Log in

View Full Version : Democratic Peace Theory


Cain
April 15th, 2009, 12:32 PM
Dipping once more into IR in theory and practice:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_peace_theory

The democratic peace theory (or liberal peace theory or simply the democratic peace) holds that democracies usually, liberal democracies never go to war with one another.

The original theory and research on wars has been followed by many similar theories and related research on the relationship between democracy and peace, including that lesser conflicts than wars are also rare between democracies, and that systematic violence is in general less common within democracies.

George W. Bush and Tony Blair have argued that the democratic peace is a historical fact.

The final line always makes me lol, and is probably the most concise argument against the theory.

Anyway, one of the current justifications of our little bien-pensant imperialist jaunt around the Middle East has been that we are democratizing the region. Assuming that is even true (its not), does it even hold up as a valid theory to guide foreign policy actions?

I'm not so sure.

There are a number of good arguments on the linked page, but I think the most convincing points are this:

Correlation does not equal causation. OK, if we accept the (questionable) data, what other things do democracies have in common?

Economic interdependence. Almost all democracies are liberal democracies, that is to say, market societies. If we were to do a null hypothesis which included market dictatorships (such as Chile under Pinochet, Singapore, South Korea and, arguably, post-war Japan) would we find similar results?

Covert operations. The myth of democracy as being of great importance is a central one to Anglo-American nations. Therefore, when someone who is democratically elected but disliked comes to power, open war against them is a bad move, for PR if nothing else, whereas covert war and black ops, often carried out hand in hand with tyrannic elements within such societies, is an acceptable option. See: Chile, Iran, DR Congo and Venezuela (failed) for more.

Economic infrastructure: wars against market democracies are not especially good sense for economic reasons other than interdependence. Relying in part on an information based economy and highly developed goods and systems, it is very hard to "capture" these resources or use them efficiently. Far better to invade countries shielded from the international economic system (such as Iraq, or Venezuela) in order to sell off their protected assets to international figures and integrate them into the world economy.

Bandwagoning: the US is a democracy (more or less) and the most powerful state in the world. For those who wish to ally with the US, and do not have strategic importance, emulation of its preferred ideological system is one way to capture its interest. The US has also had Western Europe locked into an alliance it is the principle power of since 1949. That they happen to be democracies is happy coincidence, at best.

The test samples are not very convincing: what exactly counts for a democracy? Every person over a certain age having the vote, regardless of class, race or gender? By those standards, our samples of democracy are very small. Equally, where do we place countries like Russia or the more corrupt Eastern European countries? Given Japan has been under almost de facto one party rule since the post-war period, can we really use them whatsoever as an example? How about Iran, with its wierd mix of theocratic control and elected councils?

But maybe I'm being overly harsh here, and my disgust with the current "democratic" crusaders is colouring my judgement somewhat.

tagnostic
April 15th, 2009, 01:12 PM
the biggest problem I see with Modern Democracy
is that in order to get elected, you must be corrupt
to a certain extent in order to run a successful
campaign to get elected, an honest politician
doesn't stand a chance,

the other problem I have is the politicians themselves
anyone who tries to convince me that he is more
qualified to run my life than I am and wants
me to give him the power do this
is psychologically unsuited
to the task

when you add the two together its no
wonder International Relations are so
screwed up, a bunch of corrupt megalomaniacs
are going to start wars on a regular basis

djura
April 15th, 2009, 02:23 PM
It questionable than any given nation on Earth can survive isolated, let alone prosper. Since we can't agree upon simple fact that we all share the same planet, a form of semitransparent isolation is performed around every nation, or group of nations. So alliances are created in pursue of common interests. When this doesn't work, wars com into play.
I don't think wars are about democratic vs totalitarian indoctrination, but rather about interests, and most commonly about resources or creating the lack of them for the opposing nation/alliance.
Now, as Tug sad, modern democracy is rather shameful attempt of convincing people to give their trust to a small group of people that don't really deserve it. If you look back trough history, and compare the past totalitarian regimes, you'll find little has changed. Stalin enforced his regime to the extreme by brutally dealing with all that opposed him, but the real question is - what's so different about today?
We still have secret prisons, people being tortured, deprived of their hard earned money, lied to, manipulated... and this happens all the time, everywhere.
I seriously doubt that Pluto would find anything democratic about the "democracy" we live in today. Worst of all, common people have absolutely no mechanism available to change anything in the society. Sure, you say, there are election every 4 years - get out and vote. Again, would any politician allow his fate to be distend by a bunch of everyday people? I don't think so.
So, as far as wars go, it doesn't matter if a country is democratic or not, it matters only this - the pice of aciving something is usualy grater than the price of bullets used to kill a few hundert tousand people.

woody23
April 15th, 2009, 02:32 PM
tagnostic, you took the words right out of my mouth. Literally. Give them back! :D

War is a tough one, and I'm not really sure that is the topic of discussion. I think the theory makes sense in a more perfect world, but, as has been pointed out, corruption is ever so present.

I too LOOOOL'd at the last line. Ha. If only it were the funniest (or least inelligent) thing W. has said.

Will.
April 15th, 2009, 05:46 PM
A wonderful theory, though the human instinct of having, ousts it.

Tsar Phalanxia
April 15th, 2009, 11:29 PM
Finland went to war with the Western Alies during WWII. Although of course, this is due to factors such as the fact that the Soviets wanted to rape the bejeesus out of the Finns, and were forced to defend themselves from the Soviets, it disproves Blair's theory.