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By Tony Smith

The power and status of democracy world wide on the finish of the 20 th century are due in sturdy degree to the impression of the USA on foreign affairs, argues Tony Smith. the following for the 1st time is a publication that files the intense heritage of yank overseas coverage with recognize to the merchandising of democracy around the globe, an attempt whose maximum triumph got here within the occupations of Japan and Germany yet whose setbacks comprise interventions in Latin the US and Vietnam.

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Extra resources for America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century

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20 W. E. B. Du Bois was exaggerating only somewhat when he wrote in 1935: In the Freedmen’s Bureau, the United States started upon a dictatorship by which the landowner and the capitalist were to be openly and deliberately curbed and which directed its efforts in the interest of a black and white labor class. . The Freedmen’s Bureau was the most extraordinary and far-reaching institution of social uplift that America has ever attempted. It had to do, not simply with emancipated slaves and poor whites, but also with the property of Southern planters.

One might wonder sixty or seventy years after the war just what this terrible struggle had been about. In fact, the war had been about many things worth fighting for. It had been about insuring the unity of the nation, so strengthening immeasurably the forces of liberal democracy worldwide. It had been about the definition The Struggle for Democracy ⅐ 21 of property, so that even if labor organization in the aftermath of the war proved exceedingly difficult to legitimate, property rights would never be defined as narrowly as they had been when slavery was defended by law.

The genius of the approach was that it could be attractive to established elites abroad (provided that they had the wit to try to adapt), for whatever the hazards of introducing democracy, it promised to modernize and stabilize those regimes that could reform enough to be called democratic. The tragedy, especially in lands that were predominantely agrarian, was that these political changes (where they were accepted) were often not enough to create the cultural, economic, and social circumstances that could reinforce a democratic political order.

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