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Does America Really Support Democracy—or Just Other Rich Democracies? Washington’s Fight against Autocracy Will Fail If It Leaves out the Poor

Author: Jake Werner

Affiliation: Boston University 

Organization /Publisher: Foreign Affairs, USA

Date/Place: July 9, 2021/ USA

Type of Literature: Article 

Word Count: 2751


Keywords: COVID-19, United States, Democracy, Global South, Autocracy, China


The article focuses on the United States’ leading role in world democracies and its preferences between rich and poor. Author Jake Werner argues that the US is actively frustrating the priorities of most of the world’s democracies in issues from the COVID-19 pandemic to global trade rules, from climate change to economic development. The current administration has understood the sensitivity of emerging discontent among people. It has recognized the need to include essential elements in the domestic agenda crucial for the revival of democracy, investing in the common good, providing greater power and security to labor, and mobilizing people to confront the climate crisis. However, its foreign policy focuses on outcompeting China instead of pursuing a global strategy to revive faith in the common good. The author mentions the most urgent issue of ending COVID-19, where a prompt response was needed to the global South by May 2020, when the first vaccine was introduced. However, under considerable pressure from a transnational coalition of public health, fair-trade, and global justice groups, the G7 countries now intend to finally donate 870 million vaccine doses over the next year. The author illustrates that focusing on donations is neither the fastest nor the best way to bring the pandemic under control. Far more effective would be expanding production in the global South itself and helping to establish a permanent public health infrastructure to prevent future disasters. The author concludes that inclusive growth in the global economy would create the conditions for a new wave of democratization. Democracy would prevail not by deepening counterproductive conflicts with authoritarian states, but by depriving them of the inequalities, exclusions, and resentments that make them powerful. A policy capable of reversing the global anti-democratic tide and opening new opportunities for people around the world will require a better framework for understanding today’s conflicts, one with more capacity than a short-sighted grab that pits liberal democracy against its authoritarian other.


By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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