In about half of these cases, democratic institutions lasted; in the others, they did not. One simplistic way to do so is to divide the 19 cases into two groups: (1) those where intervention was truncated or incomplete and (2) those where the United States stayed for a reasonably long period of time and made a concerted attempt to restructure the country’s political and social systems.The scope and duration of occupation differed substantially, so it is not an easy matter to assess how transformative or thorough the experience of U. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Grenada, Somalia, and South Korea fall into the first group. invasion of Afghanistan, and because it is too soon to tell what will come from the allied occupation, we exclude that case from our discussion.
In other words, the countries that became democratic after U. occupation were already much more likely to become so; the countries that failed to become democratic were always unlikely to make the transition. There is, alas, little evidence on which to base a hope that the Anglo-American occupation will dramatically change the prospects for democracy in Iraq.
Taking the Right Steps Of course, long odds against democracy should not be an excuse to give up on Iraq altogether.
For all 186 countries we then gathered measurements of the factors that political scientists have traditionally associated with democracy: literacy; per capita income; socioeconomic inequality; ethnic, linguistic, and religious divisions; past experience with democratic government; history as a British colony; size and geography; whether a country is an energy exporter; whether a country has been involved in a recent war; the percentage of the population that is Muslim; and the region of the world in which a country is located.
In general, richer, more literate, more egalitarian, and more homogenous societies do better at establishing and sustaining democratic governance, as do small island states with a history of British or American rule.
At the other end of the spectrum, Iraq under Saddam Hussein scored lowest (zero)—a distinction it shared with countries such as Afghanistan (under the Taliban), Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
Most nations, of course, fell somewhere in between these extremes; Colombia and Russia, for instance, score close to the middle, indicating that their governments are neither fully democratic nor wholly totalitarian.Countries that were occupied briefly actually score a couple of points lower.When we take into account the other factors discussed above, such as a country’s level of economic development and its cultural affinity with the West, even the impact of protracted occupation fades into insignificance. occupation seems to exercise only a modest and indirect influence on a country’s long-term political development.So far, the Bush administration has sounded bullish: Secretary of State Colin Powell recently looked forward “to the day when a democratic, representative government at peace with its neighbors leads Iraq to rejoin the family of nations,” and President Bush personally expressed the belief that democracy could flourish in Iraq in the wake of a U. Such arguments about the potential democratization of Iraq have been accompanied by references to the postwar reconstruction of Germany and Japan, which occupation forces effectively remade into liberal-democratic allies of the United States. Skeptics have drawn parallels to recent failures of nation-building in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Haiti, Kosovo, Somalia, and elsewhere. What sort of impact can the United States expect to have on Iraq’s political trajectory? Assessing the Odds In the last issue of this journal, Larry Diamond wrote: It is possible—just possible—that Iraq could gradually develop into a democracy, but the task is huge and the odds are long against it. Iraq has few of the success factors associated with democracy, such as a high degree of economic development and a Western cultural tradition.From this point of view, Iraq is either ready for democracy now or can be made so relatively rapidly under U. And, whatever the odds, what steps might improve the chances that democracy will survive? To reach this unfortunate conclusion, we assessed how democratic a country with Iraq’s “social, economic, and political conditions” might be expected to be.The process of forming local governments can start now, before any national system is fully constituted.In any political transition, the first few electoral contests are crucial to democratic success.Even if American efforts fall short of full democratization, the United States may be able to leave Iraqis substantially better off than they were before the invasion. efforts to establish democracy may thus prove much more effective than they did in, say, Nicaragua during the 1920s or South Vietnam during the 1960s.There is another reason not to give up: We know vastly more today than we did several decades ago about what makes democracy succeed. In particular, Americans would do well to consider the following steps: One of the biggest dangers facing postwar Iraq is the prospect of its becoming a classic petro-state (such as Nigeria, Libya, or Venezuela), in which vast revenues from the sale of oil accrue to a politically shaky and unrepresentative national government.In developing countries, presidential systems tend to concentrate too much power in the hands of one individual, who may then be tempted to ride roughshod over other political actors.Consequently, European-style parliamentary systems are more likely to survive than those that rely on a directly elected chief executive.