Prone to Violence

Democracy comes to bring not peace but the sword.

Issue: Winter 2005-2006

THE BUSH Administration has argued that promoting democracy in the Islamic world, rogue states and China will enhance America's security, because tyranny breeds violence and democracies co-exist peacefully. But recent experience in Iraq and elsewhere reveals that the early stages of transitions to electoral politics have often been rife with violence.

These episodes are not just a speed bump on the road to the democratic peace. Instead, they reflect a fundamental problem with the Bush Administration's strategy of forced-pace democratization in countries that lack the political institutions needed to manage political competition. Without a coherent state grounded in a consensus on which citizens will exercise self-determination, unfettered electoral politics often gives rise to nationalism and violence at home and abroad.

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