Introduction: The Reagan Administration and Democracy Promotion

  • Robert Pee
  • William Michael Schmidli
Part of the Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World book series (SCCCW)


During the presidency of Ronald Reagan, a distinctive form of democracy promotion emerged as a central pillar of US foreign policy. The administration integrated democracy promotion into US strategy towards communist and non-communist governments, deploying diplomacy and support for anti-Soviet guerrillas, as well as new tactics such as electoral and political assistance for foreign actors delivered through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to foster political, institutional, and economic change compatible with US interests. Historically, the US record on democracy promotion was mixed. However, rising support for human rights in the US and global geopolitical and geo-economic change during the 1970s created an opening for a new mode of US democracy-based hegemony pressed by administration officials, neoconservatives, and non-state actors.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Pee
    • 1
  • William Michael Schmidli
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and International StudiesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Institute for HistoryLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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