According to Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, the United States is a shining “city upon a hill." It’s a beacon of democracy in a dark world full of cruel dictators and vicious despots. But history shows the United States has also been willing to side with despots in the name of stability. This week on War College, we talk to Brian Klaas, a Oxford University graduate and expert on political violence, about his new book – The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy. According to Klaas, powerful countries should stop forcing democracy down the throats of their less stable counterparts and avoid settling for despots to achieve stability. He makes the case for co-opting the rank-and-file of old regimes into new ones to prevent state collapse, and for using measured military force and foreign aid money to coax tyrants out of power. Plus, he explores “counterfeit democracies,” and a new city upon a hill in West Africa: The Gambia.
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