OSR Journal of Student Research


International security concerns often circulate around regional stability and maintaining that balance. Foreign interventions are often undertaken by the international community when regional stability is tantamount to international stability. Interventions are often launched in for humanitarian assistance to protect citizens against violent autocratic regimes. Repeatedly, intervenors have attempted to assist the local population with regime transition, but changes to democracy rarely have lasting power. Modernization theory fully explains that the building blocks of democracy, semi-homogenous society, post-industrial economy and autonomous self-expressing citizens, must be present in the target country before intervention for democracy to take hold. The competing principals of post-conflict nation building and cultural incompatibility are usually identified by policy makers as the culprits behind the inability of a target country to fully convert to democracy, but this viewpoint is ethnocentric. This paper compares two similar countries, Tunisia and Libya, during the Arab Spring in 2011, to illustrate how modernization theory explains why intervention fails to cause lasting democracy. Tunisia, which had no foreign intervention during the Arab Spring, had a nearly homogenous society and a post-industrial economy with high levels of self-expression values and personal autonomy instilled in its citizens. Libya in contrast, which experienced foreign intervention, has a heterogeneous society, and a pre-industrial economy with its citizens more concerned about traditional and survival values than self-expression. Tunisia was able to transition unaided to democracy due to this foundation, while Libya devolved into civil war because it lacked the building blocks of democracy.