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Chapter 1-6

CLASSICS 1M03 Chapter 1-6: Political Science 1AB3 2017 Lecture 4a overhead DPT/Todd Alway

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McMaster University
Claude Eilers

Political Science 1AB3 2017 Lecture 4a Democratic Peace Theory - Question: Does a democratic state act differently in its Foreign Policy than a non-democratic state? - Democratic Peace theory (see the article by Rosato (on the syllabus)), from whom this discussion is taken): - According to proponents of this theory, a simple study of the empirical evidence reveals the following pattern: Democracies do not go to war against other democracies - Democracies do go to war against non-Democracies, but not against each other - Why? - There may be a correlation between democratic states and peace…but correlation does not prove causation - If democracy causes peace between states, then how does it do so? - Any hypothesized cause must be able to, at the same time, explain why democracies will go to war against non-Democracies - Modern scholars have posed two different types of explanation for the democratic peace: - A). Norm (shared values) based explanations: - Democracy reinforces and institutionalizes the norm that conflicts should be resolved peacefully rather than through force o Using dialogue, persuasion, and compromise - Democratic leaders are socialized into solving disagreements without the use of violence - These leaders are likely to transfer this conflict resolution strategy to the international realm when dealing with other democracies - B). Institution based explanations: - Democratic institutions place certain constraints on democratically elected leaders o Constraints that non-democratically elected leaders do not face: - i). “Public constraint” o The general public is likely to be predisposed against war 1 o Why: The public bears the costs of war, both physical and monetary o If a leader wishes to be reelected, she must respect the wishes of the electorate and avoid subjecting them to the pain of war - ii). “Group constraint” o The political process is open to multiple groups in a democracy, including groups that oppose war ▪ e.g. human rights groups, business groups with international assets or markets, etc. o Democratically elected leaders will be reluctant to wage war and thereby alienate these constituencies - iii). “Democracies are Slow to Mobilize for war” o Leaders in a democracy must convince both the general public, and influential social groups, that war is in fact necessary o This leaves time for a negotiated settlement between the disputing democratic states to arise - iv). There is greater clarity of information within democracies o The formation of public policy, including Foreign Policy is more transparent in Democratic states o Because of this transparency, it is easier to judge whether a democratic state is actually willing to go to war o This makes accidental war – war based on misjudging the other side’s resolve - less likely o Transparency makes it more likely for two conflicting democratic states to negotiate towards a compromise ▪ Rather than pursue the more risky alternative of waging war - Is the Democratic Peace Theory argument persuasive? - 1. Is the correlation valid? Is it empirically accurate? - What is a democracy and what is not a democracy? - The empirical record depends very much upon how states have been categorized - There are several ambiguous cases where a plausible case can be made for a democracy being at war with another democracy 2 - Accepting the correlation (for the moment) o Democracy was not widespread as a regime type until recently - Because of this there are too few
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