Press release

NEW REPORT: Task Force on US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism

Bipartisan task force issues its recommendations for a prodemocracy US foreign policy and national security strategy to counter the rising tide of authoritarianism.

Today, a bipartisan task force convened by Freedom House, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the McCain Institute released a new report, Reversing the Tide: Towards a New US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism.

In September 2020, Freedom House, CSIS, and the McCain Institute formed the Task Force on US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism, a bipartisan group of leaders, experts, and former policy makers committed to addressing the worldwide decline in democratic freedom and the rise in authoritarianism that endanger US national security. The task force spent months examining, debating, and developing recommendations for US strategy.

The Task Force assembled to address a disturbing trend apparent in Freedom House’s annual assessment of the worldwide state of democracy, Freedom in the World: for the past 15 years, democracy has been losing ground to authoritarianism, and if the US and other major democracies do not take active steps to promote and defend democratic freedoms, the balance could tip toward autocracy.

“The worldwide erosion of democracy and advance of authoritarianism not only threaten international security, but pose a significant challenge to the United States’ economic well-being and national security interests,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Our nation’s leaders must come together to devise a strategy to support democracy, counter authoritarianism, and reverse this dangerous trend, and this Task Force has identified an array of useful, actionable recommendations to develop such a strategy.”

Today’s launch event, hosted virtually by Freedom House, will feature conversations about the future of global democracy with US Senator Mitt Romney, journalist Nina Easton, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Mrs. Cindy McCain, Executive Chairman of the McCain Institute Ambassador Josette Sheeran, CSIS president and CEO John Hamre, Freedom House president Michael J. Abramowitz, and members of the Task Force.

“Despite political divisions our country, leaders on both sides of the aisle support the cause of freedom and democracy around the globe, because they understand that American freedom, security, and prosperity are tied to the survival of democracy beyond our shores,” said Josette Sheeran, executive chairman of the McCain Institute. “I am proud that the McCain Institute continues to be a leader in fostering cross-partisan collaboration toward a freer world and a safer America.”

The Task Force’s first recommendation to the Biden administration and Congress is the development and implementation of the first-ever National Democracy Strategy, a detailed multi-year domestic and foreign policy strategy to advance democracy and counter authoritarianism. Other recommendations include creating a diplomatic “big tent” to strengthen and build new democratic alliances; increasing investment in  the defense of core democratic freedoms like free and fair elections, independent media, and a vibrant civil society; and leading in developing a strategic digital technology policy agenda for the democratic world.

“The warning signs have come and gone—authoritarianism is gaining ground worldwide, and quickly. As the world’s leading democracy, the United States has a responsibility to bolster our own democracy to set an example for aspiring democracies and freedom movements,” said John Hamre, CEO of CSIS. “Our recommendations to the Biden administration are necessarily ambitious. Our nation was founded on the ideals of freedom and democracy, and we must treat them as such.”

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New Report: Reversing the Tide

Read the report from the bipartisan task force, entitled Reversing the Tide: Towards a New US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism.