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Rival universalisms? American and European democracy promotion in post-Cold War international relations.

Barrios, Cristina (2009) Rival universalisms? American and European democracy promotion in post-Cold War international relations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Democracy and its promotion are embedded in the United States (US) and in Europe, defining their distinct roles in International Relations (IR) but also maintaining a common basis for transatlantic relations. With the end of the Cold War, democracy promotion became an increasingly important phenomenon, while transatlantic relations seemed to evolve in an ambiguous "drift and rift". This raised the question of whether American and European democracy promotion differed, and whether this mattered both regarding their roles in IR and the challenges arising on the ground. This thesis documents and compares the democracy promotion strategies adopted in the US and the European Union (EU), and argues that they contributed to the development of "rival universalisms", i.e. international narratives grounded on their own identity, external objectives and policy capacities. It tests this argument with three case studies that illustrate and nuance democracy promotion as an eminently political process, opposed to conventional emphasis on technical expertise. The first part of the thesis depicts the origins, characteristics, and policy-making processes of American and European democracy promotion: turf wars and conflicting ideologies offer inconclusive pictures. In the US, the "new" post-Cold War mission still tied democracy to national security and Modernization; in the EU, "normative power" and utopian arguments in the definition of Europe did not substitute for the core tension between supranationalism and Member States' influence regarding external affairs. In the second part, the thesis checks the "rival universalisms" against US and EU policies actually undertaken on the ground, with case studies of a country (Democratic Republic of Congo), a region (Middle East and North Africa), and the world (Community of Democracies). In all, democracy promotion seemed elusive, and raised wide-ranging conceptual and pragmatic challenges. The cases demonstrated the limits of the US and EU "rival universalisms" as policy projections, and gave evidence of the political (and not technical) choices and trade-offs involved in democracy promotion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International Relations

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