Tillerson on Defending the Democratic Ideal

Sep 22, 2017

"Across the globe, democratic nations and peoples are under threat," said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a speech to the Community of Democracies.

In East Asia, an increasingly aggressive and isolated regime in North Korea threatens democracies in South Korea, Japan, and has expanded those threats to the United States.

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson

In the Middle East, Iran exports terrorism and violence, threatening democracies from Israel to Europe and other regions.

Elsewhere, once-thriving democracies are under attack by regimes which conduct themselves as authoritarian dictatorships, such as in Venezuela.

Mr. Tillerson also expressed the necessity of, "support[ing] emerging democracies in the struggle to become nations that respect human rights regardless of ethnicity, such as the case in Burma."

The democratic ideal deserves to be vigorously defended. "We know that democracy is the form of governance that produces peace, stability, and prosperity at home and abroad," said Secretary Tillerson. "We know that governments that uphold democratic principles and practices are safer, healthier, more secure, more prosperous societies, and are more inclined to respect the human rights of their citizens."

Moreover, democratic governments are accountable to the people, and as a result, are less susceptible to corruption, more likely to support an independent and fair judicial system, and more likely to sustain a diverse society.

"Successful democracies require hard choices, hard work, and vigilance," said Secretary Tillerson. "But democracy is the only political system that contains an institutional capacity for self-correction, one that grants its citizens the right to participate in how and by whom they are governed. And that is why we support the expansion of freedom and democracy throughout the world," he said.

Now is not the time to step back from our democratic commitments. Now is the time to strengthen and sustain them. As President Donald Trump reaffirmed in his speech in Poland, “Above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are."