Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

Political Science Democratic Peace Theory
by
Dan Reiter

Introduction

Democratic peace is the proposition that democracies are more peaceful in their foreign relations. This idea dates back centuries, at least to Immanuel Kant and other 18th-century Enlightenment thinkers. In recent decades it has constituted a major research agenda, competing with and arguably supplanting other research agendas such as neo-realism. The democratic peace proposition has many possible empirical and theoretical forms. On the empirical side, some propose that democracies are more peaceful in their relations with all other states in the system (“monadic” democratic peace); some propose that democracies are more peaceful only in their relations with other democracies (“dyadic” democratic peace); others argue that the more democracies there are in a region or the international system, the more peaceful the region or international system will be (“systemic” democratic peace); and still others doubt the existence of any significant relationship between democracy and peace. Notably, most although not all empirical research on the democratic peace has employed quantitative methods of analysis. On the theoretical side, there are many different accounts of the relationship between democracy and peace, with most focusing on domestic political institutions, domestic political norms, and constructed identities. The democratic peace proposition is connected to many other propositions linking domestic politics and international relations, including that democracies are more likely to cooperate with each other, that democracies are more likely to win the wars they fight, that escalating military casualties degrade public support for war, that leaders initiate conflict to secure their domestic hold on power (the diversionary hypothesis), that democracies fight shorter wars, that different kinds of democracies experience different kinds of conflict behavior, that different kinds of authoritarian systems experience different kinds of conflict behavior, and others. The democratic peace also overlaps with related ideas such as the liberal peace and the commercial peace.

General Overviews

The democratic peace proposition has been lurking in Western thought for millennia, as Weart 1998 shows, but Kant 1991 provides its first modern formulation. The idea that global democracy would provide a solid foundation for global peace was restated in 1917 by Woodrow Wilson as a justification for American entry into World War I and then as part of his vision for a new world order. Modern political science first observed the dyadic democratic peace—that democracies tend not to fight each other—in the 1970s. The observation enjoyed greater attention in the 1980s in particular in two pathbreaking 1983 essays by Michael Doyle, reprinted in Doyle 2011. It received fuller theoretical and empirical attention in the 1990s. Fukuyama 1992, a famous argument that humanity had reached “the end of history,” incorporates the democratic peace proposition. Other scholars sought to develop the theory and push forward more advanced research designs in works such as Russett 1993; Ray 1995; and Rousseau, et al. 1996. In the 2000s, proponents of the democratic peace responded to their critics and embedded the democratic peace in a broader Kantian peace (Russett and Oneal 2001).

  • Doyle, Michael W. Liberal Peace: Selected Essays. New York: Routledge, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a number of Doyle’s important essays, especially from the 1980s, that lay out the philosophical and theoretical basis of the democratic peace.

    Find this resource:

  • Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a Hegelian argument that humanity has at last achieved its penultimate form of political and economic organization, liberal democracy. The definitive intellectual statement that Western values triumphed in the Cold War.

    Find this resource:

  • Huth, Paul K., and Todd L. Allee. The Democratic Peace and Territorial Conflict in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Application of the democratic peace to territorial conflict in the 20th century. Presents a massive new data set on territorial conflicts.

    Find this resource:

  • Kant, Immanuel. Kant’s Political Writings. 2d ed. Edited by Hans S. Reiss. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Central essay is on the “perpetual peace,” which presents Kant’s vision as to how republics can maintain world peace. Originally published in 1796.

    Find this resource:

  • Ray, James Lee. Democracy and International Conflict: An Evaluation of the Democratic Peace Proposition. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides an extensive literature review on democratic peace literature up to the early 1990s as well as case studies of the Fashoda Crisis and Spanish-American War.

    Find this resource:

  • Rousseau, David L., Christopher Gelpi, Dan Reiter, and Paul K. Huth. “Assessing the Dyadic Nature of the Democratic Peace, 1918–1988.” American Political Science Review 90.3 (1996): 512–533.

    DOI: 10.2307/2082606Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Important, early empirical test of the democratic peace, presenting important research design advances.Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Russett, Bruce. Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post–Cold War World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The first book-length treatment of the democratic peace. Lays out the normative and institutional explanations of the democratic peace and presents a variety of different forms of rigorous evidence demonstrating the dyadic democratic peace, including sophisticated analysis of post-1945 conflict behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • Russett, Bruce, and John R. Oneal. Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations. New York: Norton, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Embedded the democratic peace in a larger theoretical framework, the Kantian Peace, in which democracy, trade, international organization, and peace all mutually reinforce each other. Presented more sophisticated empirical tests, addressing many 1990s theoretical and empirical critiques. Also see Democratization.

    Find this resource:

  • Weart, Spencer R. Never at War: Why Democracies Will Never Fight One Another. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Summarizes several years of work on democratic peace theory. Presents a narrative rather than statistical empirical tests. One main contribution is the analysis of democratic peace in pre-Napoleonic times, including ancient Greece and medieval Italy. Discusses the phenomena of democratic aggression and imperialism.

    Find this resource:

Early Empirical Work

Much of the early democratic peace scholarship was more empirically than theoretically focused, and sought to understand the nature of the democratic peace relationship. Babst 1972 is perhaps the first modern work of social science to observe the democratic peace. Small and Singer 1976 first observes, using very simple modes of analysis, that democracies are generally peaceful in relations with each other (the dyadic democratic peace) but that democracies are not more peaceful in their relations with other kinds of states (i.e., there is no monadic democratic peace). Most pointed, Small and Singer 1976 observes that democracies have never fought each other in modern history. Curiously, Small and Singer 1976 doubts the veracity of its dyadic democratic peace finding. Much of the empirical scholarship over the next fifteen or so years sought to understand whether there was a democratic peace and whether it was dyadic or monadic. Rummel 1997 proposes a monadic democratic peace, but Chan 1984 is skeptical of Rummel’s claim. Some works doubt the existence of the democratic peace, such as Weede 1984. Maoz and Abdolali 1989 makes a significant step forward in analyzing all pairs of states and also in examining the participation of states in militarized interstate disputes, which include violent conflicts less intense than war. Bremer 1992 pushes the dyadic mode of analysis further, using it to explore other dyadic explanations of conflict (such as the balance of power) as well. Huth and Allee 2002 connects democratic peace theory to the research agenda on the initiation and escalation of territorial conflicts.

  • Babst, Dean V. “A Force for Peace.” Industrial Research 14.4 (April 1972): 55–58.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First modern social scientific observation that democracies do not fight each other. Presents an institutional theoretical argument. Presents analysis of Quincy Wright’s data of all wars from 1789 to 1941 (see A Study of War, 2 vols., Chicago: University of Chicago, 1942). Collects original data on regime type.

    Find this resource:

  • Bremer, Stuart A. “Dangerous Dyads: Conditions Affecting the Likelihood of Interstate War, 1816–1965.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 36.2 (June 1992): 309–341.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002792036002005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds support for dyadic democratic peace. One of first studies to look at all possible dyads, including those that did not experience conflict, examining factors that cause a dyad to experience conflict. Also one of first studies to control for alternative explanations of conflict beyond joint democracy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Chan, Steve. “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall . . . Are the Freer Countries More Pacific?” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28.4 (December 1984): 617–648.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002784028004003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rebuts the claim made by Rummel 1997 that democracies are in general more pacific (monadic peace) and that democracies are less likely to fight “extrasystemic” wars (defined generally as states fighting wars against colonies). Finds support for the dyadic peace, that democracies are less likely to fight each other. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Huth, Paul K. and Todd L. Allee. The Democratic Peace and Territorial Conflict in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Application of the democratic peace to territorial conflict in the 20th century. Presents a massive new data set on territorial conflicts.

    Find this resource:

  • Maoz, Zeev, and Nasrin Abdolali. “Regime Types and International Conflict, 1816–1976.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 33.1 (March 1989): 3–35.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002789033001001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds support for dyadic democratic peace and not for monadic democratic peace. Major research advances include using militarized interstate disputes as well as war and the use of the dyad as a unit of analysis as well as the state. Also looks at system as unit of analysis. Also see Systemic Outlooks and the Effect of Peace on Democracy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Rummel, R. J. Power Kills: Democracy as a Method of Non-violence. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book summarizes two decades of work, arguing that democracies are less peaceful in their relations with all other states (monadic and dyadic peace). It also finds that democracies are less likely to experience internal violence, and elected governments are less likely to massacre their citizens.

    Find this resource:

  • Small, Melvin, and J. David Singer. “The War-Proneness of Democratic Regimes, 1816–1965.” Jerusalem Journal of International Relations 1.1 (Summer 1976): 50–69.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents Correlates of War (cited under Data Sets)data that democracies are not more or less war-prone than other kinds of states (no monadic peace) but are less likely to fight each other (dyadic democratic peace). Builds on Babst 1972, presenting more data and an improved research design.

    Find this resource:

  • Weede, Erich. “Democracy and War Involvement.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 28.4 (December 1984): 649–664.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002784028004004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes a broader critique of Rummel 1997, using statistical evidence to argue that in general democracies are not more pacific than other states, with the exceptions of a democratic peace in the late 1970s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Political Institutions

A leading explanation connecting democracy to peace focuses on democratic political institutions, such as regular elections, the rule of law, multiparty systems, and the separation of powers. The basic point is that societies hate war, and if political institutions make it easier for societies to replace leaders, then leaders will seek to avoid implementing unpopular public policies policies such as war. However, there are several different theoretical accounts that offer differing claims as to exactly how political institutions matter. This section contains descriptions of some of the individual theoretical strands. It also contains a section on one of the key components of the institutional account, the determinants of public support for war in democracies.

Casualties and Public Support for War

The institutional account of the democratic peace presumes that leaders pay close attention to public opinion. The general version of the institutional account assumes that publics oppose war in general, making elected governments in general eager to avoid war. The institutional argument makes fundamental cost-benefit assumptions, that the public thinks that the cost of war in blood and treasure outweighs the benefits of war. Scholars have delved into Kant’s theory (Kant 1991, cited under General Overviews), observing that the costs and benefits vary across wars. They have also explored and tested the internal assumptions of the institutional explanation. Mueller 1973 presents the first systematic analysis of the relationship between casualties and public support for war, proposing that increases of casualties reduce public support for war. This proposition received renewed attention in the 1990s and 2000s as a series of articles, including Gartner and Segura 1998, Gartner and Segura 2000, Gartner 2008a, and Gartner 2008b, which offered a variety of refinements of Mueller thesis (Mueller 1973), providing evidence for more nuanced relationships between casualties and public opinion. Some offer measured critiques of the casualties–public support hypothesis, positing that publics cue on success in war rather than casualties (as seen in Gelpi, et al. 2009) or that the public makes decisions about support for war by looking to elite cues rather than to objective developments such as casualties or battle outcomes (as seen in Berinsky 2009). An interesting twist on the casualties–opinion hypothesis is evidence that among states that start wars, democracies suffer significantly fewer friendly casualties (Valentino, et al. 2010), evidence that elected leaders become more willing to initiate wars if they are less likely to suffer the domestic political consequences of extensive bloodshed.

  • Berinsky, Adam J. In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that American public support for war follows elite debates (or cues) rather than events such as casualties or stakes of war. Covers US public opinion since World War II, analyzing congressional debates, survey data, and experiments. One main contribution is sophisticated reanalysis of World War II public opinion data.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartner, Scott Sigmund. “The Multiple Effects of Casualties on Public Support for War: An Experimental Approach.” American Political Science Review 102.1 (February 2008a): 95–106.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a rationalist theory that public support for war is heavily affected by increasing recent casualties and rising casualty trends. Conducts several experiments on the Iraq War and on hypothetical military interventions, finding support for the theory. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartner, Scott Sigmund. “Ties to the Dead: Connections to Iraq War and 9/11 Casualties and Disapproval of the President.” American Sociological Review 73.4 (August 2008b): 690–695.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300408Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that an individual who knows 9/11 or Iraq War casualties is significantly less likely to support the president. Demonstrates that social context mediates the relationship between war casualties and public opinion. Uses two US national survey data sets. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartner, Scott Sigmund, and Gary Segura. “War, Casualties, and Public Opinion.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42.3 (June 1998): 278–300.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002798042003004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critiques Mueller 1973, arguing that public support for war is affected by temporally proximate war casualties, not by the cumulative level of casualties, logged or not. Examines US public opinion during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartner, Scott Sigmund, and Gary M. Segura. “Race, Casualties, and Opinion in the Vietnam War.” Journal of Politics 62:1 (February 2000): 115–146.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that support for the Vietnam War is affected by casualties in an individual’s geographically proximate area. This geographic proximity relationship exists regardless of the race of the individual or the casualties. African American and white support for the Vietnam War diverged only in the later years of the war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gelpi, Christopher, Peter D. Feaver, and Jason A. Reifler. Paying the Human Costs of War: American Public Opinion and Casualties in Military Conflicts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that public opinion during war is determined by expectations of success and stakes as well as casualties. Expectations of success are the most important factor. Examines experimental and survey evidence, with a focus on the Iraq War.

    Find this resource:

  • Mueller, John E. War, Presidents and Public Opinion. New York: Wiley, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First major scientific work examining the relationship between war and public opinion, focusing on US public opinion during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Major finding is that public support for the president decreases as the log of war casualties increases. Also explores the “rally ’round the flag” effect.

    Find this resource:

  • Valentino, Benjamin A., Paul K. Huth, and Sarah E. Croco. “Bear Any Burden? How Democracies Minimize the Costs of War.” Journal of Politics 72.2 (April 2010): 528–544.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022381609990831Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that democracies suffer significantly fewer military and civilian casualties than dictatorships during war, by generating more military power, joining larger coalitions, using military strategies that reduce casualties, and fighting away from the national homeland, reducing civilian deaths. Examines all wars from 1900 to 2005, applying statistical methods to new data. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Audience Costs

Some scholars begin with the initial institutional assumption that democratic publics will punish leaders who engage in unpopular wars to try to understand how this might affect prewar crisis bargaining. Fearon 1994 frames this dynamic as “audience costs,” in which an external audience (such as a leader’s society) inflicts costs (such as ousting an elected leader from power) if that leader engages in unpopular policies. Fearon’s key theoretical insight, developed in a formal model, is that if democratic political institutions make it easier for a public to inflict audience costs on an elected leader, then, somewhat paradoxically, that makes that leader’s international threats more credible, as all know that the elected leader will suffer especially great political punishment if he or she fails to follow through on an international threat. This notion receives more extensive theoretical development in Schultz 2001. Schultz 2001 contrasts the audience cost proposition that democracies make more effective threats with a simpler institutional account proposition that democracies make less effective threats, the latter emerging from the assumption that democracies are less likely to follow through on their threats because they are blood-shy. The empirical work on audience costs has been mixed. Earlier statistical work, such as Partell and Palmer 1999, Eyerman and Hart 1996, and Schultz 2001, provides support for the audience costs proposition, although the quantitative findings in Kinsella and Russett 2002 cast empirical doubt. Tomz 2007 shows experimental support, although in its review the relevant scholarship and history Snyder and Borghard 2011 expresses skepticism. Weeks 2008 extends the audience cost insight, arguing (and finding supporting evidence) that variation in institutional form among nondemocracies correlates with variation in threat effectiveness.

  • Eyerman, Joe, and Robert A. Hart Jr. “An Empirical Test of the Audience Cost Proposition: Democracy Speaks Louder Than Words.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 40.4 (December 1996): 597–616.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002796040004004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that the Fearon 1994 audience costs model predicts that disputes between democracies should be shorter than other disputes. Finds supportive quantitative evidence, using Sherman, Farris, Alker, Carley, and Sherman (SHERFACS) data on disputes from 1945 to 1984. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Fearon, James D. “Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes.” American Political Science Review 88.3 (September 1994): 577–592.

    DOI: 10.2307/2944796Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a formal model arguing that democratic threats during crisis are more credible than authoritarian threats during crisis, because elected leaders face higher audience costs and hence are less likely to back down once a threat is made. The model predicts, among other phenomena, the dyadic democratic peace phenomenon.Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kinsella, David, and Bruce Russett. “Conflict Emergence and Escalation in Interactive International Dyads.” Journal of Politics 64.4 (November 2002): 1045–1068.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Studies the effect of regime type on crisis behavior among dyads, 1951–1992. Finds that democracies do not use diplomatic signals as a means of conveying resolve as audience cost models forecast. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Partell, Peter J., and Glenn Palmer. “Audience Costs and Interstate Crises: An Empirical Assessment of Fearon’s Model of Dispute Outcomes.” International Studies Quarterly 43.2 (June 1999): 389–405.

    DOI: 10.1111/0020-8833.00125Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents quantitative evidence supporting the predictions of Fearon 1994, namely that democracies are more likely to win international disputes and that democracies are less likely to back down in crises. Uses militarized interstate dispute (see Correlates of War and Polity IV Project, both cited under Data Sets) data for all disputes from 1816 to 1992. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Schultz, Kenneth A. Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491658Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents an audience costs formal model of democratic crisis behavior. Builds on Fearon 1994 by focusing on democratic transparency, which allows political opposition to communicate support for war, increasing the credibility of democratic threats. Presents quantitative tests and a case study of the 1898 Fashoda crisis.

    Find this resource:

  • Snyder, Jack and Erica D. Borghard. “The Cost of Empty Threats: A Penny, Not a Pound.” American Political Science Review 105.3 (August 2011): 437–456.

    DOI: 10.1017/S000305541100027XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that in democracies elected leaders do not pay domestic political costs for failing to execute public threats. Looks at post-1945 crises. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Tomz, Michael. “Domestic Audience Costs in International Relations: An Experimental Approach.” International Organization 61.4 (Fall 2007): 821–840.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents survey experimental results demonstrating audience costs, specifically that citizens disapprove of leaders backing down after having made empty threats. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Weeks, Jessica L. “Autocratic Audience Costs: Regime Type and Signaling Resolve.” International Organization 62.1 (Winter 2008): 35–64.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that some autocracies—namely, those in which domestic groups can punish the leader, the audience opposes backing down in crises, and external parties can observe domestic political punishment for backing down—can have higher audience costs and signal more credibly in crises. Finds empirical support in the postwar period. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Leaders

Some research has focused more narrowly on the leader and specifically how domestic political institutions can alter a leader’s conflict behavior incentives. Bueno de Mesquita and Siverson 1995 unpacks the internal assumption of the democratic peace that elected leaders are more likely to lose office faster following defeat in war, as compared with autocratic leaders. Gelpi and Grieco 2001 explores the pattern that elected leaders are more likely to be targeted than are other kinds of leaders, finding that the real effect is that inexperienced leaders (and not elected leaders) are more likely to be targeted and that elected leaders are more likely to be inexperienced because they spend less time in office. Goemans 2000 proposes that different leaders suffer different post-tenure fates, that domestic political institutions determine a leader’s post-tenure fate, and that a leader’s expectation of what will happen to him or her after losing power will affect his or her conflict behavior. Goemans 2000 applies a theory initially to war termination, but Chiozza and Goemans 2011, a later book, makes a broader application to include ideas about conflict initiation as well. These findings shed considerable light on the diversionary theory of war and the effects of conflict on leader tenure in particular. Debs and Goemans 2010 constructs a formal model based on earlier insights about probability and consequences of losing tenure. Bueno de Mesquita, et al. 2003 develops another major strand of leader-based scholarship in the 2000s; it builds a more general theory of domestic politics and international relations. The theory posits that a leader is selected into power by a winning coalition of members of a selectorate, the selectorate being some subset of the population. Selectorates will tend to be larger in democracies and smaller in dictatorships. These scholars present a formal model of war behavior. That model generated several predictions, including that democracies are especially unlikely to attack each other, as the greater ability of democracies to extract resources during wartime improves their war-fighting ability and boosts deterrence between democracies. Bueno de Mesquita, et al. 2003 applies its model to a wide range of political phenomena, engaging in a battery of quantitative empirical tests. This model has attracted scholarly debate; Clarke and Stone 2008 critiques elements of the Bueno de Mesquita, et al. 2003 research design.

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and Randolph M. Siverson. “War and the Survival of Political Leaders: A Comparative Study of Regime Types and Political Accountability.” American Political Science Review 89.4 (December 1995): 841–855.

    DOI: 10.2307/2082512Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that war outcomes affect a leader’s tenure in power. Defeat and high war costs increase the risks to a leader’s tenure. Elected leaders are more vulnerable to the domestic political effects of war. New leaders and democracies are more likely to win the wars they fight.Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson, and James D. Morrow. The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds formal, selectorate model of politics and policy. Generates a wide array of hypotheses about foreign policy behavior and other outcomes. Predicts the democratic peace. Produces empirical support for its many generated hypotheses. Employs a measure of the “selectorate” slightly different from a democracy measure.

    Find this resource:

  • Chiozza, Giacomo, and H. E. Goemans. Leaders and International Conflict. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511996429Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Combines and expands a decade of theoretical and empirical work. Proposes that a leader’s expectations of postwar political fate, regarding the likelihood of falling from power and consequences of falling from power, affect decisions for conflict. Extensive quantitative empirical tests and case studies of Latin America, 1840–1918.

    Find this resource:

  • Clarke, Kevin A., and Randall W. Stone. “Democracy and the Logic of Political Survival.” American Political Science Review 102.3 (August 2008): 387–392.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a methodological critique of Bueno de Mesquita, et al. 2003, specifically that their use of residualization induces omitted variable bias. Claims that correcting for this problem eliminates many of their key findings. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Debs, Alexandre, and H. E. Goemans. “Regime Type, the Fate of Leaders, and War.” American Political Science Review 104.3 (August 2010): 430–445.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0003055410000195Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds a formal model incorporating insights from Goemans 2000 about how regime type affects the likelihood that a leader will fall from power, and the consequences of falling from power. Explains democratic peace, and makes other conflict predictions. Presents some new empirics on regime type, leader tenure, and conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gelpi, Christopher, and Joseph M. Grieco. “Attracting Trouble: Democracy, Leadership Tenure, and the Targeting of Militarized Challenges, 1918–1992.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45.6 (December 2001): 794–817.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002701045006005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that democracies tend to be targets of militarized challenges not because they are democracies but because new leaders are targeted more often than veteran leaders and elected leaders are in power for less time than other leaders. Examines conflict behavior from 1918 to 1992 using Interstate Crisis Behavior (cited under Data Sets data. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Goemans, H. E. War and Punishment: The Causes of War Termination and the First World War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First to propose that leaders face different post-tenure fates and that regime type affects post-tenure fates. Applies theory to war termination, predicting that mixed regimes fight longer by gambling for resurrection. Some quantitative tests on war duration and also extensive case studies on war termination behavior during World War I.

    Find this resource:

Variation among Democratic Political Institutions

Most studies of the democratic peace employ a unidimensional measure of democracy, often relying on Polity IV Project (cited under Data Sets) data. However, some studies have developed more sophisticated measures of domestic political institutions, often drawing on ideas from comparative politics to distinguish democratic forms. Some studies have explored for the possibility that democratic behavior may differ if a democracy has a presidential versus a parliamentary system, if the legislature has greater control over the executive, whether the ruling coalition is majority or minority, the extent of the franchise, media freedom, and whether a right-wing or left-wing government is in power. Van Belle 1997 proposes that a freer press ought to serve to constrain militarism and finds simple correlational evidence in support of this speculation. Using a more sophisticated research design, Choi and James 2007 confirms Van Belle’s findings. Prins and Sprecher 1999 finds that parliamentary democracies, coalition governments, and governments with extremist parties were more likely to reciprocate against the threat or use of force. In case studies, Elman 2000 unpacks the interactions between executive preference and institutional form. Ireland and Gartner 2001 proposes that minority democracies are politically weaker and ought to be more constrained than majority or coalition governments and finds supporting evidence. Reiter and Tillman 2002 finds that a variety of different measures of democratic form are unrelated to conflict behavior, with the exception of the size of the franchise. Leblang and Chan 2003 finds that proportional representation systems are less conflict-prone than other types of government. Palmer, et al. 2004 finds that variance in the structure of government, such as the number of parties, is unrelated to conflict behavior but that right-wing governments are more conflict-prone than left-wing governments.

  • Choi, Seung-Whan, and Patrick James. “Media Openness, Democracy and Militarized Interstate Disputes.” British Journal of Political Science 37.1 (2007): 23–46.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0007123407000026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examining postwar dyads, finds that greater media openness of both states in a dyad is correlated with fewer militarized interstate disputes within the dyad, even after controlling for democracy and other factors. Uses data from Van Belle 1997 on press freedoms. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Elman, Miriam Fendius. “Unpacking Democracy: Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Theories of the Democratic Peace.” Security Studies 9.4 (Summer 2000): 91–126.

    DOI: 10.1080/09636410008429414Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the effects of the interaction of the variation of executive preference and variation of domestic political institutions. Conducts several case studies, including on the War of 1812, Russo-Finnish relations in 1940, 1930s British appeasement of Germany, and Israeli policy toward Lebanon in 1977–1981. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Ireland, Michael J., and Scott Sigmund Gartner. “Time to Fight: Government Type and Conflict Initiation in Parliamentary Systems.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45.5 (October 2001): 547–568.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002701045005001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examining variance in conflict behavior among parliamentary democracies finds that minority governments are less conflict prone than majority or coalition governments. Uses Cox event history analysis on conflict behavior from 1920 to 1992. States with allies are less likely to use force. Uses militarized interstate dispute conflict data (see Correlates of War, cited under Data Sets). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Leblang, David, and Steve Chan. “Explaining Wars Fought by Established Democracies: Do Institutional Constraints Matter?” Political Research Quarterly 56.4 (December 2003): 385–400.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the possibility that variation in domestic political institutions explains democratic conflict behavior. The most consistent finding is that proportional representation systems are less involved in interstate conflicts than other regime types. Mixed findings for other measures. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Palmer, Glenn, Tamar R. London, and Patrick M. Regan. “What’s Stopping You? The Sources of Political Constraints on International Conflict Behavior in Parliamentary Democracies.” International Interactions 30.1 (March 2004): 1–24.

    DOI: 10.1080/725289044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Right-wing governments are more likely to use force, and left-wing governments are less likely to use force. Factors related to the architecture of the ruling government, such as the number of parties in the coalition and whether the government is single party, are generally unrelated to conflict behavior. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Prins, Brandon C., and Christopher Sprecher. “Institutional Constraints, Political Opposition, and Interstate Dispute Escalation: Evidence from Parliamentary Systems, 1946–89.” Journal of Peace Research 36.3 (May 1999): 271–287.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343399036003002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines conflict behavior of fifteen parliamentary democracies in postwar behavior. Finds that among parliamentary democracies, coalition governments and democracies with greater parliamentary representation of extremist parties are more likely to reciprocate when they are the targets in militarized interstate disputes. Size of political opposition is unrelated to dispute reciprocation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Reiter, Dan, and Erik R. Tillman. “Public, Legislative, and Executive Constraints on the Democratic Initiation of Conflict.” Journal of Politics 64.3 (August 2002): 810–826.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Tests effects of different measures of democratic political institutions on conflict behavior. Most measures, including number of parties in ruling coalition, presidential/parliamentary system, and legislative checks on executive, do not affect democratic conflict behavior. Size of franchise does affect democratic conflict behavior. Tests on democratic conflict behavior from 1919 to 1992. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Van Belle, Douglas A. “Press Freedom and the Democratic Peace.” Journal of Peace Research 34.4 (November 1997): 405–414.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343397034004003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops the theoretical argument that press freedom ought to encourage more peaceful behavior. Presents some preliminary, largely bivariate tests demonstrating a correlation between press freedom and peace. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Variation among Authoritarian Political Institutions

There is a small but growing body of work on whether variation in authoritarian political institutions correlates with variation in conflict behavior. Andreski 1980 claims that authoritarian states may in fact be more peaceful in their interstate relations if internal instability forces them to employ their armed forces against internal insurgents rather than against external enemies. Werner 2000 makes the claim that there may be an autocratic peace as well as a democratic peace in that a pair of autocratic states is less likely to fight each other than a pair of states that includes a democracy and an autocracy. Peceny, et al. 2002 makes the more nuanced claim that if one subdivides authoritarian states into subcategories, such as single-party regimes, monarchies, and military juntas, two states belonging to the same subcategory are less likely to fight each other than a pair of states including states from different subcategories. There has been other research proposing that a state’s subcategory of authoritarianism can help explain its conflict behavior. Lai and Slater 2006 proposes that military regimes have less effective tools for maintaining power than other kinds of authoritarian systems, so military regimes are more likely than other kinds of authoritarian governments to resort to force to divert the population’s attention away from internal problems such as economic decline. Weeks 2008 argues that different kinds of authoritarian regimes experience different levels of audience costs, meaning that there will be variance in their abilities to make international threats. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith 2011 lays out in more accessible terms how the policy choices of both dictators and elected leaders are motivated by leaders’ desires to stay in power. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith 2011 draw on the selectorate model.

  • Andreski, Stanislav. “On the Peaceful Disposition of Military Dictatorships.” Journal of Strategic Studies 3.3 (December 1980): 3–10.

    DOI: 10.1080/01402398008437052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that military dictatorships ought to be less likely to get involved in international conflicts. Because such states often experience internal conflict, their militaries must focus on fighting rebels and insurgents and are hence ill-prepared to fight conventional combat with other national armies. Some informal discussion of historical examples. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and Alastair Smith. The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics. New York: PublicAffairs, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Accessible book presenting selectorate model. Proposes that incentives to stay in power shape choices of all leaders, and the effects of these incentives are moderated by regime type.

    Find this resource:

  • Lai, Brian, and Dan Slater. “Institutions of the Offensive: Domestic Sources of Dispute Initiation in Authoritarian Regimes, 1950–1992.” American Journal of Political Science 50.1 (January 2006): 113–126.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2006.00173.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that among authoritarian regimes, military juntas are more likely to initiate conflict. Other kinds of autocracies control society through high infrastructural power. Juntas do not have that advantage, and must resort to conflict to rally the population and remain in power. Using Barbara Geddes’ unpublished data on authoritarian political systems, they find empirical support.Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Peceny, Mark, Caroline C. Beer, and Shannon Sanchez-Terry. “Dictatorial Peace?” American Political Science Review 96.1 (March 2002): 15–26.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that politically similar states in general, including similar kinds of autocratic regimes, are less likely to experience militarized interstate disputes. Uses Geddes data on autocratic regimes, distinguishing between single party, military junta, and personalist regimes. Available online for purchase or by subscription. Scholarly exchange on this article in American Political Science Review 97.2 (May 2003); see Dan Reiter and Allan C. Stam, “Identifying the Culprit: Democracy, Dictatorship, and Dispute Initiation” (pp. 333–337) and Mark Peceny and Caroline C. Beer, “Peaceful Parties and Puzzling Personalists” (pp. 338–342).

    Find this resource:

  • Weeks, Jessica L. “Autocratic Audience Costs: Regime Type and Signaling Resolve.” International Organization 62.1 (Winter 2008): 35–64.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses Geddes data to explore how variations of authoritarian states are more or less vulnerable to domestic political audience costs, which in turn affects international conflict behavior. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Werner, Suzanne. “The Effects of Political Similarity on the Onset of Militarized Disputes, 1816–1985.” Political Research Quarterly 53.2 (June 2000): 343–374.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that politically similar states in general, not just democracies, are less likely to experience militarized interstate disputes. Uses dyad as unit of analysis. Political similarity measure is derived from Polity IV Project (cited under Data Sets) data. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Democracy and War Outcomes

The democratic peace proposes that democracies are more peaceful. Some scholars have proposed that democracies fight their wars differently and in particular that democracies are more likely to win the wars they fight. Lake 1992 first observes that democracies win their wars, proposing that they do so because they are more likely to form overwhelming coalitions, because they can extract more from their societies economically, and because democratic citizens are more likely to sacrifice for war. Reiter and Stam 2002 builds on the institutional explanation of the democratic peace to generate the selection effects explanation of why democracies win wars, proposing that the main reason that democracies win their wars is that because elected leaders fear the domestic political consequences of a lost war, democratic leaders start only wars they are very confident they will go on to win. The selection effects explanation is consistent with the Gelpi and Griesdorf 2001 finding that democracies are especially likely to win the crises that they initiate. Reiter and Stam 2002 also finds that democratic soldiers fight with better leadership and higher initiative and proposes that democracies do not win their wars because of stronger alliances or because they can extract more from their societies or economies. Consistent with the selection effects explanation, Valentino, et al. 2010 (cited under Casualties and Public Support for War) finds that democracies suffer fewer friendly casualties when they start wars; Reiter and Stam 2002 and Bueno de Mesquita, et al. 2003–2004 find that democracies are more likely to initiate conflicts as they become more confident they will win; and Bennett and Stam 1996, Bennett and Stam 1998, and Slantchev 2004 find that democracies tend to fight shorter wars. The war outcome scholarship is closely connected to scholarly strands described elsewhere in this essay. The proposition that democracies initiate only wars they are likely to win focuses on the motives of leaders and the political institutions in which they are nested as well as the general audience costs idea that elected leaders who adopt unpopular policies are more likely to be punished. The selection effects explanation is also closely related to the public opinion literature, which proposes that public opinion is sensitive to war outcomes and casualties.

  • Bennett, D. Scott, and Allan C. Stam III. “The Duration of Interstate Wars, 1816–1985.” American Political Science Review 90.2 (June 1996): 239–257.

    DOI: 10.2307/2082882Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of first duration models in international relations. Found that wars involving democracies tend to be shorter. Other factors, such as military strategy, also shorten wars.Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bennett, D. Scott, and Allan C. Stam III. “The Declining Advantages of Democracy: A Combined Model of War Outcomes and Duration.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42.3 (June 1998): 344–366.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002798042003007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds on Bennett and Stam 1996. Tests a more sophisticated research design, exploring determinants of war duration and war outcome. Considers win, lose, and draw outcomes. Finds that democracies win short wars but after about eighteen months the probability of a democracy reaching a draw increases. Consistent with the institutional account. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, James D. Morrow, Randolph M. Siverson, and Alastair Smith. “Testing Novel Implications from the Selectorate Theory of War.” World Politics 56.3 (April 2003–2004): 363–388.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds support for several hypotheses drawn from selectorate theory of war, including that states with larger winning coalition states (often democracies) are especially unlikely to participate in wars or conflicts when they face military advantage and that larger winning coalition states extract more from their societies during long wars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gelpi, Christopher F., and Michael Griesdorf. “Winners or Losers? Democracies in International Crisis, 1918–1994.” American Political Science Review 95.3 (September 2001): 633–647.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0003055401003148Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using Interstate Crisis Behavior (cited under Data Sets) data for 1918–1994, finds that democracies are especially likely to win the crises they initiate. Also finds that democratic peace is not a spurious effect of common interests. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lake, David A. “Powerful Pacifists: Democratic States and War.” American Political Science Review 86.1 (March 1992): 24–37.

    DOI: 10.2307/1964013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds a rent-seeking theory to explain democratic peace and why democracies win wars. Democracies win wars because they are wealthier, can extract more from their economies in war, and build larger coalitions. Finds evidence of democratic victory, looking at all wars from 1816 to 1992. Uses Correlates of War (cited under Data Sets) data. Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Reiter, Dan, and Allan C. Stam. Democracies at War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that democracies win their wars because they start wars only when they are highly likely to win and because democratic armies fight with better leadership and initiative. Democracies do not win wars because of economic extraction or alliance advantages. Presents quantitative evidence for all wars since 1816.

    Find this resource:

  • Slantchev, Branislav. “How Initiators End Their Wars: The Duration of Warfare and the Terms of Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 48:4 (October 2004): 813–882.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2004.00103.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that democracies fight shorter wars, and democratic initiators win wars because they start short wars. As wars drag on, war initiators become increasingly less likely to win. Uses original data on all wars from 1816 to 1991. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Democracy, Alliance, and Wars

Some scholars have explored the relationship among democracy, alliance, and war, as a means of both drawing out the empirical explanations of the core theoretical ideas presented in the democratic peace and understanding better why democracies tend to win the wars they fight. Choi 2004 argues that democracies win their wars because they are more likely to ally with each other and that democracies make better allies. Relatedly, Pilster 2011 proposes that democracies make more effective allies and finds that in military interventions states with democratic allies are more likely to act multilaterally than unilaterally and that military interventions are more likely to end in success and faster if they include more democratic participants. Gaubatz 1996, Leeds 1999, and Lipson 2003 present theoretical statements on why democracies ought to be more likely to ally and cooperate, and Leeds 2003 proposes that democracies are more likely to comply with their alliance obligations. Some have criticized the idea that democracies are more likely to ally. Gibler and Sarkees 2004 doubts whether democracies are more likely to ally with each other, and Gartzke and Gleditsch 2004 proposes that democracies might be systematically less likely to comply with their alliance obligations.

  • Choi, Ajin. “Democratic Synergy and Victory in War, 1816–1992.” International Studies Quarterly 48.3 (September 2004): 663–682.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0020-8833.2004.00319.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that democracies are more effective allies during wartime. Finds that states with more democratic allies are more likely to win their interstate wars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartzke, Erik, and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. “Why Democracies May Be Less Reliable Allies.” American Journal of Political Science 48.4 (October 2004): 775–795.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2004.00101.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a new theory that because of leadership turnover, democracies are less likely to honor their alliance commitments. Using both Alliance Treat Obligations and Provisions Project (ATOP) and Correlates of War (cited under Data Sets) data, presents analysis that since 1816 democracies have been significantly less likely to honor their alliance commitments in war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gaubatz, Kurt Taylor. “Democratic States and Commitment in International Relations.” International Organization 50.1 (Winter 1996):109–139.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818300001685Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes a series of informal theoretical arguments as to why democracies ought to be more reliable alliance partners. Presents quantitative evidence finding that alliances between democracies have lasted longer than other kinds of alliances. Uses Correlates of War (cited under Data Sets) data on alliances back to 1816. Uses duration analysis. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gibler, Douglas M., and Meredith Reid Sarkees. “Measuring Alliances: The Correlates of War Formal Interstate Alliance Dataset, 1816–2000.” Journal of Peace Research 41.2 (March 2004): 211–222.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343304041061Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Empirical study. Using Correlates of War (cited under Data Sets)alliance data, finds that democracies are less likely to ally with each other before 1945 and more likely to ally with each other after 1945. Contrasts with ATOP-based research that democracies are more likely to ally with each other even before 1945. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Leeds, Brett Ashley. “Domestic Political Institutions, Credible Commitments, and International Cooperation.” American Journal of Political Science 43.4 (October 1999): 979–1002.

    DOI: 10.2307/2991814Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops formal theory of why democracies are especially likely to cooperate with each other and autocracies are especially likely to cooperate with each other. Conducts empirical tests on Conflict and Peace Databank data for 1953–1978 and finds support. Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Leeds, Brett Ashley. “Alliance Reliability in Times of War: Explaining State Decisions to Violate Treaties.” International Organization 57.4 (Fall 2003): 801–827.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Extends the Leeds 1999 argument that democracies make reliable commitments. Using new ATOP data on alliances, presents quantitative evidence that democracies are significantly more likely to adhere to their alliance commitments, looking at all wars since 1816. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Lipson, Charles. Reliable Partners: How Democracies Have Made a Separate Peace. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that democracies can more easily credibly commit to cooperation and therefore make reliable agreements. Uses this argument to explain the democratic peace. Informal theory; empirics are mostly anecdotal rather than quantitative or in-depth qualitative.

    Find this resource:

  • Pilster, Ulrich. “Are Democracies the Better Allies? The Impact of Regime Type on Military Coalition Operations.” International Interactions 37.1 (2011): 55–85.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050629.2011.546259Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that states with democratic allies are more likely to intervene multilaterally than unilaterally and that intervention coalitions with more democracies enjoy shorter, more successful missions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Democracies, Conscription, and War

The institutional account of the democratic peace assumes that populations hate war in particular because of casualties. However, this casualty sensitivity might be alleviated if a democracy (or any other state) maintained a volunteer military rather than a conscription military. Friendly casualties are still regrettable, but individuals serve in the military by choice and enlist knowing the risks of military service, comparable to police officers or firefighters. If leaders are less likely to suffer domestic political punishment from conflicts if the nation has a volunteer military, then nations with volunteer militaries ought to be more likely to engage in international conflict. A number of studies have produced findings consistent with this claim. Vasquez 2005 proposes and finds supporting quantitative evidence that the constraints of democratic political institutions on using force are relaxed when a democracy has a volunteer rather than a conscription military, as the public is more willing to accept casualties in a volunteer military than in a conscript military. Consistently, Horowitz and Levendusky 2011 uses experiments to reveal that public support for war is higher with a voluntary military than with a conscript military. Perhaps in contrast, Horowitz, et al. 2011 finds that democracies experience fewer casualties when fighting with volunteer militaries than with conscript militaries. Choi and James 2004 finds that conscription may make conflict more likely, positing that conscription indicates greater military influence on politics. Pickering 2011 also finds that states with conscript militaries are more likely to initiate force, including against nonstate actors such as rebel groups and terrorists.

  • Choi, Seung-Whan, and Patrick James. “Civil–Military Relations in a Neo-Kantian World, 1886–1992.” Armed Forces and Society 30.2 (Winter 2004): 227–254.

    DOI: 10.1177/0095327X0403000205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes the more general argument that greater military involvement in politics makes conflict involvement more likely. Conscription is a sign of greater military involvement in politics. Finds support for dyads from 1886 to 1992. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Horowitz, Michael C., and Matthew S. Levendusky. “Drafting Support for War: Conscription and Mass Support for Warfare.” Journal of Politics 73.2 (April 2011): 524–534.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022381611000119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Conducts survey experiments. Demonstrates that the presence of conscription significantly decreases citizens’ support for war across a wide array of contexts. Argues that this decrease in support is related to self-interest, consistent with the institutional account. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Horowitz, Michael C., Erin M. Simpson, and Allan C. Stam. “Domestic Institutions and Wartime Casualties.” International Studies Quarterly 55.4 (December 2011): 909–936.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00679.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a new theory of property takings and mobilization efficiency. Finds that volunteer armies suffer fewer casualties in war than conscription armies, especially among democratic belligerents. Also finds that democracies are willing to bear heavy burdens of mobilization when threatened by autocratic aggression. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Pickering, Jeffrey. “Dangerous Drafts: A Time-Series, Cross-National Analysis of Conscription and the Use of Military Force, 1946–2001.” Armed Forces and Society 37.1 (2011): 119–140.

    DOI: 10.1177/0095327X09358651Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using quantitative analysis for all states 1946–2001, finds that states with conscript militaries are more likely to initiate both wars and attacks on nonstate actors such as terrorist groups. States with conscript militaries are not more likely to initiate humanitarian military operations. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Vasquez, Joseph Paul, III. “Shouldering the Soldiering: Democracy, Conscription, and Military Casualties.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 49.6 (December 2005): 849–873.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002705281151Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the relationship between democracy, conscription, and casualties. Finds that when they fight wars, democracies with conscription-based militaries suffered significantly fewer casualties than democracies with volunteer-based militaries. Looks at casualties suffered in militarized interstate disputes, mostly 1950–1985. Some analyses include world wars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Normative Accounts

Some scholars ascribe the peaceful behavior of democracies to differences in political culture and norms rather than differences in political institutions. The general proposition is that within democracies, conflicts are more likely to be resolved by peaceful means, such as elections, debate, and legal proceedings. This domestic norm of peaceful conflict resolution leaks into foreign policy, encouraging democracies to employ peaceful means of international conflict resolution, such as mediation, arbitration, and diplomacy. Conversely, in authoritarian settings, internal political conflicts are resolved through forceful means, such as internal repression, purges, coups d’état, and revolutions. This violent norm of conflict resolution then affects authoritarian foreign policy, making authoritarian governments more likely to use violent means of international conflict resolution such as war. The scholarship embracing some version of the normative account has made predictions (and found favoring evidence) across a wide variety of areas, including conflict initiation in Peterson and Graham 2011; crisis behavior in Rousseau 2005; willingness to use third-party mediation in Dixon 1993, Raymond 1994, and Raymond 1996; and willingness to settle in Dixon 1994 and Mousseau 1998. Owen 1997 makes an essentially normative argument, proposing that a democracy would be willing to embrace nonviolent means of conflict resolution if it perceived the other state as democratic. The normative scholarship to some degree overlaps with the constructivist approach to the democratic peace, although the normative literature tends to be quantitative empirical, and the constructivist literature tends to be nonempirical or qualitative empirical.

  • Dixon, William J. “Democracy and the Management of International Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 37.1 (March 1993): 42–68.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002793037001002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses normative account to propose that democratic dyads are more likely to seek out third-party arbitration of their international conflicts. Finds support, using Sherman, Farris, Alker, Carley, and Sherman (SHERFACS) conflict data for 1945–1979. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Dixon, William J. “Democracy and the Peaceful Settlement of International Conflict.” American Political Science Review 88.1 (March 1994): 14–32.

    DOI: 10.2307/2944879Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses normative account to propose that democratic dyads in dispute are more likely to reach a peaceful settlement. Finds support, using SHERFACS conflict data for 1945–1979. Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Mousseau, Michael. “Democracy and Compromise in Militarized Interstate Conflicts, 1816–1992.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42.2 (April 1998): 210–230.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002798042002005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds—consistent with normative account of democratic peace—that pairs of democracies engaged in militarized interstate disputes are much more likely to end their disputes with mutual concessions as compared to other pairs of states. Looks at all militarized interstate disputes from 1816 to 1992. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Owen, John M., IV. Liberal Peace, Liberal War: American Politics and International Security. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Creates a theory incorporating liberal ideology, perceived common liberal interest, and political institutions to predict dyadic democratic peace, but willingness of democracies to fight illiberal states. Presents several case studies from 19th-century American diplomatic and military history.

    Find this resource:

  • Peterson, Timothy M. and Leah Graham. “Shared Human Rights Norms and Military Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 55.2 (April 2011): 248–273.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002710383665Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using normative theoretical account, speculates that a government’s respect for human rights internally will correlate with its interstate conflict behavior. Looking at 1981–2001, finds evidence, in particular for a dyadic effect, that two states that respect human rights are especially unlikely to get involved in interstate conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Raymond, Gregory A. “Democracies, Disputes, and Third-Party Intermediaries.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 38.1 (March 1994): 24–42.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002794038001002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses normative account to propose that democratic dyads in conflict are more likely to seek out third-party arbitration. Finds support, using original data set of disputes from 1820 to 1965. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Raymond, Gregory A. “Demosthenes and Democracies: Regime-Types and Arbitration Outcomes.” International Interactions 22.1 (1996): 1–20.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050629608434877Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on Raymond 1994, asks whether greater democratic propensity to seek out third-party arbitration into greater likelihood of arbitration success. Using the Raymond 1994 data, finds that democracies’ greater inclination for using arbitration does not translate into greater likelihood of arbitration success. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Rousseau, David L. Democracy and War: Institutions, Norms, and the Evolution of International Conflict. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses case study, experimental, quantitative, and computer simulation methods to test normative and institutional accounts of the democratic peace.

    Find this resource:

Systemic Outlooks and the Effect of Peace on Democracy

Some scholars have tried to view the democratic peace through a systemic lens. Some have proposed that a more appropriate level of analysis is not the individual state or the dyad (pair of states) but rather the region or system, as peace becomes more widespread as the region or system becomes more democratic. Maoz and Abdolali 1989 presents an early test, finding mixed results on how the number of democracies and democratic dyads in the system affect dispute and war onset. Thompson 1996 proposes a reverse causality between democracy and peace, suggesting that a more peaceful international environment makes it easier for democracy to emerge and thrive. Thompson 1996 presents a few case studies demonstrating the dynamic. Mitchell, et al. 1999 uncovers some complex relationships using quantitative empirical methods, including that democratization often follows war, democratization makes war less frequent, and the pacifying impact of democracy increases over time. Cederman 2001 develops further this last point, making a Kantian-learning argument about how the pacifying element of democracy grows over time, also finding evidence in support of this claim. Gleditsch 2002 addresses a number of systemic claims, finding that regional democracy does make peace more likely and that democracy reinforces peace and peace reinforces democracy. Kadera, et al. 2003 agrees, finding that more conflict in the system makes democratic survival more difficult. James, et al. 1999 uses a simultaneous equation model to argue that peace causes democracy but democracy does not cause peace. Oneal and Russett 2000 rebuts this claim, concluding that democracy does cause peace but within the James, et al. 1999 research design framework, peace does not cause democracy.

Constructivist Accounts

A constructivist account of the democratic peace is perhaps related loosely theoretically to the normative account of the democratic peace. Generally, constructivism proposes that international relations are affected by social as well as material forces, that the identity and preferences of states are endogenously determined (often by social forces), and then social forces help determine whether states have fundamentally cooperative or conflictual relationships. The basic constructivist application is that democracies are likely to have especially high levels of cooperation among each other and low levels of conflict among each other because they establish a sense of transnational community. This point was first made, albeit without the constructivist label, in the Deutsch 1957 work on the North Atlantic security dynamic and what came to be known as security communities (for more on security communities, see the essays in Adler and Barnett 1998). Risse-Kappen 1995a proposes that the strong sense of community among democracies made it possible for small democracies to exert disproportionate influence in joint democratic decision making. Risse-Kappen 1995b makes the constructive claim that democracies construct peaceful images of each other, which helps maintain peaceful relations between democracies, but notably hostile constructed images of nondemocratic states makes conflicts between democracies and nondemocracies more likely (see also Widmaier 2005). Wendt 1999, a seminal constructivist work, applies constructivism to the democratic peace, and Kahl 1998–1999 presents a more full-blown application of constructivism to the democratic peace. Some have used constructivist ideas to critique the democratic peace. Oren 1995 proposes that the democracy data are themselves subjective, driven more by American values than objective criteria. The author illustrates this point with a case study of American perceptions of Imperial Germany.

  • Adler, Emanuel, and Michael Barnett, eds. Security Communities. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511598661Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides theoretical development of the security communities idea originally presented in Deutsch 1957. The volume also contains several case studies by several authors on security communities such as Australia, South America, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America.

    Find this resource:

  • Deutsch, Karl. Political Community and the North Atlantic Area: International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Foundational book describing the possibility of a democratic region of states in the North Atlantic. Deutsch proposes that states in this region form a security community and that members of the security community resolve their disputes peacefully.

    Find this resource:

  • Kahl, Colin H. “Constructing a Separate Peace: Constructivism, Collective Liberal Identity, and Democratic Peace.” Security Studies 8.2–3 (Winter–Spring 1998–1999): 94–144.

    DOI: 10.1080/09636419808429376Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a constructivist account of collective liberal identity and the democratic peace. Conducts no empirical test, but generates a number of testable propositions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Oren, Ido. “The Subjectivity of the ‘Democratic’ Peace: Changing U.S. Perceptions of Imperial Germany.” International Security 20.2 (1995): 147–184.

    DOI: 10.2307/2539232Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that subjectivity affects coding of democracy. States are seen as democratic if they represent American values. This notion challenges the democratic peace proposition. Includes case study of changing American perceptions of Imperial Germany. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Risse-Kappen, Thomas. Cooperation among Democracies: The European Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995a.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds on the security communities’ theoretical argument to propose that within democratic security communities smaller states are able to exert influence over the foreign policy choices of larger states. Includes case studies of the Korean War, the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis, NATO’s nuclear strategy, and others.

    Find this resource:

  • Risse-Kappen, Thomas. “Democratic Peace—Warlike Democracies? A Social Constructivist Interpretation of the Liberal Argument.” European Journal of International Relations 1.4 (December 1995b): 491–517.

    DOI: 10.1177/1354066195001004005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a social constructivist account for why democracies do not fight each other but do fight autocratic regimes. Contrasts it to perhaps a simpler version of the normative argument that democracies are peaceful in their relations with all regimes. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Wendt, Alexander. Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511612183Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Foundational work developing social constructivism. Proposes three possible cultures of anarchy, one of which, Kantian, amounts to a social constructivist account of the democratic peace.

    Find this resource:

  • Widmaier, Wesley W. “The Democratic Peace Is What States Make of It: A Constructivist Analysis of the US–Indian ‘Near Miss’ in the 1971 South Asian Crisis.” European Journal of International Relations 11.3 (2005): 431–455.

    DOI: 10.1177/1354066105055486Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Constructivist argument that political institutions do not ineluctably determine a state’s perceived level of democracy. Rather, social constructions of that state determine whether it is seen to be democratic. The argument is explored in the context of the diplomatic crisis between the United States and India during the 1971 Bangladesh War. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Critiques

The democratic peace has generated much scholarly controversy. Some scholarship launches general attacks against a variety of theoretical and empirical components of the democratic peace, as seen in Henderson 2002 and Rosato 2003. Beyond these general critiques, many works present more focused critiques. The citations mentioned in this section are more general, and more focused critiques are discussed in the subsections.

  • Henderson, Errol. Democracy and War: The End of an Illusion? Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents quantitative evidence against dyadic democratic peace. Also finds that democracies are more likely to get involved in interstate wars, militarized interstate disputes, and extrastate (or extrasystemic) wars than other states. Finds that mixed regimes are more likely than democracies or dictatorships to experience civil wars.

    Find this resource:

  • Rosato, Sebastian. “The Flawed Logic of Democratic Peace Theory.” American Political Science Review 97.4 (November 2003): 585–602.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents general theoretical critiques of the democratic peace, arguing that neither the normative or structural accounts present convincing explanations of observed democratic pacifism. Available online for purchase or by subscription. There were several scholarly critiques and a counter-rebuttal from Rosato in the August 2005 issue of the American Political Science Review (see “Explaining the Democratic Peace,” pp. 467–472).

    Find this resource:

Democratization

One implication of the democratic peace is that if more states democratized then the world would be more peaceful. Mansfield and Snyder 2005 critiques this notion, arguing that states undergoing partial democratization may actually be more prone to war, as underdeveloped political institutions in a quasidemocratic context may encourage leaders to engage in hypernationalism and other political tactics that may make interstate war likely. Mansfield and Snyder presents one version of this claim in the mid-1990s (as seen in Mansfield and Snyder 2005), but theoretical and empirical critiques such as Ward and Gleditsch 1998 and Russett and Oneal 2001 move them to develop a more refined theoretical argument with more sophisticated empirical techniques by the mid-2000s. Narang and Nelson 2009 claims that even the Mansfield and Snyder 2005 claim has no empirical support.

  • Mansfield, Edward D., and Jack L. Snyder. Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a revised version of the 1990s Mansfield–Snyder argument on democratization and war. States that have undergone incomplete democratization are especially prone to interstate war. Presents quantitative tests in support of the central hypothesis, using both the nation as dyad as unit of analysis. Discusses several case studies.

    Find this resource:

  • Narang, Vipin, and Rebecca M. Nelson. “Who Are These Belligerent Democratizers? Reassessing the Impact of Democratization on War.” International Organization 63.2 (Spring 2009): 357–379.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818309090122Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a quantitative empirical critique of the Mansfield and Snyder 2005 finding that incomplete democratization makes interstate war more likely. Proposes also that the positive relationship found by Mansfield and Snyder is entirely dependent on a single case. Available online for purchase or by subscription. Mansfield and Snyder respond, in the same issue of International Organization; see “Pathways to War in Democratic Transitions” (pp. 381–390).

    Find this resource:

  • Russett, Bruce, and John Oneal. Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations. New York: Norton, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides quantitative evidence refuting the claim that democratization makes interstate conflict more likely. Also see General Overviews.

    Find this resource:

  • Ward, Michael D., and Kristian Gleditsch. “Democratizing for Peace.” American Political Science Review 92.1 (March 1998): 51–61.

    DOI: 10.2307/2585928Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a quantitative empirical critique of the 1990s Mansfield–Snyder (see Mansfield and Snyder 2005) argument on democratization and peace. Finds that states undergoing democratization are more peaceful and become more warlike if democratization is reversed.Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Methodological Debates

Quantitative empirical work on the democratic peace often pushed the cutting edge of the methodological frontier in international research, emerging both from work supporting the democratic peace and from work critiquing it. A number of scholars developed general critiques of certain statistical methods that were used in democratic peace work and then argued that improving the statistical method would result in demonstrating no statistically significant relationship between democracy and peace. Democratic peace scholars would then reply, arguing that the critique was flawed or that appropriate adoption of the technique would still demonstrate empirical support for the democratic peace. Beck, et al. 1998 argues that earlier democratic peace work did not account for temporal autocorrelation within state dyads and that accounting for such autocorrelation undermines the finding of statistical significance. Russett and Oneal 2001 (cited under Democratization) claims to account for such temporal interdependence and still finds evidence supporting the democratic peace. Green, et al. 2001 makes an approximately similar point as Beck, et al. 1998, arguing for the adoption of fixed effects models. Beck, et al. 2000 argues for the use of neural networks in analyzing conflict data and finds that using such techniques reveals support for the democratic peace. Ward, et al. 2007 presents a new statistical model that accounts for more dependencies among dyads but uncovers support for the democratic peace. Schultz 2001 makes a different methodological point, suggesting that the audience costs proposition is difficult to test on historical data because the theory predicts that a key class of cases, instances in which democratic leaders fail to follow through on a threat, ought not exist.

  • Beck, Nathaniel, Jonathan N. Katz, and Richard Tucker. “Taking Time Seriously: Time-Series-Cross-Section Analysis with a Binary Dependent Variable.” American Journal of Political Science 42.4 (October 1998): 1260–1288.

    DOI: 10.2307/2991857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a statistical method appropriate for use with panel data employing a binary dependent variable. Use of this method demonstrates an insignificant relationship between democracy and peace for all politically relevant interstate dyads, 1951–1985. Available online by subscription

    Find this resource:

  • Beck, Nathaniel, Gary King, and Langche Zeng. “Improving Quantitative Studies of International Conflict: A Conjecture.” American Political Science Review 49.1 (March 2000): 21–35.

    DOI: 10.2307/2586378Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In assessing the odd nature of conflict data, the authors speculate that neural net techniques might be best suited as analytic tools. They use such techniques and uncover strong support for the democratic peace. Available online by subscription. A scholarly exchange on this article appeared in the June 2004 issue of American Political Science Review; see Scott De Marchi, Christopher Gelpi, and Jeffrey D. Grynaviski, “Untangling Neural Nets” (pp. 371–378) and Nathaniel Beck, Gary King, and Langche Zeng, “No Access Theory and Evidence in International Conflict: A Response to de Marchi, Gelpi, and Grynaviski” (pp. 379–389).

    Find this resource:

  • Green, Donald P., Seo Yoon H. Kim, and David Yoon. “Dirty Pool.” International Organization 55.2 (April 2001): 441–468.

    DOI: 10.1162/00208180151140630Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that fixed effects are the appropriate technique for testing the democratic peace with panel data. Argues that employing fixed effects reveals no relationship between democracy and peace. Available online for purchase or by subscription. Responses by Oneal and Russett (“Clear and Clean: The Fixed Effects of the Liberal Peace,” pp. 469–485) and others published in same issue of International Organization.

    Find this resource:

  • Schultz, Kenneth A. “Looking for Audience Costs.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45.1 (February 2001): 32–60.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002701045001002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Demonstrates the methodological difficulties in testing the audience cost propositions of Fearon 1994 (cited under Audience Costs). The theory predicts that democracies ought to avoid situations in which they suffer higher election costs, making it difficult to demonstrate the basic idea that democracies suffer higher audience costs when they back down. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Ward, Michael D., Randolph M. Siverson, and Xun Cao. “Disputes, Democracies, and Dependencies: A Reexamination of the Kantian Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 51.3 (July 2007): 583–601.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2007.00269.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses a Bayesian hierarchical bilinear mixed-effects model to understand true nature of Kantian peace. Some Kantian hypotheses are not supported, but the evidence does indicate support for the dyadic democratic peace. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Common Interests

Some have argued that the observed democratic peace is essentially spurious. The claim is that the real causal force is that states with common interests do not fight, and democracies happen to have common interests. The flavor of this scholarship is to suggest that when one introduces better measures of common interests as independent variables, then the relationship between democracy and peace becomes no longer significant. Scholars have argued, for example, that if one includes measures of joint alliance (as seen in Gowa 2000) or common UN voting records (as seen in Gartzke 1998 and Gartzke 2000), those measures are significantly associated with peace, and the joint democracy independent variable is no longer statistically significant. Defenders of the democratic peace have replied to these critiques in works such as Maoz 1998, Oneal and Russett 1999, and Russett and Oneal 2001 (the latter cited under Democratization). Henderson 1998 demonstrates that although common culture within a dyad is negatively associated with conflict, a measure of joint democracy is still significant when common culture is included. Gleditsch 2008 presents a sweeping defense of the democratic peace from the common interest critique and other criticisms, attributing the decline in interstate war since 1945 to liberal factors such as the spread of democracy, trade, and international organizations.

  • Gartzke, Erik. “Kant We All Just Get Along? Opportunity, Willingness, and the Origins of the Democratic Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 42.1 (January 1998): 1–27.

    DOI: 10.2307/2991745Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that the observed peace between democracies is a function of common interests rather than common democratic political institutions. Shows that states with common UN voting patterns are unlikely to fight and that inclusion of a UN voting variable renders the joint democracy variable statistically insignificant. Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartzke, Erik. “Preferences and the Democratic Peace.” International Studies Quarterly 44.2 (June 2000): 191–212.

    DOI: 10.1111/0020-8833.00155Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Responds to Oneal and Russett 2000 (cited under Systemic Outlooks and the Effect of Peace on Democracy), in defense of Gartzke 1998. Through exploration of various research designs, argues that the joint democracy result is fragile and contingent on particular research design specifications. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gleditsch, Nils Petter. “The Liberal Moment Fifteen Years On: Presidential Address, 49th Convention of the International Studies Association, San Francisco, CA, March 27, 2008.” International Studies Quarterly 52.4 (December 2008): 691–712.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Attributes the decline of war since 1945 to the spread of liberal factors such as democracy, trade, and international organizations. Rebuts alternative explanations of this peaceful period, including the common interests argument. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gowa, Joanne. Ballots and Bullets: The Elusive Democratic Peace. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that the observed pacifism among democracies is a function of common interests rather than democratic political institutions. Presents quantitative tests arguing that the democratic peace disappears when common interest is properly accounted for, such as including alliance as an independent variable.

    Find this resource:

  • Henderson, Errol Anthony. “The Democratic Peace through the Lens of Culture, 1820–1989.” International Studies Quarterly 42.3 (September 1998): 461–484.

    DOI: 10.1111/0020-8833.00092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores whether pairs of states with common religion, ethnicity, or language are less likely to fight. Finds that inclusion of joint culture does not render the joint democracy variable insignificant. Examines state dyads from 1820 to 1989, using Correlates of War data for war and culture and Polity IV Project (both cited under Data Sets) data for democracy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Maoz, Zeev. “Realist and Cultural Critiques of the Democratic Peace: A Theoretical and Empirical Re-assessment.” International Interactions 24.1 (1998): 3–89.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050629808434920Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents quantitative evidence refuting the claim that the observed peace between democracies is an artifact of common interests. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Oneal, John R., and Bruce Russett. “Is the Liberal Peace Just an Artifact of Cold War Interests? Assessing Recent Critiques.” International Interactions 25.3 (1999): 213–241.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050629908434950Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Responds to Gartzke 1998. Demonstrates that the democratic peace precedes the Cold War. Also demonstrates that democracies are both more likely to have common UN voting records and to be peaceful in their relations with each other. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Capitalism

Some scholars argue that observed patterns of peace among states is caused not by democracy but by capitalism (note this is distinct from the Kantian argument that both democracy and economic interdependence cause peace). Scholars have made a variety of arguments as to why capitalism, or market civilization, spreads peace. Mousseau 2009 argues that capitalism helps spread a culture of the peaceful resolution of disputes. Gartzke 2007 and McDonald 2009 propose that capitalism undermines the government’s control over the economy and the government’s ability to mobilize the economy for war. These scholars often argue that inclusion of measures of capitalism renders measures of democracy not significantly related to peace. Dafoe 2011 critiques the empirical support for the capitalist peace hypothesis, especially the claims made by Gartzke 2007. A 2010 issue of the journal International Interactions was devoted to new research and commentary on the capitalist peace, including Schneider and Gleditsch 2010.

  • Dafoe, Allan. “Statistical Critiques of the Democratic Peace: Caveat Emptor.” American Journal of Political Science 55.2 (April 2011): 247–262.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00487.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Demonstrates that Gartzke 2007 contains research design errors and that correction of these errors reveals a dyadic democratic peace, even after including Gartzke’s capitalist variables. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Gartzke, Erik. “The Capitalist Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 51.1 (January 2007): 166–191.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2007.00244.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that higher levels of economic development, free markets, and common state interests all reduce interstate conflict. Finds that financial openness and economic development contribute to peace and that inclusion of these variables renders the joint democracy variable statistically insignificant. Examines 1950–1992 dyads. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • McDonald, Patrick J. The Invisible Hand of Peace: Capitalism, the War Machine, and International Relations Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511818301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops the theory that capitalism, and specifically less government intervention in the economy, makes states more peaceful. Finds quantitative evidence in support of the claim for dyads from 1970 to 2001, and that inclusion of capitalism variables does not render the joint democracy variable insignificant. Includes several case studies.

    Find this resource:

  • Mousseau, Michael. “The Social Market Roots of Democratic Peace.” International Security 33.4 (Spring 2009): 52–86.

    DOI: 10.1162/isec.2009.33.4.52Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops theory that states with contract-intensive economies are more likely to be peaceful with each other. Examining conflict behavior from 1961 to 2009, finds that contract-intensive economies have never experienced fatal, violent, interstate conflict. Inclusion of the contract-intensive economy variable renders the joint democracy independent variable insignificant. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Schneider, Gerald, and Nils Petter Gleditsch, eds. Special Issue: A Capitalist Peace? International Interactions 36.2 (2010).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A special issue devoted to the capitalist peace. Articles available online. Some of the issue’s articles are free to download; others are available for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Critiques of the Normative Account

Several studies have presented a variety of critiques of the normative account of the democratic peace. Simmons 2002 finds that democracies are not especially likely to comply with the rulings of international tribunals. Lebow 2011 claims that political culture does affect conflict behavior but that within democracies culture can be prowar. In contrast perhaps to the normative expectation that democracies are more likely to abide by the laws of war and avoid killing civilians during wartime, Valentino, et al. 2005–2006 finds that democracies are not more likely to avoid killing civilians during wartime or abide by international treaty commitments to avoid killing civilians in wartime. Downes 2008 proposes that democracies were more likely to kill civilians during wartime.

  • Downes, Alexander B. Targeting Civilians in War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that military necessity and desperation compel states and democracies in particular to kill civilians in wartime. Using quantitative tests for wars from 1816 to 2003 and case studies of World War I, World War II, the Boer Wars, and others, finds empirically that democracies when desperate are more likely to kill civilians.

    Find this resource:

  • Lebow, Richard Ned. “Aggressive Democracies.” St. Antony’s International Review 6.2 (February 2011): 120–133.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that democracies have historically been among the most aggressive states, especially the United States and especially since 1945. Presents some data in support of the claim. Scholarly exchange on this argument in the same issue of the journal. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Simmons, Beth A. “Capacity, Commitment, and Compliance: International Institutions and Territorial Disputes.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46.6 (December 2002): 829–856.

    DOI: 10.1177/002200202237931Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores why states delegate authority to an international institution to settle territorial disputes. Examining Latin American cases, finds that two democracies are not more likely to permit arbitration in relation to other pairs. Also, democracies are not more likely to comply with an unfavorable settlement as compared to other states. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Valentino, Benjamin, Paul K. Huth, and Sarah Croco. “Covenants without the Sword: International Law and the Protection of Civilians in Times of War.” World Politics 58.3 (April 2005–2006): 339–377.

    DOI: 10.1353/wp.2007.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that democracies are not more or less likely to kill civilians during war and are not more or less likely to honor international treaty commitments to avoid killing civilians during war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Critiques of Democracy and War Outcomes

The proposition that democracies tend to win their wars has generated scholarly debate, with scholars critiquing the variety of arguments that have been made as to why democracies are more likely to win their wars. Desch 2008 presents a general realist critique, arguing that war outcomes are determined by material factors such as size and quality of armies rather than by regime type. Desch 2008 is especially critical of the proposition that democracies win wars because they can more efficiently select winnable wars, that democratic armies fight better, or that democracies are especially likely to aid each other during war. Desch 2008 presents a quantitative critique of the finding that democracies win their wars as well as case studies of the 1920 Russo-Polish War, the Arab-Israeli Wars, and the 1982 Falklands War. Brown, et al. 2011 is an edited volume of mostly previously published International Security articles on whether and how democracies win their wars. Ball and Labrosse 2011 is an online exchange hosted by H-Diplo between Reiter, responding to critiques by Desch and Downes (the original Desch and Downes articles are in Brown, et al. 2011), with replies by Desch and Downes and a counterrebutal from Reiter. There is also a narrower debate about democracy and counterinsurgency. Lyall 2010 argues that democracies are not more or less effective at waging counterinsurgency wars, and Merom 2003 proposes that democracies are less effective at waging such wars.

  • Ball, Christopher, and Diane Labrosse, eds. “Special Issue: H-Diplo/ISSF Exchange on Democracy and Victory.” Roundtable 2.12 (2011).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Series of papers published online in 2011 by the historians’ weblog H-Diplo advancing scholarly debate between Reiter, Desch, and Downes on whether and why democracies win their wars. Extends debate on issues presented in Reiter and Stam 2002 (cited under Democracy and War Outcomes); Desch 2008; and Brown, et al. 2011. Focuses on theory and case studies.

    Find this resource:

  • Brown, Michael E., Owen R. Coté Jr., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, and Steven E. Miller, eds. Do Democracies Win Their Wars? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains several essays published in International Security in the 2000s on the questions of whether and how democracies win their wars, including a 2002 article by Desch and responses from Reiter, Stam, Lake, and Choi. Addresses areas such as the quantitative evidence on democratic victory, democratic alliance behavior, democratic battlefield military effectiveness, and others.

    Find this resource:

  • Desch, Michael C. Power and Military Effectiveness: The Fallacy of Democratic Triumphalism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critiques all explanations as to why democracies might be more likely to win wars. Critiques quantitative evidence in Reiter and Stam 2002 (cited under Democracy and War Outcomes; for scholarly exchange on that matter, see Brown, et al. 2011). Presents case studies of the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Falklands War, and the 1920 Russo-Polish War.

    Find this resource:

  • Lyall, Jason. “Do Democracies Make Inferior Counterinsurgents? Reassessing Democracy’s Impact on War Outcomes and Duration.” International Organization 64.1 (Winter 2010): 167–192.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818309990208Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Conducting quantitative analysis of all insurgencies from 1800 to 2005, finds that there is no relationship between democracy (i.e., the regime type of the counterinsurgent) and insurgency outcome or duration. Includes several control variables and explores many possible connections between democracy and insurgency outcome. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Merom, Gil. How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511808227Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a sophisticated, informal argument focusing on public opinion, opposition, casualties, and atrocities as to why democracies are likely to lose small wars, especially irregular wars, against guerrillas or insurgents. Case studies of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the Vietnam War.

    Find this resource:

Secrecy and Covert Action

Some have observed that elected leaders sometimes act secretly, a kind of action with important implications for the democratic peace. They make the point that democracies are sometimes willing to employ covert action as a means of subverting other elected governments, a pattern of behavior inconsistent with the normative account of the democratic peace; that democracies use noncoercive foreign policy tools when interacting with each other; and, inconsistent with the constructivist account of the democratic peace, that democracies respect each other within the broader community of democracy (as seen in Downes and Lilly 2010, Forsythe 1992, and James and Mitchell 1995). Downes and Lilly 2010 points out that the use of covert action would circumvent institutional constraints on the democratic peace, allowing elected leaders to take unpopular actions without suffering negative political consequences. Schuessler 2010 goes further, arguing that elected governments can use secret means to bring their countries into war under false context, artificially creating consent for war. Schuessler 2010 is related to a more general proposition that, contra liberal speculation, the marketplace of ideas in democracies fails to guide elected leaders to avoid foreign policy mistakes and choose better policy. Kaufmann 2004 makes this critique in the context of the 2003 Iraq War, finding that the marketplace of ideas in the United States failed to correct the flawed justifications for war offered by the Bush administration.

  • Downes, Alexander B., and Mary Lauren Lilly. “Overt Peace, Covert War? Covert Intervention and the Democratic Peace.” Security Studies 19.2 (2010): 266–306.

    DOI: 10.1080/09636411003795756Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Observes that democracies use covert action to subvert other democracies; case study of early 1970s Chile. Argues that it is inconsistent with some versions of the democratic peace, including the normative version and the checks and balances variant of the structural version. It is consistent with the selectorate model. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Forsythe, David P. “Democracy, War, and Covert Action.” Journal of Peace Research 29.4 (1992): 385–395.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343392029004003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Observes that democracies have used covert methods to subvert several elected, non-European governments since 1945. Speculates that such actions occurred because the target regimes were not seen as mature liberal regimes and because such actions promised low casualties. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • James, Patrick, and Glenn E. Mitchell II. “Targets of Covert Pressure: The Hidden Victims of the Democratic Peace.” International Interactions 21.1 (1995): 85–107.

    DOI: 10.1080/03050629508434861Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a formal model, slightly modified from earlier formal work. The model demonstrates that democracies may use covert, although not overt, military action against each other. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Kaufmann, Chaim. “Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas: The Selling of the Iraq War.” International Security 29.1 (Summer 2004): 5–48.

    DOI: 10.1162/0162288041762940Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critiques the idea that democracies allow vibrant marketplaces of ideas that in turn correct foreign policy errors or bad foreign policy arguments. Proposes that the American marketplace of ideas failed to correct flawed justifications for the 2003 Iraq War. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Schuessler, John M. “The Deception Dividend: FDR’s Undeclared War.” International Security 34.4 (Spring 2010): 133–165.

    DOI: 10.1162/isec.2010.34.4.133Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes that elected leaders circumvent public opposition by deceiving the public, taking secret actions, or concealing information. Case study arguing that Roosevelt provoked war with Japan and Germany in 1941, dragging in an otherwise hesitant American public. Available online by subscription. Scholarly exchange in Fall 2010 issue of International Security; see Michael A. Glosny, Phillip C. Saunders, and Robert S. Ross, “Debating China’s Naval Nationalism” (pp. 161–175) and Dan Reiter and John M. Schuessler, “FDR, U.S. Entry into World War II, and Selection Effects Theory” (pp. 176–185).

    Find this resource:

Qualitative Empirical Scholarship

The empirical democratic peace literature tends to be quantitative, but there has been a substantial amount of qualitative work, some of it supportive of the democratic peace and some of it critical, much of which has already been described elsewhere in this essay. Layne 1994 provides a realist critique of the democratic peace, offering case studies of the 1861 Trent Affair, the 1895–1896 Venezuela Crisis between the United States and Britain, the 1898 Fashoda Crisis, and the 1923 Franco-German Ruhr Crisis. Peterson 1996 presents an institutional account of the democratic peace, supported by case studies of the Crimean War, Fashoda Crisis, and Berlin Crisis. Elman 1997 contains many case studies of the democratic peace. Levy and Gochal 2001–2002 describes the 1956 Israeli attack on Egypt as a counterexample to the claim that democracies never launch preventive wars.

  • Elman, Miriam Fendius, ed. Paths to Peace: Is Democracy the Answer? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Collection of essays executing case study tests of democratic peace theory. Cases include Finland World War II, 19th-century Anglo-French relations, Anglo-US relations from 1845 to 1930, the Falklands War, the 1982 Lebanon War, Indo-Pakistani relations, Iran–Iraq relations in the 1970s, Peru–Colombia relations, Senegal–Mauritania relations, and others.

    Find this resource:

  • Layne, Christopher. “Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace.” International Security 19.2 (Fall 1994): 5–49.

    DOI: 10.2307/2539195Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a realist theoretical critique of the democratic peace and case studies of the 1861 Trent Affair, the 1895–1896 Venezuela Crisis between the United States and Britain, the 1898 Fashoda Crisis, and the 1923 Franco-German Ruhr Crisis. Argues that the empirical record does not support the democratic peace. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S., and Joseph R. Gochal. “Democracy and Preventive War: Israel and the 1956 Sinai Campaign.” Security Studies 11.2 (Winter 2001–2002): 1–49.

    DOI: 10.1080/714005332Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956 was an example of a democracy launching a preventive war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Peterson, Susan. Crisis Bargaining and the State: The Domestic Politics of International Conflict. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops theoretical arguments connecting institutional structures with crisis bargaining behavior. Executes case studies of Crimean War, Fashoda Crisis, and Berlin Crisis.

    Find this resource:

Formal Theory

The democratic peace lends itself well to formal theory. The institutional account in particular makes rationalist assumptions. The dyad form of the democratic peace is intrinsically strategic. There have been a series of formal models that have attempted to explain the democratic peace or some part of the democratic peace, many of which are discussed elsewhere in this essay. Bueno de Mesquita and Lalman 1992 is an early attempt to build a unified, rationalist theory of war that also predicts the dyadic democratic peace. Smith 1998 and Ramsay 2004 build more sophisticated models connecting domestic politics, crisis behavior, and audience costs. Filson and Werner 2004 explores the effects of regime type within a bargaining model of war, predicting the dyadic democratic peace among other patterns.

  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and David Lalman. War and Reason: Domestic and International Imperatives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a general model of international conflict, and crisis behavior in particular. Uses it to derive formally the predictions that democracies fight nondemocracies but not each other. Presents the results of several quantitative tests.

    Find this resource:

  • Filson, Darren, and Suzanne Werner. “Bargaining and Fighting: The Impact of Regime Type on War Onset, Duration, and Outcomes.” American Journal of Political Science 48.2 (April 2004): 296–313.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2004.00071.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a formal bargaining model of war accounting for regime type and is able to generate a number of hypotheses, including that democracies are less likely to initiate crises, democracies are more likely to win their conflicts, democracies fight shorter wars than other states, and others. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Ramsay, Kristopher W. “Politics at the Water’s Edge: Crisis Bargaining and Electoral Competition.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 48.4 (August 2004): 459–486.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002704266156Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a formal model of regime type and crisis bargaining. Finds that electoral competition can help make signals credible, which in turn can help states avoid war. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

    Find this resource:

  • Smith, Alastair. “International Crises and Domestic Politics.” American Political Science Review 92.3 (September 1998): 623–638.

    DOI: 10.2307/2585485Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds a formal theory of audience costs, which explains ability of democracies to make credible threats. Available online by subscription.

    Find this resource:

Data Sets

Most democratic peace scholarship employs data on regime type and conflict. The leading regime type data set is the Polity IV Project, although other leading measures of democracy are Freedom House and Alvarez, et al. 1996. There are a variety of measures of international conflict. Correlates of War provides data on intrastate, intrastate, and extrasystemic conflict. The project’s Militarized Interstate Disputes data look on at violent disputes between states, including conflicts that do not escalate to a war level of intensity. The Interstate Crisis Behavior project also includes both subwar and war interstate disputes, although include fewer events than the Militarized Interstate Disputes data set.

LAST MODIFIED: 10/25/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756223-0014

back to top

Article

Up

Down