Sunday, April 17, 2011

Critical Analysis of the Democratic Peace Theory


The terms of democracy and peace seems like very close to each other. People can see these words together most of times, in globalizing world, today. Does democracy promote peace? Is it rhetoric or the reality?


Immanuel Kant
   According to democratic peace theory, democracy promotes peace. As scholars such as Michael Doyle, Rudolph Rummel, and Bruce Russett have argued that liberal democracies are unique in that they are able to establish peaceful relations among themselves. Actually, the roots of democratic peace theory are based on Immanuel Kant. People can see the signs of the democratic peace theory in Kant`s essay `Perpetual Peace` which is written in 1795. In the reference of Perpetual Peace Theory, a majority of the people would never vote to go to war, unless in self-defense. Therefore, if all nations were republics, it would end war, because there would be no aggressors. So, the democratic peace theory`s basic thesis is that democracies rarely or never fight. In the study of Liberalism and World Politics, Michael W. Doyle brought renewed attention to this Kantian idea of democratic peace, he claims that democracies tend not go to war each other. Especially, after the collapse of Soviet Union and the end of cold war, democracy tends to spread all over the world. Because of this reason, international relations studies focus on this issue in the beginning of the 1990s. One of these studies belong Francis Fukuyama. In his work, End of History stated that liberal democracy had no serious ideological rival and hence it was the end point of mankind`s ideological evolution and final form of human government. So, if we do not have ideological division and if we have all democracy, we can live in peace. 

       However, when we look at the political and economic realities of our day, we can see some wars for national interest under the name of promoting democracy and peace. Some countries represent themselves as arsenals of democracy. In most of the leaders` speech, we can see the reason of wars as bringing peace to authoritarian regimes. Does peace come from war? In addition to this, as Richard Cobden states that most wars were fought by states to achieve their mercantilist goals. And we can see this especially in the World War I and World War II. National interests of states run over the democratic peace theory in our world.
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