This paper argues that it is difficult to understand the effects of American
democracy promotion abroad without examining the bureaucratic context from which the policy emerges at home. Which actors within the U.S. government are involved in promoting political and economic change abroad? What strategies and conceptual models guide them? What tools and resources do they bring to bear? How does the interaction of American bureaucratic politics affect the impact of American democracy promotion? Articulating this mix of goals, strategies, and resources helps explain incoherent patterns of outcomes on the ground.