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Would a world of democratic states prevent war?

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Introduction

Would a world of democratic states prevent war? "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don't attack each other." (American President Bill Clinton in his State of the Union Address to Congress, Jan. 25, 1994) In 1994, American President Bill Clinton declared that the promotion of democracy was one of the most important factors in ensuring America's security and world peace in the post-Cold War era, a policy of the Clinton administration, which is also supported by the current Bush administration. Clinton's claims are based on the school of thought of international relations known as "democratic peace". The theory of "democratic peace" was developed in the 1980's, but its roots trace back to the 1790's and the writings of Immanuel Kant. The theory suggests that democratic states are incredibly reluctant to go to war against other democratic states, thus it can be argued that an increase in democratic states would result in greater world peace and ensure America's security. Students of the "democratic peace" school of thought have spent thousands of hours analyzing wars in order to prove that democracies are more peaceful than other forms of governing regime. They claimed to have proven their point by showing that although the 20th century ranking among the most violent periods in history; there were no wars between well-established democracies. ...read more.

Middle

As a result, even in an entirely democratic world, states will strive to ensure their self-preservation in the world, regardless of how this is interpreted or whether it upsets other states. One of the best examples of this is that of the seven nations, which are known to possess nuclear weapons, most are at least on the surface democratic countries. Several other democratic states, most notably Germany and Japan are eager to join in the nuclear weapons race. Realists have also dismissed the suggestion that democratic states do not go to war or at the very least come dangerously close. Realists have pointed out that Great Britain and France nearly went to war in 1898 over the outpost of Fashoda in Egypt, Great Britain and the United States clashed in the War of 1812, Spain was a democracy at the time of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and that Germany was just as democratic as Great Britain and France in 1914 and as recently as 1954, the United States secretly supported an armed raid that brought down the democratically elected government of Guatemala. Supporters of the "democratic peace" theory have argued that the examples of wars used to discredit the theory are not truly relevant because the countries used as examples don't truly qualify as democratic countries by the modern definition of the term. ...read more.

Conclusion

However "democratic peace" theorists argue that on average democracies have much less violence than other forms of government, regarding examples of democracies with "high" levels of internal violence, one can easily point to cases of much more deadly violence within non-democracies. The Teiping Rebellion in China during the 19th century may have killed 20,000,000 people, even possibly 40,000,000. The Mexican Revolution near the beginning of our century left about 2,000,000 dead, the Chinese Civil War that was fought from 1928 to 1949 and killed at least 10,000,000 Chinese. Even the much lesser internal conflicts in smaller non-democratic nations have been deadly. The list is long and sad, including El Salvador (during its non-democratic periods), Colombia, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Czar's Russia, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Uganda. Just recently 500,000 or more Rwandans were likely slaughtered in a couple of months of civil war. Finally "democratic peace" theorists argue that regardless of the several critiques raised of the "democratic peace" theory, it does not mean that a genuine link between democracy and peace can't be made. In conclusion, "democratic peace" theorists believe that an entirely democratic world would mean the end of all wars, an argument that is disputed by Realists. While history does suggest that war between democracies is very unlikely it is impossible to predict the future conclusively as we simply cannot know exactly what will happen in the future. ...read more.

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