Are Democratic States More Peaceful?

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Democratic states are perceived to be more peaceful because “democracies do not attack each other.” The proposition that democracies never (or rarely; there is a good deal of variation about this) go to war against one another has nearly become a truism. Since Michael Doyle’s essay in 1983 pointed out that no liberal democracy has ever fought a war with another democracy , scholars have treated pacifism between as democracies, “as closest thing we have to an empirical law in international relations.” The democratic peace proposition encourages hope for a new age of international peace. Over the years since Michael Doyle’s essay a lot of literature has been written about “democratic peace theory”. A lot of analysis has focused on the…show more content…
A democratic government is typically thought of as one based on the consent of, and responding to the wishes of its constituents. A fundamental difficulty of devising a universal definition of democracy is that governments of widely varying, even diametrically opposed, structure and attributes can be perceived to be responsive to the needs and desires of its constituents. “Bourgeois” republics, fascist dictatorships can be and have been perceived by numerous and passionate advocates to meet this essential criterion for “democracy”. Advocates of the democratic peace proposition have an admittedly procedural definition for democracy, focusing on competitive elections, widespread suffrage, civil rights, freedom of the press etc. Many of these attributes and structures are easily identifiable. The debate focuses on the issue that whether political regimes possessing such relatively easy-to-identify characteristics behave differently –especially towards each other-than do other sorts of regimes. Democracy is a continuous concept; states are democratic to lesser or greater degrees, and therefore is it impossible to sort states into two categories, democratic and non democratic. This makes it necessary for those who are defending or evaluating the assertion that “democracies never fight wars against one another to acknowledge that in reality the assertion that they are defending, in more precise terms is ‘ States that have achieved a
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