Guide to Publications by Thomas Carothers

Democracy Policy and Assistance

Under the Trump Presidency

“International Democracy Support: Filling the Leadership Vacuum,” Carnegie Endowment, July 2019.

Evaluates how other countries, NGOs, and international organizations are attempting to address the deficit in democracy programming brought about by the Trump-era pullback from governance issues.

“Can U.S. Democracy Policy Survive Trump?” Carnegie Endowment, October 2018 (co-authored with Frances Z. Brown).

Analyzing how the Trump presidency has increasingly corroded U.S. support for democracy abroad and outlining how various constituencies can mitigate the damage.

“Is the U.S. Hypocritical to Criticize Russian Election Meddling?” Foreign Affairs, March 2018.

Contending that U.S. efforts to promote democracy should not be equated with Russia’s election meddling.

“Is the New U.S. National Security Strategy a Step Backward on Democracy and Human Rights?” Carnegie Endowment, January 2018 (co-authored with Frances Z. Brown).

Arguing that the 2017 National Security Strategy reveals much that democracy and rights advocates can use to work within the Trump administration’s stated priorities.

“Democracy Promotion under Trump: What Has Been Lost? What Remains?” Carnegie Endowment, September 2017.

Underscoring that despite severe strain on U.S. democracy policy, it is premature to write off the United States as a key supporter of global democracy.

“Prospects for U.S. Democracy Promotion under Trump,” Carnegie Endowment, January 2017.

Arguing that the inseparability of U.S. values and interests, as well as bipartisan consensus in support of democracy promotion, will constrain the Trump administration’s inclination to dismantle democracy support.

Civil Society and Closing Civic Space

“Civil Society and the Coronavirus: Dynamism Despite Disruption,” Carnegie Endowment, April 2020 (Co-Authored with Saskia Brechenmacher and Richard Youngs).

Highlights the evolution of civic organizing activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Defending Civic Space: Is the International Community Stuck?” Carnegie Endowment, October 2019 (co-authored with Saskia Brechenmacher).

Identifies areas of progress in international efforts to combat closing civic spaces alongside factors hindering their effectiveness, making policy recommendations in six key areas.

Explaining Civil Society Legitimacy, Carnegie Endowment, May 2018 (co-edited with Saskia Brechenmacher).

Proposing strategies for civic actors to build and defend their legitimacy in the face of increasing attacks by hostile governments.

“Closing Space and Fragility,” Fragility Study Group Policy Brief, October 2016.

Highlighting that the alarming trend of closing space for civil society has a direct but underappreciated link to the problem of state fragility.

“The Closing Space Challenge: How Are Funders Responding?” Carnegie Endowment, November 2015.

Examining how Western public and private funders are responding to the increasing restrictions on support for civil society around the world.

Closing Space: Democracy and Human Rights Support Under Fire, Carnegie Endowment, February 2014 (co-authored with Saskia Brechenmacher).

Assessing the scope and causes of the global pushback against democracy and rights support and outlining potential responses.

Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion, Carnegie Endowment, 2000 (co-edited with Marina Ottaway).

Critically examining civil society assistance as a tool of democracy promotion.

Analyzing U.S. Democracy Promotion and Assistance

“Is the United States Giving Up on Supporting Democracy Abroad?” Foreign Policy, September 2016.

Discussing how to counter growing skepticism in Washington about the value and wisdom of democracy promotion.

“Look Homeward, Democracy Promoter,” Foreign Policy, January 2016.

Urging the U.S. democracy assistance community to relate their work abroad to the problems of U.S. democracy.

“Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” in Global Ten: Challenges and Opportunities for the President in 2013, Carnegie Endowment, November 2012.

A forward-looking assessment of challenges and opportunities in U.S. democracy promotion.

Democracy Promotion under Obama: Revitalization or Retreat? Carnegie Endowment, January 2012.

Taking stock of the Obama administration’s approach to democracy promotion.

Revitalizing Democracy Assistance: The Case of USAID, Carnegie Endowment, October 2009.

A critique and suggested renovation of U.S. democracy assistance programs

U.S. Democracy Promotion During and After Bush, Carnegie Endowment, September 2007.

Comprehensively analyzing George W. Bush’s approach to democracy promotion and proposing an alternative path.

“Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terrorism,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2003.

Identifying the tension between U.S. democracy promotion and the U.S. War on Terror.

“The Clinton Record on Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment, September 2000.

Assessing democracy promotion under President Clinton.

In the Name of Democracy: U.S. Policy toward Latin America in the Reagan Years, University of California Press, 1991.

Comprehensively analyzing U.S. foreign policy and democracy promotion in Latin America during the Reagan presidency.

Wider Perspectives on Democracy Promotion and Assistance

“Democracy Support Strategies: Leading with Women’s Political Empowerment,” Carnegie Endowment, September 2016.

Arguing that international efforts to bolster women’s political empowerment can serve as a critical lever to promote broader change when strategically tailored to address varied transitional contexts.

Ideas for Future Work on Transparency and Accountability, Carnegie Endowment, May 2016 (editor).

Setting an agenda for innovative, practical work on transparency and accountability.

“The Long Road for Rising Democracies and Democracy Support,” Carnegie Endowment, July 2016 (co-authored with Richard Youngs).

Arguing that the role of rising, non-Western democracies in democracy support should not be prematurely discounted.

“Democracy Aid at 25: Time to Choose,” Journal of Democracy, January 2015.

Reflecting on the state of democracy aid and the central dilemma it faces for the future.

Learning Lessons on Lessons Learned,” Alliance Magazine, December 2014.

Exploring Egypt’s repeated violations of almost all received ‘best practices’ of democratic transitions and the implications for aid providers seeking to help transitional actors learn from others.

“Looking for Help: Will Rising Democracies Become International Democracy Supporters?” Carnegie Endowment, July 2011 (co-authored with Richard Youngs).

Identifying and assessing the new role of non-Western actors in democracy support.

“The Continuing Backlash against Democracy Promotion,” in New Challenges to Democratization, Richard Youngs and Peter Burnell, eds., 2010.

Further analyzing the backlash.

“Democracy Assistance: Political vs. Developmental,” Journal of Democracy, January 2009.

Distinguishing two major approaches to democracy support and analyzing their place in U.S. and European assistance efforts.

“A Quarter Century of Democracy Promotion,” Journal of Democracy, October 2007.

Taking stock of the longer-term evolution of democracy assistance.

“How Democracies Emerge: The ‘Sequencing’ Fallacy,” Journal of Democracy, January 2007.

Arguing against the idea that democratization should wait for economic development.

Fukuyama, Francis, Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, and Sheri Berman, “The Debate on ‘Sequencing,’” Journal of Democracy, July 2007.

Debate forum over the “Sequencing Fallacy” article.

“Promoting Democracy in a Postmodern World,” Dissent, Spring 1996.

Analyzing the tension between democracy promotion abroad and the troubled state of democracy in the United States and Western Europe.

“The Backlash against Democracy Promotion,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006.

Calling attention to the backlash against democracy assistance in multiple parts of the world.

“Aiding Governance in Developing Countries: Progress amid Uncertainties,” Carnegie Endowment, November 2011 (co-authored with Diane de Gramont).

Evaluating progress in governance assistance.

“Research Imperatives of Democracy Promotion,” APSA Comparative Democratization Newsletter, October 2010.

Suggesting closer connections between academic research and democracy assistance.

Confronting the Weakest Link: Aiding Political Parties in New Democracies, Carnegie Endowment, 2006.

Comprehensively assessing political party assistance.

Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve, Carnegie Endowment, 1999.

Providing an early comprehensive account of the democracy assistance field.

Assessing Democracy Assistance: The Case of Romania, Carnegie Endowment, 1996.

Offering a comprehensive, multi-dimensional analysis of the workings and failings of U.S. democracy assistance and addressing the value, strategies, methods, and future of such work.

Democracy Support to the Middle East

“Egypt’s Dismal Opposition: A Second Look,” Carnegie Endowment, May 2013.

Assessing the Egyptian opposition under Morsi and providing comparative perspective.

“Approach Analogies with Caution,” Alliance Magazine, December 2011.

Cautioning against simplistic analogies to 1989.

“Think Again: Arab Democracy,” Foreign Policy, March 2011.

Comparative reflections on the outbreak of political upheaval in the Arab world.

“How Not to Promote Democracy in Egypt,” Washington Post, February 2011.

Warning against partisanship vis-à-vis Islamists in Egypt.

“Egypt and Indonesia,” New Republic, February 2011.

Offering a comparison between political change in Egypt and Indonesia.

“The Democracy Crusade Myth,” National Interest, July/August 2007.

Critiquing the idea that the Bush administration strongly emphasized supporting Arab democracy.

Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East, Carnegie Endowment, 2005 (co-edited with Marina Ottaway).

A wide-ranging examination of the challenge of supporting democracy in the Arab world.

“Democracy: Terrorism’s Uncertain Antidote,” Current History, December 2003.

Questioning a direct link between supporting democracy and reducing terrorism.

“Democratic Mirage in the Middle East,” Carnegie Endowment, October 2002 (co-authored with Marina Ottaway, Amy Hawthorne, and Daniel Brumberg).

Warning against the idea of rapid democratization in Iraq and the Arab world generally.



Political Polarization in South and Southeast Asia: Old Divisions, New Dangers, Carnegie Endowment, August 2020 (Co-Edited with Andrew O’Donohue).

Compares polarization in six South and Southeast Asian nations.

Polarization and the Pandemic, Carnegie Endowment, April 2020 (Co-Edited with Andrew O’Donohue).

Examines the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and polarization across ten countries.

“What Washington Can Learn About Elections—From Abroad,” Foreign Policy, February 2020 (Co-Authored with Ashley Quarcoo).

Argues that the United States could learn key lessons about administering elections in polarized contexts from its own international democracy support programs.

Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization, Brookings Institution Press, September 2019 (Co-Edited with Andrew O’Donohue).

Offers a comprehensive comparative analysis of polarization across countries and outlines a path forward to combat it.

“How Americans Were Driven to Extremes,” Foreign Affairs, September 2019 (Co-Authored with Andrew O’Donohue).

Introduces American polarization in a comparative perspective.

Illiberalism and Authoritarianism

“Authoritarian Weakness and the Pandemic,” Carnegie Endowment, August 2020 (Co-authored with David Wong).

Probes how the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating governance challenges in authoritarian regimes.

“Dictators in Trouble,” Foreign Affairs, February 2020.

Highlights the governance challenges facing authoritarian regimes.

Protests and Civic Mobilization

“The One Thing Modern Voters Hate Most,” Foreign Policy, July 2018 (co-authored with Christopher Carothers).

Arguing that public outrage over corruption has become perhaps the most powerful driver of political change around the world and is reshaping global politics for the better.

The Complexities of Global Protests, Carnegie Endowment, October 2015 (co-authored with Richard Youngs).

Analyzing the nature and impact of the global protest phenomenon.

Taking Stock of Global Democracy

“A Good Democracy is Hard to Find,” Foreign Affairs, June 2019.

Contends with Sheri Berman’s arguments on the history of democracy in Europe.

“Is Democracy the Problem?” The American Interest, January 2019.

Evaluates five purported “design flaws” of democracy and juxtaposes these shortcomings with governance in authoritarian regimes.

“Democracy Is Not Dying,” Foreign Affairs, April 2017 (co-authored with Richard Youngs).

Challenging the pessimism that pervades current discussions of global democracy and highlighting that the state of democracy is not uniformly dire, especially outside the West.

“Why Technology Hasn’t Delivered More Democracy,” Foreign Policy, June 2015.

A collaborative exploration of why new technologies that offer powerful tools for empowerment have not delivered more democracy.

“The New Global Marketplace of Political Change,” Carnegie Endowment, April 2015 (co-authored with Oren Samet-Marram).

Evaluating the growing domain of non-Western forces influencing political transitions around the world.

“Zakaria’s Complaint,” National Interest, Summer 2003.

Contending with Zakaria’s arguments about the rise of illiberal democracy and the problem of too much democracy too soon.

“Forum on ‘The End of the Transition Paradigm,’” Journal of Democracy, July 2002.

Debate forum over “The End of the Transition Paradigm.”

“The End of the Transition Paradigm,” Journal of Democracy, January 2002.

Rethinking how to understand political transitions.

Supporting Rule of Law Development

“Rule of Law Temptations,” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Winter/Spring 2009.

Identifying common analytic mistakes in rule of law promotion.

Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: In Search of Knowledge, Carnegie Endowment, 2006 (editor).

Taking a comprehensive look at rule of law assistance.

“Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: The Problem of Knowledge,” Carnegie Endowment, January 2003.

Pointing to the weak base of knowledge for rule of law assistance.

“The Rule of Law Revival,” Foreign Affairs, March 1998.

Identifying the surge of interest in rule of law support.

Development Aid and Politics

“Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and Inclusion: A New Development Consensus?” Carnegie Endowment, October 2014 (co-authored with Saskia Brechenmacher).

Probing the solidity of the apparent broad consensus around four core development principles.

Development Aid Confronts Politics: The Almost Revolution, Carnegie Endowment, April 2013 (co-authored with Diane de Gramont).

Analyzing the complex relationship between politics and development aid and exploring how aid providers can think and act politically.

“The Elusive Synthesis,” Journal of Democracy, October 2010.

Examining the persistent separation between democracy aid and socioeconomic aid.

Levy, Brian, “The Case for Principled Agnosticism,” Journal of Democracy, October 2010; Wollack, Kenneth and K. Scott Hubli, “Getting Convergence Right,” Journal of Democracy, October 2010.

Commentaries on “The Elusive Synthesis.”