First off, I don't think anyone would sanely argue that a democratic country should invade another country if the SOLE purpose of the act is to establish democracy. It is agreed generally among opinion-makers that strategic reasons must complement political motives where foreign invasions are concerned. After all, the cost of invading and occupying a country is so massive that just doing it for political ends is not likely to be worth the blood, toil, sweat, and tears. However, that being said, there is nothing wrong historically with brandishing democratic motives alongside strategic ones come invasion time (it is a peculiarly Anglo-American tradition). In fact, most strong democracies were created at the end of a bayonet. The Magna Carta of 1215 (the basis for English constitutional law and our Constitution's forefather) was forced on King John by a military rebellion and a French invasion. The Glorious Revolution in 1688 Britain (the basis for parliamentary democracy in the world) resulted from a Dutch invasion of England by Stadholder William III. Indeed, the Dutch themselves established their famed republican government (1581-1806) by rebelling against the Spanish and fighting them for a long, long 80 years. Similarly, the establishment of our own American Republic came as a result of war (the War of Independence) and its later growth was only possible via massive bloodshed (the Civil War). Likewise, the Napoleonic Wars spread throughout Europe the French Revolution, toppled ancient regimes, and implanted fatal ideas of liberty that would haunt authoritarian governments throughout the 19th century . Lastly, World War I resulted in the death of old-style monarchies and the promotion of democratic values (think Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations) and World War II caused democracy to flourish via coercion (Germany, Italy, Japan, etc). Therefore, while by no means a prerequisite to the establishment of democracy, coercion is certainly not as "unnatural" as some would have you believe when it comes to promoting liberal governance. Indeed, some people who believe it "unnatural" or "irrational" are often the very first to want to invade (yes, invade -- let's not kid ourselves with platitudes) a country to establish peace (think Rwanda in 1993 or Sudan today). However, again, invading a country SOLELY to establish democracy is generally unacceptable in both liberal and conservative circles. The question remains: What is the proper democracy-strategy mix that decides whether or not to invade a country? A good answer can be found in the philosophy developed by commentator extraordinaire Charles Krauthammer -- "Democratic Realism." This foreign policy ideology advocates spreading democracy and invading countries only when the country concerned poses an existential threat to our existence. Of course, the million dollar question in foreign policy circles is what an "existential" threat is and the various standards we should use to determine its presence -- this is where controversy and ideology enter into play -- and, indeed, where you are left to make up your own mind.
(In case you were wondering, the Iraq War was not fought solely to establish democracy, but the democratic aspect has certainly grown retroactively to encompass a large part of the mission, in the same way that the Civil War turned into an anti-slavery crusade only halfway through the conflict...)
On "Democratic Realism": http://www.aei.org/docLib/20040227_book755text.pdf
(Provides an excellent overview of the major schools of foreign policy thought, too -- albeit Krauthammer-style)
· 1 decade ago