--Democracy assistance causes global backlash – hurts US leadership
Carothers, 06 – Director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Thomas, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006, “The Backlash Against Democracy Promotion,” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61509/thomas-carothers/the-backlash-against-democracy-promotion) IN JANUARY, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a controversial new bill imposing heightened controls on local and foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOS) operating in the country. The new legislation, which requires all NGOS in Russia to inform the government in advance about every project they intend to conduct, is another marker of the country's dispiriting slide back toward authoritarianism. The law is also a sign of an equally disturbing and much broader trend. After two decades of the steady expansion of democracy-building programs around the world, a growing number of governments are starting to crack down on such activities within their borders. Strongmen--some of them elected officials--have begun to publicly denounce Western democracy assistance as illegitimate political meddling.They have started expelling or harassing Western NGOS and prohibiting local groups from taking foreign funds--or have started punishing them for doing so. This growing backlash has yet to coalesce into a formal or organized movement. But its proponents are clearly learning from and feeding off of one another. The recent "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan andthe widespread suspicion that U.S. groups such as the National Democratic Institute (NBI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), Freedom House, and the Open Society Institute played a key behind-the-scenes role in fomenting these upheavals have clearly helped trigger the backlash. Politicians from China to Zimbabwe have publicly cited concerns about such events spreading to their own shores as justification for new restrictions on Western aid to NGOS and opposition groups. Yet there is something broader at work than just a fear of orange (Ukraine's revolution came to be known as the Orange Revolution). The way that President George W. Bush is making democracy promotion a central theme of his foreign policy has clearly contributed to the unease such efforts (and the idea of democracy promotion itself) are creating around the world. Some autocratic governments have won substantial public sympathy by arguing that opposition to Western democracy promotion is resistance not to democracy itself, but to American interventionism. Moreover, the damage that the Bush administration has done to the global image of the United :States as a symbol of democracy and human rights by repeatedly violating the rule of law at home and abroad has further weakened the legitimacy of the democracy-promotion cause.
Carothers, 06 – Director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Thomas, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006, “The Backlash Against Democracy Promotion,” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61509/thomas-carothers/the-backlash-against-democracy-promotion) THE BACKLASH against democracy aid can be understood as a reaction by nondemocratic governments to the increasingly assertive provision of such aid. But it is also linked to and gains force from another source: the broader public unease with the very idea of democracy promotion, a feeling that has spread widely in the past several years throughout the former Soviet Union, western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and elsewhere. President Bush, by embracing democracy promotion in the way he has, is largely responsible for this discomfort. Washington's use of the term "democracy promotion" has come to be seen overseas not as the expression of a principled American aspiration but as a code word for "regime change"--namely, the replacement of bothersome governments by military force or other means. Moreover, the Bush administration has also caused the term to be closely associated with U.S. military intervention and occupation by adopting democracy promotion as the principal rationale for the invasion of Iraq. The fact that the administration has also given the impression that it is interested in toppling other governments hostile to U.S. security interests, such as in Iran and Syria, has made the president's "freedom agenda" seem even more menacing and hostile. This is especially so since when Bush and his top advisers single out "outposts of tyranny," the governments they invariably list are those that also happen to be unfriendly to the United States. Meanwhile, friendly but equally repressive regimes, such as that in Saudi Arabia, escape mention. This behavior has made many states, nondemocratic and democratic alike, uneasy with the whole body of U.S. democracy-building programs, no matter how routine or uncontroversial the programs once were. It also makes it easier for those governments eager to push back against democracy aid for their own reasons to portray their actions as noble resistance to aggressive U.S. interventionism. And the more President Bush talks of democracy promotion as his personal cause, the easier he makes it for tyrannical leaders to play on his extraordinarily high level of unpopularity abroad to disparage the idea. The Bush administration has further damaged the credibility of U.S. democracy advocates by generally undermining the United States' status as a symbol of democracy and human rights. Even as the president has repeatedly asserted his commitment to a "freedom agenda," he has struck blow after self-inflicted blow against America's democratic principles and standards: through the torture of prisoners and detainees at U.S.-run facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan; the holding of hundreds of persons in legal limbo at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; the rendition of foreign detainees (sometimes secretly abducted abroad) to foreign countries known to practice torture; the establishment of a network of covert U.S.-run prisons overseas; eavesdropping without court warrants within the United States; and the astonishing resistance by the White House last year to a legislative ban on cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of any person in U.S. custody anywhere. Taken together, these actions have inflicted incalculable harm to the United States' image in the world. This fact is plainly and painfully evident to anyone who spends even modest amounts of time abroad. Yet it is one about which President Bush and his team, with the possible exception of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, appear unaware or unconcerned. Yet the damage has made it all too easy for foreign autocrats to resist U.S. democracy promotion by providing them with an easy riposte : "How can a country that tortures people abroad and abuses rights at home tell other countries how to behave?"