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Obama and Sustainable Democracy Promotion



Patterson, Eric. (2011) Obama and Sustainable Democracy Promotion.International Studies Perspectives,doi: 10.1111/j.1528-3585.2011.00447.x
© 2011 International Studies Association

Barack Obama consistently has called upon the US to support what he calls “sustainable democracy.” Such a commitment to promoting democracy abroad is a common theme among postwar American presidents, but often there are disconnects between America’s ideals and interests as well as between the rhetoric and actual concrete action. This paper introduces democracy promotion activities in recent US history, then turns to the words and deeds of candidate and now, President Obama and his administration. In short, the Obama administration’s first year in office has been marked by grand rhetoric, general continuity with the previous administration in democracy funding, but a lack of policy coherence and leadership on these issues. The paper concludes with a series of lessons and recommendations for the Obama administration on sustaining democracy worldwide gleaned from the shortcomings of the Bush administration.