Gun Barrel Democracy? Democratic Constitutionalism Following Military Occupation: Reflections on the U.S. Experience in Japan, Germany, and Afghanistan and Iraq
26 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2004
This paper begins by arguing that the success of the United States in assisting in the creation of constitutional democracy in the post-World War II occupations of Germany and Japan is not relevant to establishing policies for the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq at the present time. Both Germany and Japan surrendered unconditionally, their wartime leadership was thoroughly discredited, and they had long pre-war traditions of democratic constitutionalism. None of these factors is present in the contemporary situation in the Middle East and Central Asia. The prospects for constitutional democracy in these (very different) regions depend upon a hard-to-predict set of factors, the most important of which is the dominantly Muslim character of their societies. Apart from Southeast Asia, there is little experience of Islamic democratic constitutionalism, although there is no reason in principle to assume that Islam is incompatible with democracy. The harder question may be whether Islamic religious law (shari'ah) is fully compatible with constitutionalism.
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