Debunking the Democratic Peace Theory

Topics: Democracy, Liberal democracy, Republic Pages: 9 (3147 words) Published: February 8, 2013
Democratic Peace Theory: Assuming Without Evidence

The development of the democratic peace theory started with the writings of has its roots in the writings of German Philosopher Immanuel Kant. In 1795 Kant went talked about “perpetual peace based partially upon states sharing ‘republican constitutions.’” He then said, “that a republican form of government, exemplifying the rule of law, provides a feasible basis for states to overcome structural anarchy and to secure peaceful relations among themselves.” Kant continues to argue that “once the aggressive interests of absolute monarchists are tamed and once the habit of respect for individual rights is engrained by republican governments, wars would appear as the disaster to people’s warfare,” rather than an instrument for growing a state, as it was used for many centuries. This was the true beginning of what we now know to be the Democratic Peace Theory. This theory remained dormant in the minds of realists and neo-realists that strongly influenced the field of international relations for centuries leading into the Cold War. In 1972, American sociologist Dean Babst published an article in which he reported “no wars have been fought between independent nations with elective governments between 1789 and 1941.” This enlightened the worlds of political science and international relations and ever since studies have followed this theory, constantly supporting it and positive relationships between democracies. Expanding on Kant’s original idea of democratic peace, political science professor Bruce Russett a very hot topic, exclaiming, “democracies had rarely if ever gone to war with each other” as a fact. With this simple statement, Russett made political scientists either accept or oppose the democratic peace theory and countless attempts to support each point of view with historical evidence.

Democratic peace theorists have long asserted that all democracies are not only more peaceful than other governments, but are prone to fight against countries ran by other forms of government when they are engaged in war. These theorists and political science buffs argue that democratic peace is supported by a long history of peace and civility between democracies versus military action elsewhere. However, the democratic peace theory is problematic because it prematurely takes a stance on the grounds that a correlation between democratic status and incidence of war is proof of an ally relationship between nations opposed to a statistical anomaly. Does a historical anomaly excuse the desire for mutual democratic passivity? Ph.D. Sebastian Rosato of the University of Chicago argues, “Democracies do not reliably externalize their domestic norms of conflict resolution and do not trust or respect one another when their interests clash.” Rosato makes a very accurate observation, democracies tend to be rather secretive or even circumvent surrounding conflict resolution particularly with other democracies. Having a democratic government does not assure universal peace, and different forms of democracy assure disputes and clashes between governments between exceedingly democratic societies. In reality, some of the most thorough liberal democratic end up in war with non-democratic nations, justifying combat with the claim of spreading democracy. Though economic interests are typically apparent and the underlying motive for warfare, media throughout democratic countries end up not only tolerating, but also accepting and normalizing war as if it was a trending topic that came and went. Representative democratic systems lead to monolithic party structures that initiate war and still get elected to new terms and positions in government. Advocates of the democratic peace theory often fail to discuss colonial wars and civil wars, as they do not support the theory and its ultimate goal of widespread peace. The histories of many democratic countries have proven to not hold up with the democratic...
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