The "Democratic Peace": A Skeptic's View


   Now available. . .


International Order and Individual Liberty:

Effects of War and Peace on the Development of Governments


Mark E. Pietrzyk

Paper | 2002 | $44.00 | ISBN: 0-7618-2293-3 | 247 pp.

    International Order and Individual Liberty offers a critical examination of one of the most popular ideas among contemporary political scientists: that "democracies do not go to war with one another." According to the school of the "democratic peace," the long peace between democratic states since 1945 has demonstrated that democratic norms and institutions help states in the international system transcend traditional concerns about power-seeking and security, allowing for the possibility of a "perpetual peace" between democratic states.  This theory has been the basis for recent claims that the establishment of democracy in Iraq could be the foundation for an expanding zone of peace in the Middle East.

    However, an alternative view is that the long peace between democratic states is the result of reverse causation.  That is, the current peaceful international order (created by such factors as U.S. hegemony, the solidification of borders, economic growth, and the nuclear revolution) has made it possible for liberal democracy to flourish in many countries which have found it difficult or impossible to build and maintain free institutions in previous eras of international violence and instability. Only states which are relatively secure - politically, militarily, economically - can afford to have free, pluralistic societies; in the absence of this security, states are much more likely to adopt, maintain, or revert to centralized, coercive authority structures.

    The book outlines in detail the alternative theoretical perspective of peace facilitating democracy, and applies this theoretical perspective to a number of historical case studies. The case studies include an examination of the American Revolution, French Revolution, the development of Germany in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, and modern Israel. The book concludes with an overall analysis of the nature and causes of the contemporary peace between democracies, and the implications for U.S. foreign policy.

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