On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, President G.W. Bush argued that if setting up democracy in Japan and Germany after WW II was successful, then it should also be successful in Iraq. This book provides a detailed comparison of the reconstruction of Japan from 1945 to 1952 with the current reconstruction of Iraq, evaluating the key factors affecting the success or failure of such projects. The book seeks to understand why American officials believed that extensive social reengineering aiming at seeding democracy and economic development is replicable, through identifying factors explaining the outcome of U.S.-led post-conflict reconstruction projects. The analysis reveals that in addition to the effective use of material resources of power, the outcome of reconstruction projects depends on a variety of other intertwined factors, and Bridoux provides a new analytical framework relying on a Gramscian concept of power to develop a greater understanding of these factors, and the ultimate success or failure of these reconstruction projects. Appraising the effectiveness of American power in the contemporary international structure, this work is a significant contribution to the field and will be of great interest to all scholars of foreign policy, international relations and conflict studies.