Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder in The National Interest:
The Bush Administration has argued that promoting democracy in the Islamic world, rogue states and China will enhance America’s security, because tyranny breeds violence and democracies co-exist peacefully. But recent experience in Iraq and elsewhere reveals that the early stages of transitions to electoral politics have often been rife with violence.
These episodes are not just a speed bump on the road to the democratic peace. Instead, they reflect a fundamental problem with the Bush Administration’s strategy of forced-pace democratization in countries that lack the political institutions needed to manage political competition. Without a coherent state grounded in a consensus on which citizens will exercise self-determination, unfettered electoral politics often gives rise to nationalism and violence at home and abroad.
Absent these preconditions, democracy is deformed, and transitions toward democracy revert to autocracy or generate chaos. Pushing countries too soon into competitive electoral politics not only risks stoking war, sectarianism and terrorism, but it also makes the future consolidation of democracy more difficult.