Democratic Peace Final

Democratic Peace Final - Jaworski 1 Zachary Jaworski...

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Jaworski 1 Zachary Jaworski Comparative Foreign Policy March 9, 2008 Professor Murphy American Foreign Policy and the Democratic Peace Theory In our constantly varying global political system, scholars have agreed that there is one over-riding theory which can explain the foreign policies of the western world. The democratic peace theory suggests that democracies, more commonly liberal democracies, will never or almost never go to war with one another. Therefore, the spread of democracy worldwide can also be considered the spread of peace throughout the global community. However, in order for one to accurately assert this claim, it is essential that we first come to an understanding of the various proponents of democratic peace that lead states to be more pacific. Once we fully comprehend such a theory, we can attempt to understand the current United States’ foreign policy; which is based on the “eradication of tyranny,” and the promotion of democracies worldwide. The theory of democratic peace was first suggested by Immanuel Kant, an eighteenth century philosopher renowned for his studies of cooperation among nations. The theory was first based on the idea that Democratic states are intrinsically “peace- loving,” and do not go to war with nondemocratic states. However the theory was later refined to the proposition that democracies do not fight wars with other democracies. There are two given reasons for why democracies refrain from conflict with one another. The first explanation suggests that democratic cultures are based on a common love of peace. Thus, democratic states are less likely to become aggressive towards one another due to common cultural norms within society regarding the various methods used to
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Jaworski 2 avoid or resolve conflicts. Because of this, leaders of democratic nations are more often inclined to invoke the same legitimate rules of conduct internationally as they would domestically. This would also provide an explanation for why democracies would not efficiently cooperate with nondemocracies, as nondemocracies are not expected to be similarly constrained by these democratic cultural values. The second explanation cited for the Democratic peace theory suggests that democratic institutions more effectively constrain foreign policy decision makers. This means that because democracy is ultimately based on the opinions of the voters, decision makers are less likely to support violent or costly foreign policies, as they must appease to the desires of voters in regular elections. Because democratic leaders wish to maintain their powers or authorities, they tend to support policies that promote the most happiness amongst the population, and these are policies that are generally aimed at peace rather than a lack there of. Having been said, several critics argue and refute many key features of the democratic peace theory. For example, several naysayers’ believe that democratic peace is merely coincidental. By this, they claim that most liberal democracies are western states that are
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Democratic Peace Final - Jaworski 1 Zachary Jaworski...

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