Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.3, Fall 200240The Myth of Democratic Peace: Theoretical and Empirical Shortcomings of the“Democratic Peace Theory”Binnur Özkeçeci-Taner*The study of international affairs should be understood as a protracted competition between therealist and liberal traditions. Although not a monolithic paradigm itself, realism depicts thatinternational affairs is a struggle for power among self-interested states and is generallypessimistic about the prospects for eliminating conflict and war. This paradigm dominated thefield in the Cold War years because it provided simple, yet powerful explanations for war,alliances, imperialism, and obstacles to cooperation and because its emphasis on competition wasconsistent with the central features of the American-Soviet rivalry. The principal challenge torealism comes from a broad family of liberal theories, which does not constitute a monolithicview, either. While one strand of liberal thought has argued that economic interdependencewould discourage states from using force against each other because warfare would threaten eachside’s prosperity,1the second, more recent liberal view has suggested that internationalinstitutions and regimes could overcome selfish state behaviours, mainly by encouraging statesto forego immediate gains for the greater benefits of enduring cooperation.2The third view,however, probably has had the most popularity in both scholarship and policy circles, which seesthe spread of democracy as the key to world peace, based on the claim that democratic states areinherently more peaceful than authoritarian states. This essay is about the third variant of
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