Do Democratic States Produce Peace Between Themselves Without Producing Peace with the Undemocratic States?

Posted: October 14, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Books, Education, Reports

By Simon Deng Kuol Deng, New York, USA


Demo-cracy or Demo-crazy?


October 14, 2016 (SSB) — The Democratic peace becomes the most popular theory in the international politics for its proposition that democratic states do not fight interstate wars among themselves as opposes by realist and neorealist theoretical traditions, which define international as an anarchy, where the state can act according to the reason of self-help.  The democratic peace theory recognizes only liberal democratic states as the states that do not fight each other; however, the theory does not recognize illiberal democratic states as democratic states, even though, they frequently held the fair and free competitive elections. The democratic peace theory recognizes states as liberal democratic states when they have applied the principles of democracy such as citizen participation in decision-making,  system of representation, rule of law, electoral system of majority rule and minority right, equality among the citizens, liberty or freedom granted to or retained by citizens, separation of state and religious, institutional system that ensures  checks and balances, free press, etc. into the systems of their institutions. This paper aims at analyzing democratic peace theory’s proposition, which claims that democratic states do not fight the interstate war among themselves, doubts around the proposition of democratic peace theory, and valuation of democratic peace theory and its prospects for peaceful and cooperative relations in the international system.

Key Words: The Proposition of Democratic Peace Theory, Doubts Around the Proposition of Democratic Peace Theory, Valuation of Democratic Peace Theory and It Prospects for Peaceful and Cooperative relations in the international system.


The Democratic peace becomes the most popular theory in the international politics for its proposition that democratic states do not wage interstate wars among themselves as opposes by realist and neorealist theoretical traditions, which define international in the field of international politics as anarchy, where state can act according to the reason of self-help. Since the inception of democratic peace theory, its proponents have accepted it and swiftly linked it with the 18th century philosopher, Immanuel Kant who had argued that countries with representative government would behave more peacefully than countries with authoritarian government (Braden, 2005). Kant believed that, the constitutional republics would be pacifist that prevent adventurous rulers from committing their nations to a war (Hermann & Kegley, 1995), because if the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared, nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game (Braden, 2005). Under a non-republican constitution, whose subjects are not citizens, the easiest thing in the world is to declare war because ruler is not a fellow citizen, but the nation’s owner, and war doesn’t affect his table and his pleasure (Malici & Smith, 2013). Republic is a Latin term (res-publica) and translates literally into “the affairs of the public (P.14). The Immanuel Kant’s 1795 essay, Perpetual Peace is the most often cited classical source of the idea that democracy is an important force for peace. Kant had forecasted an expansion in republican governance that would mark the advent of an age or stage of development of democratic revolution (Hermann & Kegley, 1995).

Hence, the recent wave of democratization has fueled speculation that the zone of peace that Kant envisioned as resulting from such an emerged development and as a result, war will diminish (Hermann & Kegley, 1995). According to Kant, Perpetual peace would occur only when states had civil constitutions establishing republics, which their constitutions including checks and balances that maybe more pacific toward all nations, not just toward like governments (Ray 1998; & Spiro,1994). Kant believed that countries under the civil governments would bind themselves to international law in a kind of “specific union” in which war with each other would be deemed illegitimate (Braden, 2005). American President, Woodrow Wilson picked up on this theme by summarizing the war aims of the allies in Fourteen Points that were intended to make first World War the “war to end war” and the world safe for democracy (Braden, 2005). President Woodrow Wilson’s points embraced the principles of self-determination, democracy, free trade, collective security, and a faith in progressive history leading to a better world (Braden, 2005). Since Immanuel Kant’s 1795 essay, Perpetual Peace, American presidents started from Woodrow Wilson to Bush often maintained that the triumph of democracy throughout the world will eliminate the prospects of war (Braden, 2005). Thus, American presidents are characteristically appealed to Americans that the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world (Braden, 2005). American presidents viewed that the world would be a better and more peaceful place if it consisted of constitutional democracies (Braden, 2005). The term democracy which has Greek roots (demos kratein) and translates literally into “the rule of the people (P.14).

Many scholars are convinced, along with the American Presidents that democracies rarely wage war on one another (Oren, 1995). This proposition provides an important rationale for promoting democratization as a pillar of American foreign policy, ultimately the best strategy to ensure the security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere (Oren, 1995). The concept or the proposition for promoting democracy abroad has remained a constraint theme in American politics, more often expressed by American presidents that the promotion of freedom and democracy abroad will produce peace (Braden, 2005). Like President Woodrow Wilson, Michael Doyle (1983) stated that “Kant’s republic was a regime that respected private property and established a legal equality among citizens as subjects on the basis of a representative government with a separation of powers” (P. 28). The proposition that democratic states do not fight interstate wars against each other is one of the most influential ideas to appear in the academic subfield of international politics in recent years (Ray,1998). This paper aims at analyzing the proposition of democratic peace theory, which claims that democratic states do not fight interstate war among themselves, doubts around the proposition of democratic peace theory, and valuation of democratic peace theory for its prospect for peaceful and cooperative relations in the international system. Equally, a paper might as well examine the proposition of democratic peace theory in the methodological approach and empirical findings to understand if democratic states are more likely to preserve peace among themselves without preserving peace with other illiberal or undemocratic states.

The Proposition of Democratic Peace Theory and Its Means of Influencing

The proposition is an expression of judgement or a declaration about the relationship of at least two concepts; hence, the concepts in this proposition are democracy and war (Malici & Smith, 2013). The origins of proposition for democratic peace theory are rooted two hundred years ago, which was observed by Philosopher Immanuel Kant who was concerned about a war, he observed around the world. The democratic peace theory recognizes only liberal democratic states as the states that do not fight each other, but the theory does not recognize illiberal democratic states as democratic states, even though, they frequently held the fair and free competitive elections. The Scholars of democratization have identified a host of these factors: social and political pluralism, high levels of literacy and education, traditions of toleration and compromise, economic development and social modernization (Malici & Smith, 2013) as the democracy norms and values that are attributed and associated with peace or non-violence. Also, the scholars of democratization have identified culture and structural as mechanisms for explaining the outcome. A democratic political culture is distinct from other types of political cultures such as authoritarianism because its rules and regulations create a culture that socializes the members of the polity into norms of mutual tolerance, collaboration, compromise, and encourages peaceful means of internal conflict resolution (P.20). Also, it is said this culture come to apply not only within a democracy, but also cross national boundaries toward other democracies (Malici & Smith, 2013). On the other hand, the structural is internal makeup (the structure) of democracies that are responsible for the observed peace among democracies because the main characteristic of a democracy is that it is constituted by a system of checks and balances (Malici & Smith, 2013). For example, the three independent branches of the United States government, namely the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative, act as checks and balances on each other; nevertheless, there are also other checkers and balancers such as the media and the people (Malici & Smith, 2013).

Consequently, the democratic peace theory recognizes states as liberal democracies when they have applied the principles of democracy, such as citizen participation in decision making, system of representation, rule of law, electoral system of majority rule and minority right, equality among the citizens, liberty or freedom granted to or retained by citizens, separation of state and religious, institutional system that ensures checks and balances, free press , education, etc. into the systems of their institutions. Recently, many political scientists or researchers have recently examined the proposition of democratic peace theory and its prospect, commitment, concept, merit, and rationale of democracies to promote peace and maintain it among themselves. Ray, J. Lee (1998) was among the scholars who has focused on proposition that democratic states are peaceful in their relationship with each other, and not on the related but distinct notions that democratic states are less war-prone in general, or that the greater the number of democratic states in the international system, the low the incidence of war in that system (P.27-8). Ray has found that one among the supporters who was recently influenced by the proposition that democratic states are peaceful and come into play, of course, was the President Woodrow Wilson, who became the world’s most influential statesmen in the aftermath of the first World War (Ray,1998). The proposition of democratic peace become the most influential ideas to appear in the academic subfield of international politics in recent years, but, the basic idea is an old one (Ray,1998). The basic idea of the proposition of democratic peace which has described by Ray as an old one meant that Ray has concurred with the 18 century Philosopher, Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual peace essay. Kant’s essay described that peace must be realized only when states had civil constitutions establishing republics which is itself a democratic peace.

Furthermore, Oren, Ido (1995) has observed proposition provides an important rationale for promoting democratization as a pillar of American foreign policy: ultimately the best strategy to ensure American security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere (Oren, 1995). He has stated that few claims about international relations are widely accepted as the claim of a democratic peace; similarly, many scholars have convinced, along with President Clinton, that democracies rarely wage war one another (Oren,1995). Oren has argued that democratic peace claim is not about democracies per se as much as it is about countries that are American alike or of our kind (P.147). However, the apparently objective coding rules by which democracy is defined in fact represent current American values (Oren,1995). Oren has pointed out that the values embodied in the current definition of democracy were historically shaped by the need to distance America from its adversaries (Oren,1995). He has stated that the reason Americans do not fight their kind is not that likeness has a great effect on war propensity, but rather that they from time to time subtly redefine their kind to keep their self-image consistent with their friends’ attributes and inconsistent with those of their adversaries (P.147). Oren has argued that democracy must be normalized because its proposition is not about democracy per se; rather, it should be understood as a special case of an argument about peace among politics that are similar relative to some normative benchmarks (Oren,1995).

Definitely, Spiro, E. David (1994) has observed newly rediscovered law of peace among democracies as Michael Doyle’s 1983 essay pointed out that not liberal democracy has ever fought a war with another liberal democracy, scholars have treated pacifism between democracy as the closest thing we have to a law in international politics (P.51). Doyle has supported his argument by showing that since 1816, no nations he has considered to be liberal had fought wars with each other (Spiro, 1994). He has used the computerized database on interstate wars, he did not perform any probability analyses to show that zero is statist ically significant (Spiro, 1994). Nevertheless, John Mearsheimer observed, democracies have been few in number over the past two centuries, and thus there have not been many cases where two democracies were in a position to fight each other (Spiro, 1994). As result, Spiro has argued that the absence of wars between liberal democracies is not in fact, a significant pattern for most of the past two centuries (Spiro, 1994). He has stated that studies that do claim significance for the absence of wars between liberal democracies are based on analyses that are highly sensitive to the ways that they select definitions of the key terms of democ racy and war (Spiro, 1994); or to the methods they choose for statistical analysis. He has concluded that analysis on democracy proposition casts doubts on the major studies that attempt to argue in favor of the statistical significance of the liberal peace (Spiro, 1994). Thus, he suggested that future research should focus on why democracies ally with one another rather than why they never fight.

Doubts Around the Proposition of Democratic Peace Theory

Farber, S. Henry, and Gowa, Joane (1995) have attempted to resolve around doubts remain about whether the observed association reflect a causal relationship by examining the logic and empirical basis of the claim central to the democratic peace literature that is, that members of pairs of democratic states are far less likely to wage war against or engage in serious disputes with each other than are members of other pairs of states (P.123-4). These doubts come after American Presidents have begun to advocate a replacement for the doctrine of containment that drove U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War to the enlargement of democracy to the world (Farber & Gowa, 1995). According to Anthony Lake, the assistance to the president for National Security Affairs, the leading candidate to succeed containment remains a strategy of enlargement of the world’s community of market democracies (Farber & Gowa, 1995). Hence, American Presidents concur, noting that a strategy of enlargement serves U.S. interests because democracies rarely wage war on one another, a notion which has supported by several empirical analyses that the American Presidents’ advocacy of enlargement is well-grounded (Farber & Gowa, 1995).

By examining doubts, Farber & Gowa have reviewed the analytic foundations of the democratic peace literature, but they have concluded that these foundations are tenuous (Farber & Gowa, 1995). They have examined the period before First World War and the period after Second World War separately. The results that have emerged differ markedly from those of previous because Farber, S. Henry, and Gowa, Joane (1995) have found “that there is not statistically significant relationship between democracy and war before 1914” (P.125). In the case of disputes of war, they have found that the probability that disputes have occurred was significantly higher between members of pairs of democratic states than between members of other pairs of states in the same period (Farber & Gowa, 1995). Nevertheless, their analysis has shown that it was only after 1945 that the probability of war or serious disputes is significantly lower between democratic states than between members of other pairs of states (Farber & Gowa, 1995).

Equally, Dizerega, Gus (2001) has examined the proposition say that liberal democracies do not make war upon one another, but he has preferred to say why the same cannot be said to other forms of government (Dizerega, 2001). Also, he has examined the United States to find a reason for being able to intervene military against small quasi-democratic regimes, but the evidence suggests such rationalization is in fact quite likely under certain circumstances (Dizerega, 2001). Dizerega has argued, “that the reason for their mutually pacific behavior is that liberal democracies are self-organi zing systems” (P.279). Dizerega has claimed that none of the democracies’ views, such as cultural, normative factors, a common commitment to peaceful conflict resolution, structural and institutional constraints like the need to ensure popular support (Dizerega, 2001). He has believed that “difficulty of planning a surprise attack and the need for different interests within government to agree all make war between democracies unlikely because no democracy will have reason to fear attack particularly surprise attack, by another seem fully adequate” (P.280). Dizerega has not seen anything in liberal or democratic beliefs, which would prevent they are being similarly rationalized to support actions against other democratic or liberal politics. He has argued that democracies have sometimes been quite aggressive against undemocratic regimes and also there is even a special case where a democracy has acted aggressively against semi-democratic regimes (Dizerega, 2001).

On the other hand, Maoz and Russett have shown that while institutional restraints, as well as norms, have prevented war, democratic norms seem even more correlated with low conflict than are the democratic institution (Dizerega, 2001).  Thus, norms, which can be easily rationalized away, appear more robust than institutional constraints in explaining the peaceful dimension of democratic politics, even though both are correlated with the absence of war (Dizerega, 2001). At the ended, after he has found that democracy and its norms are correlated with the absence of war. Dizerega has returned to the question of whether norms or structures are most important in explaining the democratic peace, but at the end, he has found that they cannot be separated. He has convinced that the rules which generate a democratic polity embody specific normative principles, including cooperation, tolerance of differences and unwillingness to resort to force (Dizerega, 2001). Therefore, Dizerega has returned to accept democracies and peace since all self-organizing systems depend on upon facilitating voluntary cooperation and agreement, peaceful democratic norms are as implicit in democratic institutions as the concept health is implicit in life (Dizerega, 2001).

Evaluation of Proposition of Democratic Peace Theory for Its Prospects for Peaceful and Cooperative relations in the international system

Braum, Daniel (2004) has explored the possibilities for democratic peace theory to explain the prospects for peaceful relations among democratic states in the post-Cold War period and focused specifically on Eastern Europe (P.497). He has assessed democratic peace theory itself and examined the behavior in the three of transition states in Eastern Europe, now members of NATO-Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary-as an empirical test to evaluate the efficacy of the theory (Braum, 2004). He has also tried to ascertain how well grounded the theory is and how it holds up in terms of its ability to explain and predict behavior in a strategically vital region of the world (Braum, 2004). Through exploring the likelihoods for democratic peace theory and its prospects for peaceful relations among the democratic states, Braum has discovered that “democratic peace theory is basically correct about the congruence of interests among democratic states and that in turn peaceful relations among democracies” (P.497). Braum has come to believe that it is a modest undertaking which seeks to demonstrate a powerful correlation between the existence of democratic states and peaceful relations in the international system (Braum, 2004). Such a power correlation, in turn, does tell us something noteworthy about the possibilities for cooperative relations in the international system (Braum, 2004).

On the assessment of democratic peace theory, Braum has also found that “democratic peace theory, as noted, focuses on war avoidance and the cooperative nature of relations among democratic states” (P.498). He concluded that democracy peace theory might provide certain important insights about cooperation among states and may demonstrate states and that in turn peaceful relations among democracies, at least in that part of the international system to mitigate anarchy (Braum, 2004). Whereas, its politics may well provide important clues to the mitigation, though not the elimination of anarchy in the international system (Braum, 2004). During the transition of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary to become the democratic states, there has been a worrisome manifestation of extremism and abuse of power, lack of rule of laws, and corruptions practiced by their government officials (Braum, 2004). However, after the transition period, Braum      has pointed out that “the magnitude of changing in Poland, The Czech Republic, and Hungary, in fact, is truly impressive and vital signs that show these three states have been successful in their transition to democracy and do generally meet the standards” (P.505). Braum has stated that the older distinction between liberalism, which focused on the limitation of political power and democracy, which emphasized voting, has been largely erased and emerged terms to be called modern liberal democracies (Braum, 2004). Thus, modern liberal democracies are understood to be political orders that have the constitutional and limited government, enjoy the rule of law, prize the protection of individual rights, and select their governments by universal free suffrage (Braum, 2004).

Likewise, Braden, Susan (2005) has suggested that the view that the world would be a better and more peaceful place if it consisted of constitutional democracies did not die with the President Woodrow Wilson; however, it has remained a constant theme in American politics, most recently expressed by President Bush in his second inaugural address (P.4). Braden believes that the strengthen of democratic peace theory is that it helps explain why the alliance system of industrialized democracies, created after second World War has been so peaceful (Braden, 2005). Democratic peace theory has the advantage that its prescription for the future is hopeful and principled that convinces American presidents to adopt it as central in America’s foreign policies (Braden, 2005). American presidents mobilize the American public behind their foreign policies by arguing that America’s cause is the cause of liberty and peace for all (Braden, 2005). Braden has stated that “Americans believe, as does president Bush, that the aggressive instincts of military dictatorship and theocratic rule cause war, while democracies, founded on the principles of the impartial rule of law, free speech, and elected representation to promote peace” (Braden, 2005). She has pointed out that there is a lot of merit to democratic-peace theory, it contains problems that deserve attention, as historical record suggests that democracies do not go to the wars and the results are often contrary to their intentions (Braden, 2005). Braden has stated that America’s experience there and elsewhere suggests that the United States might be more successful in promoting peace and freedom (Braden, 2005); if it were to pursue a policy of ideological tolerance as opposed to aggressively seeking to remake the world in its own image of democracy (Braden, 2005). It would seem in America’s best interest not to become so consumed with the promotion of democracy that it disregards the principle of ideological tolerance since the promotion of ideological conformity can sometimes lead to war without the desired consequences (Braden, 2005).

Methodological Approach and Data Collection

Methodological approach involves the necessity to examine the hypothetical proposition such the proposition of democratic peace theory which asserts that democratic states do not wage interstate war with each other. Likewise, data is nothing more than systematically collected and objective observations about the phenomenon researchers are studying; it can come in these forms: quantitative or qualitative or textual (Malici & Smith, 2013). Whereas, relevant data collected or materials might allow a researcher to measure independent and dependent variable, or the events (He, 2013). A collection of writing materials can be analyzed in a variety of ways, including looking for how often and in what ways particular topics are covered in the media, government documents, or other outlets a process known as content analysis (Kaup, 2013). Though, close analysis of text and the discourse analysis used in published material can reveal changes in attitudes or may provide a clue as to why a particular event unfolded as it did (Kaup, 2013). Scientific knowledge is based on careful and comprehensive observation of the data-systematic, collected and analyzed in such a way that others can reproduce the analysis and verify its veracity-replicable and justifiable (Malici & Smith, 2013); and develops over time as new data is examined using multiple methodologies. As for this scientific purpose, I emphasize to employ a collection of writing materials method for analyzing if democratic states are more likely to preserve peace among themselves without preserving peace with illiberal or undemocratic states.

The widely accepted generalization that democracies do not go to war has found support in the empirical works of noted scholars like Tarzi, M. Shah (2007); Spiro, E. David (1994); Oren, Ido (1995); Ray, J. Lee (1998); Dizerega, Gus (2001); Braum, Daniel (2004); and Malici, K. and Smith, E. S. (2013) who have recently examined the proposition of democratic peace theory. These and other scholars have conducted empirical tests to demonstrate a significant propensity for democracies to be nearly immune from wars with one another (Tarzi, 2007). The empirical research on the war behavior of democracies, democratic peace, in particular, addresses the conceptual challenge of defining the independent variable, democracy, and dependent variables, war and peace (Tarzi, 2007). To consider a nation a democracy, some authors require periodic elections in which opposition parties are free to participate and at least 10 percent of the adults are allowed to vote, in conjunction with an independent parliament on a   balance with the executive branch (P.41). Michael Doyle, a noted scholar has identified the features of a democratic or liberal regime to be external sovereignty, judicial rights of the citizenry, 30 percent of the adult population being allowed to vote, and a generally representative government (Tarzi, 2007). Others have raised the bar on democratic participation to a level where at least 50 percent of the population must be allowed to vote (Tarzi, 2007). Liberal regimes, in turn, not only permit competitive elections with a secret ballot box, but the threshold of the electoral franchise is to be raised to two-thirds of the adult population (Tarzi, 2007).

On the other hand, another scholar has defined of military conflict as constituting “war” when there are two hundred battle deaths; while, still others have adopted the Correlates of War Project’s lower-threshold category, the Militarized Interstate Disputes (MID), which precedes war itself and involves display of force but no battle deaths (P.42). Finally, researchers have agreed that a war is a situation in which there are at least 1,000 battle deaths (Malici & Smith, 2013); thus, proponents of the democratic peace theory dismissed wars fought by democratic states on grounds that there were fewer than 1,000 casualties. Furthermore, other wars remain dismissed even though there were more than 1,000 soldiers killed simply that the states which fought wars are young democratic states or states which still allowing slaves to have existed. The American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783 between the United States and Great Britain, the two most democratic political systems of the time, can be justified as a war between a young democracy and the immature British democracy (Tarzi, 2007). But this war had dismissed from being counted as a war fought by two democratic states on the ground that some seats in Great Britain Parliament were appointed and right to vote was restricted and slaves remained a legal in the both countries. For instance, the 1798-1800 war between France and the United States, two democratic states had dismissed merely that less than one thousand soldiers were killed in battle, and thus it does not qualify to be considered as a war (Tarzi, 2007). Consider yet anoth  er example, the War of (1812-1815) between the United States and Britain, unquestionably the most democratic states in the world; but this war met the war qualification as one thousand battle deaths occurred (Tarzi, 2007). However, this war was dismissed on the same ground that the United States still had a slaveholding institution as well as Britain in the Empire until 1833 (Tarzi, 2007).

Equally, the American Civil War (1861-1865), in which over 600 thousand deaths occurred had dismissed on the ground that North represented one of the most dynamic democracies of its time, while, South represents a variant of a limited “illiberal democracy (Tarzi, 2007). The Spanish-American War of 1898 killed more than one thousand soldiers and also, Philippine-American War (1899-1913) killed more than one thousand soldiers (Tarzi, 2007), but both countries, Spanish and Philippine were considered as states that did not have competitive democratic election, while, the United States as a democratic state had been disregarded. American interventions in the Third World provide contradictory evidence; for example, American intervention in Iran in 1953 culminated in the overthrow of the Mohammad Mossadegh regime that came to power on the heels   of popularly elected national assembly, the Majlis, and was supported by the broad-based National Front (P.46). Other similar examples are the American-supported coup by the Chilean junta in 1973 that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende and Contras War of 1979-1988 when the Reagan administration supported the Contras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua (Tarzi, 2007). However, both aforementioned wars, which were fought by the United States through its covert operations for the purposes of supporting the coups were disqualified to be considered as the wars because the soldiers who were killed were less than one thousand.

Actually, there is a list of different kind of wars committed by democratic states, but due to their criteria designed by proponents of democratic peace theory, most of them were not considered meet the standards of qualification of war. Yet adherents of democratic peace might argue that conflicting states were not, after all, democracies or the war was not a war (Tarzi, 2007).  For example, in World War II, the democratically-elected Nazi regime in German fought other mature and established democracies (Tarzi, 2007). As an illustration, consider this brief sample: Wars amongst the city-states of ancient Greece (415 BG-413 BG); the Punic Wars and other wars involving the Roman Republic and initiated by elected leaders of Rome and Carthage (264BG-146 BG); the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), one in which the initiation of hostilities occurred during the reign of the democratically-elected Mexican President; the French Second Republic against the Roman Republic (1849)—when the arbitrary three-year rule is applied, this too does not qualify; Wars of the Pacific (1879-1884) in which the leaders of both Chile and Peru were democratically elected and one thousand battle deaths occurred; the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1999), which involved the democratic nations of NATO and the democratically-elected government of Milosevic (P.47-48).

Finally, two other examples are the Kargil War of 1999, in which democratic India fought the democratically-elected government of Nawaz Sharif and the 2006 Lebanon War between democratic Israel and Lebanon in which the 2005 elections that brought a government praised by the United Nations as broad-based, competitive, free, open, fair, and peaceful (P.48). Of course, Israel battled the Hezbollah, but Israel’s war ultimately targeted the totality of Lebanon’s territory, generating overwhelming public support for Hezbollah during the course of the battle (Tarzi, 2007). Changing the definition of democracy or the meaning of war and peace to deny the validity and reliability of contradictory data (Tarzi, 2007), one that remains identified by this author as an unhelpful. Thus, the existing democratic peace does not account for the increasingly common other democratic states which hold elections frequently on the ground that they are illiberal states and this implication for the broader theory are yet to be carefully examined (Tarzi, 2007) by other scholars in the further studies.

Finding is based on the Explanation on Liberal Versus Illiberal Democracy

The empirical regularities, notably the proposition that democracies are highly selective in their choice of targets for war and prefer to fight autocracies, can only be asserted with reference to mature, stable, liberal constitutional republics (Tarzi, 2007). This conception is broader than that put forward by the proponents of democratic peace; it goes beyond competitive elections for the transfer of power, universal suffrage, and other procedural safeguards (Tarzi, 2007). It highlights a political culture that supports pluralism, the rule of law, separation of religious and state, an institutional arrangement that ensures checks on the power of the executive, including democratic an independent judiciary, and above all, civilian control of the military and a free press (P.49). Yet only a select few states in Western Europe and North America, Australia, New Zealand, and, to a lesser extent, India qualify, nearly all reached the threshold in the post-WWII   era (Tarzi, 2007). The overwhelming majority of democratic states fall significantly short of constitutional liberalism even though they hold the elections (Tarzi, 2007); for instance, forty-five multiparty elections in sub-Saharan Africa were held in 1991, but they still not considered liberal states or full democratic states. In the Middle East democratic elections in Palestine resulted in the Hamas government; yet, the wave of democratic elections did not lead to constitutional liberalism because Palestine and most other states are illiberal democracies, marked by competitive elections as a mechanism for the transfer of political power and not much else (P.49-50).

The proposition of Democratic Transition asserts that the idea of mutual democratic pacifism does not hold in circumstances when a regime is undergoing a transition from authoritarianism to democracy (Tarzi, 2007). Young democracies in transition stage are more likely to fight than stable, advanced liberal democratic politics (Tarzi, 2007). The proposition of Contested Institutions asserts that the existence of young democracies characterized by open and fair, competitive, multiparty elections, where growing public participation in politics is increased through the enfranchisement of women and minorities does not guarantee peaceful behavior toward other democracies if domestic political groups and traditional elites, including the military, feel threatened and engage in extra-constitutional means to achieve institutionally or group goals (P.50).This factor, together with weak checks on the power of the executive, especially when surrounding countries are either of the same type or undemocratic, can predispose these regimes to external conflict behavior (Tarzi, 2007).

The new regime may be predisposed to external conflict, including diversionary conflict abroad because traditional elites who often associated with the military could feel threatened and perceive democratization as a threat to their established interests (Tarzi, 2007). The traditional elites might seek to mobilize mass public support for diversionary adventurism, using nationalistic and propagandistic appeals to legitimize aggressive foreign policy actions or resort to repression, which robs the body politic of sustainable legitimacy to protect institutional interests and gain advantage—resources, power, etc. (P.51). The American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783, the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain, the American Civil War, the American-French conflicts in 1798-1800, among others including Spanish-American War are relevant examples (Tarzi, 2007). Likewise, the French Republic faced the Roman Republic; Pakistan’s circumstances in the Kargil War of 1999; 2006 Lebanon War; and Irish War of (1891-1921) are similarity examples of illiberal democracies’ struggle for powers.

In the case of the Spanish-American War, the conservatives and with the military feel liberals, the two dominant parties, threatened and perceive both drew on the Turno system in which elections were manipulated, and the military threatened a coup d’état if Spain tried to negotiate and compromise (P.50-51). Whereas, the France, President was seeking support from the conservative Catholics to counter the authority of the Pope and the Roman assembly, which sought to defy the French (Tarzi, 2007) that led to instigate war. Similar Pakistan’s military Chief of the Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, did not recognize the legitimacy of civilian rule, made military incursions into Indian territory, and used the Kargil incident to enhance the institutional imperatives of the military under the auspices of a semi-democratic regime (P.51). While, Lebanon as an illiberal state has Hezbollah which is an independent force in Lebanon’s body politic which also serves as a proxy for another an illiberal State-Iran (Tarzi, 2007).

The proposition of Contested Identity Groups asserts that if and when regime transition to democracy is characterized by contested identity groups such that powerful sectarian and identity entrepreneurs and groups disagree about the rules of the game, the propensity for diversionary conflict increases (P.52). Identity-based illiberal democracies do not consistently manifest norms of peaceful behavior abroad, and this regime type does not exhibit greater trust, propensity for conflict resolution, respect for other countries, and group interests and goals, especially when identity interests come into conflict (P.52). The behavior of the South in the American Civil War (1861-1865) manifests this type; wealthy southern plantation owners who provided the backbone of the Confederacy played on racial fears in order to mobilize support amongst poor whites for war (Tarzi, 2007). Similarly, in the Irish War of Independence (1891-1921), while the secessionist parliament was democratically elected, the Irish state manifested religious-based conflict that culminated in the Irish Civil War (Tarzi, 2007).

Another example of wars attributed to this illiberal democratic regime type is the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1999) because Yugoslav regime was appealing to Serb nationalism supported by parties that expressed extreme nationalism, such as the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Serbian Radical Party (Tarzi, 2007). This ethos found expression in Serbia’s support for the Bosnian Serbs and subsequently in ethnic and political oppressions of Kosovo Albanians Party (Tarzi, 2007). There has been a dramatic rise in identity politics in the newly emerging democracies in the post-9/11 era because both Afghanistan and Iraq voting behavior reflects support for identity entrepreneurs who use religious and ethnic identity to garner support (Tarzi, 2007). Both countries are too weak, and their sovereignty too severely compromised to engage in war with their neighbors as examples that lend support to the proposition that in the absence of minimal preconditions for democratization, a headlong rush into democratic elections may lead to sectarian-based illiberal democracy (P.53).

Some scholars have suggested that If domestic democratic institutional constraints were to play the role assigned to them by the proponents of the democratic peace theory, this war should not have occurred (Tarzi, 2007). Yet, the historical record of leading democracies (The United States and the United Kingdom) does not support this perspective. American interventions in the Third World provide ample evidence in support of the proposition that the United States has a high predisposition toward the use or the threat of the use of force vis-a-vis governments whose policies are perceived to conflict with American national interests (P.54). The United States intervened in Mexico (1914,1916-17), Honduras (1924-25), Nicaragua (1909-1910,1912-25, 1926-33), Panama 1903 (Canal Zone acquired), Haiti (1915-34), Dominican Republic (1916-24) and Cuba (1898-1902, 1906-9, 1912, 1917-22) (Tarzi, 2007). The U.S. Marines went into Nicaragua (1909-10,1912-25) to defend American economic interests and to affirm American political interest (Tarzi, 2007). Cuba was “liberated” from Spain in the Spanish-American War president of the United and was later put under U.S. neocolonial domination and the U.S. Marines intervened on several occasions to engaged in coercive preserve American influence (Tarzi, 2007).

In most instances, the president of the United States had taken the country into war or engaged in coercive military actions abroad without or prior to congressional authorization (Tarzi, 2007). Notable incidents are the invasion of Grenada (1983); air strikes against Libya (1986); attacking Iranian naval vessels and armed oil-drilling platforms (1987-1988); provision of military air support in Philippines to suppress rebellion; invasion of Panama to topple and arrest Manuel Noriega; deployment of several hundred thousand American troops in Desert Shield (1990); deployment of ground troops in Macedonia (1993); attack on Baghdad by cruise missiles in retaliation for alleged Iraq’s government plot to assassinate George Bush (1993); and projection of American Naval forces to enforce the blockade of Haiti (1993) (P.54-55). President George H. Bush projected nearly half a million American troops in the Desert Shield operation prior to a Congressional authorization of war; hence, the presence of this massive force made it politically extremely difficult to reverse course (Tarzi, 2007). Finally, it is absurd to assert as an absolute principle, as Levy does, that advanced mature liberal constitutional republics do not go to war (Tarzi, 2007). However, it is logical to assert that democratic states are rarely going to wage war against each other, rather than assert that democratic states do n ot wage war against each other.

Discussions and Inclusion.

Many liberal scholars of democratization believe that to extend peace it rests on democracy and prosperity because anything that would undermine democracy would also undermine international peace (Jervis,2015). Nevertheless, liberals are not alone in the international politics, but they are with the others in the international politics such as social constructivists and realists with different views and assumptions, which remain further often using different terms, invoke overlapping factors. Liberals believe that their norms and values are non-violence within their liberal states as well as other illiberal states in the international arena. While, social constructivists believe that the values and norms of non-violence that may advance peaceful democracies should be the sharing of the identities. They have considered stresses the role of norms of non-violence and shared identities through an interactive process of reciprocal behaviors and expectations may have led the advanced democracies to assume the role of each other’s friend (Jervis,2015). The roots of the changes that have produced this enormous shift in international politics among some countries but not others are not specified in detail, but the process is a self-reinforcing one-a benign cycle of behavior, beliefs, and expectations (Jervis,2015). People become socialized into attitudes, beliefs, and values, they think that are conducive to bring peace, nevertheless, their consistency on their own beliefs and values about their own state have   indirectly produced a war. Individuals in the community may see their own country as strong and good and even better than others but they rarely espouse the virulent nationalism that was common in the past (Jervis,2015).

Before first World War, one German has proclaimed that the Germans were the greatest civilized people known to history, while another declared that the Germans were the chosen people of this century, which explains why other people hate them (Jervis,2015). Likewise, Thomas Macaulay wrote that the British were the greatest and most highly civilized people that ever the world saw and were the acknowledged leaders of the human race in the cause of political improvement (Jervis,2015. While, Senator Albert Beveridge proclaimed that God has made them the master organizers of the world (Jervis,2015). These assumptions are shocking today because they are so at variance from what we have been taught to think about others and ourselves. An understanding of the effects of such conceptions led the Europeans and Japanese, to de-rationalize and harmonize their textbooks after second World War and has similarly led countries with remaining enemies to follow a different path (Jervis,2015). The central objection to constructivism is that it mistakes effect for cause, its description is correct, but the identities, images, and self-images are superstructure (Jervis,2015). Constructivism may present us with actors who are over-socialized and leave too little role agency in the form of people who think differently, perhaps because their material conditions are different (Jervis,2015).

Furthermore, liberalism explanation about peace has received most attention; although it comes in several variants, the central strands are the pacifying effects of democracy and economic interdependence. Many scholars have argued that democracies rarely if ever fight each other, nevertheless, the statistical evidence is, as usual, subject to debate (Jervis,2015). They have argued that Democracies are systems of dispersed power, and dispersed power means multiple veto points and groups that could block war (Jervis,2015). Also, they have asserted that democracies are functioned through norms, values like their habit for the compromise, non-violence, and respect for law. To the extent that these values and habits govern foreign policy, they are conducive to peace, especially in relations with other democracies which reciprocate (Jervis,2015). Some scholars argue that democracies are less likely to go to war because those who hold ultimate authority will pay the price for conflict (Jervis,2015). While, some argue that the international and coalitional nature of democratic regimes requires their leaders to pursue successful policies if they are to stay in office (Jervis,2015). Other argue that democracies will put greater efforts into winning wars and be careful to choose to fight only wars they can win (Jervis,2015). These explanations for the democratic peace are thoughtful and often ingenious, but not conclusive. Many of explanations for the democratic peace lead society to expect not only double effects, but expect ones as well-i.e., democracies should be generally peaceful, not only peaceful toward each other, a finding that most scholars deny (Jervis,2015). They would also lead society to expect that one democracy would not seek to overthrow another, a proposition that is contradicted by American behavior during the Cold War (Jervis,2015).

The causal role of democracy is hard to establish because these regimes have been relatively rare until recently, much of the democratic peace can be explained by the Soviet threat, and the same factors that lead countries to become democratic, e.g., being relatively rich and secure are conducive to peace between them (P.296). It is particularly important and difficult to control for the common interest, which loomed so large during the Cold War, but interests are not objective and may be strongly influenced by the country’s internal regime (Jervis,2015). The democracies may have made common cause during the Cold War in part because they were democracies; common interest may be a mechanism by which the democracies peace is sustained as it is a competing explanation for it (Jervis,2015). The liberals also view and assume that actors place a high priority on wealth, that trade is a better route to it than conquest, and that actors who gain economically from the exchange are politically powerful (Jervis,2015). Traditional liberal thought understood this well and stressed that economic activity was so potent not only because it gave people an interest in maintaining peace, but because it reconstructed social values to downgrade status and glory and elevate material well-being (P.298). On the other hand, Realists have argued that the international is largely caused by the other enormous change in the world politics the American dominance (Jervis,2015). Thus, they are more likely to perceive American dominance and calculate it as a sign of struggle to gain power for its own self-interest or self-help. The realists believe that international is an anarchy, where a state can act according to the reason of self-help.

Finally, some of researchers have examined the proposition of democratic peace theory, the logic and empirical basis of the claim central to the democratic peace literature, prospect, commitment, concept, merit, and rationale of democracies to promote peace and maintain it among themselves. Whereas, some researchers have expanded the horizons of scholars engaged in this type of empirical investigation to provide a satisfactory account of the relationship between democracy and peace. However, at the end, good number of the researchers found out from their studies the significant evidence that have supported the claims made by the previous researchers that democratic states do not wage interstate wars against themselves. Furthermore, few researchers have come to the conclusion to agree that democracies are peaceful as defined by democratic peace theory after they examined and explored its proposition, nevertheless, they have recommended further studies on the conceptual that produce peace or cause war. In fact, changing the definition of democracy or the meaning of war and peace to deny the validity and reliability of contradictory data (Tarzi, 2007), remains one that this author has identified as an unhelpful.

About AuthorMr. Simon Deng Kuol Deng is SPLM Former Secretary General in New York-USA. Mr. Deng is currently a graduate student for the Master’s Degree of Science in Political Science, SNHU, U.S.A. He holds the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, general concentration in the three Subfields: The American Politics and Governments; Comparative Politics and Comparative Governments; and International Relations, from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) USA. He also holds the Degree of Associate in Applied Science in Office Management and Administration from the State College of New York at Buffalo, Erie Community College (ECC) USA. He Attended Training for Rapid Impact Public Finance Management Project, sponsored by World Bank, School of Management Science, University of Juba and KCA University, Kenya and obtained a post Certificate in Procurement in 2011. While in the USA, Simon Deng was SPLM active member who has mobilized Sudanese to support the SPLM/A/ and raised the cases of marginalized people to the people of United States of America and USA government. He was appointed to the position of the Deputy Secretary General of SPLM Fundraising in New York USA from 2002- 2004. When SPLM has decided to hold the election of its members of SPLM Chapters Leadership through electing them from their regions, Simon Deng Kuol Deng was elected without opposed from Greater Bahr el Ghazal region and became a Secretary General of SPLM Chapter in New York State and a member of SPLM Council in Northern-East states, USA from 2004-2010. He can be reached by or  


Braden, S. (2005). Promoting Democracy Won’t Necessarily Produce Peace, International Journal on World Peace.

Braum, D. (2004). Democracy and The Prospects for Peaceful Relations in Eastern Europe, East European Quarterly, 37 (4). PP. 497-510.

Dizerega, G. (2001). Democracies and Peace: The Self-Organizing Foundation for the Democratic Peace. Review of Politics, 57, (2). PP. 279. 308.

He, Kai (2013). Case Study and the Comparative Method. Why Do States Join Institutions? In the Malici, K. and Smith, E. S. (Edited). Political Science Research in Practice. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York.

Hermann, M. & Kegley, C. W. (1995). Rethinking Democracy and International Peace: Perspectives from Political Psychology, International Studies Quarterly, (39). PP. 511-533.

George, A. L. (2000). Democracy and Peace, Scandinavian Political Studies, 23, (3). PP. 273-280.

Jervis, Robert (2015). The Era of Leading-Power Peace.  In the Art, R. J. & Jervis, R. International Politics. Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, (12th Edition). Pearson Education, Inc.

Kaup, K. Palmer (2013). Field Research: Zhuang Ethnic Identity and the Chinese State. In the Malici, K. and Smith, E. S. (Edited). Political Science Research in Practice. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York.

Malici, K., and Smith, E. S. (2013). Why Do We Need a Science of Politics? In the Malici, K. and Smith, E. S. (Edited).  Political Science Research in Practice. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York.

Oren, I. (1995). The Subjectivity of the “Democratic” Peace: Changing U.S. Perception of Imperial Germany. International Security, 29, (2). PP. 147-184.

Ray, J. L. (1998). Does Democracy Cause Peace? Annual Review, Political Science, (1). PP. 27-46.

Spiro, E. David (1994). The Insignificance of the Liberal Peace, International Security, 19, (2). PP. 50-86.

Tarzi, M. Shah (2007). Democratic Peace, Illiberal Democracy, and Conflict Behavior. International Journal on World Peace, 24 (4). PP. 35-60.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s