The Committee for the Free World (CFW), a U.S.-based advocacy group, constituted a key foreign policy branch of the neoconservative movement in the late Cold War. This article offers the first comprehensive examination of the CFW, tracing the motivations for its establishment, the scope of its activities, its position within the neoconservative movement, and its relations with the Reagan administration. The group sought to ensure that the defense of democracy would be a core component of U.S. foreign policy, but in the 1980s this mainly encompassed the defense of existing Western democracies against Communism rather than an attempt to spread democracy to non-democratic authoritarian states. By tracing the CFW's vision for democracy promotion, the article unearths a key intellectual lineage for the more active democracy promotion agenda in U.S. foreign policy that emerged in the post–Cold War world.

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