At the heart of the new era of geopolitical competition is a struggle over the role and influence of democracy in the international order. As China asserts its new weight and Russia attempts to profit from Western dysfunction, both seek to weaken the democratic model of governance and the role Western democracies have played in shaping the order itself.
At this crucial geopolitical juncture, powerful democratic states are under increasing strain from an interconnected set of domestic challenges—political, economic, and cultural. Uncertainty about American strategy makes this all the more acute. Yet not all trends are negative: the consolidation of democracy in parts of Asia and Africa means that globally, more people now live in democracies than at any point in history. Looking ahead, protecting the democratic character of the international order will require new coalitions of democratic states beyond the traditional trans-Atlantic core.
The trajectory of democracy and the state of the international order are two issue areas often debated separately, but they are intimately linked. In this project—“Democracy and Disorder: The Struggle for Influence in the New Geopolitics”—experts from across the Foreign Policy program at Brookings have assessed challenges to democracy in critical regions; charted their geopolitical implications for international order; and have issued responses to secure the fate of the democracy within that order.
Previously published research that is relevant to this project can be found in our Related Content section.