University of Washington

The Future of U.S. Democracy Promotion: Strategies for a Sustainable Fourth Wave of Democratization

Task Force Report
Expert Evaluation Presentation
Task Force Poster

Since the end of the Cold War, promoting the spread of democracy around the world has been a major element of U.S. foreign policy. Based on the premise that a world with more democracies will be more peaceful and prosperous—and hence beneficial to US interests—the U.S. has invested billions of dollars in a multitude of programs to create and strengthen democratic institutions abroad. In recent years, however, many countries from the “third wave” of transitions have disappointed, either stalling in a “gray zone” or sliding back into authoritarianism. This task force reexamined U.S. policy toward democracy assistance and recommended a new strategy. Issues included whether democracy promotion is still in U.S. interests, and if so, what regions/countries should be targeted, what aspects of democracy should be emphasized (e.g. civil society, governance, rule of law), and what approaches would be most effective in maximizing the return on aid.

Task Force Instructor

Scott Radnitz

Scott Radnitz is an assistant professor at the Jackson School of International Studies. A California native, he received his Ph.D. at MIT in 2007. He has been traveling and researching in Central Asia and the Caucasus since 2002. He only promotes democracy part of the time, as he is otherwise preoccupied teaching courses on the international system in the twentieth century, contemporary Central Asian politics, post-Soviet security, and failed states. His book, Weapons of the Wealthy: Predatory Regimes and Elite-Led Protests in Central Asia, was published by Cornell University Press in 2010.

Expert Evaluator



Ambassador Robert Hunter

Robert Hunter, U.S. Ambassador to NATO under President Clinton (1993-98), and U.S. representative to the Western European Union; a principal architect of the "New NATO," leading the North Atlantic Council in implementing decisions of the 1994 and 1997 NATO Summits and in obtaining air-strike decisions that halted the Bosnia war. Senior Concept Developer to NATO's Allied Command Transformation; Senior Advisory Panel, US European Command; Academic Advisory Board, NATO Defense College. Chairman, Council for a Community of Democracies. Foreign policy adviser to Senator Edward Kennedy and foreign and domestic policy adviser to Vice President Humphrey. Served on White House staff during the Johnson administration (health, education, welfare, labor), and in the U.S. Department of the Navy on the Polaris project. Senior Fellow at Overseas Development Council; Research Associate, International Institute for Strategic Studies; Lecturer at London School of Economics; Professorial Lecturer at Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins (SAIS), and George Washington University; Louis L. Goldstein Chair, Washington College.



Stephanie Smith

Major: International Studies Track: Global Health
Minor: Global Health
As a member of the “Rethinking Democracy Promotion” task force, I am particularly interested in the relationship between democratic stability and economic and social development, and how all of these factors can promote better health and quality of life for a population. Within the realm of global health, I am most concerned with maternal and child health issues. I firmly believe that improving health, education, and economic status for women is the first and most important step in accomplishing other health and development goals. After graduating from the Jackson School I hope to pursue my global health interests at the graduate level and someday end up working for a health-based, international organization.

Natalie Stockmann
Major: International Studies, Track: International Human Rights, Law, State and Society
Minor: Italian
As part of this task force, I’m interested in how U.S. democracy promotion efforts interact with the various actors and forces involved in the successful transition from a non-democratic government to a democratic government, and what must happen in order for a government to sustain a democracy after the transition. After graduation, I plan to look for a job teaching English abroad before applying to graduate school.



Semir Hasedzic

Major: International Studies
Minor: Human Rights
Due to the forceful expulsion from my home of Bosnia, and thereby growing up in Germany, and the United States, I have grown to be fascinated by interaction of first cultures, and then nations. By the time I came to the UW, the International Studies major was a simple choice for me. With the Rethinking US Democracy Task Force I look forward to being involvement in the discussions of democracy, and how it is being played out in the world stage. This is especially important considering the recent developments in Egypt. After all is said and done, I will have been grateful that I was part of such an amazing group and project, which I can take as knowledge points in my life and the path towards Graduate school.



Task Force Members

Samia Ahmed
Majors: International Studies, Track: Global Health; Political Science
Minors: Geography & African Studies
Certificate: Political Economy
Born and raised as Muslim in the Horn of Africa to an Oromo family that practices the Gada System (an Ancient democratic System); I have always been fascinated by the concept of democracy and its role in the world. I am thrilled to take part in a Task Force that is focusing on this topic. I am interested in the concept of democracy, particularly liberal democracy promotion and its effects on authoritarian states and societies. What are the challenges to democracy and how does one prevent the backsliding of states from democracies (or semi-democracies) to complete autocracies?

Michelle Astengo

Majors: French & International Studies Track: International Political Economy;
Minor: Italian
For this Task Force, I am jointly contributing a chapter with Grace Oh that analyzes the ways in which democracy promotion can be undermined by accountability to foreign donors. I then explore other democratizing techniques that get back to a rule of the people. This interests me because it highlights the dilemma between democracy as a concept and as a practice. Through this analysis, I am interested in a sustainable solution.

Ali Blum

Majors: International Studies and Geography
I am focusing my research on the role of social capital and civil society in transitioning democracies. When considering democracy promotion, I think it is crucial to consider sustainability so I am interested in examining how civil society can help create sustainable democratic institutions that will outlast foreign aid. I’m originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico and I am majoring in International Studies with a minor in Spanish.

Annie Durkin

Majors: International Studies & Communication
I am fascinated by the role of individuals and civil society groups in democratic movements. I'm researching different ways to engage civil society within failed and post-conflict states for our Task Force. Failed and Post-Conflict states pose distinct challenges to democracy promotion that I feel are crucial to understand. No strategy for democracy promotion can be complete without taking these types of states into account. It is particularly fascinating to be studying democracy promotion right now because Tunisia and Egypt have brought this issue front and center.

Scott Glenn

Major: International Studies and Political Science
My area of study within the Jackson School is Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. It was this area of study that first piqued my interest in democracy promotion, particularly the post-communist era of the nineties. I am very excited to be part of this task force, especially now in the current international climate.

David Lambert

Major: International Studies
Growing up overseas I have always had a fascination about America’s evolving role in the world, which is why I chose rethinking U.S. democracy promotion as my task force. My area of research in the project is examining the contradictions between neoliberalism, and a meaningful democracy, which should allow the citizenry a voice on economic issues of their own country. I became interested the issue of socio and economic rights while I was doing research on child soldiers in Africa, and witnessed first hand the correlation between poverty and human rights abuses. I am an avid traveler and hope to someday work as a writer reporting on human rights in developing countries. But graduate school is in my immediate future.

Reemah Medina

Majors: International Studies Track: Middle East track; Comparative Literature
I chose the US Democracy Promotion task force because I am interested in US foreign policy especially in Arab states and I hope for a democratic Arab world in the future. For this task force, I am looking at the relationship between democracy and human rights, and how the US can better promote the two values. After graduation I plan to move to Japan with my partner and apply to graduate schools for Comparative Literature

Kailyn Nicholson

Major: International Studies Track: Development
Upon graduating, Kailyn plans to get some hands-on experience in the development arena before continuing her formal education. She is most interested in how inequality is produced internationally and how the idea of development can be expanded to include more than economic issues. Kailyn hopes to study either international relations or international law in graduate school.

Denis Rajić

Major: International Studies Track: International Human Rights, Law, State and Society
Minor: French
I am interested in multi-ethnic states and American democracy promotion efforts around the world. Moreover, I want to look at how states with ethnic divisions can achieve effective sustainable democratic governance. My chapter in the report will look at the unique challenges that multi-ethnic states face and the past failures of democratic promotion efforts in these states. Being from from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I feel a strong connection to this issue and understand the importance of addressing ethnic divisions in democratizing states. P.S. Jackson School is the best!

Anna Schaffer

Majors: International Studies Track: Foreign Policy, Peace, Diplomacy and Security; French
My research concerns where U.S. foreign policy is seen to conflict with U.S. promotion of democracy. In focusing on this issue the report will analyze, specifically how, at times, short-term national interests supersede the long-term universal interest of supporting democratic values. Given the events currently taking place in the greater Middle East, I feel this is a timely and highly significant topic to consider. What's more, I am very content to be working with such a great team of JSIS seniors and Professor Radnitz.

Nathaniel Thomas

Major: International Studies Track: Development
My goal is to complete a Masters Degree in International Development and begin a development career that doesn’t undermine the cultural wealth of indigenous groups. I’m interested in foreign aid that encourages governments to build responsive relationships with disenfranchised communities while promoting sustainability instead of dependency. I currently serve my community as a writing tutor and by volunteering at World Relief, providing assistance to displaced persons. This task force was of great interest to me because I believe democracy promotion needs to consider the historical stratifications existing in societies. By using Nepal to exemplify the challenges faced in multiethnic societies my input will incorporate our theme of contextualized democracy promotion.

Rostislav Voloshin

Majors: International Studies, Economics
As my very Slavic name suggests, I was born in Ukraine, where I lived during its turbulent, yet seemingly promising, period of transition to democracy and market economy. My interests in state democratization, economic development, and international affairs have their origin in that time of my life. I am excited to be a part of the Rethinking US Democracy Promotion task force and am particularly interested in exploring how the US can continue to support the democratization process in the former Soviet republics in an efficient and effective manner and thus advance its economic and security interests in the region.

Mohamud Warsame

Major International Studies
Minor: Intl.St.Africa and African Diaspora
I am interested to look at why it has been so difficult for Democracy to take hold in Africa, especially in East Africa. The focus of my paper will be the relationship between state and people. For example, how do people organize to make claims on the state? And how do politicians organize to get votes or support from the people? After these I will look at prospects for the future, keeping mind that Democracy requires the rule of law, protection from minority, faith in institutions, the ability to lose gracefully and the peaceful transfer of power. I will take as case study in Kenya since I am original from east Africa.

Daryl Whitley

Major: International Studies Track: Foreign Policy, Peace, Diplomacy, and Security
I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in International Studies as a component of my professional and personal development. For the past 12 years I have been firefighter for the City of Seattle. Prior to joining the fire service I was employed in the maritime industry and hold a United States Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officers License. My background in public safety and marine trade and transport has provided me with first hand experience in aspects of society that are important to domestic security. It is my intention to pursue a graduate degree in Homeland Security and ultimately put myself in a position to influence policy creation. By focusing on democracy promotion I expect to gain a greater understanding of the dynamics of American interaction with the international community and the consequences for domestic security and policy.

Center for Global Studies
International Studies Program
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Sara R. Curran
Program Chair
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Sabine Lang
Associate Program Chair

Lauren Dobrovolny
Program Coordinator
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