Over the course of the twentieth century, Americans came to see democracy as the cornerstone of peace and security abroad. They looked beyond cold war realpolitik to embrace the defense and promotion of rights and democracy as a vital mission of U.S. foreign policy. But this popular view shifted during the George W. Bush administration. Bush’s controversial crusade for democracy—one that came to be associated with unilateralism, invasion, alliance, expansion, and double standards—so tainted the notion of democracy promotion that many in the foreign policy establishment exhorted President Obama to abandon the practice.

In this passionate and persuasive book, Morton Halperin and Michael Fuchs argue that abandoning the promotion of democracy would be a great mistake. Patient efforts over the past three decades have laid the foundations for a widening international commitment to sustain and expand the writ of democracy in the world. An American retreat to “realism” would only hearten the autocracies that rightly fear going the way of the dinosaurs. The authors assert that a world with ever more countries governed by democracy advances American security as well as that of others, and will realize America’s founding values as well. Halperin and Fuchs present new and proactive ideas for how the United States can and should help countries that are on the path to democracy, and how it may help peoples struggling to establish a democratic regime.