Monday, April 30, 2007

Democratization: Miracle Makeover?

On December 14, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that democracy in the Middle East was “non-negotiable.” Indeed, ‘nation-building’ efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have illustrated the Bush administration’s firm belief in so-called democratization projects. Unfortunately, this confidence is misplaced. In fact, empirical research shows that the democratization process is volatile and generally unsuccessful when imposed by an external, military force.

Current U.S. policy seems to overlook the research of scholars such as Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder who have shown that democratizing states are more likely to fight wars than non-democratizing states. In fact, approximately two-thirds of democratizing states are more likely to go to war than nations experiencing no regime change. In addition, given the ‘rentier’ nature of many Middle Eastern states, the democratization process is even more unlikely. Because most Arab nations are rich in oil, many Middle Eastern governments are not dependent upon their citizenry for financial support. As such, citizens have less motivation to hold their government accountable.

Ultimately, the current administration should reexamine their democratization efforts in the Middle East. Hopefully, the current nation building project in Iraq will not lead to additional military commitments in similar regions. In the end, democratization is not a cure-all for Middle Eastern hostilities, and the U.S. should realize that healthy international relations require constant care and management, and not a miracle makeover.

1 comment:

Faisons6 said...

ahhh...the enlightenment of Fukuyama. Great to see folks with the intestinal fortitude to change their positions after they see that they were wrong. Especially after such a dismal performance when theory is tested in practice. Fukuyama's advocation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq quickly changed to advocation of "maybe we overestimated the whole democracy by force thing".

Problem is that I think they overlooked the real issue. Democracy is probably good, but more critical to a stable and successful nation is its nuturing of a liberal system which is condusive to economic prosperity.

Property rights, rule of law, contract enforcement, security...these are things that a tyrant can achieve. Perhaps a look or quick study of Olsen's stationary bandit or China's CCP could have been hints to neo-con ambitions.

Surely enlighted intellectuals such as Fukuyama would have seen the writing on the wall before the invasion? I find it hard to let him slide, given his prestige and learned background, that he would have championed such a theory in 2002/2003 and then so casually change theoretical position. Perhaps we all make mistakes. At least this man can admit to it. (To bad others cann't)