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Democratic Peace Essay
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1 Democracy and Peace Contemporary democratic peace theory emerged in the 1980s as a way to explain the absence of war between democratic states. Based upon Kantian logic, the theory's principal argument was that, as democracies believe to settle mutual conflicts without threat or use of force, the spread of democracy would lead to greater international security. What is striking about the theory is that it supports liberal thinking and ideals of a possible internationalist world order- the sort of 'New World Order' that Wilson envisioned. From it, one can envision democracy as the key to a world devoid of conflict. This essay will argue that while such thinking has merit, the rise of transitional democracies in the post-Cold War era shows that the answer to peace cannot be found within democracy itself, and thus threatens the effectiveness of democratic peace theory. The structure of this essay will begin with an explanation of modern approaches to democratic peace theory, followed by a brief discussion of its merits. This will be followed by an explanation of the theory's main problem, that is, the rise of transitional democracies, and will finally look at possible ways in which the theory may be amended to accommodate this development. The liberal conception of an international peace finds its roots in Kantian ideals. Kant pointed to three factors that could promote peace among republics: public opinion, spirit of commerce, and pacific union. It was Kant's idea of a 'Republican Perpetual Peace' that led to Doyle's 'liberal peace' idea that although democracies are as war-prone as any other kind of state, they do not fight each. This idea has found many advocates, including U.S. president Bill Clinton, who notably mentioned that, "democracies rarely
2 wage war on one another." In International Relations, a number of modern day approaches can be found that seek to explain what is considered by social scientists to be an undeniable phenomenon. In terms of the literature, it has been found that the basic hypothesis of peace theory is remarkably robust in that various definitions can be used to show evidence for it and which has led to its being potentially one of the best supported empirical hypotheses in contemporary IR.
3 In Grasping the Democratic Peace, Russett offers two possible approaches that scholars can take for explaining the democratic peace phenomenon: a normative model and an institutional model. The normative, or cultural, model aims to show that in democracies, decision-makers are expected to be able to resolve internal conflicts by compromise and without the use of violence. The structural, or institutional, model, on the other hand, focuses on describing systems of checks and balances, and executive constraint (that is, the need to generate public consent slow down decisions to use largescale violence, which leaders of non democracies often lack). Russett also emphasizes an important correlation between the two approaches: norms underlie and are buttressed by institutions. In politics this would translate into a Wilsonian view that it is the internal liberalism of states that makes peaceful, lawful international relations possible, as opposed to a view similar to that of U.S. president Bush, that non-aggression is a rule that is independent of states. In this essay, this idea of correlation will be used to take a combined stance in which democratic institutions work to create and uphold democratic norms within a state.
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