Imposing Democracy to Ensure the Peace: The Role of Coercive Socialization


  • Author's notes: I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editors for very helpful comments and suggestions. I am also grateful for support from the University of Southern California's Center for International Studies where I began this project as a postdoctoral fellow.


Democratic victors hoping to protect war gains by forcing the vanquished to be free must not only overcome the problems associated with imposed democracy but also ensure continued influence over and interests in the newly democratic state. To secure this dual imperative, I argue victors must coercively socialize the vanquished state. I create a framework of coercive socialization and conduct a plausibility probe of the theory by detailing the imposition strategies the United States utilized to transform the Federal Republic of Germany into a reliable democratic partner after World War II. The findings suggest imposing democracy to ensure peace and secure interests is likely to succeed only under even more limited conditions than recent scholarship on imposed democracy allows and also lend insight into why the US effort to impose democracy on Iraq is unlikely to provide the benefits policymakers sought.