Discussants discuss the consequences of regime change in Iraq on countries in the Middle East and Central and South Eastern Asia.
The record of past U.S. experience in democratic nation building is daunting. The low rate of success is a sobering reminder that these are among the most difficult foreign policy ventures for the U.S. Unilateral nation building by the U.S. has had an even rougher time-perhaps because unilateralism has led to surrogate regimes and direct U.S. administration during the post-conflict period.
If faced with the choice between a genuinely representative new Iraqi government that shows itself to be resistant to Washington's policy commands and an unrepresentative but compliant one, many in Washington will be tempted by the latter. But haven't we already discovered in other Middle East countries the problems with that choice?
The United States must hand over power to Iraqis sooner rather than later, helping them rebuild their nation without imposing leaders or ideologies. A democratic Iraq will probably have a strong Islamic and Arab nationalist character. But efforts to dilute Iraq's Arab or Islamic identity would risk an extremist backlash.
It is hard not to be tantalized by the notion that with one hard blow in Iraq the United States could unleash a tidal wave of democracy in a region long gripped by intransigent autocracy. But although the United States can certainly oust Saddam Hussein and install a less repressive regime, Iraqi democracy would not be soon forthcoming.
Discussants debate the impact of the internet revolution in China on the future development of politics and bureaucracy.