Building Democracy After Conflict: Lessons from Iraq

Issue Date January 2005
Volume 16
Issue 1
Page Numbers 9-23
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In the hands of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), the U.S.-led postwar reconstruction effort has so far failed to establish democratic institutions in Iraq. But as troubled as that effort has been, it provides valuable lessons for future postconflict-reconstruction or nation-building endeavors. For example: commit enough troops, with the right rules of engagement; hold local elections first; mobilize legitimacy, cooperation, and trust both internationally and within the postconflict country; disperse economic reconstruction funds and democratic assistance as widely as possible; and proceed with some humility and respect for the opinions of the people in whose interest the intervention is supposedly staged.