"Project Democracy," the Reagan administration's $85 million political initiative abroad, would finance a glossy magazine, "Communications Impact," a center for Soviet emigres, a Center for Free Enterprise, visits here from mainland Chinese sociologists, the promotion of a constitution in military-ruled Liberia and a globe-girdling host of other activities, according to a State Department document presented yesterday to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The first specific plans for the ambitious program, outlined in a 33-page paper, were made available as Secretary of State George P. Shultz began a Capitol Hill sales campaign in the face of congressional skepticism.
"I don't see how this program can possibly do anything but get us in trouble," said Rep. Peter H. Kostmayer (D-Pa.) in urging Shultz to reconsider it. "It seems to be basically a multimillion-dollar American propaganda effort."
"The more we look at this thing, the more nervous I become over it," said Rep. Joel Pritchard (R-Wash.), expressing the fear that most nations will consider it "mischief-making."
Shultz, who described the plan as "just a beginning" of a long overdue drive, told the lawmakers: "Don't be nervous about democracy, about holding that torch up there." President Reagan unveiled the idea of helping to foster democracy worldwide in a speech June 8 to the British Parliament, a declaration described by Shultz yesterday as "the president's London commitment." Since the speech, officials of several government departments and bureaus have been meeting and churning out papers in a search for ways to implement it.
The plans presented in general fashion by Shultz and in detail in the State Department paper call for spending $20 million this fiscal year by taking money from other budgeted programs, and $65 million in fiscal 1984, which begins Oct. 1.
Among the proposals submitted to the lawmakers:
The new magazine to "champion free communications" at a time of rapid change in communications technology, to be published in English, Spanish and French ($850,000).
A worldwide book-publishing project for subsidized sale abroad of "a core collection" of books about U.S. democratic instititions ($5.4 million). A State Department official said that the books have not been picked but that the project "would start with The Federalist Papers and work up from there."
A "focal point" for recent Soviet emigres to provide "organizational links and initial orientation," a library, annual conferences on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, stipends for recent arrivals and "linkage with U.S. and European universities" ($500,000).
"Seed money" of $1 million to establish the Center for Free Enterprise to promote "the role of business in democratic systems."
Establishment of academic programs on democracy at two unidentified foreign universities. The programs will include lectures, graduate fellowships and a yearly prize for the best dissertations on democracy ($932,000).
"Symposia on the nature of democratic societies" for military leaders in traditionally civilian posts ($1.7 million).
Travel and exchanges of U.S. and foreign religious leaders ($450,000).
Creation of an organization to promote democracy in Central America and the Andean countries ($3.2 million).
Increased support for the Asia Foundation, including books, exchanges and special grants ($15 million). A spokesman at its headquarters said the money would permit expansion of activities it is already carrying out.
Visits here of Chinese sociologists and political scientists to study U.S. institutions, arranged by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations ($250,000). A spokesman in the New York headquarters said the group knew nothing of this plan.
A $1.7 million effort to help Liberia's military rulers in the return to civilian rule, a large-scale publicity campaign for a constitution, voter education, registration, drawing of election districts and conducting a referendum.
Centers for American studies abroad ($10.6 million), including grants, conferences and scholarships in all parts of the world.
$1.8 million to improve the teaching of English in Africa.
Increased support for AFL-CIO overseas programs, including "foreign policy and defense information" ($4.8 million), assistance to "democratic trade unions and national labor centers . . . in priority regions and countries" ($8.5 million), and trade union educational exchanges ($3 million).
In presenting the program in general terms, Shultz was questioned sharply about how the United States would espouse democracy in friendly but dictatorial countries. He said the aim was not to support dissidents but to espouse democracy in general.
Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international operations, found the coordination and direction of the program among State, the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and other bureaus hard to fathom. Shultz observed that Fascell's description "sounds like the wiring diagram for a perpetual-motion machine."