Still Not 50 Times Better Than Democracy–Part II

March 20, 2009

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[First published September 12, 2005] This is Part II of my response to Gartzke’s defense against my critique, “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong,” (here) of his chapter 2 published in the CATO Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. In reading my response, keep in mind how this Gartzke chapter was trumped in the very first lines of CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war.

I will present the rest of Gartzke’s reply that I didn’t cover yesterday, and will intersperse it with my comments in green.


Dr. Rummel argues that I am doing democratization injustice by using the term “impose.” He suggests no alternative term, but references another blog post titled “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy.” Certainly, “unchaining” sounds more affirmative, just as “freedom fighter” sounds more affirmative than “terrorist.” By “imposed,” I meant situations like Iraq, where democracy has not evolved endogenously. [RJR: What difference should this make in understanding that Iraqis were freed from a bloody tyranny?] In Iraq, for example, unless democratic peace exists and is general (monadic), there can be no robust effect of democratization because other states in the region (besides Israel and Turkey) are not democracies. Research by Hegre (2004) shows that increasing democracy when few states are democratic tends to increase, not decrease, conflict. Even many advocates of democratic peace doubt that democratization in the Middle East will lead to peace in anything but the very long run. [RJR: This misses what is perhaps most important about a democratic Iraq: people are free; their government will not murder, rape, and arbitrarily imprison them; it will not support terrorism, and aggrandize against its neighbors] This, of course, also requires that we assume that US efforts to democratize Iraq will succeed, a debatable claim in its own right.
Dr. Rummel takes my study to task because I point out that the democratic peace observation has recently been limited to prosperous states [RJR: All my research and most I know of have been done on all democracies, regardless of development and prosperity]. Here again, I am simply reporting the evolving consensus of democratic peace researchers themselves. Mousseau (2000) and Hegre (2000) report that an interaction term between variables for democracy and economic development leads the democracy term to become no longer statistically significant. In a newer study, John Oneal himself collaborates with Mousseau and Hegre in further substantiating this conclusion. As the result makes clear, democratic peace, if it exists, is conditioned by economic development. My view is that it is development itself, along with economic liberalization, that explains the peace. [RJR: Leave all these studies aside and just look at he world today. Among the 117 democracies now existing, which range across all levels of development and prosperity, there is no war between any two of them, no expectation of war, and no arming against another. Moreover, there is no violence between any two. Also, I've tested this in a variety of ways, and found that even holding development constant, the relationship between democracy and war is robust. See again the chart on this I showed yesterday (here), where "wealth" in equivalent to economic development. See also my Appendix to Saving Lives (here)]
Dr. Rummel claims that my assertions are falsified in my own data. As evidence, he argues that there are no “wars” between democracies. The specific claims that I make, and the data that I use involve militarized interstate disputes (MIDs), a broader category of conflict behavior. Wars are very rare. There are just 44 state participations in wars beginning in 1970, the earliest date for which the Index of Economic Freedom supplies data. Less than 1% of state years (think “man hours”) involve a war. For this reason, democratic peace researchers and others studying conflict among nations have overwhelmingly preferred in recent years to examine MIDs [RJR: Yet, Gartzke has much to say about democracy or economic freedom and war based on this analysis of a data set in which there are no wars for democracies]

Still, it is not difficult to have a look. I examined the Correlates of War project listing of wars (conflicts involving at least 1000 battle deaths per year per participant). I find no statistical relationship between either the index of economic freedom, or the democracy variable, either separately or together, using these data. [RJR: not clear -- is this a monadic or dyadic analysis? In any case, there were no wars between democracies in these data either.] The effect of capitalism is either more subtle, reducing conflicts only over a lower intensity, or the sample of wars is too small, or both. In any case, democracy does not have the effects Dr. Rummel claims in these data, even when it is left by itself in the regression. [RJR: I don't understand Gartzke's reasoning, when in the data set he originally used and in this one, there is NO WAR between democracies] As a further check on these findings, I also examined data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). These data report conflicts involving at least 25 fatalities. Thus, they are clearly conflicts involving “violence.” Using SIPRI conflicts as the dependent variable [RJR: I also analyzed a larger data set involving these data for the years 1973-2003 and found NO VIOLENCE causing deaths between democracies (see table here).], I am again unable to find a statistically significant relationship linking democracy and peace [RJR: This is an incredible statement, considering the all the data sets he consults show NO WAR between democracies]. I can, on the other hand, find weak support for the suppression of major violence by the economic freedom variable. [RJR: The methodological error is in turning a point prediction into a linear correlation one. The best way of testing a point prediction is by a contingency count, and this is what in effect I did with the table I referenced above] This variable is just short of the 5% significance threshold in a quick statistical comparison of democracy and capitalism as determinants of peace. [RJR: Gartzke is again applying statistical significance inappropriately to a population, and not to a sample that is assumed in statistical inference-- there is, however, a way of applying the test, and that is if one is assessing the probability of getting a specific combination of data, but this is not what Gartzke is doing]

So, to summarize, Dr. Rummel’s critique that I should look at wars seems unfounded, though it did not hurt to check. The claim that democracy generally causes peace is again unsupported. [RJR: Again, in all the data he uses, there is either no wars, or no violence, although in a much longer set of data over almost two centuries, as I indicated in Part I, there are three minor cases of violence between democracies. In other words, the democratic peace holds, regardless of what Gartzke says]
Dr. Rummel claims I am using the wrong data and that my study “confounds nonviolence with violence.” I am not sure what this means. Every Correlates of War Project MID involves threats or acts of a militarized nature, almost all of which involve violence (the threshold for inclusion in the dataset is high, resulting in relatively few threats and more “uses of force”) [RJR: The data he is using involves both violence and nonviolence as a test of a point prediction that democracies do not commit violence against each other, or have less violence than other regimes. This is the dependent variable. It includes nonviolence, and thus as a test, confuses violence with nonviolence in whatever relationship is found may involve to some unknown degree nonviolence. This means that it is impossible to say then what is found about the relationship between democracy and violence]. Again, I rely on the same data as democratic peace researchers, the most widely used and referenced data, in fact, in the quantitative study of international relations. For Dr. Rummel to claim that the MIDs data are not an appropriate framework for testing the democratic peace is to reject most studies of democratic peace out of hand, something I, and most other researchers, are unwilling to accept [RJR: If they do regression analysis on data that combines violence and nonviolence, then I do reject it as inappropriate to the democratic peace hypothesis. I'm unimpressed with how many do this. ] Still, it would be nice to establish that my findings do not depend on a particular kind of data source. MIDs, COW wars, and the SIPRI data code conflict behavior of a given intensity level or higher. The Interstate Crisis Behavior dataset, on the other hand, examines crises. This can be useful because some conflicts, even relatively violent ones, do not involve direct leadership decisions. Suppose some sergeant decides to lob mortar shells at the enemy, perhaps because he is tired, irritated, or afraid. This would be a MID, and possibly a SIPRI conflict, depending on casualties, but it would not be an ICB crisis if the actions of the sergeant were not initiated by national leaders. The ICB data have also been used in studies that support the democratic peace (Hewitt and Wilkenfeld 1996), and potentially better reflect some of the arguments made about why democracies should be more peaceful. If democracies are more peaceful in any context, it should be in situations where decision making is explicit, conscious, deliberate, and not the result of accidents on the front lines. Results using the ICB dataset, however, are largely the same as those I report for MIDs in my chapter in the 2005 edition of Economic Freedom of the World. [RJR: Hardly the same. This is what Jonathan Wilkenfeld, Michael Brecher, and Sheila Moser, who created the data set, say in their book, Crises in the Twentieth Century:

The more authoritarian a regime the greater was the probability of violent crisis triggers [provoking crisis by the use of violence ] (democratic–37%, civil authoritarian–49%, military–56%)…. As expected, there was a higher frequency of violence responses by military regimes (50%) than by democratic (30%) and civil authoritarian regimes (33%). Non-violent military responses were most often employed by democratic regimes (32%), compared to 20% for the other two types . . . . in short, the effect of type of regime on an actor’s responsive behavior was evident for violent response–the more authoritarian a regime the more likely its response to a crisis would be violent.

The data on crisis management technique reveal an even sharper escalation of violence–(democratic (37%), civil authoritarian (49%) and military regime (63%), with a considerable higher tendency toward full-scale war as well (18% and 21% for civil authoritarian and democratic, 39% for military regimes). Conversely, democratic regimes which were most likely to perceive non-violent acts as triggers to their crises tended to choose pacific [crisis management techniques], with negotiation the most frequent among them: it was highest among democratic regimes (32%), and dropped to 11% for military regimes.

Dr. Rummel argues that colinearity between economic freedom, other variables, and democracy interfere with the effect of democracy on militarized disputes. As Dr. Rummel almost certainly knows, but did not explain to the reader, multicollinearity is not a severe problem in multivariate analysis until correlations are quite high, on the order of 0.9 (he argues they are 0.7. I find that the two key variables correlate at 0.4135) [RJR: This is wrong. The effect of multicollinearity is linear. The higher the correlation between two independent variables, the more this effects the regression coefficients.]. Similarly, the idea that democracy creates capitalism is, I think, questionable. [RJR: Not creates, but promotes] Few, if any, of the archetypal laissez faire economies of nineteenth century Europe would be considered democratic by contemporary standards, though they became democratic in time. Similarly, in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and elsewhere in recent decades, capitalism and development gave rise to pressures to democratize, not the other way around. [RJR: I do not say that democracy is a necessary condition for capitalism. Authoritarian systems can be capitalist as well.] Rather than treat democracy as a gift of the gods or something that landed from outer space, it seems more reasonable to recognize that democracies formed out of the same soup as did contemporary capitalism and economic development. In any event, the claim that capitalism and democracy are correlated does not obviously lead to the conclusion that democracy should be given preference (or deference) as the key contributor to liberal peace. If the two processes are related, then why treat one as if it is important and the other as if it does not exist? [RJR: The simple reason is that democratic countries, regardless of their internal socialism and level of development are most peaceful and don't make wars on each other, whereas authoritarian countries that are capitalist, regardless of level of development, are on the average much more violent and do make wars on each other].

Yet, again to be safe, I remove all of the variables from the regression model, except democracy. Democracy is not remotely statistically significant, even with no competitors (P value 0.448). Maybe economic freedom gets “help” from the other variables? I ran the regression model with just democracy and the freedom index, and find that economic freedom is statistically significant (P value 0.001), while democracy is insignificant. [RJR: Irrelevant, since in his data there are no wars between democracies, and as I say, in almost two centuries, only 3 minor cases of violence] The claim about sampling is debatable, and is debated, in the literature [RJR: No, it is not debatable in the case of statistical inference. Read your statistics books]. Whether we observe all possible states of the world, or just the ones that came to pass in this iteration of history hinges on issues outside the realm of the knowable. Democratic peace researchers have consistently used the statistical significance of democracy as evidence of the validity of their claims. How else can I challenge the conventional wisdom? [RJR: Use the three rules of research: (1)You look at your data and get as familiar with its details as with your own body, (2) you fit the method of analysis to the nature of the data, which is to say (3) you study the assumptions, problems, and interpretation of the method before applying it. The appropriate method in your case is contingency analysis].

At several points, Dr. Rummel notes that “there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries.” This sounds persuasive, but note that the claim treats as a conclusion that which is presumably the subject of this debate. [RJR: Huh? It is a statement of fact. There were no wars between democracies.] Is it democracy that makes peace or something closely associated with democracy? Dr. Rummel emphasizes that capitalism is correlated with democracy, but refuses to treat seriously the possibility that it is capitalism that causes peace. [RJR: I explained this above: capitalist nondemocracies do make war on each other, while capitalist democracies do not.] The “two-centuries” claim is also misleading. Democratization is a recent phenomenon in world affairs. How many two-centuries old democracies are there? Indeed, we can also say that over the same period, no advanced free market economies have gone to war with each other, either. [RJR: Okay, look at the 117 democracies today, or the 50 or so several decades ago. The same thing holds].

Dr. Rummel asks “How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report?” Clearly, this is a rhetorical question, but let me answer it as honestly as I can. The study conforms as closely as possible to the state of the art in democratic peace research. Rather than being “incompetent,” I adopted the same variables and evaluation standards, and a similar research design to those of the most widely cited research program on the democratic peace. That this happened to be the approach of Oneal and Russett and not Rummel is unfortunately a consequence of the greater popularity of the former among researchers and the wider public. Dr. Rummel does not like the choices I made in my analysis, but he does not like the choices made by other democratic peace researchers either. Differences between Dr. Rummel’s views and those of the larger democratic peace research community were not made clear in his comments, a possible source of confusion.

At the same time, I do not claim that my findings are definitive. They are a cautionary tale that gives some backing to those who are concerned that enthusiasm for the democratic peace has exceeded good judgment. [RJR: that this is a cautionary tale is inconsistent with the flat statements made in the study] No doubt this is not the end of the debate, though I hope Dr. Rummel and other interlocutors will cease from impugning my professional reputation every time I offer evidence that differs from their conclusions. Science is a perpetual learning process, in which we gradually whittle away at uncertainty. The fervor with which researchers on the subject hold to their respective visions of democratic peace should itself lead intelligent observers to caution. [RJR: Gartzke does not even try to justify his and CATO's claim that "economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war." To make this claim based on data that show no wars between democracies, and to criticize the American attempt to help democratize Iraq based on this, is where the incompetence comes in.]

Let me add in closing that, while the study Dr. Rummel critiques does not directly contradict the dyadic version of the democratic peace, my other research does. I have replicated the major dyadic studies of Oneal and Russett and others, using several indicators of capitalism, including but not limited to, the Index of Economic Freedom. I find that democracy does not sustain a dyadic effect on conflict either (there is not even a special peace among democracies), when appropriate measures of global market integration and economic development are introduced. I have shared these findings with democratic peace researchers (John Oneal, Bruce Russett, Erik Weede, Patrick James, James Lee Ray, to name a few), and expect that they will soon be available in print. Of course, I will also provide copies to Dr. Rummel, if he wishes.

In sum, Gartzke does not provide any persuasive evidence against the democratic peace, and in fact his data, as well as my own analyses of the other data to which he refers, confirms the democratic peace. Moreover, my contingency analyses of the relationship between democracy, development, and violence show the dominance of democratic freedom. Finally, the claim that stimulated my critique of Gartzke’s study — that economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war — remains ridiculous, and also undefended by Gartzke.

Link of Day

“Clear and Clean: The Fixed Effects of the Liberal Peace,” By John Oneal and Bruce Russett (Spring, 2001) In International Organization

They conclude:

Caution is essential: the world has ample experience of public policy made on the basis of untested, badly tested, or untestable theories. But there is abundant corroboration from many different researchers using a wide variety of empirical techniques—including statistical analyses that allow for fixed effects and other methods of examining cross-temporal effects—that democracy and interdependence substantially reduce the danger of violent interstate conflict. There are good scientific grounds for confidence in these results. The bloody nature of our subject compels us to
practical guidance when the theory—and the evidence—are so strong.

Links I Must Share

“Democratic Peace or Economic peace? Who cares!?” Lennart Regebrro blog. He says:

The CATO institute claims that a free economy and free trade is more important than democracy. RJ Rummel writes that
HYPERLINK “”it is not. But does it matter? I’m not so sure. Democracies tend to have a free economy and countries with non-free economy tends to be authoritarian. Therefore, in reality, there is no choice. We need democracy *and* free economy.

Yes, it matters, because free economies are not exclusive to democracies. Authoritarian states with free economies do make war on each other and murder their citizens.

“Jakarta tackles bird flu outbreak”

“You Can’t Handle the Truth”

A shadowy media firm steps in to help orchestrate a sophisticated campaign of mass deception. Rather than alert the public to [a simulated] smallpox threat . . . .

This is why you can’t depend on public services to alert you to a global epidemic of bird flu. It’s up to us blogsters.

“North Korea linked to counterfeiting”

“North Korea hedges on nuclear deal”

North Korea said today that it would not dismantle its nuclear-weapons program until the United States first provides an atomic energy reactor, casting doubt on its commitment to a breakthrough agreement reached at international arms talks.

Typical and predictable.

A chart
of the democratic peace

Still Not 50 Times Better Than Democracy–Part I

March 19, 2009

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[First published September 19, 2005] Gartzke has responded to my critique, “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong,” (here) of his chapter 2 published in the CATO Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. In reading my response, keep in mind how this Gartzke chapter was trumped in the very first lines of CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war.

My response will be in two parts. Here I will respond to Gartzke’s claim about the literature on whether democracy as less warlike as other types of government. This is an important question, for I have asserted as a proposition of the democratic peace, that democracies have the least foreign violence. I will present Gartzke’s reply on this interspersed with my comments in green. Gartzke says:

Dr. Rummel claims that I am wrong to write that [IR] researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally. [RJR: First "less likely" is a weak way of putting this -- in the main, the research literature finds that democracies either don't make war on each other, rarely do, or virtually never do. Second, my statement that Gartzke was wrong refers not to the literature, but to his acceptance of it] This is what other researchers have found. In fact, it is what most proponents of the democratic peace claim to show. Dr. Rummel knows that the majority of studies by democratic peace proponents do not support the assertion that democracies are generally less warlike (Rousseau, et al. 1996). Indeed, he has advocated the strong claim that democracies are generally pacific, in opposition to other proponents of the democratic peace. This difference of views within the democratic peace research community is not made clear in Dr. Rummel’s comments and may confuse his readers. [RJR: I reference my study on this, and hoped that Gartzke would have read it first before replying. In regard to democracies being "less ready to use force," this literature in general is wrong in finding this is not true and I am unimpressed by how many studies on this one can quote. To see the consistent error in the literature, see the excerpts from my study below. ]

The comment that Dr. Rummel objects to thus simply summarizes the dominant view among democratic peace researchers. As Huth and Allee put it “patterns of military conflict between democracies and non-democracies are not very different from patterns of military conflict among non-democracies” (page 1, 2002). [RJR: This is wrong, as I will show below.] Bruce Russett, the dean of quantitative democratic peace researchers acknowledges that there is little systematic evidence in support of the claim that democracies are generally less warlike (page 11, 1993). Together, Russett and his research partner John Oneal, state that, “Our analyses clearly reveal the separate peace among democratic states” (page 288, 1997). [RJR: This is old stuff. In a personal communication, Russett now agrees with me]

There are many other examples. HYPERLINK “”I quote the wikipedia encyclopedia:

Democratic peace theorists make two possible connections between democracy and war:
Babst, Singer, Rummel and Doyle claimed that democracies, properly defined, have never made war on each other; such DPTs face the difficulty that Ted Gurr classes both Spain and the United States as democracies in 1898, the year of the Spanish-American War. [RJR: Gurr's classification is based on political attributes being given equal weight, and does not take account of the great importance that should be given to the independent power the King of Spain had in foreign and military policy. This is similar to that of the Germany's Kaiser in WWI. Neither Spain in 1989 nor Germany in 1914 was democratic in making war and peace. ] Most more recent studies assert that two democracies are less likely to make war on each other than other pairs of states. [RJR: I see where Gartzke got the weak "less likely" from, but he shouldn't accept this as consistent with the literature. ]

Now, what is going on in the literature on democracies being least likely to fight a war? The following excerpts are from my, “Democracies Are Less Warlike Than Other Regimes” (European Journal of International Relations 1, December 1995: 457-479):

While a consensus has grown that democracies don’t make war on each other, a second consensus has developed in parallel that democracies are neither more nor less likely to make war or commit violence than other types of regimes. . . . In spite of this consensus, it does not well reflect the evidence. As I try to show here, a careful reading of the studies underlying this consensus and of my own 1983 HYPERLINK “””Libertarianism and International Violence” (here) that is assumed to be the only exception (actually there are many more, [which I cite in the study] show that democracies are in fact the most pacific of regimes. Moreover, an analysis of the methodology of the core research studies that underlie this consensus further supports this conclusion. . . .

To begin with my [what the literature claims to be] “exceptional findings”, in HYPERLINK “”Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (here) offered the HYPERLINK “″Freedom Proposition that “[T]he more libertarian a state, the less it tends to be involved in violence:”

A . . . question has to do with the kind of violence limited by libertarian [democratic] systems. Libertarian systems are the natural enemies of authoritarian and totalitarian states. By their example and the products of freedom they are naturally subversive of authoritarian or totalitarian systems; and these freedoms seem to make libertarian states defenseless against unilateral changes in the status quo. Thus, libertarian states are often involved in reactive and defensive violence against the initiatives of nonlibertarian states. Therefore in general, I do not expect that there will be a correlation. . . between libertarianism and the frequency [note: the frequency] of involvement in war or violence. Nor should there be for the conflict behavior variables. The predicted correlations for these variables are therefore random . . . .

However, once a libertarian state is involved, domestic forces will usually begin to coalesce against increased violence and for a settlement of some sort. The growth in anti-Vietnam war [and the war in Iraq] sentiment and its impact on the American leadership’s war policies and decisions are a paradigm case of [this proposition]. It follows that the intensity of violence variable (which measures the scope, occurrence, and degree of violence) and the conflict scale (which has intense violence at the extreme) should be negatively correlated with libertarianism [democracy] . . . .

There are two things to note about this quote. One is that it emphasizes the severity of violence as the crucial variable; and, second, it throws out the frequency of war involvements or other violence as a relevant variable, predicting that the correlation between democracy and the frequency of foreign violence should be random. Ironically, this zero or near zero correlation that I predicted is in fact what allegedly has been found by the subsequent studies underlying the consensus that democracies are no less or more violent than other types of regimes, to which my positive findings on severity are supposed to be an exception. Indeed, I also had found through HYPERLINK “”factor analyses and HYPERLINK “”correlational studies that there was little correlation between a dimension of foreign conflict and violence and a dimension of democratic versus authoritarian and totalitarian regimes [citations in source]. . . .

[the proposition I will test using war intensity as the variable, and not frequency is:]

The More Democratic a Regime, the Less its Foreign Violence
To test this and show that my results are not due to the peculiarities of my own data set, I first used the most commonly employed data on war in this area–those of Small and Singer (1982)–in spite of their problems, to be subsequently described. They define war as any military action in which there are 1,000 or more battle dead and provide figures on battle dead for each participant in a war. It is these battle-dead data that I employed to operationalize foreign violence, since, as should be clear from the above, it is severity and not frequency of war that the theory predicts (the more democratic a regime and the more deadly a potential war, the more domestic and psychological restraint a leader will have to go to war). . . . [see Table 1 below]

The Table also presents the comparison of means for battle dead as a percentage of the regime’s population. This is a theoretically less important measure than that of battle dead itself. For democratic people and interest groups, as well as the governing elite, that a war may cost thousands of dead, or is in fact causing hundreds of deaths per week, is the more salient factor–not that a certain percentage of the population is being killed. Indeed–whether in the US pre-Pearl Harbor debate about coming actively to the aid of Great Britain (whose defeat appeared imminent), or in the great domestic debate about ending the Korean or Vietnam wars, or in the debate over launching military action against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait–no one, not at least according to my resources, phrased the concern about casualties in terms of the number of US citizens as a percentage of the population that would be or were being killed. Nonetheless, this is a favorite indicator among researchers and is included in HYPERLINK “”Table 1 for that reason.

HYPERLINK “”Figure 1 plots the means listed in the Table.

[for another test] on 73 additional regimes that did not commit democide, that reflected major regional and cultural patterns, and that involved large differences in type of regime from previous or succeeding ones, using the foreign violence dead of these non-demociders, and I again relied on the Singer and Small data, supplemented by my own data for the years 1900-87, see Table 2 (here). See also wealth, which is highly correlated with economic freedom factored out in Table 3 (here. To see power as capability factored out, go to Table 4 (here]

[How could other researchers miss this? It is because they counted frequency of wars as their dependent variable.] Counting wars or military actions equates conflicts that are vastly different. For example, according to Small and Singer the Philippines lost 90 killed in the Korean War (1982: 92), and this is counted as a war for the Philippines because there were more than 1,000 troops involved. But in the Small and Singer tables [cited in source], the Soviet Union lost 7,500,000 battle dead in World War II, and this also is counted as one war. Thus, in comparing the democraticness of regimes and their use of force, if we measure force by a frequency count of wars, then Great Britain in the Boxer Rebellion, the Philippines in the Korean War, and the USSR in World War II are treated as equally using force, since each gets a count of one for war, even although Great Britain lost only 34 in combat, the Philippines 90, and the Soviet Union over 7,000,000. Yet, such frequency counts of wars or the use of force have been the main way the Propositions on democracy and violence have been tested by others.

Consider also that whatever we theorize to be the underlying conditions inhibiting or preventing democracies and near democracies from violence, to my knowledge no one argues that democracies are equally inhibited from using force in a conflict in which the expectation is of losing a dozen or so soldiers versus engaging in a total war in which the loss of millions may be suffered. But this is the theoretical implication of the use of a simple count of wars.

[Now with this understanding, if one looks in detail at] the three most-cited studies — those of Small and Singer, Chan, and Weede — at the core of the consensus in the field that the Proposition is false, Small and Singer’s results tend to support the HYPERLINK “file:///Users/rudyrummel/INTERNET.WEB/WEB%20SITE%20FILES/DP95.HTM#FP”Proposition, and if one could accept their measurement of violence Chan and Weede would also support the Proposition. Small and Singer used an appropriate measure of severity (battle dead) and their results are relevant to the Proposition. But the Chan and Weede studies are inappropriate, since they measure violence by the number of years at war, by the frequency of wars, or by the existence of war, none of which measures the severity of violence central to the Proposition.

There are five other studies following on these that do analyses bearing on the HYPERLINK “file:///Users/rudyrummel/INTERNET.WEB/WEB%20SITE%20FILES/DP95.HTM#FP”Proposition, but they all use the Small and Singer (1982) war or the Gochman and Maoz (1984) militarized dispute data and cross-tabulate or correlate violence or war frequencies with some measure of democracy. If their use of frequencies was relevant to the Proposition, one study would be positive (Morgan and Schwebach, 1992), two would tend to be ambiguous (Domke, 1988; Maoz and Abdolali, 1989), and two studies would be negative (Cole, 1990; Morgan and Campbell, 1991), neither one strongly so. . . .

Overall, then, we find that when the Freedom/Foreign Violence HYPERLINK “file:///Users/rudyrummel/INTERNET.WEB/WEB%20SITE%20FILES/DP95.HTM#FP”Proposition is properly tested in terms of the severity of violence, all correlations or cross-tabulations of democracy and violence are in the proper direction. That is, democracy is less warlike (severity) than other regimes. This is contrary to the prevailing wisdom among students of war, but upon careful inspection the results underlying their consensus have not only been shown to equate for a nation wars involving a few dozen killed with wars killing millions, but also, were frequencies relevant, to support the Proposition, not negate it.

I say again, Gartzke was right in saying the literature mostly opposed the proposition, but wrong in accepting what these studies claimed, and what was claimed about them.

Link of Day

“Most scientific papers are probably wrong” By Kurt Kleiner (30 August 2005)

Kleiner says:

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

Yes, this is what I have generally found in the scientific studies of the democratic peace, as shown in my response to Gartzke above.

Links I Must Share

“Do blacks believe levee was blown?”

Washington Post columnist ‘stunned’ by ‘reasonable’ people suggesting plot.

This shows the power of racist demagoguery, especially among Black liberal leaders.

“Church wants to apologize for Iraq war”

Bishops of the Church of England are calling for Christian leaders in Britain to publicly apologize for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

“Chavez: U.S. Plans to Invade Venezuela

Hugo Chavez says he has documentary evidence that U.S. plans to invade Venezuela.

Just as Allende did, accuse the U.S. of planning to attack as a way of finessing opposition at home and unifying his people around him. Typical communist trick.

Democratic Peace

The Myth of “The Myth of Democratic Peace”

January 20, 2009

[First published January 22, 2006]
They have become so predictable. Consider this bio: Dr. Leon Hadar is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, where he analyzes international politics and economics with a special focus on the Middle East and East Asia. A former United Nations bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post.

Now, what do you think Hadar’s take will be on the democratic peace? With the key words CATO and UN bureau chief, you’re right. He’ll be totally negative. And so he is in his recent article, “The Myth of Democratic Peace.”

What is it with these CATO libertarians? It’s not incompetence, not when there has to be a conscious avoidance of studies with which they disagree. It has to be a visceral prejudice. Well, my colleague Pro Forma lets rip on them, and he’s right. He says:

I think what really annoys me about these bozos are four things:

First, they rely on no actual social science (neither empirical nor theoretical) to make their points — the paleolibertarian case against the democratic peace is almost entirely rhetorical.

Second, they completely ignore the vast DP literature. It’s not that they say it is flawed and cite any examples…they just don’t even deal with it. The DP literature is incredibly rich in all sorts of empirical research, and abounds with theoretical explanations at many levels. Yet, they refuse to engage any of this. It’s like studying world geography, and despite Columbus and Magellan and Drake and modern cartography and trips into space and satellite photography, they are still using maps without the Americas, but instead a big vast emptiness between Europe and Asia. You can’t do science this way!

Third, they seem to dismiss any possibility of democratic peace by arguing that democracy has many definitions, so nobody really knows what it is…. yet they are quick to assert that this thing that no one can define is actually very non-peaceful. This not only is bad science, it denies the possibility of science.

Fourth, the implications — both philosophical and policy — of the anti-DP rhetoric by the paleolibertarians is profoundly disturbing for anyone who loves freedom and values liberty. Let’s think about this.

If democracy is so bad, then non-democracy should be pretty good. In fact, Leon Hadar concludes his article with a proposal to inquire if non-democracies are actually more peaceful than democracies (note to Hadar: it’s been done; they aren’t). If peace is a human value, and a good thing (since it favors life and well-being, and democracies were found to be actually less peaceful than non-democracies, we would not want democracy, and should work to establish and spread non-democracy.

Yet, I cannot think of any realistic non-democratic form of government that anyone would rather live under. The core difference between democracy and non-democracy is that you can change democratic governments with ballots (peaceful), while you can only change non-democratic governments with bullets (non-peaceful). This is philosophically very confusing: we want a peaceful government, so, according to the paleos, we want a non-democratic government so we’ll have peace. But we can only change this non-democratic government with non-peaceful means.

Does this mean we are doomed to renew and alter our government only with bloody means, and that the great experiment the American founders engaged in is a failure? If so, then all this writing about universal aspirations for democracy is false. And Fukuyama was wrong when he argued that over the past few thousand years, in the “marketplace” of history, democracy has been desired by people more than any other form of government.

If all this is wrong, then what form of government should we desire, and work and fight to put into place? On this, the paleos are strangely silent. Which is VERY worrisome. Since you cannot rely on government protecting rights and minimizing its incursions on liberty by either hoping the government will behave, or by putting power in the hands of a benign dictator who promises to keep government small, just how do the paleos think freedom will be protected? Thinking about this — and of the impossibility in history of establishing an anarchy-country, I’m beginning to think that the paleos, for now only on a theoretical level, are really enemies of freedom, and anti-liberty in their core.

Links of Note

“Diplomats Will Be Shifted to Hot Spots “:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed “transformational diplomacy.”
The State Department’s culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. “The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them,” she said. “The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power.”

The democratic peace oriented transformation (revolution?) of the Department of State continues. Now, think of what she would do if president.

“Public unrest increasing in China”:

The Public Security Ministry said it handled 87,000 public disturbances last year, a rise of more than 6% on 2004. . . . A ministry spokesman said the figure did not refer just to mass protests, but to all criminal cases linked to public disorder, including mob gatherings, obstruction of justice, fighting and trouble-making.

The greatest likelihood to the collapse of communist rule will come when a depression, or steep inflation, occurs, not with this mild unrest in the face of rapid economic growth.

“The Region: Moving apart “ By Barry Rubin:

The world is about to rethink its views of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict, due to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s past policy shift, his evident departure from politics, and Palestinian developments. The critical variable here is not what has happened to Sharon but a Palestinian political situation which makes any progress toward peace impossible for years to come. Sharon’s illness may be distracting attention from the Palestinian crisis, but it is ultimately much less important in shaping the region’s future.

Read Rubin. He is good and informative on this intractable ME conflict.

“The “Democratic Peace”: A Skeptic’s View “ By Mark Pietrzyk:

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.

Another book on the democratic peace. Note the logical problem. If (A) nations made war on each other before becoming democratic; and (B) did not make war on each other after becoming democratic, how is that B implies A. Does time reverse itself?

“A Lesson From Somalia”:

Somalia offers a sobering lesson of what can happen to American forces when our government blunders into the middle of a civil war. We dare not do it again. And we had better see the warning signs.

I must be the only one that sees the American intervention in Somalia as a victory. We saved about a million lives at the cost of 18 American marines. Have ever before so few given their lives to save so many?

The vast literature on the
Democratic Peace


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