It has been one year since the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the day still looms over the diplomatic community. Dozens of countries and international institutions condemned the violence. Foreign leaders and diplomats followed suit with many calling it for what it was – an attack on democracy. Eleven months later, U.S. President Biden emphasized the need to restore democracy in all its facets, calling it the defining challenge of our time at the inaugural Summit for Democracy in December 2021. However, his tone remained largely optimistic, saying, “Democracy — government of the people, by the people, for the people — can...Continue
The inaugural Summit for Democracy hosted by President Biden presents both a challenge and an opportunity. In the past, such a gathering would be designed to draw a bright line between the community of democracies and authoritarian regimes. While this is still the case, there are questions about the strength and resiliency of democracies globally and here in the United States. There have always been challenges in conducting a long-term strategic foreign policy in a democracy that has multiple institutions with different priorities and ideological swings which hamper coherent execution. Now stark domestic political divisions and a lack of civility further impede collaboration on key foreign policy priorities. ...Continue
When I meet international visitors, most of which are participating in one of Meridian’s exchange programs, I often talk about the impact of these exchanges on the lives and careers of previous participants. I often mention Meridian alumni who went on to shine in the global spotlight. Some are very well-known: Nicolas Sarkozy, Mikhail Saakashvili, Romano Prodi, Hamid Karzai, Margaret Thatcher. A few are better known locally: Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen, President of Guatemala, Norovyn Altankhuyag, Prime Minister of Mongolia, Egypt’s former President Anwar Sadat, Finland’s current President, Sauli Niinisto, or Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel. In total, some 168 current or former heads of state have stepped through Meridian’s doors mostly as participants in the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program.
Exchanges are about promoting international understanding. In order to understand the United States, it is essential to learn about our system of government. Elections are a great opportunity to see our democratic process in action. Thanks to the American tax payer, thousands of visitors have been able to observe the spectacle through the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).