Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Chapter 15: On the Democratic Peace
Sebastian Rosato 15.1 INTRODUCTION Democratic peace theory – the claim that democracies rarely fight one another because they share common norms of live-and-let-live and domestic institutions that constrain the recourse to war – is the most powerful liberal contribution to the debate on the causes of war and peace.1 Its impact on American foreign policy is manifest. President George H.W. Bush was clearly convinced of the link between democracy and peace. “A democratic Russia,” he announced soon after the end of the Cold War, “is the best guarantee against a renewed danger of competition and the threat of nuclear rivalry.” Secretary of State James Baker concurred: “shared democratic values can ensure an enduring and stable peace in a way the balance of terror never could.” Underlying his statement was the belief that “real democracies do not go to war with each other” (quoted in Russett 1993, p. 129). This was also the view of the Clinton administration whose campaign of “democratic enlargement” was premised on the belief that democracies are “far less likely to wage war on one another.” Enlarging the community of democracies, noted National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, “protects our interests and security” (quoted in Henderson 2002, pp. 19–20). As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Kruzel put it, “the notion that democracies do not go to war with each other. . .has had a substantial impact on policy” (quoted in Ray 2000, p. 299). The belief that spreading democracy would perform the dual task of enhancing American national security...
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