It is critical that democracies work closer together to promote and preserve other democracies in the face of growing influence operations by authoritarian governments.
On September 15, the United States hosted the Ninth Community of Democracies Governing Council Ministerial in Washington, DC. The lead up to the meeting was clouded by growing concerns about the Trump administration’s lack of emphasis on the role of values in U.S. foreign policy. In his remarks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went at length to address such doubts at the gathering with senior government officials and civil society leaders from around the world. The Secretary stated unequivocally:
Our shared values translate to more dependable security partners and reliable allies . . . [a]t a time of growing efforts to undermine democracy, it is all the more critical that we work together to bolster and promote this form of governance. So despite the challenges of our day, now is not the time to step back from our democratic commitments. Now is the time to strengthen and sustain them. We cannot become complacent. Rather, we must continue our active advocacy and engagement.
Indeed, it is critical that democracies work closer together to not only promote but also preserve democracies in the face of growing influence operations by authoritarian governments. As the secretary highlighted: “This ministerial could not come at a more critical moment. Across the globe, democratic nations and peoples are under threat.” While the secretary stopped short of calling for a League of Democracies—a coalition of “like-minded nations working together in the cause of peace”—his speech nevertheless clearly underscored the need for democracies to come together and defend against the “threat” to freedom globally. This is a necessary step in the right direction.