The Failure of Democratic Nation Building

Reference work entry

Events in the Middle East have raised expectations for a democratic agenda. But as Albert Somit and Steven Peterson show in their book The Failure of Democratic Nation Building, recent experience of democracy building by the US suggests that these hopes may be misplaced.

Taking the oath of office for his second term, George W. Bush promised ‘to seek and support the growth of democratic movements’, declaring that democracy around the world ‘is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security’. He dreamed of transplanting Americanized democracy first in Iraq and then the greater Middle East. This new manifesto penetrated deep into the US military and civilian bureaucracies.

Announced in late 2005, a little-noticed Pentagon directive placed stability operations on a par with combat missions. In another shift toward a democracy-crusading agenda, the US Department of State unveiled the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization ‘to help stabilize and reconstruct...


  1. Somit, Albert and Peterson, Steven A., The Failure of Democratic Nation Building. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.Google Scholar

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