Advancing the Freedom Agenda: Time for a Recalibration?
For those committed to democracy promotion, it is now the best and the worst of times. At the end of 2005, Freedom House's annual survey reported modest increases in the state of freedom around the world, as well as the continuation of an upward trend for the entire period after the September 11 attacks and, indeed, over the last 30 years.1 During the past four years, the Bush administration has elevated the promotion of democracy and the protection of human rights as key factors guiding U.S. relations with numerous countries. These efforts have not been in vain; governments around the world increasingly seek to portray themselves as democracies or at least as being on a path toward expanding political rights and civil liberties.
Yet, today the pendulum in Washington is swinging back. The "freedom agenda" that recently seemed on the ascendancy is now under siege, both within the United States and the broader international community.
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.