The National Endowment for Democracy at 40: Back to Basics?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-12-16-27
A. Davydov,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, United Kingdom.

Received 19.07.2023. Revised 24.08.2023. Accepted 04.10.2023.

Abstract. The world system is increasingly characterized by a New Cold War competition between the USA, Russia and China, framed as a battle between “democracy” and “autocracy” by the Biden Administration. This article focuses on the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a key instrument of U.S. democracy promotion in support of national security over the last 40 years. It analyses the extent to which it will remain a valid and effective actor in U.S. foreign policy during the New Cold War. The first two sections focus on the two structural elements that enable the NED to function. The first section focuses on the conceptual framework which has legitimated democracy promotion as an element of U.S. foreign policy. While this has been a U.S. policy imperative since the foundation of the state, its salience and the methods used to pursue it have been determined by shifts in the power of the United States and American perceptions of threats from foreign actors. The second section analyses the factors that have shaped the institutional and strategic position of the NED in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War. When the U.S. foreign policy elite perceives a unitary threat from a political-ideological actor, coupled with a need to transform closed regimes, the Executive and Congress align to empower the NED through provision of support and resources. The third section examines the position of the NED in the Biden Administration’s strategy and argues it is being supported to the maximum as the lead institution for promoting democracy in hostile authoritarian competitors. It concludes that the NED has shown a high level of institutional survivability but that its model of democracy promotion is increasingly challenged by closing political space in other states, and the erosion of the U.S. economic, military, and ideological power.

Keywords: United States, U.S. foreign policy, liberal world order, hegemony, democracy promotion, political aid, National Endowment for Democracy, State and non-state actors


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For citation:
Davydov A., Pee R. The National Endowment for Democracy at 40: Back to Basics?. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 12, pp. 16-27. EDN: TOZNIG

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