Was The Democratic Peace Killed–Part I, Bibliographies

August 17, 2009

DBG.TAB1.1.GIF

Before the election of Barack Obama, much was written about the democratic peace, pro and con. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush based their foreign policies on it—as one of its pillars for Clinton, and as the core of Bush’s policy. But now, you hear almost nothing of it. In this and in subsequent blogs, I will try to determine what has happened to the democratic peace.

First, what is the democratic peace? There are the narrow and broad versions. The narrow one, being most well known and researched, simply says that democracies have never made war on each other. This is the most scholarly and scientifically researched idea of international relations, and as a result many students of the field now consider it a political law of the international system. Therefore, promoting democracy in the world is a way to peace, which Bush and Secretary Rice said many times.

The broad version includes the narrow and adds that democracies have the least internal violence and almost no domestic democide. Thus, by fostering human security, democracies serve as a way to peace and human betterment. There is also much research on this version, although discussants of the democratic peace usually have the narrow one in mind.

What are my sources for this? I have two bibliographies of democratic peace research and commentary, one for those published <A HREF=”http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/BIBLIO.HTML”>before 2000</A>, and the other, just completed, <A HREF=”http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DP.BIBLIO.2009.HTM”>2000 and after</A>. My interest is in the latter, since this will help answer the question about the current status of the democratic peace. To those to whom the democratic peace is an extraordinary idea, and in terms of peace, an unbelievable, idealist one, the earlier bibliography will be very useful. It presents the birth, replication, and early attempts to falsify the idea. Moreover, see my <A HREF=”http://democraticpeace.wordpress.com/”>Democratic Peace Blog</A>, which includes many <A HREF=”http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/Z.BLOG.ARCHIVE.HTM”>analyses of the studies listed in this bibliography.</A>

On balance, the bibliographies show that despite the negative critiques, attempts to falsify it, and assertions about negative cases, the democratic peace still provides a well researched and verified solution to war, democide, domestic violence, and human insecurity.

In Part II on the democratic peace, I will treat the idea within a foreign policy framework (such as Obama’s). The death of this solution to war and human security then will be easier to understand.


Global Peace And Human Security Are Not Hopeless

June 24, 2009

[First published February 17, 2005.] Yes, There is Hope. Great Hope

With all the mass murder by thug dictators in such countries as North Korea, Burma, Sudan, Congo, Iran, and the like, with terrorists murdering people wholesale, and with the apparent inability to stop or prevent most of it, the post-World War II exclamation, “Never Again,” seems hopeless. Such is the feeling I get from reading news items on the latest democide (murder by government) and murder bombing, and some of the email I receive. And, I must admit, I have contributed to this pessimism with my country-by-county, year-by-year estimates of the world’s democide. Clearly, as I’ve pointed out, a slow motion nuclear war has taken place, with my conservative estimate of 262,000,000 murdered by governments in the 20th Century.

And it continues into this century.

But, it is not hopeless. We are not faced, nor are our children faced with such democide in perpetuity. We do have the ability to turn “Never Again” into reality for all.

We should recognize some facts. One is that democracies by far have had the least domestic democide, and now with their extensive liberalization, have virtually none. Therefore, democratization (not just electoral democracies, but liberal democratization in terms of civil liberties and political rights) provides the long run hope for the elimination of democide. Second, that the world is progressively becoming more democratic, with from 22 democracies in 1950 to something like 121 democracies today (about 89 of them liberal democracies), gives substance to this hope. A third is that democracies don’t make war on each other, and the more democratic government, the less its foreign and domestic violence, AND DEMOCIDE. And fourth, the democratic peace and the fostering of democracies worldwide is now the core organizing principle of American foreign policy.

Already, the growth in the number of democracies has decreased the amount of international war and violence (see my, “Democracies Increase and Ipso Facto, World Violence Declines,” “Democracies Up, Violence Down Again, Media Still Blind”). And this will continue. Eventually, at some point in the future, virtually the whole world will be democratic. Then, perhaps, in the presence of the world’s major presidents, and prime ministers, the President of the Global Alliance of Democracies can uncover a statue of Irene, the Greek Goddess of peace, in Geneva, with these words on its base:

“Now, Never Again”


Link of Note

”Ending Slavery” (2/12/05) By Thomas Sowell

To me the most staggering thing about the long history of slavery — which has encompassed the entire world and every race in it — is that nowhere before the 18th century was there any serious question raised about whether slavery was right or wrong. In the late 18th century, that question arose in Western civilization, but nowhere else.

It seems so obvious today that, as Lincoln said, if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. But no country anywhere believed that three centuries ago.

Many pessimists feel about ending democide as humanists in the 16th and 17th centuries felt about ending slavery. It always has been and always will be. Moreover, while we now see democide as horrible, a black mark on humanity, and what must be stopped, like slavery, this is only a modern view. Historically, democide has been accepted as an inevitable aspect of war, and a necessity of governance.

Sowell’s article is a good reminder of how we once viewed slavery, and how what we once thought was as natural to society as a division of labor, was virtually eliminated in a century.


It’s Not Hopeless — There Is An Antidote

June 4, 2009

[First published May 16, 2005] Ryan Barnard lest this comment on the Thursday, March 03, 2005 Refract Blog:

So many atrocities, both epic and personal. So much sorrow in the world. Two options: turn a blind eye or work to change things. But all of these atrocities repeat, over and over again in the course of human history, in so many different societies. That suggests that it’s not cultural, that it’s human nature. Perhaps an aberration of human nature, but biologically wired nonetheless. And so how can one hope to ever make a difference?

So much suffering. So little of it need ever happen.

I really want some encouragement… I feel so hopeless. What can anyone do…?

This feeling gets to me, since I believe the evidence is persuasive — there is more than hope, there is an outright solution. And one that is desirable in itself. This is fostering global democratic freedom. I wrote a blog on this some months ago, ” Yes, There is Hope—Great Hope” ( Link here)

Rather than repeat that blog, I will present in figures some of the evidence. All are from my “Statistics of Democide” (link here). The first figure is 17.3 below. Note how the number murdered by governments rises at the high centralized power, high totalitarian end, while it’s lowest (virtually zero) at the low power, democratic end (liberal democracies). This already tells us what to do about democide. Diffuse and democratize power.


Figure 1.3 shows the rise and fall of democide with the rise and fall of totalitarian states. There is the slight rise in foreign democide by democracies during World War II (1941-1945), which is a reflection of illegal (Geneva Conventions) Allied urban bombing of German, and later Japanese cities. The others in the plot are authoritarian states, like Italy, Hungary, and China (Chiang Kai-chek).


Figure 17.2 is the best of the lot. It’s the result of a factor (component) analysis of various measures of politics and democide for over 200 nations. The result shows that political power and totalitarianism are aligned with each other and both almost completely with the total genocide, domestic democide, and democide rate (annual per capita). Democracy, however, is completely opposed. It is as though democide forms a tight cone of behavior, and down the center of that behavior, a causal force acting on it is totalitarianism, while democracy is a driving against it.


The easiest to understand figure and by virtue of that, maybe the most powerful is 17.5 below. This is a plot of domestic democide logged against the range of power, where the size of the point in the plot represents the amount of democide. Domestic democide is plainly a logarithmic function of power. That is, as power increases, domestic democide just does not increase additively, but by magnitudes – by a factor of ten.


There is much more I could present, such as what happens when many other variables are held constant. But for my purpose here, which it to prove the existence of an antidote to democide, these figures should serve.


Link of Note

” Can institutions resolve ethnic conflict?” (February 2000) By William Easterly, World Bank

Abstract:

High quality institutions, such as rule of law, bureaucratic quality, freedom from government expropriation, and freedom from government repudiation of contracts, mitigate the adverse economic consequences of ethnic fractionalization identified by Easterly and Levine 1997 and others. In countries with sufficiently good institutions, ethnic diversity does not lower growth or worsen economic policies. High quality institutions also lessen war casualties on national territory and lessen the probability of genocide for a given amount of ethnic fractionalization.

Translation of World Bankanese: Among countries with ethnic divisions, the liberal democracies among them are least likely to commit genocide.


Freedom's Principles
An interactive book-in-the-making blog


Easterbrook End of War

May 31, 2009

[First published June 1, 2005] In a blog on the relationship between the decline of violence and the increase in the number of democracies, I quoted from John Tierney about the decline in violence, and he referred to Gregg Easterbrook’s article “EXPLAINING 15 YEARS OF DIMINISHING VIOLENCE — The End of War?” in The New Republic Online (link here). Unfortunately, the magazine has joined the growing trend to make full articles available on to subscribers.

Well, Colleague sent me a copy and I am posting it in full here. It’s long, but for those interested in the sharp drop in violence, the possible causes, and the democratic peace as an explanation will be rewarded by reading this in two ways. One is in the variety of explanations, so you are not stuck with my explanation. And then, how finally, when he has to mention the democratic peace, he does so in no more than a paragraph in this long work. Which in the context of the other explanations gives you a different view of what I have been treating as the explanation.


Daily explosions in Iraq, massacres in Sudan, the Koreas staring at each other through artillery barrels, a Hobbesian war of all against all in eastern Congo — combat plagues human society as it has, perhaps, since our distant forebears realized that a tree limb could be used as a club. But here is something you would never guess from watching the news: War has entered a cycle of decline. Combat in Iraq and in a few other places is an exception to a significant global trend that has gone nearly unnoticed — namely that, for about 15 years, there have been steadily fewer armed conflicts worldwide. In fact, it is possible that a person’s chance of dying because of war has, in the last decade or more, become the lowest in human history.

Five years ago, two academics — Monty Marshall, research director at the Center for Global Policy at George Mason University, and Ted Robert Gurr, a professor of government at the University of Maryland — spent months compiling all available data on the frequency and death toll of twentieth-century combat, expecting to find an ever-worsening ledger of blood and destruction. Instead, they found, after the terrible years of World Wars I and II, a global increase in war from the 1960s through the mid-’80s. But this was followed by a steady, nearly uninterrupted decline beginning in 1991. They also found a steady global rise since the mid-’80s in factors that reduce armed conflict — economic prosperity, free elections, stable central governments, better communication, more “peacemaking institutions,” and increased international engagement. Marshall and Gurr, along with Deepa Khosla, published their results as a 2001 report, Peace and Conflict, for the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland [reports avaiable here]. At the time, I remember reading that report and thinking, “Wow, this is one of the hottest things I have ever held in my hands.” I expected that evidence of a decline in war would trigger a sensation. Instead it received almost no notice.

“After the first report came out, we wanted to brief some United Nations officials, but everyone at the United Nations just laughed at us. They could not believe war was declining, because this went against political expectations,” Marshall says. Of course, 2001 was the year of September 11. But, despite the battles in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere that were ignited by Islamist terrorism and the West’s response, a second edition of Peace and Conflict, published in 2003, showed the total number of wars and armed conflicts continued to decline. A third edition of the study, published last week, shows that, despite the invasion of Iraq and other outbreaks of fighting, the overall decline of war continues. This even as the global population keeps rising, which might be expected to lead to more war, not less.

In his prescient 1989 book, Retreat from Doomsday, Ohio State University political scientist John Mueller, in addition to predicting that the Soviet Union was about to collapse — the Berlin Wall fell just after the book was published — declared that great-nation war had become “obsolete” and might never occur again. [A related article by Mueller is here.] One reason the Soviet Union was about to collapse, Mueller wrote, was that its leaders had structured Soviet society around the eighteenth-century assumption of endless great-power fighting, but great-power war had become archaic, and no society with war as its organizing principle can endure any longer. So far, this theory has been right on the money. It is worth noting that the first emerging great power of the new century, China, though prone to making threatening statements about Taiwan, spends relatively little on its military.

Last year Mueller published a follow-up book, The Remnants of War, which argues that fighting below the level of great-power conflict — small-state wars, civil wars, ethnic combat, and clashes among private armies — is also waning. Retreat from Doomsday and The Remnants of War are brilliantly original and urgent books. Combat is not an inevitable result of international discord and human malevolence, Mueller believes. War, rather, is “merely an idea” — and a really bad idea, like dueling or slavery. This bad idea “has been grafted onto human existence” and can be excised. Yes, the end of war has been predicted before, prominently by H.G. Wells in 1915, and horrible bloodshed followed. But could the predictions be right this time?

First, the numbers. The University of Maryland studies find the number of wars and armed conflicts worldwide peaked in 1991 at 51, which may represent the most wars happening simultaneously at any point in history. Since 1991, the number has fallen steadily. There were 26 armed conflicts in 2000 and 25 in 2002, even after the Al Qaeda attack on the United States and the U.S. counterattack against Afghanistan. By 2004, Marshall and Gurr’s latest study shows, the number of armed conflicts in the world had declined to 20, even after the invasion of Iraq. All told, there were less than half as many wars in 2004 as there were in 1991.

Marshall and Gurr also have a second ranking, gauging the magnitude of fighting. This section of the report is more subjective. Everyone agrees that the worst moment for human conflict was World War II; but how to rank, say, the current separatist fighting in Indonesia versus, say, the Algerian war of independence is more speculative. Nevertheless, the Peace and Conflict studies name 1991 as the peak post-World War II year for totality of global fighting, giving that year a ranking of 179 on a scale that rates the extent and destructiveness of combat. By 2000, in spite of war in the Balkans and genocide in Rwanda, the number had fallen to 97; by 2002 to 81; and, at the end of 2004, it stood at 65. This suggests the extent and intensity of global combat is now less than half what it was 15 years ago.

How can war be in such decline when evening newscasts are filled with images of carnage? One reason fighting seems to be everywhere is that, with the ubiquity of 24-hour cable news and the Internet, we see many more images of conflict than before. As recently as two decades ago, the rebellion in Eritrea occurred with almost no world notice; the tirelessly globe-trotting Robert Kaplan wrote of meeting with Eritrean rebels who told him they hoped that at least spy satellites were trained on their region so that someone, somewhere, would know of their struggle. Today, fighting in Iraq, Sudan, and other places is elaborately reported on, with a wealth of visual details supplied by minicams and even camera-enabled cell phones. News organizations must prominently report fighting, of course. But the fact that we now see so many visuals of combat and conflict creates the impression that these problems are increasing: Actually, it is the reporting of the problems that is increasing, while the problems themselves are in decline. Television, especially, likes to emphasize war because pictures of fighting, soldiers, and military hardware are inherently more compelling to viewers than images of, say, water-purification projects. Reports of violence and destruction are rarely balanced with reports about the overwhelming majority of the Earth’s population not being harmed.

Mueller calculates that about 200 million people were killed in the twentieth century by warfare, other violent conflicts, and government actions associated with war, such as the Holocaust. About twelve billion people lived during that century, meaning that a person of the twentieth century had a 1 to 2 percent chance of dying as the result of international war, ethnic fighting, or government-run genocide. A 1 to 2 percent chance, Mueller notes, is also an American’s lifetime chance of dying in an automobile accident. The risk varies depending on where you live and who you are, of course; Mueller notes that, during the twentieth century, Armenians, Cambodians, Jews, kulaks, and some others had a far higher chance of death by war or government persecution than the global average. Yet, with war now in decline, for the moment men and women worldwide stand in more danger from cars and highways than from war and combat. World Health Organization statistics back this: In 2000, for example, 300,000 people died in combat or for war-related reasons (such as disease or malnutrition caused by war), while 1.2 million worldwide died in traffic accidents. That 300,000 people perished because of war in 2000 is a terrible toll, but it represents just .005 percent of those alive in that year.

This low global risk of death from war probably differs greatly from most of the world’s past. In prehistory, tribal and small-group violence may have been endemic. Steven LeBlanc, a Harvard University archeologist, asserts in his 2003 book about the human past, Constant Battles, that warfare was a steady feature of primordial society. LeBlanc notes that, when the aboriginal societies of New Guinea were first observed by Europeans in the 1930s, one male in four died by violence; traditional New Guinean society was organized around endless tribal combat. Unremitting warfare characterized much of the history of Europe, the Middle East, and other regions; perhaps one-fifth of the German population died during the Thirty Years War, for instance. Now the world is in a period in which less than one ten-thousandth of its population dies from fighting in a year. The sheer number of people who are being harmed by warfare is without precedent.

Next consider a wonderful fact: Global military spending is also in decline. Stated in current dollars, annual global military spending peaked in 1985, at $1.3 trillion, and has been falling since, to slightly over $1 trillion in 2004, according to the Center for Defense Information, a nonpartisan Washington research organization. Since the global population has risen by one-fifth during this period, military spending might have been expected to rise. Instead, relative to population growth, military spending has declined by a full third. In current dollars, the world spent $260 per capita on arms in 1985 and $167 in 2004.

The striking decline in global military spending has also received no attention from the press, which continues to promote the notion of a world staggering under the weight of instruments of destruction. Only a few nations, most prominently the United States, have increased their defense spending in the last decade. Today, the United States accounts for 44 percent of world military spending; if current trends continue, with many nations reducing defense spending while the United States continues to increase such spending as its military is restructured for new global anti-terrorism and peacekeeping roles, it is not out of the question that, in the future, the United States will spend more on arms and soldiers than the rest of the world combined.

Declining global military spending is exactly what one would expect to find if war itself were in decline. The peak year in global military spending came only shortly before the peak year for wars, 1991. There’s an obvious chicken-or-egg question, whether military spending has fallen because wars are rarer or whether wars are rarer because military spending has fallen. Either way, both trend lines point in the right direction. This is an extremely favorable development, particularly for the world’s poor — the less developing nations squander on arms, the more they can invest in improving daily lives of their citizens.

What is causing war to decline? The most powerful factor must be the end of the cold war, which has both lowered international tensions and withdrawn U.S. and Soviet support from proxy armies in the developing world. Fighting in poor nations is sustained by outside supplies of arms. To be sure, there remain significant stocks of small arms in the developing world — particularly millions of assault rifles. But, with international arms shipments waning and heavy weapons, such as artillery, becoming harder to obtain in many developing nations, factions in developing-world conflicts are more likely to sue for peace. For example, the long, violent conflict in Angola was sustained by a weird mix of Soviet, American, Cuban, and South African arms shipments to a potpourri of factions. When all these nations stopped supplying arms to the Angolan combatants, the leaders of the factions grudgingly came to the conference table.

During the cold war, Marshall notes, it was common for Westerners to say there was peace because no fighting affected the West. Actually, global conflict rose steadily during the cold war, but could be observed only in the developing world. After the cold war ended, many in the West wrung their hands about a supposed outbreak of “disorder” and ethnic hostilities. Actually, both problems went into decline following the cold war, but only then began to be noticed in the West, with confrontation with the Soviet empire no longer an issue.

Another reason for less war is the rise of peacekeeping. The world spends more every year on peacekeeping, and peacekeeping is turning out to be an excellent investment. Many thousands of U.N., nato, American, and other soldiers and peacekeeping units now walk the streets in troubled parts of the world, at a cost of at least $3 billion annually. Peacekeeping has not been without its problems; peacekeepers have been accused of paying very young girls for sex in Bosnia and Africa, and nato bears collective shame for refusing support to the Dutch peacekeeping unit that might have prevented the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. But, overall, peacekeeping is working. Dollar for dollar, it is far more effective at preventing fighting than purchasing complex weapons systems. A recent study from the notoriously gloomy rand Corporation found that most U.N. peacekeeping efforts have been successful.

Peacekeeping is just one way in which the United Nations has made a significant contribution to the decline of war. American commentators love to disparage the organization in that big cereal-box building on the East River, and, of course, the United Nations has manifold faults. Yet we should not lose track of the fact that the global security system envisioned by the U.N. charter appears to be taking effect. Great-power military tensions are at the lowest level in centuries; wealthy nations are increasingly pressured by international diplomacy not to encourage war by client states; and much of the world respects U.N. guidance. Related to this, the rise in “international engagement,” or the involvement of the world community in local disputes, increasingly mitigates against war.

The spread of democracy has made another significant contribution to the decline of war. In 1975, only one-third of the world’s nations held true multiparty elections; today two-thirds do, and the proportion continues to rise. In the last two decades, some 80 countries have joined the democratic column, while hardly any moved in the opposite direction. Increasingly, developing-world leaders observe the simple fact that the free nations are the strongest and richest ones, and this creates a powerful argument for the expansion of freedom. Theorists at least as far back as Immanuel Kant have posited that democratic societies would be much less likely to make war than other kinds of states. So far, this has proved true: Democracy-against-democracy fighting has been extremely rare. Prosperity and democracy tend to be mutually reinforcing. Now prosperity is rising in most of the world, amplifying the trend toward freedom. As ever-more nations become democracies, ever-less war can be expected, which is exactly what is being observed.

For the great-power nations, the arrival of nuclear deterrence is an obvious factor in the decline of war. The atomic bomb debuted in 1945, and the last great-power fighting, between the United States and China, concluded not long after, in 1953. From 1871 to 1914, Europe enjoyed nearly half a century without war; the current 52-year great-power peace is the longest period without great-power war since the modern state system emerged. Of course, it is possible that nuclear deterrence will backfire and lead to a conflagration beyond imagination in its horrors. But, even at the height of the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union never seriously contemplated a nuclear exchange. If it didn’t happen then, it seems unlikely for the future.

In turn, lack of war among great nations sets an example for the developing world. When the leading nations routinely attacked neighbors or rivals, governments of emerging states dreamed of the day when they, too, could issue orders to armies of conquest. Now that the leading nations rarely use military force — and instead emphasize economic competition — developing countries imitate that model. This makes the global economy more turbulent, but reduces war.

In The Remnants of War, Mueller argues that most fighting in the world today happens because many developing nations lack “capable government” that can contain ethnic conflict or prevent terrorist groups, militias, and criminal gangs from operating. Through around 1500, he reminds us, Europe, too, lacked capable government: Criminal gangs and private armies roamed the countryside. As European governments became competent, and as police and courts grew more respected, legitimate government gradually vanquished thug elements from most of European life. Mueller thinks this same progression of events is beginning in much of the developing world. Government and civil institutions in India, for example, are becoming more professional and less corrupt — one reason why that highly populous nation is not falling apart, as so many predicted it would. Interstate war is in substantial decline; if civil wars, ethnic strife, and private army fighting also go into decline, war may be ungrafted from the human experience.

Is it possible to believe that war is declining, owing to the spread of enlightenment? This seems the riskiest claim. Human nature has let us down many times before. Some have argued that militarism as a philosophy was destroyed in World War II, when the states that were utterly dedicated to martial organization and violent conquest were not only beaten but reduced to rubble by free nations that initially wanted no part of the fight. World War II did represent the triumph of freedom over militarism. But memories are short: It is unrealistic to suppose that no nation will ever be seduced by militarism again.

Yet the last half-century has seen an increase in great nations acting in an enlightened manner toward one another. Prior to this period, the losing sides in wars were usually punished; consider the Versailles Treaty, whose punitive terms helped set in motion the Nazi takeover of Germany. After World War II, the victors did not punish Germany and Japan, which made reasonably smooth returns to prosperity and acceptance by the family of nations. Following the end of the cold war, the losers — the former Soviet Union and China — have seen their national conditions improve, if fitfully; their reentry into the family of nations has gone reasonably well and has been encouraged, if not actively aided, by their former adversaries. Not punishing the vanquished should diminish the odds of future war, since there are no generations who suffer from the victor’s terms, become bitter, and want vengeance.

Antiwar sentiment is only about a century old in Western culture, and Mueller thinks its rise has not been given sufficient due. As recently as the Civil War in the United States and World War I in Europe, it was common to view war as inevitable and to be fatalistic about the power of government to order men to march to their deaths. A spooky number of thinkers even adulated war as a desirable condition. Kant, who loved democracy, nevertheless wrote that war is “sublime” and that “prolonged peace favors the predominance of a mere commercial spirit, and with it a debasing self-interest, cowardice and effeminacy.” Alexis De Tocqueville said that war “enlarges the mind of a people.” Igor Stravinsky called war “necessary for human progress.” In 1895, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. told the graduating class of Harvard that one of the highest expressions of honor was “the faith … which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty.”

Around the turn of the twentieth century, a counter-view arose — that war is usually absurd. One of the bestselling books of late-nineteenth-century Europe, Lay Down Your Arms!, was an antiwar novel. Organized draft resistance in the United Kingdom during World War I was a new force in European politics. England slept during the ’30s in part because public antiwar sentiment was intense. By the time the U.S. government abolished the draft at the end of the Vietnam War, there was strong feeling in the United States that families would no longer tolerate being compelled to give up their children for war. Today, that feeling has spread even to Russia, such a short time ago a totalitarian, militaristic state. As average family size has decreased across the Western world, families have invested more in each child; this should discourage militarism. Family size has started to decrease in the developing world, too, so the same dynamic may take effect in poor nations.

There is even a chance that the ascent of economics to its pinnacle position in modern life reduces war. Nations interconnected by trade may be less willing to fight each other: If China and the United States ever fought, both nations might see their economies collapse. It is true that, in the decades leading up to World War I, some thought rising trade would prevent war. But today’s circumstances are very different from those of the Fin de siècle [turn of the century]. Before World War I, great powers still maintained the grand illusion that there could be war without general devastation; World Wars I and II were started by governments that thought they could come out ahead by fighting. Today, no major government appears to believe that war is the best path to nationalistic or monetary profit; trade seems much more promising.

The late economist Julian Simon proposed that, in a knowledge-based economy, people and their brainpower are more important than physical resources, and thus the lives of a country’s citizens are worth more than any object that might be seized in war. Simon’s was a highly optimistic view — he assumed governments are grounded in reason — and yet there is a chance this vision will be realized. Already, most Western nations have achieved a condition in which citizens’ lives possess greater economic value than any place or thing an army might gain by combat. As knowledge-based economics spreads throughout the world, physical resources may mean steadily less, while life means steadily more. That’s, well, enlightenment.

In his 1993 book, A History of Warfare, the military historian John Keegan recognized the early signs that combat and armed conflict had entered a cycle of decline. War “may well be ceasing to commend itself to human beings as a desirable or productive, let alone rational, means of reconciling their discontents,” Keegan wrote. Now there are 15 years of positive developments supporting the idea. Fifteen years is not all that long. Many things could still go badly wrong; there could be ghastly surprises in store. But, for the moment, the trends have never been more auspicious: Swords really are being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. The world ought to take notice.


Visualizing democide


Counting the Democratic Peace Away

May 14, 2009


click me^–>

[First published October 9, 2005] I often come across the assumption that science is so explicit, empirical, precise, and clear that it is a proven alternative to assumption laden philosophy, traditional scholarship and what passes for social analysis. Wrong.

Social scientific research is laden with assumptions. For example, one assumption in the scientific studies of which I’m aware that concerns me is the following. So many applications of correlational methods, as of the correlation coefficient itself or regression analysis, assume that the relationship between an x and y is necessary and sufficient (necessity: y does not occur without x; sufficiency: if x then y; necessary and sufficient: y occurs if and only if x). But what if x is sufficient only; or necessary only? Then the correlation could be weak, even though there is a very strong causal relationship. For example, that both nations be democratic is a sufficient condition that they will be at peace with each other. However, they may be at peace for other reasons, such as distance (e.g., Ecuador and Kenya), shared interests of the moment (e.g., Syria and Iran), or fear of a third party (e.g., China and Taiwan). For peace between countries, that they be democratic is only a sufficient, but not necessary condition. This theoretical relationship is shown in the figure below, each dot representing a hypothetical war or act of violence.


If the figures reflect the true relationship, which I’m sure it does, then it is incorrect to test this relationship between democracy and peace by correlational methods, since they would obscure it. But this is what is most often done, followed by the exclamation: “See, the relationship is weak. There is no significant democratic peace.”

A more appropriate way to test this is by cross-classification tables, such as Tables 1 and 2 in the upper left of the democratic peace chart below (click to enlarge)

A more specific problem of concern is the general use of a simple count of wars to test/assess relationships. The problem is especially evident in testing whether democracies are less warlike than other types of regimes. But a count of wars is very misleading, since a regime coded as having a war can have virtually no one killed in the war as long as, using the common criteria that it had over 1,000 troops involved, or that many were killed overall in the “war” (thus, a nation suffering 800 killed in a violent confrontation in which the overall toll is 950 would not be counted as having fought a war).

For example, in the Boxer Rebellion (1900), which is classified as a war since there were over 3,000 battle dead, Great Britain lost 34 killed, the United States 21, and France 24. Yet, this would be classified as a war for each of these nations. Then consider the Falklands War of 1982 between Great Britain and Argentina. Figures vary on the number killed, but somewhat less than 1,000 seems a good number, with about 650 to 700 of those being Argentineans. But by virtue of the criteria mentioned, since it did not rise to the 1,000 battle dead threshold, in spite of her high number killed compared to Great Britain, the USA and France in the Boxer rebellion, this would not be counted as a war for Argentina or Britain.

The problem with this simplistic count of wars for a regime can be seen in another way. Counting wars or military actions equates conflicts that are vastly different. For example, the Philippines lost 90 killed in the Korean War, and this is counted as one war for the Philippines because she had more than 1,000 troops involved. But the Soviet Union lost 7,500,000 battle dead in World War II, and this also is counted as one war. Thus, in comparing, say, 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 relationship between democracy and violence, among other relationships, have been tested.

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 assumption in the use of a simple count of wars.

Sometimes I think that the mechanics of analysis (getting and preparing data for analysis, setting up the computer application, applying it to the data, and then reporting the results), and the pressure to do what others have done in their research, overwhelms common sense.

Keep this in mind when you will read here and there on the internet that democracies are as warlike as other regimes.


Links of Day

“Mark Steyn: Islamist way or no way” By Mark Steyn (10/4/05)

:

. . . . the Islamists don’t even bother going through the traditional rhetorical feints. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. “We are here as on a darkling plain …” wrote Matthew Arnold in the famous concluding lines to Dover Beach, “where ignorant armies clash by night”.
But we choose in large part to stay in ignorance. Blow up the London Underground during a G8 summit and the world’s leaders twitter about how tragic and ironic it is that this should have happened just as they’re taking steps to deal with the issues, as though the terrorists are upset about poverty in Africa and global warming.
. . . . The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam — or House of Islam — to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace.”
That’s why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they’ll keep blowing it up. It’s not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It’s about a world where everything other than Islamism lies in ruins.

” Zarqawi justifies killing of civilians”:

Iraq’s al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi said militants were justified under Islam in killing civilians as long as they are infidels, according to a new audiotape attributed to him yesterday. “Islam does not differentiate between civilians and military, but rather distinguishes between Muslims and infidels,” said the man on the tape posted on the Internet, who sounded like Zarqawi.

RJR: If I may spell this out (assuming that you and your family is nonMuslim), it’s like getting an email or phone call from a gang leader saying, “I’m going to murder you, your mate, and your children.” What protects us is that we are hidden in a crowd of hundreds of millions of Americans.


Links I Must Share

“NATO widens role in Afghanistan”

NATO will increase its force in Afghanistan to as many as 15,000 soldiers and will take on counterinsurgency operations as its expands its mission into southern Afghanistan over coming months . . . .

RJR: This is quite a breakthrough in this war on terror. NATO, an all democratic 26 member military alliance of mainly East and West European democracies (plus Turkey, Iceland, Canada, and the U.S.) has broken out of its Europe only shell with its increasing involvement in African peacekeeping, and now this enlargement of its contribution to the Afghan democracy. Can one hope that NATO will soon be the military arm of a global Alliance of Democracies?

“Who Cares About Midterm Elections?”

RJR: This is sardonically put, I’m sure. The point is that too many are caught up in the 2008 battle, while ignoring the 2006 one for Congress that is of utmost importance. Imagine that the Democrats take over the House and Senate. What will they do then about Iraq and the War on Terror? Hmmmm.

“Terrorism Strikes the Heartland”:

. . . .it’s not every day that there’s a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and supposedly there hasn’t been one since 9/11. But that’s exactly what happened outside a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday night (10/1).

RJR: That authorities would suppress and distort information on this terrorist attempt to murder thousands should be a wake up call regarding what they will do if bird flu hits some area in the U.S. I’m not trying to malign health authorities, but their primary concern will be to avoid a panic that would make quarantine and the isolation of the pandemic difficult. What is society-wise may not be for the alert individual, if they can avoid the pandemic altogether.
STAY ALERT. Consult pandemic 2005 every day (here).

Freedom's Website


Arguments Against the Democratic Peace

May 13, 2009


click me^–>

[First published October 10, 2005] I have on occasion linked to or critiqued articles arguing against the democratic peace (DP). They fall into four groups.

First, are those who argue from historical examples that allegedly disprove DP. Favorites are the Civil War, WWII against “democratically elected” Hitler, democratic Finland being allied with Germany in World War II, the various French-British crises, , and certain democratic American Indian tribes on which the U.S. made war. Also, there is the finger pointing at all the wars that the U.S. and U.K. fought. No amount of historical analysis that disproves these as exceptions persuades members of this group, who generally argue that DP supporters are defining them away.

Lets say that all the exceptions are true exceptions. There were 371 pairs of countries involved in wars against each other 1816-2005 About 22 exceptions have been put forward, which if excepted would mean that democracies fought that many wars out of 371, or 6 percent. Therefore, taking every claimed exception as true we can still say that democracies tend to be most peacefully disposed to each other. That is, if democracy were universalized, war in the world would still be sharply reduced.

The second group is those who, misunderstand what DP is, and thus use examples that are at different levels of analysis or conceptual design. For example, they argue: “Look at all the wars that Britain and the United States have fought. Indeed, Britain has fought more wars that any other nation.” Yes, but this says nothing about what nations Britain fought against after it became a democracy with the Reform Act of 1884 (which extended the franchise to agricultural laborers). Although both the U.S. and Britain have fought many wars, none were against democracies.

A variant of this is to argue that the U.S. and Britain were the aggressors in many wars. True, the U.S. started the Spanish-American and Mexican-American wars, and now the Afghan and Iraq Wars. But the DP does not say that democracies will never launch wars. Only that it will not do so against other democracies.

The third group argue from balance of power or power superiority theories, a la Hans Morgenthau, and assert that DP is Wilsonian idealism, i.e., unrealistic, and wishful thinking. This is the most common argument appearing in the elite journals and by foreign policy commentators. In effect, it is arguing DP away in a nice way — by labeling it as head-in-the-clouds idealism in contrast to the feet-on-the ground realist. Yet, it is the other way around. It is DP that is grounded in historical data, and its claims have been well tested by scientific methods. Those promoting their “realism” cannot say this. And in those cases where power and its balancing have been tested against DP, the results were in favor of DP, not the other way around. Most often, however, the comparison is a matter of speculative realism versus empirically well tested DP. But either this is something that realists are unaware of, or will deny by lifting arguments from the two groups mentioned previously.

Finally, there is the group of those who question the methodology, with one of the favorites being “correlation does not mean causation,” as though all of us using quantitative methods on DP never took Statistics 101. I find these people usually don’t know what they are talking about (although sometimes wrapped in the usual quantitative jargon), or like the above quote, assume we’re all naïve or empty headed. In some cases, however, they apply apparently sophisticated statistics to data on war and democracy, among other variables, and conclude: “Hey, see, how insignificant democracy is compared to other variables.” When, however, these studies are looked at carefully, one usually finds that the methods have been misunderstood, misapplied, or the data were inappropriate to the method used (for an example of this, see “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong” here). Such is the kinds of war counting, empirical studies, I referred to in my blog, “Counting the Democratic Peace Away” (here).

In 1981, to the conclusion of my five volumes on Understanding Conflict and War (here), I wrote: 

In total, some violence is inevitable; extreme violence and war are not. To eliminate war, to restrain violence, to nurture universal peace and justice, is to foster freedom.

That conclusion has not only held up well, it also now declarative American foreign policy.

Link of Day

” Democracy, Spontaneous Order and Peace” By Augustus diZerega

Abstract: The democratic peace hypothesis which states that democracies rarely or never go to war against one another and that democracies do not commit democide raises issues penetrating to the core of modern liberalism, classical and otherwise. If democracies are unique from other forms of government, as claims for their peacefulness towards citizens and one another suggest, then possibly the classical liberal and libertarian critique of democratic government needs re-examination. By separating liberal democracy from undemocratic states, the democratic peace hypothesis separates the classical liberal and libertarian critique of the state from a straight forward application to liberal democracy. The work of F. A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi holds the key to understanding the democratic peace, and thereby leads to rethinking the classical liberal and libertarian critique of politics. To jump ahead, democracies are spontaneous orders in Hayek’s sense of the term. Consequently democracies are not states in the usual sense, and often do not act like them.

RJR: diZerega is one of the few to recognize that Hayek’s spontaneous society provides an explanation of DP. Nonetheless, Hayekian libertarians, excepting diZeerega, will continue to treat DP as the muttering of diseased minds.


Links I Must Share

Marshall vs. Miers

Unqualified, no judicial experience, just a political crony. Miers? No, John Marshall, whose name generally is preceded by the adjective great, some describing him as the greatest figure in the history of American law. . . . But let’s ask ourselves realistically whether a fracas precipitated by an in-your-face nomination of a conservative with strong and well known commitments to hot-button issues would not simply have led to yet another ignominious defeat by the legions of Darth Vader.  At no time in recent memory has the Republican Senate leadership evidenced any notable parliamentary, tactical, or PR skills.  The Democrats have out-maneuvered them at every turn.

Maybe President Bush simply looked at the facts in the cold light of day and concluded that the nation’s interests would be better served by appointing someone who is both confirmable and committed to sound general principles.  Maybe he concluded that reliance on Senators like Arlen Specter and Bill Frist was as likely to be successful as buying a lottery ticket.

RJR: Too many conservatives are blind to this. For too long, they have wanted a fight with the Demos, and now they are upset by not getting it. Well, getting another strict constructionist on the Supreme Court is more important, and anyway, they would have lost the fight.

“Media Ignore Freedom’s Victories”

It’s troubling that so many refuse to recognize, let alone support, the struggle for freedom in Iraq. The groups behind the September 24 anti-war march on Washington, D.C. really do not care if an American withdrawal ushers in a terrorist victory. One of the co-sponsoring groups, International ANSWER, is actually led by members of the Workers World Party, a communist group that has backed Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Kim Jong-Il. But don’t look for the media to mention that fact.

RJR: They never do. The communist are free to organize as they will without mention of their involvement. True now, true during the anti-nuclear demonstrations, true during Vietnam. Can’t seem a McCarthy, you know.

“SAT-GUIDED CANNON READY TO BLAST”

. . . . the Army has been bankrolling “HYPERLINK “http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=149999&TICK=RTN&STORY=/www/story/09-26-2005/0004131807&EDATE=Sep+26,+2005″Excalibur,&#8221; a Raytheon effort to build a 155mm artillery shell that’s guided by GPS. Think of it as the howitzer’s answer to smart bombs.

RJR: Combine this with a drone providing the GPS coordinates of a tall man dressed all in white, and . . . .


Synopsis, three chapters, and free download


More on the Democratic Peace and Sharp Decline in Violence

May 11, 2009


click me^–>

[First published October 17, 2005] A study has just been published by the Human Security Center, War and Peace In The 21St Century (pdf here). I recommend reading it for the comprehensiveness of its data and analysis.

The reports conclusions are:

Over the past dozen years, the global security climate has changed in dramatic, positive, but largely unheralded ways. Civil wars, genocides and international crises have all declined sharply. International wars, now only a small minority of all conflicts, have been in steady decline for a much longer period, as have military coups and the average number of people killed per conflict per year. The wars that dominated the headlines of the 1990s were real—and brutal—enough. But the global media have largely ignored the 100-odd conflicts that have quietly ended since 1988. During this period, more wars stopped than started. The extent of the change in global security following the end of the Cold War has been remarkable:

°The number of armed conflicts around the world has declined by more than 40% since the early 1990s. [See the igure below from the report]

°Between 1991 (the high point for the post–World War II period) and 2004, 28 armed struggles for self-determination started or restarted, while 43 were contained or ended. There were just 25 armed secessionist conflicts under way in 2004, the lowest number since 1976.

°Notwithstanding the horrors of Rwanda, Srebrenica and elsewhere, the number of genocides and politicides plummeted by 80% between the 1988 high point and 2001.

°International crises, often harbingers of war, declined by more than 70% between 1981 and 2001.

°The dollar value of major international arms transfers fell by 33% between 1990 and 2003 (Figure 1.10). Global military expenditure and troop numbers declined sharply in the 1990s as well.

°The number of refugees dropped by some 45% between 1992 and 2003, as more and more wars came to an end.

°Five out of six regions in the developing world saw a net decrease in core human rights abuses between 1994 and 2003.

The positive changes noted above date from the end of the Cold War. Other changes can be traced back to the 1950s:

°The average number of battle-deaths per conflict per year—the best measure of the deadliness of warfare— has been falling dramatically but unevenly since the 1950s. In 1950, for example, the average armed conflict killed 38,000 people; in 2002 the figure was 600, a 98% decline.

°The period since the end of World War II is the longest interval of uninterrupted peace between the major powers in hundreds of years.

°The number of actual and attempted military coups has been declining for more than 40 years. In 1963 there were 25 coups and attempted coups around the world, the highest number in the post–World War II period. In 2004 there were only 10 coup attempts—a 60% decline. All of them failed.

How do they explain this great decrease in warfare and its severity?

A dramatic increase in the number of democracies. In 1946, there were 20 democracies in the world; in 2005, there were 88.10 Many scholars argue that this trend has reduced the likelihood of international war because democratic states almost never fight each other.

An increase in economic interdependence . Greater global economic interdependence has increased the costs of cross-border aggression while reducing its benefits.

A decline in the economic utility of war . The most effective path to prosperity in modern economies is through increasing productivity and international trade, not through seizing land and raw materials. In addition, the existence of an open global trading regime means it is nearly always cheaper to buy resources from overseas than to use force to acquire them.

Growth in international institutions . The greatly increased involvement by governments in international institutions can help reduce the incidence of conflict. Such institutions play an important direct role in building global norms that encourage the peaceful settlement of disputes. They can also benefit security indirectly by helping promote democratisation and interdependence.

There you have it. The first empirical anslysis to note the sharp decrease in violence other than my own, and to attribute it to the democractic peace. My only disagreement is that I would consider the democracies achieving a critical mass to be the major cause, and the others to be minor. The other causes existed before the decrease in violence, and it is only that growth in democracies that is the factor that significantly changed — that along with the end of the Cold War, which be it recalled, was predicted at the time to lead to a leap in violence, since the Soviet Union (having disappeared) and U.S. were no longer concerned to cap any violence that might draw them into a major war with each other.


Link of Day

“Final Report of the Commission on Human Security” A UN Report different from the above

The report proposes a new security framework that centers directly and specifically on people. Human security focuses on shielding people from critical and pervasive threats and empowering them to take charge of their lives. It demands creating genuine opportunities for people to live in safety and dignity and earn their livelihood.

RJR: Note this policy conclusion: “Clarifying the need for a global human identity while respecting the freedom of individuals to have diverse identities and affiliations.”


Links I Must Share

“Book Learning:

A controversial new work says French school textbooks are just plain anti-American.

RJR: Is there any doubt?

“Rice: No presidential ambitions”

RJR: This is politicospeech for, “I’ll run if people show enough interest.”

“TRUE ACADEMIC FREEDOM HAS A NEW ALLY”

The cultural left has a new tool for enforcing political conformity in schools of education. It is called dispositions theory, and it was set forth five years ago by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education: Future teachers should be judged by their “knowledge, skills, and dispositions.”

RJR: By dispositions, or what in my academic experience was called “political sensitivety,” which was used to evaluate faculty and graduate student applicants, means bowing before the left’s holy icons. Five degrees is no good. It has to be a full forty-five degrees.

“United Nations uselessness”

The chief of mission for Sudan in Washington, Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed, assures the world in a Sept. 28 Op-Ed in The Washington Times that since “Every reliable report coming our of Darfur indicates that the situation has stabilized and the mortality rate has returned to pre-war levels,” at last there is “the beginning of a new era in Sudan.” Despite this exercise in public relations, the facts on the ground in Darfur are savagely different.

RJR: This is the UN, you know. It could not be otherwise.

War/peace docudramas
On WWI, Stalin, Holocaust,
China, Cambodia, and others


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.