At the beginning of the twenty-first century there was wide consensus among leaders, populations and academics about the virtues and benefits of democracy. Since the 1970s waves of democratization had succeeded each other with unexpected rapidity. Even states such as the Soviet Union, Nicaragua, South Korea and Chile, which had seemed in the mid-1980s to be paragons of authoritarian stability, were fledgling democracies. Ten years before George Bush made democratization a pillar of his State of the Union address in 2004, President Clinton, in his 1994 State of the Union address, proclaimed:
Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don’t attack each other; they make better trading partners and partners in diplomacy.