Recreating the Cold War Consensus: Democracy Promotion and the Crisis of American Hegemony
By the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration’s emphasis on democracy promotion, as the core of its human rights policy, had made significant steps toward recreating a bipartisan Cold War consensus. Secretary of State George P. Shultz played a particularly important role in fusing the Reagan Doctrine’s vision of rolling back communist gains in the developing world with the liberal internationalist appeal of the democracy promotion initiative. Yet the Reagan administration’s intervention in Central America was undertaken in the spirit of a democracy promotion initiative that sought to orchestrate a regime change in Nicaragua, and the resulting Iran-Contra Scandal nearly destroyed the Reagan presidency. Nonetheless, American interventionism, legitimated by a human rights discourse centred on democracy promotion, would continue to shape the post-Cold War era.