Democracy We Live in a Term Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #42286982

Excerpt from Term Paper :

With this approach in mind, it is impossible to consider a viable implementation of Western democracy in the conditions in which there are few, if any, common points to relate moral values and norms to.

Despite this current inability of Western countries to export democracy, there are certain underlying factors that could be taken into account in future attempts. Failure notwithstanding, it is clear that the future of the world lies in an international society that will eventually refuse war as means of conducting politics. Having this in mind, it can be said that there is no singular factor which determines the failure of establishing a democratic system in countries such as Iraq or African nations. There is more the issue of a mix of factors which determine a negative result.

On the one hand, there are cultural differences between western countries and the rest. Taking the Muslim world as an example, it can be pointed out the fact that the different perceptions of what human rights for instance means to Westerners and Muslims weight heavily in the attempt to stabilize the situation on the ground. More precisely, for Muslims the notion of justice represents the one preached by the Quran, whereas the Westerners completely reject the mingling of religion and state (Lewis, 2005). Similarly, the Muslim world, especially the rule of Saudi Arabia, does consider they have established a democratic rule, according to their own principles which state, for example, consultations with various institutions. However, they do not take into account the same points of reference as the Westerners, but rather the religious authorities (Lewis, 2005). In this sense, it can be said that a certain balance of power does exist and a control over the central authority is exercised. Still, these essential democratic elements are not compatible with the Western values and norms concerning democracy.

On the other hand, there is an economic factor to be taken into account when discussing the success or failure of the export of democracy in developing nations. Westerners often consider the rule of law as being in connection with the economic possibilities of the state. This idea may come out of the consideration that democracies do not fight each other because, in the end, they would lose the prosperity offered by the time of peace (Rummel, 1999). Accordingly, there has been the wide spread approach of considering or at least engaging failing states in the process of globalization as a means of reducing the poverty and increasing the capabilities and opportunities a better standard of life can offer citizens. They in turn would foster the democratic precepts and include them in their system of moral values. However, globalization is a two folded affair. It can help capitalist countries because the entire process is based on the capitalist market framework but it can ruin emerging economies or sensitive economic initiatives. Most African countries have been subject to the latter type of treatment. Former Zaire, in an attempt to become one of the most important diamond producers in the world, accepted to increase its diamond resources in cooperation with Western countries. However, while the exploitation of these resources was becoming an ever increasing source of profit, this economic practice also led to the increase in the financing of rebels from around the country (Collier, 2003). These "blood diamonds" thus became an enemy to the possible stability of the country, despite the fact that their exploitation was the result of an incentive given by a globalised world. Therefore, it can be said that there is also a lack of compatibility between different economic practices and the actual situations on the ground.

Finally, probably one of the most important, yet hard to grasp elements which influence the discussion of the notion of democracy from a globally accepted term is what Samuel Huntington labeled as "a clash of civilizations" (Huntington, 1993). In his approach the future conflicts would be determined not so much by the need for territory or for absolute power as in the past, but rather by the rifts that are being defined at the meeting points of major civilizations. In this sense, the Muslim world would eventually clash with the Western world, and current ethnical wars and cultural clashes would continue and only deepen. This is, in his view, the result of the lack of consideration for the other's cultural and individual identity, be it a state or an individual. Although his theory was challenged in the years following its announcement, the latest case with the war in Iraq is relevant. The inability of the U.S. troops to increase their moral influence over the insurgents comes from the rejection of the Iraqi insurgents to accept them and, on the other hand, from the limited American capacity and interest to understand the needs and intrinsic conditions of the Iraqi and Muslim identity. This situation cannot evolve in a positive direction and the existing gap will only widen.

Overall, it can be said that the issue of democracy is an essential topic in the current discussions on the future of the world. There are particular elements which make the notion be hard to implement at the global level. These include the inability to have an accepted definition of democracy, the impossibility of world leaders to accept the differences existing between their countries, as well as the globalised economic system which benefits some, while disadvantaging many. As a reflection of this situation, the current status of world politics is relevant.


Collier, Paul. "The market for civil war." Foreign Policy. May 2003, Issue 136.

Diamond, Larry. "What Went Wrong in Iraq." Foreign Affairs, Sep/Oct 2004, Vol. 83, Issue 5.

Dunleavy, Patrick, and Brendan O'Leary. Theories of the state. The Politics of Liberal Democracy. London and New York: Macmillan and Meredith, 1987.

Fearon, James D. "Iraq's Civil War." Foreign Affairs Mar/Apr 2007, Vol. 86, Issue 2.

Goldstone, Jack a. And Jay Ulfelder. "How to Construct Stable Democracies." The Washington Quarterly the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2004.

Huntington, Samuel P. "The Clash of Civilizations?." Foreign Affairs. 1993.

Lewis, Bernard. "Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East." Foreign Affairs. May/Jun 2005, Vol. 84, Issue 3.

Nye, Joseph. Understanding international conflicts: an introduction to theory and history. New York: Pearson, 2005.

Ottaway, Marina et al. "Democracy: rising tide or mirage?" Middle East Policy Council. 2005.

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