How Can the U.S. Effectively Support Democratic Efforts in the World Today?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 3, 2009
Woman Registers To Vote in Afghanistan

In honor of our nation's 233rd birthday, Secretary Clinton delivered a video message for U.S. Embassies worldwide to play at their Fourth of July celebrations. Secretary Clinton said:

"For Americans, the Fourth of July is a day to reconnect with loved ones, to remember our history, and to renew our commitment to democracy, tolerance, and justice. As President Obama said in Cairo last month, these are not just American values, these are core principles we share with people everywhere."How can the U.S. effectively support democratic efforts in the world today?



July 3, 2009

Arsalan writes:

How can the U.S. effectively support democratic efforts in the world today?

I would first like to start by stating that I think we should not support democratic efforts. We should start to err a little more towards political isolationism. However, if the U.S. wants to support democracy, I would be more economically open to those countries that are building up democratically. By doing such the U.S. has the chance of rubbing off social ideology and hopefully forcing the other country towards social introspection (which could have the potential to push that country towards a more liberal regime) The emphasis being placed on the hope that the U.S. will not be perceived as being meddlesome.

Texas, USA
July 3, 2009

Joe in Texas writes:

Every day is a day to reconnect with loved ones. We have to be careful calling America a democracy while we meddle in other's affairs. Rather than being hypocrites, if we are true to our Country, and honest about our democracy, we must take care of our own and become strong rather than weakening our resources (and dollar) while trying to save the world when we ourselves are falling apart. We appear to have wealth, but all the wealth is borrowed and from an integral national system. We have too much to lose. Our land, our people, our freedom, our rights. Sovereignty is more than law or democracy, it's respect for culture, humanity & individuality. And any democracy that doesn't support that can't call itself a democracy.

Michigan, USA
July 3, 2009

Patrick in Michigan writes:

The U.S. should focus on encouraging PEACE around the World. Make an attempt to found a world wide governing organization that reconizes and encourages all Countries to participate. All the previous organizations have failed.

Virginia, USA
July 3, 2009

Zainab in Virginia writes:

To establish democracy in the world the U.S. policy might need to reflect the change towards peace; the democracy is not words its implementation, people around the world is waiting for actions from the U.S. Government to assess the current change in the policy, diplomacy plays big role in this implementation and the state department is doing great in this, so it's just a matter of time.

Syrian P.
July 3, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

This is the second time you ask the same question within 90 days, are you confused. Guns, amo, cash and intel, just like you are doing in Iran, wasting 400 million Dollars that you could have educated few children in America with that sum. But of course educated population is a threat to the NWO. Slaves run by Honduran Banana Republic Juntas is what the Democracy model you are looking for apparently.

Unlike the United States, where the geography and land mass isolates the country. Democracy is most countries are relative to surrounding. Even in Israel, which is a well established and functioning Democracy, it is constantly compromised by forces of the region it dwells in. You cannot look at setting up Democracy on State level but must be on a cohesive regional level. Only then will Democracy thrives to benefits the region and make it worthwhile and productive for the populations and the world.

United States
July 3, 2009

MadamaAmbi in U.S.A. writes:

by helping women get educated, employed, have control over their reproductive choices and their sexuality...without these kinds of programs, democracy is meaningless...just ask the women of Iran, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Congo...establishing the human rights of women, ensuring them, funding them, stumping for them, defending them and protecting them is the single most important thing the U.S. or any country can do to improve the quality of life of its people and to make democracy viable...this is what feminists have been saying for a long one is free until everyone is free...and this includes LGBT and all other oppressed I said in my letter to Prez Obama, use the bully pulpit and speak for women!...and I say the same thing to SOS's about human rights and it's always been about human rights...if Prez Obama or SOS Clinton needs a speechwriter who gets this, I'm available...

July 3, 2009

Yrjo in Finland writes:

Whatever U.S. does, the rest of the world is watching very carefully. Therefore U.S. is expected to lead by examble and to do what's right in terms of human rights, democrazy and nature. It sounds nice and I understand it's very difficult sometimes. Nevertheless, it's that simple.

I think U.S. is on the right track now.

Happy 4th of July!

New York, USA
July 3, 2009

Mary in New York writes:

The real question is how to support democracy without making enemies. In the past the U.S. has attempted to support democracy and it has done more harm than good. Look at Iraq, we went in and removed someone who was a threat and who was violating human rights. However, we kind of forced a system of government on the Iraqis that can't function properly in their situation.

Instead of forcing a government on a people, we need to let people make their own decisions. If a government is not functioning the way its people want it to, the people will rise up and replace it with a government that will work to better serve them.

What the U.S. needs to do is make it known that we condemn human rights violations by governments and that we will support revolutions against oppressive governments. However, we cannot try to drive or force the process. DIfferent systems of government work in different places, there is no one system that will work in every situation.

If the U.S. simply offers support, we will find that people are happier with their governments and that we suddenly have fewer enemies in the world.

July 5, 2009

D.G. in Israel writes:

One of the ways America can effectively support democratic efforts in the world today is by using, at every level, public diplomaty as a tool for transmitting a message, for bringing inspiration to the world. The role of the U.S. in bringing inspiration to the world is not died with Kennedy. Inspiration to freedom, inspiration to justice, to equality, to equality of chances and opportunities, is the inherent heritage of the U.S. History and culture. This is the message the U.S. should bring to the world. this is the message the world want to receive from the U.S. and is ready to. Exporting the dream. Perhaps it sounds somewhere like a farfetched slogan, but this is what the people of the world expect from America.

Today we assist at the revival of this great expectation, outside the U.S. as well as among the American people. Obama's creative public diplomacy is a great tool to reach this great goal.

United Kingdom
July 5, 2009

T.J. in the United Kingdom writes:

For just over Thirty years, the Mullahs regime in Iran committed all sorts of atrocities against its own people while the World stayed silent. The Europeans carried on doing business as usual.

Then the fight against Taliban and Al Qaeda started in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq followed and the Mullahs regime started an undeclared covert War by proxy against the Allied Forces, but in particular against the US Personnel. Sadly they scored many times. This was done to mobilize the public opinion against the War in Iraq. The Mullahs regime was not sure of the term of presence and it was having sleepless nights.

The Neo-Cons were accused of crying Wolf as no WMD's were found in Iraq although they could have been shipped to Iran or ... for safe keeping and to discredit the Neo Cons.

Then came a new President in the US. President Obama with a new vision and a new approach to the Old problems. He reached out with an Olive branch. Some people of the regime translated this as a sign of weakness. It is an odd phenomena. It takes only for one to shout retreat!

Then came the Presidential Elections in Iran -- June 2009. Against ALL the odds, Ahmadinejad was declared the Winner. Majority of Iranians who had tasted Ahmadinejad's internal hard-line policies and International isolation had wished and voted for a moderate. The Europeans had also wished to see the Worm turn into a Butterfly to carry on doing business as usual. They had a rude awakening.
Peaceful protests of the moderates Camp followed in many Cities of Iran. The protesters were killed in front of the eyes of the World. Many were injured, beaten and imprisoned.

The tyranny of the Mullahs regime is NOW proven beyond doubt even to the constant deniers.

This is a LIVE scenario very fitting of this topic.

In my opinion as an Iranian who cares about the destiny of humanity, I have to warn everyone who cares to listen. The regime will acquire Nuclear Weapons shortly to protect itãs own survival and secondly will use it against Israel to gain influence in the Arab World. Some neighboring Arab population will die too, but for the Tree to grow tall and strong, it needs to shed some leaves.

The thing to remember is to shout that, you support the Will of Iranian people. Please do not whisper. Let the regime hear you loud and clear. Let them know that, you will support the type of people who value Freedom. You must leave the sidelines and give your total support. Let us together give the regime nightmares and not just sleepless nights.

This Worm does not know how to change into a Butterfly. It has to be quashed.

July 6, 2009

Edite in Canada writes:

One would assume that America would have some reasonable clout viv a vis events that happen in the European Union. In that regard one hopes that an accommodation can be reached in the EU to not allow a convicted felon from Latvia to be seated as an elected member to the European Union.Unforunately, during election time for EU members, Latvians stayed home in droves out of abject sadness and really neglect and allowed the the Russian population which came out in force, to elect a Latvian, Afreds Rubiks, to the represent Latvia in the EU.He is a convicted felon and quite stupidly, Latvia's Constitution it would seem, does not bar felons from standing for office. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison which he served as a result of treason to the Republic of Latvia. How then, in all that should be right and good, can such a treacherous man who will not represent Latvia's interests in the EU ,but rather, will work against it, be allowed a seat in the EU? Frankly, it boggles the mind.Surely the European Union has a Constitution that does not allow convicted felons to sit in its Parliament.If not, then America, please do something about this diabolical turn of events. It must be in your power to do something.

New Mexico, USA
July 6, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I don't think it's a coincidence that the leaders of nations that are doing the most to repress their people are the same ones that threaten the peace and stablity of the world, civilization in general, and the credibility of democracies to deliver on humanity's potential through good governance and the democratic norms and rule of law, and international human rights values.

As TJ rightly put it, we can't simply offer a whisper in response to the self evident.

So let me pose an unpleasent the question of the week regards "effective" support for democratic efforts.

If you want change, you must be willing to do the hard things that bring it about, kineticly.

To be effective, one must take action, not simply pay lip service to dreams and aspirations.

"Oh, but you must think bombs are the answer, then". some will be thinking as they read this, so let me assure those that do that if bombs are needed, we shouldn't be afraid to induce the change of behavior of a regime through such methods of removal from power, because they work to level the playing field for those seeking democratic change if we don't simply do unto others-then split without follow through.

Point being that war is not the answer, it is simply the ultimate result of ineffective action being taken prior, whether that be described as a "falure of diplomacy", or simply as a result of the regime's intent to get stupid with
us, and push our buttons along with a few other nation's that would be among the willing to make change concrete and permanent at this point, after all diplomacy with Iran has been utterly exhausted.

There's every reason not to have to resort to war if possible, and only one reason we will in the end. That's to end the threat of a wider war caused by the regime's intent to destabilze the region through terrorism.

And so diplomacy has gone nowhere folks, let's be real clear about the effectiveness of the nuclear track with the P5+1...we've tried being reasonable, sought engagement, and all it has served to do is two good things; It has exposed the regime's true intent, and helped build a common understanding of the threats the regime poses to the world at large among nations, while the regime has no qualms about what it does to is own people in front of the rest of the world as witness, despite efforts by the regime to hide it.

What might be very effective diplomacy would be if our president were to present everything we have on Iran to a joint session of Congress to present the case that there is a finite limit to America's patience, and to ask Congress for its backing to take whatever steps the President deems neccessary to end the threat posed by the government of Iran, and put that to general public debate.

This isn't a U.S./Iran thing, this is an "Iran against reason" thing, and we need to be unreasonable in order to speak the language the leadership will understand.

That's the only possible road to peace, when they realize their survival is at stake, and until we, the U.S., as policy, take a premptive posture, the Iranian government will continue to be a problem to everyone and it only gets worse.

If the President by going to Congress is essentially saying to the world, "I don't want to go this rout, but I need to know that the American people ( via congress) have my back if I end up having to make the decision because the regime presents no other choice."

The people will figure out what's real and what's not, so don't worry about the regime manipulating them, I think the people of Iran have already had their fill of that of late.

I think if the regime saw these mechanizations of the U.S. government taking place, they'd change their tune before its too late. One would hope.

But even if I'm wrong and they continue to be idiots, then at least the President has an additional option he can tell friends and allies about.

Why am I confident Congress will have his back?

Because they are not idiots.

Tennessee, USA
July 6, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:


Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence ?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

The price of Freedom is and always has been high...America still leads the way in helping all...and it is still our blood which has been shed more than any others to maintain it here and abroad....

California, USA
July 7, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

Gandhi says, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." We had best tend to the lumber in our own eye first. In the United States we have more than the whole country of Spain who have zero health coverage. This is sad and shameful for a major democracy. We use a massive amount more than our share of the world's energy.

I do think we should encourage democracies wherever we can, but we must be very very humble about our own urgent challenges as yet unfulfilled. A wise country would study, say, France re their excellent and efficient health care system. Yet we persist in denial and hubris (false pride) and in paying, as an example, Mr. Williams of Aetna insurance corporation $24 million dollars in compensation every year while millions of Americans have no health coverage whatever.

We seem to speak with a forked tongue. We should fight like tigers to change what is inhumane and shortsighted in our own country. Nothing would inspire people around the world more than our simple honesty and determined -- unceasing -- efforts to bring justice and a decent life to all our citizens. Not just to talk about it and to continue to be cowed by the huge and soulless corporations.

Alabama, USA
July 7, 2009

Elena in Alabama writes:

Let's start by supporting the efforts of Honduras as they defend their democracy! U.S. government cannot effectively support democracy anywhere if it continues to side with the leftist block invading Central and South America. Honduras, a small poor country, has always been an ally to the U. S., today when it needs the U.S. to help do away with a corrupt and cheating leader, it has completely turned its back on the small country. We must urge our leaders and representatives to change this attitude. We must demand that the U.S. recognize the new Honduran government!

California, USA
July 7, 2009

Lauren in California writes:

Secretary Clinton, the way America can pay tribute to democracies is by supporting them when they are threatened.

A democratically elected President was thrown out of Honduras. He represents the majority of the population, desperately poor people. Whether or not the U.S. agrees with everything he proposes is beside the point. We respect the electoral process. So please insist that he be reinstated and by so doing, show the world that the U.S. stands for democracy, not for rule by the barrel of a gun, and with the peoples of Central America.

Texas, USA
July 7, 2009

Phil in Texas writes:

Leave Honduras alone. The guy you are talking to right now was run out of the country for violating their constitution, not just some military coup like AP and CNN portray it. Leave Honduras alone and stop siding with Hugo Chavez for crying out loud. Have respect for their constitution and their democracy and soveriegnty and stay out U.S.

Rossie C.
July 7, 2009

Rossie in Honduras writes:

How can the U.S. effectively support democratic efforts in the world today?

Well, start listening your representatives approach, as this one Quorum call of Coburn Defends Rule of Law in Honduras.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) speaks on the Senate floor in defense of the rule of law in Honduras and the constitutional actions by the Honduras Supreme Court and Congress in removing Manuel Zelaya from office. Zelaya is closely aligned with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and was charged with treason after attempting to illegally rewrite the Honduran Constitution.

Alabama, USA
July 7, 2009

Jiesheng in the United Kingdom writes:

Please DO NOT use the USAID or The MCC as tool of democracy promotion. They should be focused on development like the UK's DFID.

Ann E.
North Carolina, USA
July 7, 2009

Ann and Elliott in North Carolina write:

Honduras. We cannot believe the stance the U.S. is taking. Four of our most fervent haters are now our allies? Doesn't that tell you right away that we have the wrong position here? A demi-god decides to take a page from Hugo Chavez's playbook and set himself up as a possible President for life. He's rejected at every attempt by the election council, a Congress controlled by his own party, the Supreme Court and the Defense Minister -- who he fires. The next one won't side w/him either and he gets fired and the third will be complicit but the Sepreme Court orders the first one reinstated. Ballots are seized so he has new ones printed in Venezuela. Finally the military, acting for the Congress and the Court spirit him out of the country and refuse to let him land when he tries to come back. That's not a coup. It's a military under civilian control. Congress elects the new President, not the military.

Come on, we've put aid to the Honduras "on pause." We need to restore their aid and defend their right to get rid of a despot. This country needs to immediately change its thinking on this issue. It's despicable!

New Mexico, USA
July 8, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

If I might offer a suggestion to foks at State, this thing with Honduras is very confusing for us Americans, because we darn well know what would have happened if Mr. Bush had tried to get a constitutional ammendment for a extra term in office.

So my suggestion is you all is to get the department's legal section together, hold a briefing on the subject, and explain exactly why the action taken by the Honduran government was in fact as the President has judged them to be, "illegal".

If you don't I fear confusion will rein supreme..."law is logic" as one district court judge once advised me, but I have no earthly idea what logic is afoot here with how the President's judgement was arrived at.

My gut tells me that the President runs a risk of being percieved as have "rushed to judgement" in this case by his own citizens here in the U.S., and as a constitutional lawyer himself, may suffer some professional embarrasment as well should he be proved wrong on the issue of what constitutes legal "constitutional order" in Honduras.

Either it was an "impeachment" or a "coup de etat", so let's get it straitened out once and for all, legally.

In any case, they'll probably hold another election before the talking is finished, and this will all be a moot point by next year...except to the recently deposed.

Lynn H.
Colorado, USA
July 8, 2009

Lynn H. in Colorado writes:

There is much confusion about the Honduran situation. The main issue at stake is the referendum Zelaya was promoting. This non-binding question read, "Do you think that the November 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot box in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution?" Regardless of the result, this referendum was simply an opinion poll and would have carried no legal weight.

During his administration Zelaya has, in fact, become closer to Venezuela and Cuba but this has been part of a longer trend starting beginning with previous administrations. The connection to Cuba emerged in the early 1990s after Cold War aid to Honduras was severely cut back. Formal relations resumed in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 when Cuban medical brigades arrived to assist the victims. The decision to sign on with Petrocaribe, the Venezuelan oil initiative providing subsidized oil to poor countries, was made under the previous president, a conservative with Zelaya signing the final bill. The reason for the turn toward Venezuela lay mainly with the skyrocketing price of oil, a major recession, and the looming threat of a nationwide strike in the transportation industry in 2005.

Zelaya is an unlikely leftist. Son of a military officer, he was born into one of the wealthiest families in his province and was once accused of killing leftist peasants and priests when their bodies were discovered hidden on his ranch. Some of his political tactics have been questionable during his presidency raising some legitimate questions about his commitment to democracy. Being forced from bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night, however, is hardly a democratic move and only serves to undermine the rule of law in that country.

Our role and that of any outside mediation should not hinge on whether we think this government should side with the left or the right. That is a decision for the Honduran people alone. The issue for international observers is whether an open, legal and democratic process is being followed. In this, both sides can be expected to find common ground.

If Zelaya is to be a true democrat, he could start by allowing the rule of law to take its course even if this means standing trial for the charges against him --in a fully transparent process.

Florida, USA
July 9, 2009

Yonason in Florida writes:


America can start by supporting Honduran Democracy rather than the Communists (notably Chavez and Castro) who want to crush it. The ouster of their criminal president was according to their laws, and by unanimous approval of their Supreme Court. It was not a "coup" because the military was acting as an agent of the court, as per their constitution.

I fear that after Obama and the Democrats are done, America will have no creditility left. The Democrats were always complaining about the damage done to America's image abroad by the Bush admin's policies, when the only countries really dissatisfied were our enemies. But now, real damage is being done, and it will take a long time to repair, if we ever can.

Oh, and then there is Iran, where peaceful protests against what appears to be a phony election are being killed by the regime. Why is it that we aren't bothering to denounce Iranian tyrany while eager to support their ilk here in this hemisphere? Such consistant undermining of democracy is not only not good for America's image at home or abroad, but it is morally reprehensible.

So, bottom line, the best way to support democracy is to actually support it, not talk about it while doing the opposite.

New York, USA
July 10, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

The G8 and Anti-Corruption

Transparency, Accountability, and Rule-of-Law
Key elements for Democractic Governance.

President Obama recalled the experience of his father, arriving from Kenya, and the road to security from a history of coruption and colonialism. We are very fortunate to have a President who has this prospective on the world's challenge to create an equitable balance for human security.


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