Promoting democracy has been a key part of the United States foreign policy prescription for more than forty years. After the defeat of the fascist regimes during the second world war and the fall of the Soviet Union after the cold war, the United States government latched on to the idea of democratization because it became widely accepted that this is how our national security is best protected. This new ideology is very different when compared to what Secretary of State John Quincy Adams stated in 1821: “Where the standard of freedom and independence has been unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she does not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” The United States has not always forcefully campaigned change, but led by example in order to try to inspire the world (Hook 2008, 383-7). While this type of approach to international relations may not fit our current time period, it is beginning to look as if our current policy approach is fading into history as well. Here is the issue at hand: should promoting democracy abroad be a top United States priority? Argumentatively, no, it should not.
Democratic nations are said to be less prone to making war, more economically stable, and more peaceful internally. This premise comes from what is known as the “democracy-peace theory.” Unfortunately, this theory is not completely sound. Democracies are just as likely to participate in warfare, especially if they are a newly democratized state. Studies show that within the first ten years of being established, new democracies are likely to engage in conflict with other democratic states as well as with authoritarian states (Bin. 2007). America began its road towards democracy while fighting for its freedom in the Revolutionary War. A short distance down the time line, the northern and southern parts of the country were divided in a civil war, proving that even America had a rough start in the beginning. Transitioning over to democracy is not easy; actually, it is quite dangerous. The expectations of citizens living in a country undergoing the transformation may not be met as quickly as they would like, thus creating doubt in the new government’s ability to create positive changes. The end result is a rebellion against democracy (Bennett 2010, 43-60). Once the democracy has failed, leaving behind a country with no direction in sight, there is room for other institutions to seize control by preying on the sentiment of the citizens. Nazi Germany after the Weimar Republic and militaristic Japan after the Taisho democracy are a few examples that led to devastating outcomes (Bin. 2007). In these instances, democracy was tried, failed, and then another political institution took over, causing chaos, and causing the rest of the world to spend large amounts of money rebuilding and mending a broken country. Keep in mind that the United States has already built up a 12.3 trillion dollar deficit, which has increased $3.87 billion dollars daily since September 28, 2007. To put that into perspective, if that number is divided by the entire population of the United States, that leaves about $40,000 dollars that every United States citizen shares in debt (U.S. National Debt Clock). I do not think that the United States has money to spare on risky foreign policies.
Democracy is typically believed to enhance relationships between nations and make cooperation with them easier. We need to take into consideration that even though we preach that beneficial outcomes are more likely to arise, what if they do not? Suppose that we do everything correctly in establishing the necessary components for a democracy to be successful: create honest leaders, promote better education, establish a better economy, establish the rule of law, and instill the concepts that our Bill of...
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