Winning the Battle of Ideas: Exposing Global Authoritarian Narratives and Revitalizing Democratic Principles

February 08, 2024
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

About the Event

Democracies are engaged in an ideological competition with autocracies that could reshape the global order. Narratives are a potent, asymmetric instrument of power, as they reframe events in a way that conforms to and propagates a particular worldview. Over the past decade and a half, autocracies like Russia and China have led the effort to disseminate authoritarian narratives globally, seeking to normalize authoritarianism as an equally viable and legitimate form of government.

At their root, authoritarian narratives are essentially attempts to reframe an unappealing value proposition by making the democratic path seem less attractive and offering authoritarianism as an alternative model. To counter authoritarian narratives, democracies need to reemphasize their core principles while reminding audiences of democracy’s moral, developmental, and security advantages.

The International Forum for Democratic Studies has released a new report, “Winning the Battle of Ideas: Exposing Global Authoritarian Narratives and Revitalizing Democratic Principles” by Dr. Joseph Siegle (Africa Center for Strategic Studies).

Please join Damon Wilson (National Endowment for Democracy), Josh Rogin (Washington Post), author Joseph SiegleAmbJendayi Frazer (Hoover Institution), Peter Pomerantsev (Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University), and Ivan Sigal (Global Voices) for a virtual discussion on how democracies can expose and counter authoritarian narratives.


Damon Wilson is President and CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an independent, nonprofit, grant-making foundation supporting freedom around the world. Prior to joining the Endowment, he helped transform the Atlantic Council into a leading global think tank as its executive vice president. Previously, Wilson served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council helping to enlarge a Europe whole, free, and at peace; to secure freedom through NATO enlargement; to deter and counter Russian aggression; and to work with a united Europe as a leading US partner to support democracy in the world.

Josh Rogin is a columnist for the Global Opinions section of the Washington Post. He is also the author of Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century, released March, 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcout. Previously, Josh has covered foreign policy and national security for Bloomberg View, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy magazine, Congressional Quarterly, Federal Computer Week magazine, and Japan’s Asahi Shimbun. His work has been featured on outlets including NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, MSNBC, NPR, and many more. Josh has been recognized with the Interaction Award for Excellence in International Reporting and as a Finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.

Dr. Joseph Siegle is the Director of Research and Strategic Communications at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He has written widely on global trends in democratization with a focus on strengthening democratic accountability and the linkages between governance, development, and security. He was previously the Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Senior Research Scholar at the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies, and a Senior Advisor for Democratic Governance at DAI. He has also worked for over a decade in various field capacities throughout Africa, Asia, and the Balkans. Dr. Siegle holds a doctorate in international security and economic policy from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University.

Amb. Jendayi Frazer, a member of the NED’s board, is the Duignan Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Frazer is the president and chief executive officer of 50 Ventures, a private consulting and investment company that seeks to elevate Africa’s global standing by investing in governance, education, enterprise, and stability. From 2001 to 2009, she held senior positions in African affairs at the U.S. State Department as Assistant Secretary, the National Security Council, and as U.S. Ambassador  to South Africa. She was a Distinguished Public Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University from 2009 to 2014. She was also an Assistant Professor at Harvard University and the University of Denver.

Peter Pomerantsev is an award-winning author and academic specialising in authoritarian propaganda and disinformation. His newest book, out on March 24, tells the hidden story of an Allied operation to undermine Nazi propaganda—and its relevance today. A British citizen of Ukrainian heritage, he is currently a Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University Agora Institute, where his teaching and research explore ways pro-democracy media and civil society can compete in today’s information wars. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Ivan Sigal is the executive director of Global Voices, a transnational, multilingual community of writers, journalists, translators and rights activists who work to build understanding across borders. He created the Unfreedom Monitor, a participatory research initiative to analyze, document, and report on the growing use of digital communications technology to advance authoritarian governance around the world. He has nearly 30 years experience in the development of alternative media organizations. He was a fellow in digital studies at the Library of Congress, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace. He has been the board chair of The Engine Room since 2019, was the board chair of OSF’s Documentary Photography Project, and was on the boards of Ranking Digital Rights and the Benetech Human Rights Program. He was a regional director and vice president for Internews Network, based in Russia, Central Asia, and Asia for over a decade, and led dozens of media initiatives focused on conflict, humanitarian disaster and transitional societies, and internet access and rights. He is the author of White Road (Steidl), a two-volume book of photographs and writing about Central Asia and Siberia.




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