For centuries, elites and intellectuals alike have debated any number of questions about democracy: whether or not it should be instituted as a system of rule; whether it should or should not be extended; and, particularly in the last few decades, both how it can be given new vitality and how it can be protected from its own excesses. Although these debates are, and will certainly remain, of vital importance, they tend to be focused on domestic issues, leaving aside questions of foreign policy. This relative silence about foreign policy is unfortunate because it leaves a hole in democratic life: vital matters of war and peace are less publicized, less subject to media and parliamentary oversight, and less prone to be brought into political campaigns than most other issues in public life. Indeed, by many counts, the size of this democratic hole has grown significantly since 1945 (and not just 9/11). Thus, extending debates over democracy to cover foreign policy is an important, and immediate, task.
David Sylvan is Professor of International Relations and Political Science and Research Director at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
In cooperation with SEFRI (Le Secrétariat d’Etat à la formation, à la recherche et à l’innovation, Suisse).