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The Open Government Partnership – a new direction for US foreign policy?

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The question that should be on everyone’s minds is whether Brazil is fit to co-chair the OGP, much less whether it should qualify for the OGP in the first place. If the OGP adopts these sorts of permissive benchmarks before its formal inauguration, much less makes a co-chair of a country not leading on transparency, can we expect the OGP to be anything more than feel-good window-dressing?

A new direction in US foreign policy: backdoor democracy promotion?

Clearly, the idea of openness is good business for US foreign policy. The United Nations has proven an unsatisfactory arena for collective action, precisely because of the chasm between authoritarian regimes and democracies. Alternative international arrangements are difficult to come by. The idea of a new “League of Democracies” or some other formulation has been tossed around over the years, but benchmarks for distinguishing real democracies from sham democracies are tricky. Moreover, the US does not want to set up an “us versus them” collectivity that might offend authoritarian allies, such as Saudi Arabia and the monarchies of the Middle East, among others.

A multinational collectivity of countries devoted to the cause of “openness” is appealing precisely because of its inoffensiveness. Countries may want to be a part of this initiative, and there may be economic upsides to doing so, such as technology and knowledge transfers, preferred diplomatic treatment, and public relations bragging rights.

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