Washington, D.C. — As China, Russia, and other authoritarian countries flex their muscles, the United States should step up efforts to help existing democracies succeed and assist those nations that are transitioning to democracy.
Today, the Center for American Progress is outlining two major initiatives that the Biden administration can take to help support democracy around the world. First, the United States should organize a summit of the world’s leading democratic nations in order to develop a plan that encourages all democracies to help one another and work together on shared global challenges. Second, the next administration should present to Congress a plan for a new multiyear, multibillion-dollar Democratic Strategic Advantage Initiative to help established democracies and emerging democratic states.
“Both of these initiatives would help the world’s democracies counter today’s competing authoritarian models of governance, which China and Russia have increasingly pushed on the geopolitical stage,” said Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at CAP. “They would pay dividends for Americans by creating better partnerships with democratic states, driving economic growth and trade opportunities, and fostering stability and security around the world.”
The democracy summit would convene a group comprised of the G-7 countries as well as Australia and South Korea; it would also consider adding countries such as Brazil, India, and South Africa to this expanded G-7. This focused group would strive to forge consensus on how to approach controversial issues—such as dealing with specific challenges emanating from China—and concrete steps that democracies should take together. The United States could then work with this group to organize a larger global summit in 2022 that would include all the world’s democracies.
Holding the larger summit in 2022 would give the Biden administration time to improve American democracy in the wake of the Trump administration’s undermining of democratic institutions, while also allowing more time for countries to improve responses to the pandemic. The summit could achieve two goals: (1) secure specific, immediate steps that democracies can take to protect democracy around the world; and (2) establish an ongoing agenda and mechanism for democracies to cooperate on global challenges.
The Democratic Strategic Advantage Initiative would be akin to past large-scale U.S. government foreign assistance efforts such as the global fight against AIDS or Plan Colombia—an ambitious effort to sustain progress and to give these nations a strategic advantage over authoritarian competitors.
It would focus on three goals: (1) make clear that the United States intends to use all of its tools to support democracy abroad; (2) direct the U.S. government to work with partner countries on action plans to specifically outline how the United States can support democracy in each country; and (3) dedicate funds that help advance U.S. policies to bolster democratic countries.
Autocracies such as Russia and China are growing bolder in their efforts to undermine democracies. In other countries, populism is eroding democratic institutions from within. It is more important than ever that the United States prioritize the promotion of democracy and ensure that these efforts are as effective as possible. Both of CAP’s proposals would help the United States succeed in this mission.
Read the issue briefs:
- “How to Bring the World’s Democracies Together: A Global Summit of Democracies” by Michael Fuchs
- “Creating a Democratic Strategic Advantage Initiative” by Michael Fuchs and Alexandra Schmitt
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.