Demand for practical knowledge and lessons about how the United States and other countries can more effectively promote democracy around the world has never been higher. This timely book by Thomas Carothers, one of the foremost authorities worldwide on democracy-building, helps meet that need.

Critical Mission draws together a wide-ranging set of Carothers’s many seminal, widely cited essays, organized around four vital themes: (1) the role of democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy; (2) the core elements of democracy aid; (3) the state of democracy in the world; and (4) the new U.S. push to promote democracy in the Middle East. From puncturing myths about civil society promotion to sizing up the prospects for democracy in the Arab world, Carothers is consistently penetrating, incisive, and challenging to policy makers, democracy activists, and scholars alike.

Critical Mission also includes the only up-to-date, comprehensive bibliography on democracy promotion


About the Author
Thomas Carothers is director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His other books include Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve , Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion, edited with Marina S. Ottaway, and Assessing Democracy Assistance: The Case of Romania.

Reviews for this publication

"Thomas Carothers is the world’s leading authority on democracy promotion. Though a passionate believer in the virtues of democracy, Carothers is no romantic. His analysis is as rigorous as it is compelling. This brilliant collection of essays reveals his unique sensibility: both hardheaded and humane. For anyone interested in the promise and pitfalls of promoting democracy around the world, Carothers's book is a gold mine."
Robert Kagan, Author of Of Paradise and Power

"The promotion of democracy has never had a more thoughtful advocate or a tougher critic than Thomas Carothers. Balanced, incisive, steeped in local knowledge and yet focused on the big picture, this remarkable collection of trenchant essays is full of good judgments and sharp insights. Essential reading for both democracy’s critics and its advocates."
Michael W. Doyle, Columbia University, author of Ways of War and Peace

This valuable collection of essays by Thomas Carothers provides penetrating analyses of the work of the rapidly growing global network of organizations dedicated to helping build an international community of democracies. Over the years we have gained an understanding of the difficulty and the necessity of establishing democratic institutions and practices; but there is no single recipe for this task. Carothers’s examinations have helped us think harder and more critically about our work and we are better at what we do because of his insights.
Kenneth Wollack, President, National Democratic Institute