Essay about Democratic Peace Theory

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The idea that democracies do not fight each other can be traced back to the writings of Immanuel Kant over two hundred years ago in essay ‘On Perpetual Peace’, however, only in the early 1980s and with the writings of Michael Doyle was the idea consolidated. According to Doyle and other advocates of the democratic peace theory, liberal democratic states have been able to maintain peaceful relations amongst themselves, but are prone to wage war against non-democratic regimes. In order to prove this theory, vast databases have been constructed of historical dyadic relationships between states as well as detailed breakdowns of incidents of inter-state war. The conclusions reached are best shown in the work of Bruce Russett who has argued that …show more content…

So the theory suggests that because democracies externalise their interstate norms, they resolve disputes with other states like them in a peaceful way. Hence domestic inner-state policies influence their foreign policies. However, this proclamation is disputed by C. Layne who argues that the ‘crux’ of this theory is that if the assumption that democracies promote their peaceful inner-state norms and beliefs, then they shouldn’t ever threaten other democracies, especially not in a crisis. I will use the case study of the ‘Trent affair’ to provide evidence of how war was avoided. I will argue that in this case, war was avoided not because of the domestic pacific influence on foreign policy but because of other strategic reasons. In 1861 there was an incident when the British mail ship Trent which was transporting J. M. Mason and J. Slidell on route from America to England, was stopped by the USS San Jacinto and the two men were arrested. This caused outrage amongst the British public, writes Layne, adding some of the reports from the time such as “the people are frantic with rage... I have never seen so intense a feeling of indignation in my life.” An ultimatum was immediately sent to Washington and military threats were given. This indicates that the government, as much as the public, was very much bellicose. So even though both countries were

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