Sepoy Mutiny Causes and Effects

Topics: Democracy, Government, World War II Pages: 12 (4974 words) Published: September 9, 2010
DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRATIZATION: THE PROBLEM WITH USING THE DEMOCRATIC PEACE THEORY AS A PRINCIPLE OF FOREIGN POLICY Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES, Mar 26, 2008 The Democratic Peace theory argues that democracies do not make war against each other. Immanuel Kant made the argument in his essay “Perpetual Peace,” that republican forms of government and an international organization dedicated to peaceful resolution of disputes is the prescription for a world without war. From Michael Doyle and Bruce Russett to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, political thinkers have argued that empirical evidence supports the thesis of the Democratic Peace. The argument has been made that it is “the nearest thing to law.” Yet, when the United States has attempted to use the idea of a Democratic Peace as the basis for foreign policy, it has backfired. Attempts to set up functional democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be failing. Reasons for this failure run the gamut of foreign opposition, extensive terrorist activity and severe economic problems. Yet, a fundamental cause of difficulty appears to be that the very idea of what a democracy is may be flawed. If we do not have a well understood definition of democracy, we use the Democratic Peace Theory as the basis of foreign policy actions at our peril. MICHAEL J. WILLIAMS SPOKANE FALLS COMMUNITY COLLEGE SPOKANE, WASHINGTON E-MAIL ## email not listed ## Revised March 18, 2008 1 Unformatted Document Text:  The Democratic Peace Theory in its simplest incarnation is the theory that democracies do not fight wars against each other. While many political scientists have developed elegant theories and analyses to support or oppose this thesis, political leaders in most countries have viewed it with a jaundiced eye. Ever since Emmanuel Kant advocated that peace would be enhanced by universal republican government and an international organization to enforce the peace, the idea of perpetual peace has been vigorously debated. The idea of a democratic peace has been used by United States Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to argue that encouraging democracy by force will make the world a safer place. This position harkens back to the objectives of Woodrow Wilson to “make the world safe for democracy.” Despite strenuous efforts by the United States, especially in Iraq, democracy has not taken hold and the Democratic Peace Theory appears to be strained when the United States attempts to work with other democratic states. To base a foreign policy on the idea that a nation’s security can be enhanced by creating democracies in other countries is fallacious at best and dangerous in the extreme. Since foreign policy consists of all of the goals a nation’s officials seek to reach to enhance the nation’s position in the world, the nature of other governments tend to be secondary concerns. As noted by Henry Kissinger, “Western-style democracy presupposes a consensus that sets limits on partisanship.” 1 The problem with this thesis is not that democratic institutions do not encourage nonmilitary resolution of conflicts, but rather a failure to understand what democracy actually is. Karl Popper wrote that democracy is a system whereby governments can be 1 Henry Kissinger, p. 811 2 Unformatted Document Text:  changed peacefully. 2 Robert Dahl defined democracy as a system in which the people participate in the selection of their political leaders. Both definitions are incomplete. The lack of a generally recognized definition of democracy has led to false lessons and disastrous policy choices by political leaders in many states. Also, different political leaders have often simply redefined which countries were democracies when it was convenient. During the Spanish-American War members of the United States government persuaded themselves, for better or worse, that the government in Madrid was not democratic. 3 For the...
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