The Democratic Peace

The Democratic Peace - The Democratic Peace Immanuel Kant...

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Unformatted text preview: The Democratic Peace Immanuel Kant (17241804) is generally credited with being the first person to put forth the democratic peace thesis The Origins of an Idea Kant first proposed the idea in his 1795 essay "Perpetual Peace" where he hypothesized the emergence of a "republican peace" Republics: states in which the legal equality and private property rights of citizens are guaranteed, and whose governments are representative and characterized by a separation The Democratic Peace Proposition George H. W. Bush: "Democrats in the Kremlin are a greater guarantee of security than nuclear weapons" (1992) James Baker III: "Real democracies do not resort to war with one another" (1992) "The idea that peace depends above all on promoting democratic institutions has," according to Henry Kissinger (1994), "remained a staple of American thought to the present day. Conventional American wisdom has consistently maintained that democracies do not make war against each other" The Democratic Peace Bill Clinton: "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" (1/25/1994, state of the union address) The Democratic Peace George W. Bush: "And the reason why I'm so strong on democracy is democracies don't go to war with each other. And the reason why is the people of most societies don't like war, and they understand what war means...I've got great faith in democracies to promote peace. And that's why I'm such a strong believer that the way forward in the Middle East, the broader Middle East, is to promote democracy" (11/12/2004) The Fact of the Democratic Peace Democracies do not go to war with each other This empirical statement is one of the most robust findings in the study of international relations The democratic peace proposition, according to Levy (1988), is "as close as anything we have to an empirical law in international relations" The Fact of the Democratic Peace Three Questions 1) Is the democratic peace true? 2) If it holds true, why (explanations)? 3) Various explanations from different perspectives? Ex) What does the realists say about the democratic peace? Operationalization Issues First issue: what constitutes an interstate war? Russett (1993): "largescale institutionally organized lethal violence" IR scholars generally consider any military conflict between independent states which leads to at least 1000 battle deaths to be an interstate war This definition is widely accepted among IR scholars, and is therefore not typically used as a basis for contesting the validity of the democratic peace proposition Second issue: what is democracy? How do we define and measure it? Procedural dimensions of democracy: Competitive and contested elections Widespread or universal suffrage A popularly elected executive (presidential systems) or an executive that is responsible to a popularly elected legislature (parliamentary systems) Civil rights/liberties Operationalization Issues Third issue: democracy is a continuous variable Operationalization Issues States are democratic to lesser or greater degrees Treating democracy as a binary or dichotomous variable is therefore problematic: it is difficult to sort states into two neat categories--democratic or not democratic Nevertheless, the selection of some kind of threshold is logically necessary in order to address the question of whether there has ever been a war between democratic states Hence, what advocates of the democratic peace thesis are really claiming is that states that have achieved a certain level of democracy never fight each other A Statistical Artifact? Relatively few democracies existed before World War II, limiting the total number of cases available for study; reliability of the sample size In many empirical studies of the democratic peace, the typical unit of analysis is the dyadyear (e.g., USUK 1950, USUK 1951,...etc; USFrance 1950, USFrance 1951,...etc.) For instance, is it fair to treat the USGermany dyad in 1997 and the USGermany dyad in 1998 as separate observations? Treating each dyadyear as an independent observation could be inflating the statistical significance of the democratic peace Explanation 1 Democracies are more peaceful than all other states Not only peaceful toward one another, but also more peaceful than nondemocratic states So the cause does not derive from the interactions between countries; Nor does it derive from how countries are positioned materially with respect to one another It comes instead from inside the democratic country itself Democracies share common domestic norms and institutions It requires at least two states that are both democratic Norms and institutions which proscribe the use of force in settling disputes are an inherent feature of democracy This explanation also assumes that states externalize the norms of conflict resolution which characterize their domestic political processes in their relations with other states In other words, the norms of conduct which govern a state's behavior domestically will also constrain that state's behavior internationally Democratic states are therefore expected to externalize norms of compromise and peaceful dispute resolution in their relations with Explanation 2 The Normative Model When a democratic state becomes involved in a dispute with another democratic state, it recognizes that this other state's behavior is governed by the same norms of conflict resolution as itself However, when a democratic state confronts an autocratic state, it realizes that this state is not constrained by norms of peaceful dispute resolution As a result, the democratic state may feel compelled to suspend its adherence to norms against the use of force, since there is no reason to believe that the autocratic state will abide by such norms, and the democratic states does not want to be taken advantage of or exploited The Normative Model The logic goes something like this: If an autocratic state does not even recognize its own people's natural right to selfrule (i.e., popular sovereignty), and rules them through force, then how can it be expected to respect the rights of other states? What's to stop it from attempting to use force against us? George W. Bush: "It should be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors" The Normative Model In short, there are basically two dimensions to the normative/cultural theory of the democratic peace: 1) Legitimacy 2) Expectations Wars with other democracies are neither expected to occur nor seen as legitimate (i.e., such wars would be viewed as being morally wrong); the exact opposite holds true for wars with authoritarian states The structural/institutional model highlights the constraints of checks and balances, the separation (diffusion) of powers (decisionmaking authority), and the need for public debate, all of which will slow decisions to go to war, thereby reducing the likelihood that such decisions will be made Executives can't simply go to war whenever they deem it necessary or appropriate They must get other institutional actors (i.e., veto players) to acquiesce and mobilize public opinion This is a complex task which takes time This means there is more time for diplomacy, negotiation, and The Structural/Institutional Model The Structural/Institutional Model Autocratic leaders do not face the same institutional constraints as the leaders of democracies Therefore, they can more easily, rapidly, and secretly initiate wars As a result, when democratic states become involved in a dispute with an autocratic state, they may decide to initiate violence rather than risk a surprise attack When involved in a dispute with another democratic state, there is no need to fear a surprise attack, because you know that the other state faces the same constraints as yourself, which again provides more time for processes of peaceful international conflict resolution to operate and be effective Time, as a product of institutional constraints, is the key factor preventing war between democracies according to the structural/institutional model A Fallacious Claim? The claim that democratic states are inherently more "dovish" or conservative, in deciding whether or not to go to war, because the consent of those who have to pay the price of war (in terms of blood and money) must be acquired, is not compelling For one thing, it ignores evidence of a "rally around the flag" effect: those who oppose war usually constitute a minority More importantly, this argument fails to explain why the constraint of securing public acquiescence doesn't extend to conflicts with autocratic states Democracies are just as warprone as other kinds of states Explanation 3 Democracies trade more with one another and do not want to forfeit the mutual gains from trade More trade creates a stake in nonzero sum gains and a reluctance to forfeit those gains through war Why democracies trade more with one another is another question This explanation is from a complex interdependence Explanation 4 Democracies belong to the same international institutions whose laws and practices they follow The outcome depends on interactions, this time within international institutions rather than through trade This explanation is from an institutionalist interdependence Explanation 5 Democracies belong to the same alliances counterbalancing or fighting other alliances Alliances--realist scholars have suggested that the democratic peace is really a product of Cold War alliances (e.g., NATO, the U.S.Japanese alliance) Now that the Cold War is over, war between the major democratic powers becomes an increasingly real possibility (e.g., Mearsheimer) This explanation is from a realist perspective on a systemlevel Explanation 6 Not because they are democratic, but rather because they are similar This line of thought started with several independent observations of an "Autocratic Peace" effect, a reduced probability of war (obviously no author claims its absence) between states which are both nondemocratic That similarity in general does not solely affect the probability of war, but only coherence of strong political regimes such as full democracies and stark autocracies This explanation is based on a constructivist perspective A Challenge to Realism The nature of a state's internal system of government is seen as being nearly irrelevant according to a structural realist perspective which sees state behavior as being basically determined by the structure of the international system and a state's position within this structure The fact of the democratic peace lends empirical support to the general liberal claim that what goes on inside states can have a significant impact on the foreign policy behavior of states Conversely, it challenges the realist claim that the most important explanations of state behavior are found at the systemic, and not the domestic, level of analysis The proposition that democratic states behave differently towards one another than towards nondemocratic states cuts at the heart of the debate between "2nd image" (domestic level) and "3rd image" (systemic level) theories of international politics More Questions What do you think about this proposition? The greater the number of democratic states in the international system, the lower the incidence of war in the system Democracy isn't something that's created over night It takes time for democratic institutions to become established and take root in society This means that war is still a possibility in cases which involve a young or immature democracy ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/04/2011 for the course INTL 3200 taught by Professor Wilson during the Fall '08 term at UGA.

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