Monday, September 17, 2007

"Lessons in Forced Democracy"

Read the full article by Shankar Vedantam, The Washington Post, September 17, 2007.

An as yet unpublished study by political scientists Andrew Enterline and J. Michael Greig "is a detailed examination of 41 cases over about 200 years where one nation has tried to impose democracy on another.....A third of all democracies imposed by one nation on another fail within the first 10 years of their establishment, Enterline and Greig found. Strong democracies, such as the ones set up in Germany and Japan, that last beyond 20 to 30 years seem to survive indefinitely. But 75 percent of weak democracies, where elections are held but the civic institutions that shore up a democracy are weak or missing, die within the first 30 years. According to the definitions used by the political scientists, the democracy in Iraq, like others established by European colonial powers in Africa and Asia, is extremely weak. "Their trajectory of failure deepens so that 90 percent have failed by their 60th year, and most have failed well before that," said Greig, who teaches with Enterline at the University of North Texas."

Enterline and Greig found four factors contributed to "successful impositions of democracy: large occupation forces early on to stamp out nascent insurgencies; a clear message that occupation forces were willing to spend years to make democracy work; an ethnically homogenous population, where politics was less likely to splinter along sectarian lines; and finally, the good fortune to have neighbors that also were democratically minded, or at least neighbors who could be kept from interfering."

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