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DemIraqGermanyJapanBellin2005

DemIraqGermanyJapanBellin2005 - The Iraqi Intervention and...

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The Iraqi Intervention and Democracy in Comparative Historical Perspective EVA BELLIN Is military occupation likely to be the midwife of democracy? Can democracy be imposed by force from the outside? This is the assumption driv- ing America's intervention in Iraq and posited as a potential new pillar of am- bition for U.S. foreign policy elsewhere. But is this assumption historically grounded? The architects of the Iraqi intervention point to the success of America's occupation of postwar Germany and Japan as evidence that occupa- tion can deliver on democratic objectives. But careful examination of the his- torical record suggests that we should be tentative about drawing lessons from these cases to guide our endorsement of military occupation today. Germany and Japan began with a set of endowments, many of them anticipated by demo- cratic theory, but others peculiar to the cases' unique historical context and time, that favored democratic outcomes. These endowments are not replicated in Iraq, nor does mihtary occupation guarantee them elsewhere. Gases of occupation more comparable in initial endowment to Iraq suggest more pessimism about occupation's capacity to deliver democracy. Historical experience suggests that although military occupation may increase the likelihood of democratization, and wise policy choices certainly improve its chances, the outcome is largely shaped by factors, both domestic and international, that cannot be controlled by military engineers operating within the confines of current cultural norms and conventional limits of time and treasure. To elaborate upon this argument, this essay will begin by identifying the essential noncomparability of the German, Japanese, and Iraqi cases. Given their dissimilarities, it seems an oddly selective reading of history to focus on the EVA BELLIN is an associate professor of political science at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She is the author of the recent book Stalled Democracy: Capital, Labor, and the Paradox of State Sponsored Industrialization. Political Science Quarterly Volume 119 Number 4 2004-05 595
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5 9 6 I POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY German and Japanese occupations (out of a much larger universe of cases) to draw lessons about occupation's political potential in Iraq. The essay will then turn to two other cases of occupation better (although not perfectly) matched in initial endowments to Iraq: Haiti and Bosnia. This comparison will suggest some pessimism about military occupation's capacity to deliver democracy. The essay will conclude with lessons, both positive and negative, about occupa- tion's potential contribution to democratization that can be gleaned from the German and Japanese cases. Although military occupation cannot fashion de- mocracy out of whole cloth, it nevertheless can steer countries in a democratic direction through wise policy choices.
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