Western European Politics Term Paper

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World War II ended, significant efforts were made by the allies to implement democracy in West Germany and Japan. The transition from authoritarianism to democracy would not be an easy task to complete efficiently (Katz). In time both of these countries were transformed from militarist regimes with weak democratic cultures into models of democracy (Enterline and Greig). In their foreign policy analysis, Andrew J. Enterline and J. Michael Greig have stated that the following:

West Germany and Japan were critical to the functioning, and ultimate success, of the Western security system during the Cold War, and served as beacons of democracy, economic prosperity, and peaceful foreign relations in regions notable for authoritarian regimes, state controlled economics, domestic turmoil, and interstate conflict.

In 2003, after entering Baghdad, the senior U.S. staff officer found himself and his division in a similar situation of turmoil. There were given no instructions or orders regarding what to do or even where to go from here (Katz). The U.S. has found itself in another position of democratizing a nation without and reassurance that it will be successful. There are several controversies which arise when arguing for or against the democratization of Iraq or Afghanistan and whether or not is can be done and furthermore flourish.

Over the years, and in particular after the successful implementation of democracy in West Germany, democracy has become the standard or norm. Nevertheless, we need to ask ourselves why democracy has become the norm, and if this norm can be applied to middle-eastern nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In Michael McFaul's "Democracy Promotion as a World Value," he provides three distinct reasons as to why democracy has developed overtime to become the norm. His first claim is that democracy "is stronger today than ever, and democracy itself is widely regarded as an ideal system of government. Democracy also has a near-universal appeal among people of every ethnic group, every religion, and every region of the world." He furthermore argues that democracy as a foreign policy goal has become increasingly acceptable; however, the U.S. no longer holds the full control over democracy even though the U.S. has played a vital role in its development and growth as an acceptable foreign policy. Since the U.S. is no longer recognized as holding full control over democracy, this has been viewed as a sign that democracy really is not just the thinking of the U.S., but in actuality a model accepted international. Finally, McFaul does make a concise conclusion in stating that although democracy has become the acceptable standard, that does not automatically mean that it will be followed. Furthermore, choosing not to follow and embrace democracy does not necessarily prove that it is not influential. In fact, regardless of such possible instances, democracy is to this day still widely accepted as the international norm.

In order to determine whether or not democratization could be successful in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, it is first important to fist note and scrutinize the similarities and differences between the cultural and military structures not only between the two countries, but also in the context of West Germany post World War II. First and foremost, we must note that although democratization has been successful in the past, there is no guarantee that it will be successful again, particularly in the case of Iraq or Afghanistan. Although West Germany had an anti-democratic regime, much like Iraq and Afghanistan, what they do not currently hold is a "base for democratic constitutionalism" (Katz). The success of democracy is largely dependent on the social and economic conditions already present within a nation (Enterline and Greig). After further research, more evidence has led to believe that the two cases of democratization of West Germany and Iraq or Afghanistan are much different and/or even non-comparable.

One of the main differences between the two cases, which is also crucial for thriving democracy, is their dissimilar levels of economic development. In her aricle, "The Iraqi Intevention and Democracy in Comparative Historical Perspective," Eva Bellin accurately distinguishes the differences between a post-war Germany and a post-war Iraq or Afghanistan. Before the start of World War II, West Germany was a highly industrialized country with a developed economy, while on the other hand, a country such as Iraq has never reached that same level of economic development (Bellin). Although Iraq has reaped the benefits of oil, they have never fully advanced into an industrialized country (Bellin). Since Germany was already developed prior to the war, they did not have to start from scratch afterwards; instead, they had to focus on rebuilding, while Iraq would essentially be starting from scratch. Furthermore, Bellin has included the widely accepted theory behind democracy which suggests "that this differential level of economic development has a huge impact on democratic outcomes and that durable democracy is strongly correlated with economic development." She continues to support this theory by proving that "statistically, it seems irrefutable that democracy is most likely to flourish and survive when a country enjoys more than $5,500 per capita GNP." Although Germany too may not have held such wealth at the time, they did have the supplies and human capital to take in foreign aid effectively and take advantage of rapid growth opportunities (Bellin). On the contrary, Iraq's lack of such wealth will inevitably slow down their economic development (Bellin).

Another important difference to note, according to Bellin, is the radically diverse levels of ethnic homogeneity. Ethnically speaking, Germany was rather homogenous and had a sense of solidarity as a nation. This unfortunately, cannot be said with regards to Iraq. Although identity does exist, there is still a clear divide amongst the three primary groups: the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish. Eva Bellin further emphasizes the following:

Democratic theory suggests that ethnic homogeneity is an important factor in shaping democratic outcomes and that some consensus about national identity or some degree of social solidarity is necessary to prevent the inherently conflictual nature of the democratic process from tearing a country apart.

This important factor further suggests that the conditions in Iraq are far from ideal or prepared for democratization.

A third important difference to note is the presence of state and government institutions within Germany and Iraq. Prior to World War II, Germany had a well-developed and strong presence of government institutions and bureaucracies including a police force, a judicial system, and a civil service to govern (Bellin). On the contrary, Iraq is lacking such organized institutions. Instead, "the state under Saddam was patrimonially organized, riven with corruption, and driven by politics and loyalty tests, rather than merit. As a result, many key institutions, especially the police and judicial system, have to be rebuilt from the bottom up" (Bellin). This vast undertaking is absolutely essential for successful democratization as "democracy cannot flourish in a context of chaos" (Bellin).

The fourth evident dissimilarity is concerning the historical precedent and whether or not the country has had prior experience with democracy. Historical events have proven that transition into a democratic state has been most successful in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and other countries where democracy has had some small presence in the past. Unlike the present day Iraq, Germany had experienced democratic presence through developing party structures and competitive elections. In general, Germany had built political institutions and therefore had a base to build off after the war. Although Iraq had briefly experienced competitive elections under the British mandate in the 1920s and early 1930s, it was still largely manipulated, and since 1958 the country has been ruled by force (Bellin). As a result, not only is there no democratic base to build off but there also are not political parties or institutions to rebuild; Iraq, again, would need to start from scratch.

The final crucial difference to note is the presence of…[continue]

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"Western European Politics", 22 April 2011, Accessed.9 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/western-european-politics-119626

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