The invasion of Iraq and the subsequent attempt to engineer a democratic state highlights the strengths and limitations of democratization studies to explain why, where, and how democracy occurs. This article argues that the way power is played out globally and locally determines the nature of democratic success or failure. Traditionally, democratization studies has focused on internal structures and agents of change. However, Iraq indicates that democratization is more complex than traditional comparative politics approaches have ascribed it. In this article, there are two key propositions. Firstly, global power-holders do not hold the exclusive ability to bring about democratization, but the drive for democratization is shaped by the display of power and disputes over global authority at least as much, if not more, than national-level politics. Secondly, the display of power internally determines two key dimensions of democratization: state capacity and societal security. This article relies on the example of Iraq to illustrate the shortcomings of the traditional approach to democratization and calls on a reinvigorated interdisciplinary approach to why democratization succeeds or fails.
- Conflict and security