2019: American Support for Democracy; a Path Full of Pitfalls

The American Academy of Diplomacy
The University of Virginia Center for Politics,
The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

American Support for Democracy; a Path Full of Pitfalls

Saturday, October 26, 2019
9:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
The Robert H. Smith Center at Montalto
Charlottesville, Virginia

Democracy promotion, broadly defined as foreign policy actions that foster transition to or improvement of democracy in other countries, has been a key component of U.S. foreign policy agenda since the 1970s. The Velvet Revolutions in Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War, and more recently the Color Revolutions in the former Soviet Republics and in the Middle East provided fertile grounds for various U.S. democracy promotion efforts. Yet the challenges that emerged alongside democratic transitions, such as instability, populism, extremism, anti-Western and anti-democratic sentiments and sectarian rivalries lead many experts, as well as the current administration, to question whether the U.S. should continue to make democracy promotion its foreign policy priority.

What are the origins of U.S. foreign policy of support for democracy and how has it evolved throughout history? What approaches to democracy promotion have and have not worked in the past? What is the role of the media in democracy promotion efforts? Is our current policy choice with regard to democracy promotion really just a simple “to do or not to do?” How can, or should, the U.S. support democratization efforts around the world going forward?

To answer these and other questions, the conference brought together a diverse group of experts. The panel discussion featured the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Bahrain and Algeria Ronald Neumann, and the former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Lorne Craner. They examined various approaches to democracy promotion focusing particularly on cases of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Iraq as well as why democracy organizations take an approach different from human rights groups.

In lieu of a keynote address, the former U.S. Ambassador and Head of the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina Robert M. Beecroft lead a discussion with a Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Anne Applebaum on the subject of the importance of the media to democracy and what the U.S. can and cannot do, or should and should not do, to support free media worldwide.



Lorne Craner

Lorne Craner is a Founder of Redstone Global, a new political risk firm focused on the political potential of current non-elites in frontier markets. He is also Co-Director of the Transatlantic Renewal Project, a new organization dedicated to strengthening US-Central European relations.  Craner was twice President of the International Republican Institute, a widely praised international organization focused on democracy assistance overseas.

For his accomplishments as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the George W Bush administration, Secretary Colin Powell presented Craner with the Distinguished Service Award. Earlier, in the George HW Bush administration, Craner was a Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council under General Brent Scowcroft, and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Secretary James Baker.

He began his career assisting Senator John McCain and Congressman Jim Kolbe on national security issues.  Craner recently completed his second term as a Board member of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and serves on the Board of Internews. A graduate of Georgetown University (MA) and Reed College (BA), Craner is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Ronald E. Neumann

Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Ronald E. Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Before Afghanistan, Mr. Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions.

Prior to working in Iraq, he was Ambassador in Manama, Bahrain (2001-2004), Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (1997-2000) with responsibility for North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and Ambassador to Algeria (1994 to 1997). He was Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq; 1991 to 1994). Earlier in his career, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sanaa in Yemen, Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran and Economic/Commercial Officer in Dakar, Senegal. His previous Washington assignments include service as Jordan Desk officer, Staff Assistant in the Middle East (NEA) Bureau, and Political Officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs.

Ambassador Neumann is the President of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the author of a memoir, Three Embassies, Four Wars: a personal memoir (2017) and The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan (Potomac Press, 2009), a book on his time in Afghanistan. He has returned to Afghanistan repeatedly and is the author of a number of monographs, articles, and editorials. His writings have focused most heavily on Afghanistan, stabilization, and Bahrain. At the Academy he has focused particularly on efforts to maintain adequate State and USAID budgets and staffing and upgrade professional formation to enable these institutions to carry out their responsibilities. Ambassador Neumann is on the Advisory Board of a non-profit girls’ school in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) and the Advisory Board of Spirit of America. He is on the board of the Middle East Policy Council and the Advisory Council of the World Affairs Councils of America.

Ambassador Neumann speaks some Arabic and Dari as well as French. He received State Department Superior Honor Awards in 1993 and 1990. He was an Army infantry officer in Viet Nam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. In Baghdad, he was awarded the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and is a graduate of the National War College. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

John F. Tefft

John F. Tefft is a retired United States diplomat. He was a career Foreign Service Officer for more than 45 years, completing his service as the United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2014 to 2017. Tefft earlier served as the United States Ambassador to Lithuania from 2000 to 2003, Ambassador to Georgia from 2005 to 2009, and Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013. He worked from 2004 to 2005 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs responsible for U.S. relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.

Tefft originally retired from the Foreign Service in September 2013 and served as Executive Director of the RAND Corporation’s Business Leaders Forum from October 2013 to August 2014 until his recall to duty and confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation from September 2014 to September 2017. Tefft is currently a Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation.

From 2003-2004 Tefft was the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1996 to 1999, and was Chargé d’Affaires from November 1996 to September 1997. His other Foreign Service assignments include Jerusalem, Budapest, and Rome.

Tefft holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Among the awards he has received are the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award in 1992, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Year Award for his service in Moscow in 1999 and the Diplomacy for Human Rights Award in 2013. He received Presidential Meritorious Service Awards in 2001 and 2005.

Tefft is married to Mariella Cellitti Tefft, a biostatistician and nurse. They have two daughters, Christine and Cathleen, who both live and work in the Washington, D.C. area, and two granddaughters.

Robert M. Beecroft

Robert Mason Beecroft retired from the Foreign Service in 2006 with the rank of Career Minister-Counselor, after a 35-year career.  From 2006 to 2009, he was Vice President for Diplomacy and Development at MPRI, Inc., a division of the L-3 Corporation.  Returning to the State Department, he served from 2009 to 2016 as a Supervisory Senior Inspector, leading inspections of U.S. diplomatic operations in Kuwait, Syria, Taiwan, Vietnam, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and the Department of State.  He also conducted studies for the American Academy of Diplomacy and the U.S. Institute of Peace, focusing on the professional education and training of American diplomats and the use of special envoys in conflict diplomacy.

From 2004 to 2006, Ambassador Beecroft was a professor of national security strategy at the U.S. National War College.  From 2001 to 2004, following his ambassadorial confirmation by the Senate, he led the Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with a civilian and military staff of 800 people from thirty countries.  He was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997, following an earlier assignment to Bosnia as Special Envoy for the Bosnian Federation and Acting Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Sarajevo.  As a junior and mid-grade Foreign Service Officer, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Amman and Ouagadougou; Counselor for Political and Economic affairs at the U.S. Mission to NATO (Brussels); political officer at Embassies Cairo, Bonn and Paris; State Department advisor-expert on the SALT TWO strategic nuclear negotiations in Geneva; Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France; and Deputy Political Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO military headquarters (SHAPE) in Belgium.  In Washington, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs; Senior Coordinator for Bosnian Implementation; Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State; Officer-in-Charge of Federal German Affairs; and a nuclear arms control specialist in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Amb. Beecroft is the recipient of two personal Superior Honor Awards, four group Superior Honor Awards, and numerous Performance Awards and Meritorious Step Increases.  He is a 1988 graduate of the U.S. National War College, and was a member of the Fortieth Senior Seminar at the Foreign Service Institute (1997-98).

Amb. Beecroft is fluent in French, German, Norwegian and Danish, and conversant in several other languages.  His hobbies include music (listening and performing), archaeology, snorkeling, hiking, and U.S. Civil War history.  He is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the American Foreign Service Association, the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, the American Council on Germany, the Association of the U.S. Army, the Army Civil Affairs Association, and the Army and Navy Club of Washington.  Born in Newark, New Jersey, Amb. Beecroft completed secondary education at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a B.A. and M.A. in French.  He also studied in Paris at the Sorbonne, in Munich at the Goethe-Institut, and on the postgraduate level at the University of Strasbourg.  Before joining the Foreign Service, he taught American civilization and English language at the Lycée d’État Fustel de Coulanges in Strasbourg, and French and German at the University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University and Germantown Academy in Philadelphia.  He served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a medical corpsman (1965-68) and Civil Affairs officer (1968-70).

Amb. Beecroft is married to the former Mette Louise Ording Ottesen, Ph.D., a senior consultant at the State Department.  They have two grown children, Christopher and Pamela.

Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for The Washington Post and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics’s Institute of Global Affairs where she runs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.

Formerly a member of the Washington Post editorial board, she has also worked as the Foreign and Deputy Editor of the Spectator magazine in London, as the Political Editor of the Evening Standard, and as a columnist at Slate and at several British newspapers, including the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. From 1988-1991 she covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine and the Independent newspaper.

Her newest book, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine was published in October 2017. Her previous books include Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956,  which describes the imposition of Soviet totalitarianism in Central Europe after the Second World War. Iron Curtain won the 2012 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature and the Duke of Westminster Medal.

She is also the author of Gulag: A History, which narrates the history of the Soviet concentration camps system and describes daily life in the camps, making extensive use of recently opened Russian archives as well as memoirs and interviews. Gulag won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2004.

Anne Applebaum was born in Washington, DC in 1964. After graduating from Yale University, she was a Marshall Scholar at the LSE and St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Her husband, Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer. They have two children, Alexander and Tadeusz.

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