“Forty years ago, President Ronald Reagan challenged the free world to ‘foster the infrastructure of democracy.’ He argued that support for freedom in other countries was not cultural imperialism, and that it was in fact cultural condescension to believe people anywhere prefer dictatorship to democracy. With the Westminster speech, he inspired the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four core institutes, including IRI, one year later.
“Remarkable progress has been made in the intervening 40 years, with millions of people around the world rejecting tyranny and embracing self-government. However, democratic backsliding in too many countries, the emergence of new forms of populist autocracy, and the resurgence of aggressive authoritarianism by autocracies like China and Russia—which seek to export their model abroad and undermine vulnerable democracies—underscore the critical need to strengthen democratic institutions worldwide.
“To meet the threats of our age, it is vital that the United States and our democratic allies recommit to President Reagan’s vision. History shows that democracies make better economic and security partners. Free nations do not invade democratic neighbors, produce uncontrolled mass migration, or export violent extremism. Supporting democracy isn’t just the right thing to do; it is one of the most reliable ways of advancing core American interests.
“At IRI, we strive every day to fulfill the promise of the Westminster speech, and we are proud to continue to work with our partners around the world to build a freer tomorrow.”