Some realists have argued that the process of democratisation is dangerous as the transition to democracy creates instability and conflict, as can be seen by the ongoing insurgency and conflict in Iraq. The US had hoped that once democracy had been established in Iraq it ‘would open the way to a far more stable and peaceful region’. Those who supported the imposition of democracy on the nation argued that a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Iraq would cause a reduction in interstate antagonism and would serve as a ‘beacon’ for liberal democracy in the middle-east that would inspire and pressure nearby states into liberalising, bringing further democratisation of the region. However, this belief has been criticised for being much like the domino theory on the spread of international communism in the Cold War and the objective has faced, and is argued to face, many challenges. Alina Romanowski, a senior US government civilian official in the Middle East argues that ‘Iraq presents as unpromising a breeding ground for democracy as any in the world’, and many argue that Iraqi society is too fractured and lacks the preconditions necessary for democracy to be established.These problems include a lack of cohesive unifying identity, a risk of Iranian and Turkish meddling, a poorly organised political leadership, and the lack of a history of democracy. But despite the challenges and the anti-democratic terrorist attacks, democracy has been established, though the ability of this to continue to function and to thrive is yet to be seen.Hussein was in no position to pose any serious threat to the United States; there were no WMDs in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein’s regime had nothing to do with the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
Weapons of mass-destruction, or WMDs were one of the main arguments behind the invasion.
It was argued by the US and the British governments that Iraq was in possession of weapons that were a serious threat to the security of western nations and the security of the nations in the region.
The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people.
Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11 world.’ The war was tied in to the wider War on Terror which planned pre-emptive military action against states believed to be developing WMDs and sponsoring terrorist organisations.
In this respect, removing the dictator from power the war was clearly a humanitarian victory.
However the invasion and subsequent occupation as well as the insurgency and internal conflict have claimed the lives of between 95,700 and 104,400 civilians. Professor Gareth Stansfield argues that ‘things are far worse as a result of the war… There was no sectarian violence; no gross levels of violence.They argued that intervention and regime change was necessary to forcibly disarm a nation that was not complying with the demands and requirements of the international community and which they argued was a global danger. On this understanding then, one of the primary aims of the invasion of Iraq was to increase the security of the US and the rest of the world by removing a regime that posed a threat through contempt for the international community, a historical record of hostility to its neighbours, and the possession of weapons capable of massive destructive force.We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more. given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?It was argued that Saddam Hussein’s regime created the conditions that aided the growth of terrorists, and that Iraq was itself a rogue nation.It was also insinuated a number of times that Iraq was partly implicated with the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, and had links with al Qaeda, despite this being unproven and illogical, as Hussein and Al-Qaeda were of opposite political ideologies and had long been enemies.  This purpose for the war and the aim for securing the US against Iraqi attack is perhaps the most easy to refute.Another cause of the peacefulness of democracies that has an impact on wider security is that a democratic electoral system can foster ethnic moderation, keeping extremists isolated and out of power, while ensuring that communities coexists peacefully. Based on this logic the American and British policy makers believed that by bringing democracy to Iraq, the regional security and their own security will be improved, the society would cease supporting terrorists (which it wasn’t doing), and would end its hostility towards Israel. However, this theory has come under considerable criticism from academics from other schools of thought, and other liberals, who point out that democracies can be just as violent as other governments; for example, the only state that has deployed a nuclear bomb against another state was a democracy, and the Iraq War itself was initiated by democratic states. The alternative liberal view to this argues that instead of democracies being simply more peaceful to all states, liberal democracies are more peaceful to other liberal democratic states because they form complex interconnections between one another that makes the possibility of war unthinkable as it would be too damaging to the societies and individuals who grow to transcend the boundaries of the nation state. But this view raises a number of problems for the plan to democratise Iraq would mean the creation of a democratic nation in a region of mostly undemocratic states, which would be dangerous because, as Doyle acknowledges, while it has been very successful in creating peace among liberal states, ‘liberalism has been equally striking as a failure in guiding foreign policy outside the liberal world’ as the same characteristics ‘that promote peace among liberal societies can exacerbate conflicts between liberal and non-liberal societies’. Another criticism of the aim of imposing liberal democracy is the argument that democracy must develop from below, rather than being imposed on one nation by another.Indeed, it has been argued that the Western democratic campaign in the middle-east is a form of imperial intervention.However, they argue that should Iraq become a ‘dim democratic beacon’ it would have the opposite consequences as it would ‘increase their own conflict propensity, as well as the war-proneness of neighbouring states’ which would undermine the peace and prosperity of neighbouring nations. Having gathered statistical data on past externally imposed democracies they argue that even if Iraq became a bright beacon, democracy would be unlikely to spread, and they also argue that it is unlikely for Iraq to become a bright beacon due to the ethnic and religious conflicts tension in Iraq, the near absence of a democratic tradition, the impact of US occupation and the potential hostility of Iraq’s neighbours.They also argue that should Iraq become a dim beacon, it would undermine, rather than enhance regional democratisation. However, the true results of the democratisation process are yet to be seen as though there have been setbacks and challenges, Iraq has had successful democratic elections since the invasion, but time may be the only test of whether democracy will hold in Iraq and whether regional democratisation and peace will follow.One of the main challenges to the new democracy is insecurity, but with the building up of a new Iraqi military and police force, and the assistance of other nations, democracy in Iraq might be feasible. But will this democracy and peace be able to spread to other nations in the region and what are the possibilities of a democratic Iraq helping to create regional peace?Though theorists such as Huntington, Starr and Lindborg argued that democracy can spill over borders and Cederman and Gleditsch concluded that the more democracies there are in a region, the more likely undemocratic states in the region will democratise, others disagree. Enterline & Greig argue that it is possible for the democratisation of Iraq to enable peace to spread to nearby nations provided that the democracy is a beacon that ‘burns brightly’, reflecting strong democratic institutions so as to reduce conflict with neighbours.