tjir_v1n3ozb01 - The Myth of Democratic Peace: Theoretical...

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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.3, Fall 2002 40 The 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 the realist and liberal traditions. Although not a monolithic paradigm itself, realism depicts that international affairs is a struggle for power among self-interested states and is generally pessimistic about the prospects for eliminating conflict and war. This paradigm dominated the field 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 was consistent with the central features of the American-Soviet rivalry. The principal challenge to realism comes from a broad family of liberal theories, which does not constitute a monolithic view, either. While one strand of liberal thought has argued that economic interdependence would discourage states from using force against each other because warfare would threaten each side’s prosperity, 1 the second, more recent liberal view has suggested that international institutions and regimes could overcome selfish state behaviours, mainly by encouraging states to forego immediate gains for the greater benefits of enduring cooperation. 2 The third view, however, probably has had the most popularity in both scholarship and policy circles, which sees the spread of democracy as the key to world peace, based on the claim that democratic states are inherently more peaceful than authoritarian states. This essay is about the third variant of
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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.3, Fall 2002 41 liberalist thought, namely the “democratic peace.” The essay will review the “democratic peace” literature critically and will argue that the “democratic peace” is theoretically and empirically overdetermined. “Democratic Peace” Theory Defined: The argument that democracy is an important force for peace has its most forceful advocate the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who nearly two centuries ago argued that the moral element that helps the framework for peaceful relations between democratic states is based on the common principles of cooperation, mutual respect and understanding. More recently, many observers have followed his footsteps and regarded democratic governance as the “path to peace.” 3 Indeed, since the early 1980s, the view the democracies do not wage war with one another has been regarded “as close as anything we have to an empirical law in international relations.” 4 The theoretical foundations of the ‘democratic peace’ proposition, labeled by Bruce Russett, can be divided into 1) the monadic proposition and 2) the dyadic proposition .
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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tjir_v1n3ozb01 - The Myth of Democratic Peace: Theoretical...

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