When in Taiwan a couple of years back, I asked Dr Su Chi, a veteran politician, how they had managed a peaceful transition to full democracy. He listed a handful of bullet points about building infrastucture, civil society, the economy and a tax base. Then I asked if anyone from Washington had been in touch with him before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. No-one had.
Perhaps the phone lines should be buzzing between Washington and East Asia now as they ponder democratic aspirations in the Middle East.