Can democracy be spread by force? Essay
Typically, democracy is a system of governance in which people choose their preferred government and rulers. This can be exercised through voting in a free and fair mannerism.1
It is instantiated by rights like freedom of expression and freedom of speech amongst others. Therefore, at its core, democracy signifies a fair and justifiable power distribution in any kind of society.
This paper discerns whether democracy can be spread by force. Concurrently, it argues against the possibility of attaining democracy through forceful strategies. It also provides relevant countries and global instances (as examples) to certify this claim.
This is a critical provision when considered comprehensively in the realms of democracy and its relevant benefits. In a democratic society, an individual has more power of governing his or her life as it would be appropriate (self choice of expression). Considerably, there are four main elements of democracy.2
Besides a political system where people choose and replace their government through elections (which are free and fair), people also participate actively as citizens in their civic life and politics.
In addition, the rule of law which applies equally to every citizen should be used to protect the fundamental human rights of each and every citizen.
Even though democracy is much embraced in most countries of the western world, it has failed in some continents such as Africa, Middle East regions, and to some extent, south Asia. Tribalism, which has its deep roots in these counties, is the major reason for this failure.
Considerably, some attempts to attain democracy through force have worked in some countries including Japan and Germany after the World War II. Nonetheless, some forceful efforts have failed significantly.
Actually, the majority of people from these countries would prefer voting for a candidate who is a member of their tribe, religion, or sect rather than someone else who is a not a member even if that individual have got better governance ideologies.
This is very evident in countries such as Zimbabwe and Iraq. The United States of America is at the forefront in spreading democracy.3 But why should they seek to spread democracy? And can democracy be achieved by force?
Evidently, forced democracy might destroy a society during its establishment. Consequently, the society should be rebuilt after achieving the concerned democracy as it happened in the developed nations such as the Japan and Germany amongst others.
Democracy can be spread by force
To some extent this statement is true. For instance, the United States of America has launched an international war on terror, which involves strategies that embrace the regime change concepts.
This creates new identities which are politically democratic and wins the hearts and minds of people. As an illustration, the involvement of the US in both Afghanistan and Iraq was premised on the view of eliminating terror and putting democracy in place.
The United States has been successful in campaigning and spreading democracy through the use of military, politics, and psychology in almost each and every area that is involved around the world.
Definitely, this close connection has implied that the extent of influence by the United States around the globe has been expanded. In fact, they have exploited every globalization device like television broadcasting and internet to compound the extent of its influence.
These have been very effective in spreading democratic propaganda in most regions of the globe that are governed by dictatorships. In addition, they have created changes in the political awareness in support to democratizing.
At the end of the Second World War, US took an active role to deepen and widen democracy in western parts of Europe. The European integration was encouraged by the United States in establishing and stabilizing the democracy.
NATO was the fortification within which West Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy became democratic. The integrated Europe and the twin NATO institutions jointly formed powerful incentives for developing democracies of the East European countries to link with the multilateral institutions of Western Europe at the end of the cold war.4
This shows how democracy spread in the western countries. However, it is important to note that war is characterized by the destruction of economy and ruining of the whole society.
The society is rebuilt after the achievement of democracy as it happened in the developed nations such as the Japan and Germany amongst others as indicated earlier.
There are certain problems that plague political efforts; typically, creating an arrangement that is able to safeguard people’s interests without persecution threats. Different nations around the globe have struggled with power balance by either using imperial or even more idealistic schemes to concentrate power for governing the world.
There has been lots of debate domestically on how much right the executive should have. The strong executive supporters believe that the best way of preserving peace is through uncontrolled ability to discourage or anticipate an attack.
However, the antagonists of such kind of a scheme distress that it is likely to allow the executives to start war very easily and would be particularly unstoppable if many nations adopt it.
This dilemma was tried to be resolved by the administration of George W. Bush by creating the democratic empire concept.5
America is regarded as inalienable military power that is able to enforce a peaceful order in any part of the troubled world. In this way, America continues to keep unchallengeable military strengths.
Thus, it is not necessary to destabilize weapon competitions of other eras and also restricts the contentions to trade as well as other peace pursuant. Actually, most people around the globe are uncomfortable with the policy of the United States which welcomes power in the provision and commitment to freedom.6
Their policy stresses that freedom commitment can and must create a common cause to counter the enemies of freedom.
This a clear indication that if such policies are not available to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals in the society -their democracy- then most of the nations will not allow their people to exercise these rights.
It is very likely that the democratic institutions of governments will not be able to thwart the abuse of power used in promoting democracy and the application of military power will instill democracy in these nations.
The demonstrations and protests that swept the Middle East in the beginning of the year 2011 is a further illustration that indeed democracy can be spread by force. These protests resulted to the removal of Tunisian president Ben Ali and shook Hosni Mubarak’s government of Egypt.
In these countries, it is not only the world superpowers like the United States that gave a more vocal support to the people who demanded democracy on the Cairo streets but also the people stood firm in calling for change of leadership in their country.
Eventually, the kind of leadership that was characterized by dictatorship and the oppression of the poor and the disadvantaged in the society had to cede power, sending a strong message to the rest of the world that if a leader clings to power through corruption and denial of democracy, at long last he or she will have to face the consequences. This is one way in which democracy has been spread around the globe.
There is also a lot of argument as to whether the use of force or military action is justifiable in promoting democracy. In some cases, the action of military may not only be essential in facilitating and restoring democracy but also in ending certain cruel kind of dictatorship.
For instance, in Rwanda genocide of 1994 is a typical example. The military involvement was very justifiable to put an end to genocide and restore peace in Rwanda.
Nonetheless, military intervention should be considered as a last resort since a lot of destruction of the society as well as economic degradation is associated with such forceful democracy.
While considering other viable theories, democracy is a major contributor to fundamental human values and should be encouraged all over the world.
It promotes values such as the rights of workers, freedom of speech and movement. It also establishes an environment that is secure and stable for citizens of a country. In addition to this, democracy is a value that ensures interests of all citizens and the country are taken care of and their rights are secured.7
Governments that promote democracy are the ones that enhance peace, avoid violence and wars, encourage development, and advocate for the rights of all humans. Democracy should be promoted in the modern world to assist in the achievement of stability and growth for humanity.
Its development should also be promoted to enable countries that are newly formed to adopt democratic principles. Countries that have not implemented principles of democracy should be denounced and encouraged to adopt them.
Many countries in the world have adopted democracy and continue to promote human rights. There are others still in the process of implementing strategies that will ensure democracy.8
The growth of democracy has taken a long time and there are various methods that have been used to spread it. There have also been various barriers to the spread of the value and commercial barriers are among them.
Some of the methods that have been used to spread democracy are through use of religion and education. However, there is the question of the effectiveness of coercion in spreading democracy. There are people who believe that force can be used in spreading democracy while others believe that it is not an effective method.
The question to use force or not in spreading democracy can be answered using theories of international relations. This section of paper will attempt to answer the question using realism and liberal theories.
With respect to democracy, realism focuses on the motives leading to proper security, control and capital (Gilbert 58). On the other hand, liberalism proposes that the difference that exists between countries regarding principles of democracy is the main causes of wars.
Realism first focuses on the main causes of wars. The theory also believes that the international structure and systems has an important role in international relations. The proponents of this theory further believe that the absence of authority from a central point leads to dilemma on matters of security.
This therefore means that attempts by one country to seek security assurance are likely to make its adversaries feel insecure.
These adversaries can them arm up and use other forms of interactions that are hostile by nature. The relative capabilities of countries thus play an important role in international relations.
Concurrently, the central authority plays important roles in the international relations and gives a reason for countries to relate in the international system.9
Groups based in various parts of the world are also important in international relations (according to the realists). Additionally, the behavior of the states is considered to be rational according to this theory.
The reason for this belief among realists is that states use logic when making decisions and act in the interest of the nation. They do this so as to survive, be secure, be powerful and gain capital.
The motives of the nation usually make analysts to manipulate how policy makers think and this has the effect of policy makers making laws that are in the interest of the nation.10
The realists also note that states respond to external factors. Thus, their actions are guided by what happens internationally. These can be used to explain how democracy can be spread using force.
For example, Iraq was a country led by a dictator. There were also extremists in Iraq and the rights of the citizen were not guaranteed. The United States, on the other hand, is a country that values democracy and protection of the rights of individuals.
United States thus attempted to promote these values in Iraq forcefully. However, according to realists, there are other interests that the United States had apart from the promotion of democracy in Iraq.
United States wanted to ensure that it is secure and its citizens are safe. The United States also wanted to avoid Iraq’s quest to develop weapons of mass destruction. If Iraq developed these weapons, then it would be a threat to United States and countries that are allied to it.
In addition to these interests of the United States, the need to develop military bases in the Middle East was another reason for going to Iraq. The United States wanted to develop military bases in Iran and Syria so as to help Israel, which is an ally of Unites States.
Another reason was the need to secure the supply of oil for the United States and the need to reduce complications that could result from energy shortage. This is a critical provision when scrutinized comprehensively.
Finally, United States hardly ratified inspections UN executed in Iraq to determine whether there were weapons of mass destruction. These, according to realism theory of international relations, guided the policy decisions of the United States.
It means that the United States checked the benefits that could result from invading Iraq and the costs of the invasion. It then made decision based on the findings with respect to democracy.
Additionally, the United States was a central point of authority. It had the military might and is a super power.11 The foreign policies of the United States are also war preventive against countries considered to be rogue. The military might of United States also played an important part.
According to the theory, the military strength of a country is important. It determines how the country establishes, ratifies, and protects its foreign policies.12
Thus, US ensured that its military might was unmatched and if Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, then it had to be dealt with. These informed one of the policies of Bush administration and this was to remove the Baathist regime in Iraq.
It did not, however, attack other countries such as North Korea or Libya or Iran. This is because of the interests that it had. In the attack, democracy was to be achieved by force in Iraq. In other words, the foreign policy of the United States is democratic in nature.
On the other hand, according to liberalism, decisions to ratify force (to initiate democracy) are made based on differences that exist between countries that are democratic and countries that are non-democratic.
Thus it is the ideologies that exist in a country, the beliefs and the views to the world operations are the guiding factors on whether to go to war or not. This is different from the realists who see financial, political and bureaucratic motives of the elites as the reasons for going to war.
Liberalism theory believes that the spread of democratic principles can lead to peace in the whole world. They argue that countries that uphold democratic principles are usually peaceful compared to countries that are ruled by authoritarian regimes.
In addition to this, the liberals argue that economic interdependence among countries can promote peace too. This is because countries that are cooperating or depending on each other economically cannot go to war against each other because this would destroy both economically.13
According to liberals, states are the main actors in international matters and relations and not any other organization such as international corporations. According to liberals, the United States fear that Iraq could attack it and its allies because the ruler in Iraq was a dictator is one reason it attacked Iraq first.
Secondly, it attacked Iraq because US’s security, security of other nations, and the rights of the Iraqis could only be derived through democracy. This means that the security for the whole world can be achieved when democracy is spread in the whole world.
Security for the world can also be attained through trade and regulation of conflicts by international organizations. The liberals thus propose that force can be used to remove dictators from power and this will enable enhancement of freedom and thus democracy.
In Iraq, this is what happened according to many people. A dictator, Saddam Hussein, was removed from power and the Iraqis gained democracy.
Democracy cannot be achieved by force
Even though most nations (especially in the western world) have been able to achieve forceful democracy, there are some regions where forced democracy has failed.
Currently Americans have different opinions about the idea of promoting democracy.14 Even though most people believe that the aim of the US foreign policy should be focused on endorsing democracy, there is unwillingness to make its promotion a key theme in their foreign policy as well as an opposition to the use of military force or threats to achieve democracy.
Concurrently, the Americans believe they have a moral obligation of promoting democracy.15 There is a considerable support for cooperative approaches to promote democracy and involving the United Nations.
There are people who would prefer to promote democracy in more friendly dictatorial countries regardless of whether it may result into unfriendly governments.
Most people approve putting public and diplomatic pressure to respect the fundamental human rights. In 2005, the Americans resisted the recommendation of George w. Bush to make democracy promotion as the Central American policy.
Evidently, Iraq and Iran have indicated unsuccessful instances where force was applied to establish democracy. Despite the US’s efforts to restore democracy in the region, some instances of impartiality can be noticed within the region.
The main purpose of democracy is creating reason and order in the society. However, when forced it could result into even more chaos, like in Israel and Palestine.
Here the Israelites were given land (by the US), which the Palestinians claimed to be theirs. Consequently, there has been a constant war between the two countries. There are other countries which cannot keep democracy whether forceful or peaceful.
Russia is a typical example where capital revolution rather than democracy has taken its deeper roots.16 In the majority of the undeveloped countries, democracy is difficult to sustain. In most cases, in smaller countries with already established set of cultures or government, when democracy is forced upon them it is more likely to backfire.
In this case democracy will lead to tyranny17. Democracy has failed in America, majorly, because the government gets involved too much in the activities of businesses like Microsoft. It imposes lots or restrictions which limit what can be done by the company thus hindering the value of democracy within these businesses.
Even if democracy is forced on some countries, leaders still manipulate their way into dictatorship with impunity. Ngo Diem from the republic of Vietnam was a leader who never liked the public elections idea.
When he was forced to establish and agree to the democracy of holding public elections, he organized it in a way that favored his victory. In this case, he sent soldiers in plainclothes into the districts of his opponents to make sure that he wins.
This shows that democracy was still not yet exercised. The concerned election was not a free and fair. Precisely, the democratic society idea has changed and evolved over the past years to fit the country and its citizens.
Even if not everybody is willing to accept a democratic government easily, there should be willingness of all parties involved.
Democracy has succeeded in some countries simply because people have decided to exercise democracy rather than using force to impose it.
In conclusion, using force in spreading democracy is often necessary in most cases; however, it is not a vital success element. Democracy is changing regularly, not just for the citizens but also for the period it takes place.
As evident earlier, democracy can be achieved through force in some cases; nonetheless, force never gives positive results in other instances.
This is a critical provision when considered critically in the context of democracy and its promotional events. Every government should embrace democracy to give its citizens their necessary freedoms and rights.
Aron, R, Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations, Transactions Publishers, New Brunswick, 2003.
Art, RJ & K, Waltz. The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2003..
Barkawi, T & M Laffey. Democracy, Liberalism, and War: Rethinking the Democratic Peace Debate, Lynne Rienner Publ, Boulder, 2001.
Benjamin, P, The Foreign Policy Disconnect: What Americans Want from Our Leaders but Don’t Get, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006.
Botscher, J, Neorealist Assessment of India’s Look East Policy, Grin Verlag, London, 2011.
Bulliet, R, The Earth and Its People: A Global History, Cengage Wadsworth, Boston, 2011.
Bundu, A, Democracy by Force?: (a Study of International Military Intervention in the Civil War in Sierra Leone from 1991-2000, Universal Publication, Parkland, 2001.
Carter, A, Direct Action and Democracy Today, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004.
D’Anieri, PJ, International Politics: Power and Purpose in Global Affairs, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, 2012.
Fortmann, MT & JJ, Wirtz, Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2004.
Gilbert, A, Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?: Great-power Realism, Democratic Peace, and Democratic Internationalism, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1999.
Hobson, J, Imperialism: A Study, Cosimo, New York, 2005.
Lambert, A, Democratic Civilian Control of Armed Forces in the Post-Cold War Era, LIT, Münster, 2008.
Rousseau, DL, Identifying Threats and Threatening Identities: The Social Construction of Realism and Liberalism, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2006.
Traub, J, The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (just Not the Way George Bush Did), Straus and Giroux, New York, 2009.
Varas, A, Democracy Under Siege, Greenwood, Westport, 1989.
1 A Bundu, Democracy by Force?: (a Study of International Military Intervention in the Civil War in Sierra Leone from 1991-2000, Universal Publication, Parkland, 2001, p. 65.
2 T Barkawi & M Laffey. Democracy, Liberalism, and War: Rethinking the Democratic Peace Debate, Lynne Rienner Publ, Boulder, 2001, p. 73.
3 P Benjamin, The Foreign Policy Disconnect: What Americans Want from Our Leaders but Don’t Get, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006, p. 23.
4 A Veras, Democracy Under Siege, Greenwood, Westport, 1989, p. 45.
5 PJ D’Anieri, International Politics: Power and Purpose in Global Affairs, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, 2012, p. 86.
6 J Botscher, Neorealist Assessment of India’s Look East Policy, Grin Verlag, London, 2011, p. 36.
7 R Bulliet, The Earth and Its People: A Global History, Cengage Wadsworth, Boston, 2011, p. 67.
8 R Art & K Waltz, The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2003, p. 25.
9 J Traub,The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (just Not the Way George Bush Did), Straus and Giroux, New York, 2009, p. 50.
10 A Gilbert, Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?: Great-power Realism, Democratic Peace, and Democratic Internationalism, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1999, p. 97.
11 MT Fortmann & JJ Wirtz, Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2004, p. 64.
12 A Carter, Direct Action and Democracy Today, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004, p. 60.
13 A Gilbert, Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?: Great-power Realism, Democratic Peace, and Democratic Internationalism, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1999.
14 DL Rousseau, Identifying Threats and Threatening Identities: The Social Construction of Realism and Liberalism, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2006.
15 A Lambert, Democratic Civilian Control of Armed Forces in the Post-Cold War Era, LIT, Münster, 2008, P. 467.
16 J Hobson, Imperialism: A Study, Cosimo, New York, 2005.
17 R Aron, Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations, Transactions Publishers, New Brunswick, 2003, p. 25.
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