A Description of the Democratic Peace Theory

Topics: Democracy, World War II, War Pages: 7 (2454 words) Published: November 28, 2012
1. Introduction
The Democratic Peace theory, known as the “democracies seldom if ever go to war against another” states simply that there is a relative absence of war between states which foster the system of democracy. This thesis has already established itself as an undeniable axiom for the US foreign policy which could be effortlessly traced in the President Clinton’s address of 1994 for the State of the Union:  “Democracies don’t attack each other” and “ultimately the best strategy to insure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere.” This theory nurtures the idea that the absence of wars between democracies culminates into the maintenance of peace and security in the international scene. Yet, the concept of democratic peace, like other conspicuous concepts, entails contention; if the democratic peace theory has been valorized by proponents like Bruce Russett, John Owen and Michael Doyle; on the other side, it has not escape the extensive criticism of opponents like Christopher Layne, David Spiro, Henry Farber, Joanne Gowa, Ido Oren, Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder. If on one side, Russett states that the Democratic Peace Theory is “one of the strongest nontrivial of non-tautological generalizations that can be made about international relations”, on the other side, Christopher Layne counteracts it by: “in a realist world, survival and security are always at risk, and democratic states will respond no differently to democratic rivals than to non-democratic ones.” Thereby, the debate of the Democratic Peace announces more to be an inquisitive contest between realism and liberalism and this essay is going to embark in the task of framing the Democratic Peace Theory by a critical assemblage of the intricate views proposed by both the proponents and opponents of this theory.

According to Michael Doyle, the concept of liberalism is one of the prominent driving forces to have sustained the theory of Democratic Peace. Doyle Regards liberalism as “a distinct ideology and set of institutions” and it is particularly the very liberal ideologies and principles which prevent democratic states from waging war. The same point of view is shared by John Owen who defines a liberal democracy as a state “where liberalism is the dominant ideology and citizens have leverage over war decisions.” Negative freedom, positive freedom and representative government constitute the characteristics of liberalism. In the domestic platform, liberalism varies between conservative and liberal liberalism. These differ on the basis of emphasis placed on whether positive or negative freedom. Nevertheless, these two surrender confidence in four constitutions; (1) Citizens are all equal and enjoy equal rights; (2) representative government; (3) private property rights; (4) economics governed by supply and demand.

In the international scene, liberalism upholds that states which claim to be treading the route of liberalism will abstain from mingling into the issues of other liberal states and to the worse; will refrain from going to war with a state sharing common liberal ideologies. In other words, it can be said that states having the same liberal outlook will foster a kind of brotherhood relationship. These states recognize the contentment of the citizen vis-à-vis liberty and the respect of one another’s political right and independence. Thus, it is these shared privileges which contribute to the relative absence of a tumultuous war between liberal states. Yet, Doyle does not categorically or explicitly declare that a war between two liberal states is impossible; which is emphasized in: “constitutionally secure liberal states have yet to engage in war with one another”. However, Doyle also puts this forward that such wars are highly unusual.

Having constructed a liberal zone, claimed by Doyle, the liberal states celebrate peace in perfect harmony and despite of acquiring...
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