In an opinion piece, "When Ballots Bring on Bullets," in the International Herald Tribune, Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, authors of Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War, take a close look at President Bush's call to spread democracy throughout the Middle East, finding a fundamental flaw in his strategy—"forced-pace democratization in countries that lack the necessary preconditions." Many countries are well-suited for democracy, but they just need to take time to adjust. There are many social, political, and economic factors which must be considered in order to prevent the risks of war, secularism, and terrorism in developing democracies. Mansfield and Snyder compare this year's Middle Eastern elections with many of the problems that occured in when democratic elections were held too soon in countries such as Yugoslavia, India and Pakistan, Russia and Chechnya, Ecuador and Peru (just to name a few) with some of the more successful cases in Taiwan, South Korea, and Chile:
Countries that are just starting down the path toward democracy are at high risk of war, especially if they are ill prepared for the journey. Our research shows that over the past two centuries, countries that opened up to elections without the institutions needed to manage political competition have been more than four times more likely to become embroiled in war than other states.
The problem is not that Islam is culturally unsuited for democracy. In Turkey, where governmental institutions provide a stable framework for political competition, the ruling moderate Islamic party is committed to democratic processes. Other Middle Eastern countries need to develop this kind of effective state before elections can be expected to produce the same kind of moderate outcome.
To reduce the risk of democratic processes that serve only to strengthen democracy's foes, democracy promoters need to work patiently to put in place the preconditions of democracy, and in the proper sequence. The process must start with economic reform and the development of a competent, impartial state administration. This was the path followed by Taiwan, South Korea and Chile - countries where democratization was successful and peaceful. Like them, the Middle East should take the transition slowly and get the sequence right.