The illusive connexion.
So, the American civil war and the Gulf War. How can I connect these two events seperated by about 140 years? Gotta be a tough one. After all, the civil war was a, well, civil war, whilst t'other the invasion of a Sovereign state (cue trumpets and a moist eye for beloved soveriegnty lost).
Well, a lot of time has been spent arguing of the beneficial effects of American occupation on Japan (an example googled(tm) up quickly can be seen here, no comment on content). I'll leave the argument generally to one side, perhaps I'll go into it in some detail another day.
However, one can conceivably build the same argument out of the occupation of the south post-bellum Ameriky.
There are several features which strike a resemblance - complete military occupation; military restructiuring of the democratic processes; de-Southification of the Government (or de-Democratification, as it was the Democrats back then who held the South); support from local Republicans - an internal faction of the south; the imposition of new economic realities (both the abolition of Slavery and the erection of trade tarifs. This lead to an increase in Government centralisation Yankland side, with the country going from "The united states are.." to "The United Sate is...".
The economic causes of the war are important - Lincoln's main concern was the integrity of the United States (his home state Illinois would have been fubarred cut off from the Mississipi - internal transport was his big beef). The southern states wanted to expand their slave economy - without expansion they died (hence Seward's proposition of conquering Mexico and southwards was his idea of a unifying comprimise, give them land and shut them up). They also feared tarifs, knowing the British would respond, and their all important cotton exports might well get knacked. The north wanted the tarifs, wanted to limit the slaves to existing territories and wanted free labour.
Occupation resolved that question, it also brought looting and carpet-bagging lasted many years, indeed, federal occupation has been required in the south right up into the mid-twentieth century, to tame the rural wilder-men who govern some parts of it. Virginia remains partitioned to this day, as a consequence of the rebuilding of the South.
So much for similarities, lets look at differences. Obviously, cultural, both sides had a democratic tradition, and the cult of the constitution as their bedrock. As well as a common language. There were Republicans in the south, as perfect an identity of interests as between the Russian nomenklatura and their Communist élite counterparts in Eastern Yurp. The oppressed slaves could be freed and given enough votes to counter-out the recalcitrant aristos of the South. Two important internal allies to build a new national hegemony in the Southern states.
How does this relate to Iraq? There are no natural partners, certainly not domineering enough to provide steady support, there is a modern media which means that the dodgy tactics used by Union generals in the south are out. That it took continued occupation of the the South (effectively) until this day, and even of Japan, suggests that military presence will be required for a long time to come to prevent Iraq falling out of its new 'democratic' orbit.
The lack of a common culture, lines of easy communication which allow hegemony and influence to spread, means that simple absoprtion is impossible. Hampered,obviously, by geographical distance as well, the US south could be absorbed as part of a single entity, Iraq will have to remain a seperate Iraq.
The point I am building to is this, it is not military might that shapes politics, politics remains a demographic process, the elements of political chemistry must be present to make the democratic product. Democracy is not brought in at bayonet point, all it can that weapons can do is remove the obstacle to any parties that could want to make democracy.
As for continuing occupation, it will have to continue a long while, and the US may well find itself having to extend military pseudopods furtehr over the globe the longer it allows its economic interests to dominate its military priorities. That might be no bad thing, after all, that would mean that a workers revolt in the US becomes a world socialist revolt...