, in very practical terms, that one single donor can contribute millions of dollars to political candidates or campaigns and thereby dim the prospect of new entrants, ideas or challengers to the political arena. Finally, the sense of disillusionment with democracy in its current form has been reinforced with disclosures of large-scale government surveillance, violations of privacy and civil liberties. The claim of sweeping authority over the right to collect personal data is harmful to core liberties. Overseeing the overseers and keeping states’ need to know in balance with the safeguard of privacy and civil liberties remains a challenge. Reforming democracy Opinion polls across many continents reflect this current dissatisfaction with democracy. These forms of disillusionment indicate the need to embrace a paradigm that goes beyond political freedom and addresses the basic human need for dignity. Democracy guarantees political freedom and rights. Yet it is not incompatible with marginalization, exclusion, poverty, disempowerment or disrespect. The triumph of a liberal democratic order as a final destination of history and historical ideas, as once predicted by the “end of history”, needs a serious re-evaluation. A greater emphasis on human dignity and a governance model that places dignity at the center can halt the current disenchantment with democracy. A more feasible paradigm is an approach I call Sustainable History. It focuses on dignity rather than just freedom. And it allows for reconciling accountable governance with various political cultures.
Democracy promotion is effective—the US model is crucial
Fukuyama and McFaul 7 - Francis Fukuyama is a professor of international political economy and director of the International Development Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Michael McFaul is a Hoover Senior Fellow, a professor of political science, and director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law at Stanford University. He is also a nonresident associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a member of TWQ's editorial board. (“Should Democracy Be Promoted or Demoted?” http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/washington_quarterly/v031/31.1fukuyama.html 2007) STRYKER
Restoring the U.S. Example Inspiration for democrats struggling against autocracy and a model for leaders in new democracies are two U.S. exports now in short supply. Since the beginning of the republic, the U.S. experiment with democracy has provided hope, ideas, and technologies for others working to build democratic institutions. Foreign visitors to the United States have been impressed by what they have seen, and U.S. diplomats, religious missionaries, and businesspeople traveling abroad have inspired others by telling the story of U.S. democracy. In the second half of the twentieth century, during which the United States developed more intentional means for promoting democracy abroad, the preservation and advertisement of the U.S. democratic model remained a core instrument.
[Affirmative specific solvency]