On May 9, 2017, former U.S. Secretary of State and NDI Chairman Madeleine K. Albright, testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the importance U.S. leadership in supporting democracy globally. In her testimony, Albright made a passionate appeal for continued U.S. support for international democracy assistance, calling freedom the “star by which American foreign policy must continue to navigate in the years to come.”
Promoting democracy is not just right. It is also necessary, smart and cost-effective.
- Secretary Madeleine K. Albright, NDI Chairman
Democracy assistance amounts to just .04 percent of the U.S. national budget, or just 4 percent of foreign aid, but it has an outsized impact on U.S. national security, global strategic interests and economic prosperity by supporting a stable, peaceful and productive countries that are responsive to the needs of their citizens.
While democracy has spread significantly since the Cold War, its growth has not been uniform geographically and authoritarianism has recently gained renewed traction in some countries. Responding to this trend, Albright said, “The more democracy is challenged the more its champions must insist on its validity as the best system of governments humans have devised.”
Albright called on subcommittee chairman Senator Lindsey Graham, ranking member Senator Patrick Leahy, and the other subcommittee members to stand against proposed cuts to the State Department and international affairs budget, “which would inflict irreparable harm on democracy assistance, as well as other vital diplomatic and development programs.”
“There is nothing automatic or easy about democratic change,” she said. “But American freedom, prosperity and peace depend, in large measure, on whether democratic institutions succeed around the world. That depends, in turn, on America’s willingness to continue working with our partners to promote democracy.”
Albright said that America's moral leadership on democracy and freedom is an important tool in the U.S. diplomatic arsenal that we should not take for granted. Moreover, she argued, “Moving forward, we must remember that the alternative to support for democracy is complicity in the rule of governments that lack the blessings of their own people.”
Albright was joined by International Republican Institute Vice Chairman James Kolbe, National Endowment for Democracy Co-Vice Chairman Vin Weber, and United States Institute of Peace Chairman Steven Hadley.