The new era of American empire commenced with decisive military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the aftermath of war has proved surprisingly difficult and violent. Explanations of America’s failure to win the peace have largely overlooked the inherent difficulty of planting democracy in so inhospitable a social environment as Iraq’s. This paper examines the prospects for American empire, focusing on the problem of nation-building, and in particular the role of a well-functioning civil society in making democracy work
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