Edwards' Plan for Promoting Democracy:
John Edwards has a detailed plan to meet one of America's
highest global priorities: to promote the spread of democracy.
He will launch a far-reaching new effort to work with our
allies to promote the fundamental components of democracy:
a free press and civil society, open and fair elections, respect
for human rights, and the legal, political, and regulatory
institutions to make government accountable before the law
and the people.
more countries choose their rulers-and replace them-through
free, fair, and competitive elections than ever before. But
enormous challenges remain. Many of the new democracies of
the world are corrupt and inefficient, lacking a true rule
of law. And there are too many regions of the world without
democracy. Not a single Arab state is a democracy. Most of
the states of Africa and many of the states that emerged from
the collapse of the Soviet Union continue to be governed by
authoritarian regimes. America will never defeat violent terror
so long as hundreds of millions of people in the Muslim world
and elsewhere are denied the right to express themselves peacefully,
openly and democratically.
Bush has only offered rhetoric about this challenge -- he
has failed to offer a strategy for achieving it. He might
have delivered the right message; but he is the wrong messenger.
needs the support and respect of free countries to promote
freedom around the world. And democrats in many parts of the
world - especially the Arab world - simply do not see President
Bush as a credible champion of their cause. They know the
Bush administration itself has set a miserable example on
civil liberties and human rights here at home; they have seen
us abandon America's traditional role as a peacemaker in the
will return America to a place where it is looked up to and
respected so it is again seen as a credible champion for democracy.
He will implement a "Strategy for Freedom" that
will go far beyond the policy to promote democracy pursued
by the Bush administration.
Strategy for Freedom
"Strategy for Freedom" is designed to accomplish
three broad objectives:
give the international community new tools to promote democracy
by reorienting existing international institutions toward
democracy promotion and by creating new institutions, especially
in the Middle East.
focus America's policies on stopping egregious anti-democratic
practices that violate fundamental human rights, like detaining
strengthen America's own democracy promotion programs by developing
new grass-roots programs and devoting more resources to these
these objectives, Edwards will:
an "Organization for Security and Cooperation in the
Middle East" to promote democracy and fundamental freedoms
in the region. In the 1970s, the "Helsinki Process"
brought the U.S., West Europe, the Soviet Union and East Europe
around an internationally recognized set of norms concerning
security, human rights, and democratic governance, leading
to today's Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE). Edwards will work with our allies to create a similar
regional organization for the Middle East, bringing regional
countries committed to democratic reform together with the
world's leading democracies to discuss regional challenges
and common approaches to promoting good governance, establishing
greater regional security, and defending human rights. This
new regional organization could monitor democratic elections,
assist with civil society and political party development,
help prevent and manage crises, develop confidence-building
measures between states (like notification of military exercises)
and negotiate regional political and arms control agreements.
Within his first year as President, Edwards will convene a
summit of leaders from leading democracies and a core group
of Middle East states to launch this process - establishing
its basic functions and criteria that states must meet to
join -- with the goal of creating the new organization by
the end of 2008.
a "Middle East Partnership Program" at NATO. Edwards
will expand NATO's successful Partnership for Peace program
- which has helped build political and security ties between
NATO countries and the former Warsaw Pact states in Europe
-- by calling on NATO to create a "Middle East Partnership
Program" with countries in the Middle East that have
embarked on democratic reforms. This program will help establish
civilian control over militaries in democratizing states,
develop transparency in defense planning and budgets, provide
a forum to consult on regional security challenges like terrorism,
and allow for training with NATO countries for joint operations
like counter-terrorism and peacekeeping. Participating countries
will send civilian and military representatives to NATO to
assist with planning, training, and intelligence for military
operations, and will create NATO liaison offices in their
a "Freedom List." Edwards will direct the State
Department to create and make public a "Freedom List"
of dissidents imprisoned for peaceful political or religious
expression in an effort to name and shame countries that incarcerate
political prisoners. The FBI has its "most wanted"
list and Bush keeps a list of most wanted terrorists; we also
need a most wanted list for those democratic dissidents that
are incarcerated and should be released. The Freedom List
will ensure that political prisoners receive greater public
attention and are a higher diplomatic priority.
a "Democracy Caucus" in the United Nations. Too
often in the UN, democracy gets overlooked by those more worried
about regional loyalties and politics. A "Democracy Caucus"
will bring together states committed to democracy and human
rights to push for these principles at every level of the
UN system as well as in votes in the General Assembly, Security
Council and other UN committees. This will help prevent states
like Libya from heading the UN human rights committee, which
only undermines the UN's credibility. Membership in the caucus
will also be a way to motivate partially democratic states
or even nondemocratic states to embrace democratic reforms
- or punish them if they don't.
increase support for international democracy programs, starting
by doubling the funding of the National Endowment for Democracy.
The NED plays a vital role in supporting grass-roots civil
society programs worldwide, but its resources do not match
the importance of its mission. Edwards will double the NED's
budget to over $80 million -- focusing specifically on programs
in the Middle East and Africa -- and call on U.S. allies in
Europe and elsewhere to establish similar democracy promotion
institutions and match these funds.
American financial assistance to democratic development and
curb current assistance programs to nondemocratic states.
Edwards will reorient U.S. assistance towards programs that
support the development of open societies, ensuring that aid
to the Middle East and elsewhere is allocated increasingly
to non-governmental bodies and away from nondemocratic governments,
cutting assistance to states led by dictators who show no
interest or offer only false promises in developing democracy.
Edwards will also encourage democratic reforms by rewarding
good performers - those who demonstrate respect for democratic
practices and a willingness to implement political reform
- with increased aid, incentives for investment, and debt
membership in key international institutions to democracy.
Edwards will push to make membership in international and
regional organizations contingent on demonstrating a basic
commitment to good governance and democracy. This should include
examining membership in existing institutions, such as Russia's
continued membership in the G-8 if present anti-democratic
trends continue there.