How Freedom Is Won

May 21, 2009

[First published September 11. 2005] Freedom House has published a study on “How Freedom is Won (link here). The study covers all transitions to democracy that have occurred in the last 33 years, 67 of them, and shows that:

Far more often than is generally understood, the change agent is broad-based, nonviolent civic resistance—which employs tactics such as boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes, and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders.

It goes on to say:

The central conclusion of this study is that how a transition from authoritarianism occurs and the types of forces that are engaged in pressing the transition have significant impact on the success or failure of democratic reform.

The study lists each transition, the factors involved, and provides a narrative on the transition. It concludes that the top down attempts at democratization is less successful than bottom up, nonviolent coalitions. Thus, the best way of aiding democratization from the outside is to:

aid the creation of “civic life,” broad based coalitions,
“transfer knowledge on strategies and tactics of nonviolent civic resistance,”
“provide enhanced resources for independent media and communications,” and
“expand space for nonviolent action through targeted sanctions.”

This is to say:

work to constrain insurrectionist and state violence and to expand the political space for nonviolent civic action. This means that in the cases of civil wars, governments and international organizations should seek solutions that lead to an end to hostilities and to internationally supervised or monitored elections. Democracies also should engage in preventive diplomacy to avert violence and support policies that prevent or limit the spread of violence in its earliest stages.

Because of Freedom House’s intensive and extensive analysis of freedom, nonfreedom, and their transitions for all the world’s countries, as shown in its annual Freedom In the World annual report (the 2005 Report is here), this study on how freedom is won is especially credible.

Does the study have anything to say that is relevant to Iraq and Afghanistan? Yes. I have pulled out the two relevant passages below:

. . . in the cases of civil wars, governments and international organizations should seek solutions that lead to an end to hostilities and to internationally supervised or monitored elections.

Efforts to restore personal security in extremely violent environments in countries that have suffered from war or civil war, therefore, can contribute in the long term to the emergence of civic coalitions for democratic change.

I believe that the American Coalition Iraq and Afghanistan is doing precisely this, while fighting the insurrectionists and terrorists. It is helping and aiding he process of creating a civic society with Iraqis and Afghans having the freedom to form political parties, businesses, educational institution, and other organizations that satisfy diverse interests (this is the invisible part of the war you don’t read much about in the opposition media). And the Coalition has brought in the UN and other international organizations to monitor and supervise democratic elections. The upshot of this Freedom House study is that if the insurrection and terrorism is defeated, the long run success of democracy in these countries looks promising.

A chart
of the democratic peace


On Democratization and Its Globalization

April 24, 2009

[First published December 6, 2005] You may remember my blog on “Does Incomplete Democratization Risk War?”. I evaluated the book by Jack Snyder and Edward Mansfield on Electing To Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go To War, and concluded that their quantitative results about the war likeness of nations in transition to full democracy do not prove (show, establish, indicate) that they are more likely to make war than other nations. I warned, however, that their results are being misapplied to Iraq.

Well, here is a review of the book by John M. Owen IV that does so. To give you some priceless quotes:

According to the academics, Bush’s chief transgressions have had to do with foreign policy, especially the Iraq war — a mess that could have been avoided if only the president and his advisers had paid more attention to those who devote their lives to studying international relations. . . . [RJR: I am a former academic who has spent his life studying international relations, and I support Bush's foreign policy and Iraq War]

[On] Iraq, and in particular the notion that the United States can turn it into a democracy at an acceptable cost. In effect, Mansfield and Snyder have raised the estimate of these costs by pointing out one other reason this effort may fail — a reason that few seem to have thought of. . . . . What if, following the departure of U.S. troops, Iraq holds together but as an incomplete democratizer, with broad suffrage but anemic state institutions? Such an Iraq might well treat its own citizens better than the Baathist regime did. Its treatment of its neighbors, however, might be just as bad. . . .

If Mansfield and Snyder are correct about the bellicose tendencies of young, incompletely democratized states, the stakes of Iraq’s transition are higher than most have supposed. They are high enough, in fact, that those who called so loudly in the 1990s for an end to UN sanctions because Iraqis were dying but who are silent about the Iraqis who are dying now ought to reconsider their proud aloofness from the war. An aggressive Iraq, prone to attack Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Israel, is in no one’s interest. The odds may be long that Iraq will ever turn into a mature democracy of the sort envisaged by the Bush administration.

Note that Owen does not even let a wisp of doubt cross his mind that Mansfield and Snyder are wrong.

Larry Diamond, editor of the Journal Democracy has a very good article on “Universal Democrary? appearing in Policy Review Online. He says:

[Re Iraq] This is the most ambitious effort to foster deliberate political change since European colonial rule drew to a close in the early post-World War II era. Can it succeed? Since Iraq lacks virtually all of the classic favorable conditions, to ask whether it can soon become a democracy is to ask, really, whether any country can become a democracy. Which is to ask as well, can every country become a democracy?
[note that Iraq is not a fully functioning democracy, and under a constitution that has been approved by the Iraqi people]

My answer here is a cautiously optimistic one. The current moment is in many respects without historical precedent. Much is made of the unparalleled gap between the military and economic power of the United States and that of any conceivable combination of competitors or adversaries. But no less unique are these additional facts:

• This breathtaking preponderance of power is held by a liberal democracy.

• The next most powerful global actor is a loose union of countries that are also all liberal democracies.

• The majority of states in the world are already democracies of one sort or another.

• There is no model of governance with any broad normative appeal or legitimacy in the world other than democracy.

• There is growing international legal and moral momentum toward the recognition of democracy as a basic human right of all peoples.

• States and international organizations are intruding on sovereignty in ever more numerous and audacious ways in order to promote democracy and freedom.

He concludes:

The fully global triumph of democracy is far from inevitable, yet it has never been more attainable. If we manage to sustain the process of global economic integration and growth while making freedom at least an important priority in our diplomacy, aid, and other international engagements, democracy will continue to expand in the world. History has proven that it is the best form of government. Gradually, more countries will become democratic while fewer revert to dictatorship. If we retain our power, reshape our strategy, and sustain our commitment, eventually — not in the next decade, but certainly by mid-century — every country in the world can be democratic.


The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong

March 10, 2009


click me^–>

[First published September 11, 2005] As a libertarian on domestic policy, I’ve supported, agreed with, and been happy to see much of the policy analyses and recommendations that the CATO Institute has published. It is with sadness, therefore, that I must point out how bad is CATO’s Chapter 2 in their Ninth Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. Perhaps I can encourage them to be more careful in the future about their publications.

It is more than appropriate to focus a critique on this chapter by the Columbia University Political Scientist, Erik Gartzke , since it is not buried in the report, but given fanfare in CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2005 Annual Report, released Thursday by the Cato Institute in conjunction with the Fraser Institute of Canada.

This is not only wrong, but also the Chapter 2 study on which this is based is incompetent. Even the very data Gartzke’s analyzes contradicts the above claim. For example, as I will document below, in his data there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries. How can economic freedom improve on that, not to mention being 50 times better?

Dean Esmay (blog here) and Colleague had independently pointed me toward the blog by Daniel W. Drezner (here), which favorably reported on this CATO study, repeating not only what CATO says in its press release, but adding Garzke’s conclusion:

The results here suggest that efforts to promote peace in the Middle East and in other regions dominated by autocratic governments through democratization are of particularly questionable worth.

This is the particular danger of the Gartzke’s study, and the reason it was so important beyond CATO’s reputation or it to have been especially careful in including this in their report. It may well lead intelligent and policy-wise analysts and commentators to draw the wrong conclusions about the importance of democratization.

Now, for the details. I’ve gone to the study to see how it arrived at a conclusion that contradicts so much research on the democratic peace. It is here. First, some nitpicking. It is wrong to say, as Drezner does, that: “researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally.” Presumably, the “no less ready” refers to nondemocracies. I published an article on this, “Democracies are less warlike than other regimes,” (here) in which I showed the errors in claims such as Drezner’s, and established empirically that in the 20th Century, democracies engage much less in severe foreign violence than do nondemocracies.

Gartzke says further that: “Democracy is desirable for many reasons but policies that encourage, or even seek to impose, representative government are unlikely to contribute directly to international peace.” There is that misbegotten “impose” again. This is a misunderstanding in what democratization of other countries means. See my blog, “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy,” on this here.

He also says that, “Developing countries do not benefit from a democratic peace.” Consistently, whether developed or not, developing or not,” the democratic peace of no wars between democracies holds. When there were, depending on the year, 25, 50, 80, or 117 democracies, as of now, the list surely includes all developing democracies as well as those at all levels of development. Yet, no two of them make war on each other. But, he claims that his study finds otherwise. He can only claim this and that democracies are unlikely to contribute to peace by ignoring his own data

So, lets look at his data. These are the Militarized Dispute Data (MID) set on “violence” that is widely available. The particular set he used is for 1816 to 2000. I’ve looked at the original data 1816-1992 in detail, and covered in my own collection the eight additional years to year 2000. (As to the original data set, see Frank W. Wayman’s paper on the “Incidence Of Militarized Disputes Between Liberal States,”) and Daniel M. Jones, Stuart A. Bremer, and J. David Singer, “Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816-1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, And Empirical Patterns”).

For one, the MID data involves threats, military action (e.g., alerts, mobilization, and hostile movements), and violence short of 1,000 killed. Note that in using these data Gartzke confounds nonviolence with violence, a serious mistake in evaluating the democratic peace since it concerns only violence (some researchers limit this to war, but I do not and consider any combat deaths to be relevant). Still, it may be that his data is capturing enough violence between democracies to be useful.

So how many incidents of violence between democracies are there? In the whole data set, OVER ALMOST TWO CENTURIES, out of 350 cases for all nations (up to 1992), and in the eight additional years, there are ZERO (0) CASES OF WAR, between democracies, and only 3 cases of violence between democracies in which someone was killed. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first and 1-25 in the second case of violence). In 1981 Peru was only marginally democratic, as was Ecuador, but less so. This was also true of Peru and Ecuador in 1984. The only other case of violence in the data set was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed.

Given that this is not the best data set to test the democratic peace against economic freedom, how does he do the test? He uses multiple regression analysis to regress MID on economic freedom, democracy, and a number of other variables. Before evaluating this analysis, I should note from my own study that the correlation between economic freedom and democraticy is high. In fact, they form a common dimension among nations with many other human security and economic variables, and with which democraticy is correlated .83 and economic freedom .85 (table here). Their common , as apart from accidental or random correlation, is therefore, .85 X .83 = .70, which is high. (To better see this relationship, look at the table and figure in my “The Solution to Mass Poverty Blog” here).

This correlation is meaningful for the kind of regression analysis Gartzke did, but he apparently doesn’t know it. A problem in regression analysis is multicollinearity, which is to say moderate or high correlations among the independent variables. If two independent variables are highly correlated they are no longer statistically independent, and the first one entered into the regression, in this case economic freedom, steals that part of the correlation it has with democracy from the dependent variable. Thus, economic freedom is highly significant, while democracy is not. If Gartzke had done two bivariate regressions on his MID data, one with economic freedom and other with democracy as the independent variables, he surely would have found democracy highly significant. (An important statistical point about his use of significance tests — he is not analyzing a sample, but the universe of cases — thus standard significance tests are irrelevant). To protect against multicollinearity in his multiple regression, he should have orthogonalized the independent variables, which is to make them statistically independent of each other. Orthogonalization can be done through factor analysis, and then using the resulting factor scores in the regression.

Thus, his CATO acclaimed results are a result of his misuse of multiple regression and an ignorance of what is in his data. Even then, given his dependent variable, were the regression analysis properly done, I don’ think his data consisting of nonviolent and violent acts would be relevant to what is meant by democratic freedom and violence.

I did my own analysis of democracy, violence, economic development and economic freedom, plus some other human development variables. I asked: Can we predict the level of a nation’s human security (which includes violence) by knowing its level of democracy (analysis here). The final regression is of logviolence factor scores on the factor scores of freedom and human development (thus erasing the problem of multicollinearity), and dummy variables as to whether Moslem or not, or Christian or not (given the purpose of the regression, it did not matter if these two were correlated with the other impendent variables or each other). The regression was excellent, accounting for 74 percent of the variation in violence (with residuals properly dispersed), with democracy (freedom) being far more significant than human development (see Table A.23 here), which includes economic freedom.

How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report? Was it their libertarian opposition to intervention abroad, even if it is in favor of democracy? Was it their libertarian dislike of the democratic peace, shown by so many libertarian anti-democratic peace articles? Whatever. After reviewing the one study on what I know something about and finding it so poor, it provokes a questioning of their other studies in areas I know less about.


Link of Day

“Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” (just released by the Pentagon)

Deterrence is live and well. This strategic policy report elaborates on American nuclear policy, including that of preemption or FIRST USE, which bush signed off on in 1992. I consider this the most important document on defense policy issued in the last ten years. For those who are bored by such documentation, consider that it was decisions like this about American strategic policy that brought victory in the Cold War, without a world hot war.


Links I Must Share

“Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan”:

he Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

[RJR: one view of the above report]

“New Pentagon plans envision possible nuclear strikes”:

A Pentagon planning document being updated to reflect the doctrine of pre-emption declared by President Bush in 2002 envisions the use of nuclear weapons to deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies.

[RJR: Another view]

Arms Control Wonk:

The Joint Staff hates freedom. What else should I conclude when its staff knowingly place classified material they believe could be harmful to national security on a public webserver?

[A professional arm controller's view]
Democratic Peace
Books/articles/statistics


The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong

March 10, 2009


click me^–>

[First published September 11, 2005] As a libertarian on domestic policy, I’ve supported, agreed with, and been happy to see much of the policy analyses and recommendations that the CATO Institute has published. It is with sadness, therefore, that I must point out how bad is CATO’s Chapter 2 in their Ninth Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. Perhaps I can encourage them to be more careful in the future about their publications.

It is more than appropriate to focus a critique on this chapter by the Columbia University Political Scientist, Erik Gartzke , since it is not buried in the report, but given fanfare in CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2005 Annual Report, released Thursday by the Cato Institute in conjunction with the Fraser Institute of Canada.

This is not only wrong, but also the Chapter 2 study on which this is based is incompetent. Even the very data Gartzke’s analyzes contradicts the above claim. For example, as I will document below, in his data there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries. How can economic freedom improve on that, not to mention being 50 times better?

Dean Esmay (blog here) and Colleague had independently pointed me toward the blog by Daniel W. Drezner (here), which favorably reported on this CATO study, repeating not only what CATO says in its press release, but adding Garzke’s conclusion:

The results here suggest that efforts to promote peace in the Middle East and in other regions dominated by autocratic governments through democratization are of particularly questionable worth.

This is the particular danger of the Gartzke’s study, and the reason it was so important beyond CATO’s reputation or it to have been especially careful in including this in their report. It may well lead intelligent and policy-wise analysts and commentators to draw the wrong conclusions about the importance of democratization.

Now, for the details. I’ve gone to the study to see how it arrived at a conclusion that contradicts so much research on the democratic peace. It is here. First, some nitpicking. It is wrong to say, as Drezner does, that: “researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally.” Presumably, the “no less ready” refers to nondemocracies. I published an article on this, “Democracies are less warlike than other regimes,” (here) in which I showed the errors in claims such as Drezner’s, and established empirically that in the 20th Century, democracies engage much less in severe foreign violence than do nondemocracies.

Gartzke says further that: “Democracy is desirable for many reasons but policies that encourage, or even seek to impose, representative government are unlikely to contribute directly to international peace.” There is that misbegotten “impose” again. This is a misunderstanding in what democratization of other countries means. See my blog, “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy,” on this here.

He also says that, “Developing countries do not benefit from a democratic peace.” Consistently, whether developed or not, developing or not,” the democratic peace of no wars between democracies holds. When there were, depending on the year, 25, 50, 80, or 117 democracies, as of now, the list surely includes all developing democracies as well as those at all levels of development. Yet, no two of them make war on each other. But, he claims that his study finds otherwise. He can only claim this and that democracies are unlikely to contribute to peace by ignoring his own data

So, lets look at his data. These are the Militarized Dispute Data (MID) set on “violence” that is widely available. The particular set he used is for 1816 to 2000. I’ve looked at the original data 1816-1992 in detail, and covered in my own collection the eight additional years to year 2000. (As to the original data set, see Frank W. Wayman’s paper on the “Incidence Of Militarized Disputes Between Liberal States,”) and Daniel M. Jones, Stuart A. Bremer, and J. David Singer, “Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816-1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, And Empirical Patterns”).

For one, the MID data involves threats, military action (e.g., alerts, mobilization, and hostile movements), and violence short of 1,000 killed. Note that in using these data Gartzke confounds nonviolence with violence, a serious mistake in evaluating the democratic peace since it concerns only violence (some researchers limit this to war, but I do not and consider any combat deaths to be relevant). Still, it may be that his data is capturing enough violence between democracies to be useful.

So how many incidents of violence between democracies are there? In the whole data set, OVER ALMOST TWO CENTURIES, out of 350 cases for all nations (up to 1992), and in the eight additional years, there are ZERO (0) CASES OF WAR, between democracies, and only 3 cases of violence between democracies in which someone was killed. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first and 1-25 in the second case of violence). In 1981 Peru was only marginally democratic, as was Ecuador, but less so. This was also true of Peru and Ecuador in 1984. The only other case of violence in the data set was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed.

Given that this is not the best data set to test the democratic peace against economic freedom, how does he do the test? He uses multiple regression analysis to regress MID on economic freedom, democracy, and a number of other variables. Before evaluating this analysis, I should note from my own study that the correlation between economic freedom and democraticy is high. In fact, they form a common dimension among nations with many other human security and economic variables, and with which democraticy is correlated .83 and economic freedom .85 (table here). Their common , as apart from accidental or random correlation, is therefore, .85 X .83 = .70, which is high. (To better see this relationship, look at the table and figure in my “The Solution to Mass Poverty Blog” here).

This correlation is meaningful for the kind of regression analysis Gartzke did, but he apparently doesn’t know it. A problem in regression analysis is multicollinearity, which is to say moderate or high correlations among the independent variables. If two independent variables are highly correlated they are no longer statistically independent, and the first one entered into the regression, in this case economic freedom, steals that part of the correlation it has with democracy from the dependent variable. Thus, economic freedom is highly significant, while democracy is not. If Gartzke had done two bivariate regressions on his MID data, one with economic freedom and other with democracy as the independent variables, he surely would have found democracy highly significant. (An important statistical point about his use of significance tests — he is not analyzing a sample, but the universe of cases — thus standard significance tests are irrelevant). To protect against multicollinearity in his multiple regression, he should have orthogonalized the independent variables, which is to make them statistically independent of each other. Orthogonalization can be done through factor analysis, and then using the resulting factor scores in the regression.

Thus, his CATO acclaimed results are a result of his misuse of multiple regression and an ignorance of what is in his data. Even then, given his dependent variable, were the regression analysis properly done, I don’ think his data consisting of nonviolent and violent acts would be relevant to what is meant by democratic freedom and violence.

I did my own analysis of democracy, violence, economic development and economic freedom, plus some other human development variables. I asked: Can we predict the level of a nation’s human security (which includes violence) by knowing its level of democracy (analysis here). The final regression is of logviolence factor scores on the factor scores of freedom and human development (thus erasing the problem of multicollinearity), and dummy variables as to whether Moslem or not, or Christian or not (given the purpose of the regression, it did not matter if these two were correlated with the other impendent variables or each other). The regression was excellent, accounting for 74 percent of the variation in violence (with residuals properly dispersed), with democracy (freedom) being far more significant than human development (see Table A.23 here), which includes economic freedom.

How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report? Was it their libertarian opposition to intervention abroad, even if it is in favor of democracy? Was it their libertarian dislike of the democratic peace, shown by so many libertarian anti-democratic peace articles? Whatever. After reviewing the one study on what I know something about and finding it so poor, it provokes a questioning of their other studies in areas I know less about.


Link of Day

“Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” (just released by the Pentagon)

Deterrence is live and well. This strategic policy report elaborates on American nuclear policy, including that of preemption or FIRST USE, which bush signed off on in 1992. I consider this the most important document on defense policy issued in the last ten years. For those who are bored by such documentation, consider that it was decisions like this about American strategic policy that brought victory in the Cold War, without a world hot war.


Links I Must Share

“Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan”:

he Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

[RJR: one view of the above report]

“New Pentagon plans envision possible nuclear strikes”:

A Pentagon planning document being updated to reflect the doctrine of pre-emption declared by President Bush in 2002 envisions the use of nuclear weapons to deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies.

[RJR: Another view]

Arms Control Wonk:

The Joint Staff hates freedom. What else should I conclude when its staff knowingly place classified material they believe could be harmful to national security on a public webserver?

[A professional arm controller's view]
Democratic Peace
Books/articles/statistics


When Democracy Endures

January 29, 2009


click me^–>

[First published August 31, 2005] Research by Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi has shown the importance of economic development and growth in the survival of democracies. In the study, “What Makes Democracies Endure,” they did a second analysis, now with Michael Alvarez and Josà Antonio Cheibub, in which they studied other conditions that enhance the survival of democracy. I need not extensively quote from this article, since it is in the Journal of Democracy (7.1, 1996) available online.

The basis of this study is:

135 countries observed annually between 1950 or the year of independence or the first year when economic data are available (“entry” year) and 1990 or the last year for which data are available (“exit” year), for a total of 4,318 country-years. We found 224 regimes, of which 101 were democracies and 123 dictatorships, observing 40 transitions to dictatorship and 50 to democracy. Among democratic regimes, there were 50 parliamentary systems, 46 presidential systems, and 8 mixed systems.

Their conclusion:

If a country, any randomly selected country, is to have a democratic regime next year, what conditions should be present in that country and around the world this year? The answer is: democracy, affluence, growth with moderate inflation, declining inequality, a favorable international climate, and parliamentary institutions.

I can’t resist mentioning a few gems:

It may seem tautological to say that a country should have a democratic regime this year in order to have a democracy next year. We do so in order to dispel the myth, prevalent in certain intellectual and political circles (particularly in the United States) since the late 1950s, that the route to democracy is a circuitous one. The claim is that 1) dictatorships are better at generating economic development in poor countries, and that 2) once countries have developed, their dictatorial regimes will give way to democracy. To get to democracy, then, one had to support, or at least tolerate, dictatorships.
Both of the above propositions, however, are false.

. . . . An overthrow of democracy at any time during the past history of a country shortens the life expectancy of any democratic regime in that country. To the extent that political learning does occur, then, it seems that the lessons learned by antidemocratic forces from the past subversion of democracy are more effective than the traditions that can be relied on by democrats.

. . . . the survival of democracies does depend on their institutional systems. Parliamentary regimes last longer, much longer, than presidential ones. Majority-producing electoral institutions are conducive to the survival of presidential systems: presidential systems facing legislative deadlock are particularly brittle. Both systems are vulnerable to bad economic performance, but presidential democracies are less likely to survive even when the economy grows than are parliamentary systems when the economy declines. The evidence that parliamentary democracy survives longer and under a broader spectrum of conditions than presidential democracy thus seems incontrovertible.

. . . . For a variety of reasons, however, this is not an optimistic conclusion. Poverty is a trap. Few countries with annual per-capita income below $1,000 develop under any regime: their average rate of growth is less than 1 percent a year; many experience prolonged economic decline. When poor countries stagnate, whatever democracies happen to spring up tend to die quickly. Poverty breeds poverty and dictatorship.
Institutional choice offers a partial escape from this trap: parliamentary systems in the poorest countries, while still very fragile, are almost twice as likely to survive as presidential democracies, and four times as likely when they grow economically. Yet since it appears that poor countries are more likely to choose presidentialism, little solace is offered by the possibility of institutional engineering.

. . . . In sum, the secret of democratic durability seems to lie in economic development–not, as the theory dominant in the 1960s had it, under dictatorship, but under democracy based on parliamentary institutions.

What about Afghanistan and Iraq’s democratic institutions? Afghanistan has a Presidential system of direct election (Constitution here). The President is elected, “by receiving more than 50% of the votes cast through free, general, secret, and direct voting.” The National Assembly consists of two houses. In the House of Representatives, members represent regions by direct election, their number proportional to a region’s population. For the Senate, however, 2/3rds are elected or appointed from provincial councils, and 1/3rd are appointed by the President (50% must be women).

As to the draft Iraq Constitution (here), it creates a parliamentary system. Its legislature consists of two houses, one of which is a Council of Representatives (Parliament) to be elected by a nation-wide direct, secret ballot. A second house is a Council of Union, which will include representatives of provinces and regions. The President of the Republic is to be determined by a 2/3rds majority of the Council of Representatives.

So, in light of the above research of Adam Przeworski and colleagues, the constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq are positive for the success of their democracies. Although Afghanistan has created a presidential system, it provides in its two houses and regional councils a means for many interests to be represented in the government and, if a significant segment of the population, to make their interests respected. Similarly, with the proposed Iraqi parliamentary system, and even more so. Clearly, small parties will have to be invited to form a collation with the larger parties in order to achieve the 2/3rds necessary to elect a president. As I noted yesterday, although both are at that low level of national income which makes the success of democracy a serious question, both promise rapid development. This, along with their democratic institutions, make their democratic suvival more than a hope.

Link of Note

“Democracy, Cappitalism and Development” By Khandakar Elahi and Constantine P Danopoulos (2004)

ABSTRACT

In social science, a passionate debate continues about the expected effect of democracy on development. Many authors believe that democracy dampens development. This paper discredits this view by clarifying the debate’s critical conceptions- democracy, capitalism and development. In the non-communist state, private individuals inspire economic development, because they own the major portion of the nation=s resources. Since individuals are selfish by nature, they ordinarily improve their economic welfare if they enjoy ‘fair freedoms’ meaning that the social environment of fair freedom is the key to economic development in the non-communist state. Capitalism guarantees this environment, which suggests that the desirable functioning of capitalism is the clue to economic development. Democracy is the only system of governance that can guarantee long run peaceful functioning of the capitalist economy. Thus, a nation cannot remain poor if she is governed according to the principles of democracy.

This study, along with the two of Adam Przeworski and colleagues, suggest that there will be continued rapid growth of democracies among poor nations, and that democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq will survive as long as we continue to secure them against insurrection and terrorists.

When will the world be least 90 percent democratic? Between 2022 and 2076.

See the last question on the page.


How To Effectively Democratize

January 10, 2009

[First published March 3,2006] Freedom House has published a world wide empirical study of “How Freedom is Won.” (2005, in pdf). Paraphrasing and quoting from this study:

They examined 33 years of transitions to freedom (liberal democracy) made by 67 countries, of which before transition 31 were Partly Free, and 36 were Not Free. Today 35 are Free, 23 are Partly Free, and 9 are Not Free. They excluded transitions that occurred in small countries, defined as those with populations of less than one million. Excluded, too, are countries where major political transitions occurred in the last two years. This is because there has not been a sufficient interval since the transition from an authoritarian or pseudo-democratic rule to make firm assessments about the nature or durability of post-transition change in countries where institutional, political, legal, and human rights environments are still evolving or where reforms either have not yet been launched or fully implemented.

So, what can be said about democratization from this fascinating and landmark study (paraphrasing and quoting from this study):

SUMMARYThe most effective agent for promoting change toward democracy is broad-based, nonviolent civic resistance — which employs tactics such as boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes, and civil disobedience to delegitimize authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders

The central conclusion of this study is that how a transition from authoritarianism occurs, and the types of forces that are engaged in pressing the transition, have a significant impact on the success or failure of democratic reform.

DETAILS
In a preponderance of successful transitions, the most dramatic improvements in freedom tend to come quickly — in the first years of a transition, rather than slowly and incrementally over a long time, underscoring the importance of the civic and political forces that emerge as important actors in the pre-transition period.

“People power” movements matter, because nonviolent civic forces are a major source of pressure for decisive change in most transitions. The force of civic resistance was a key factor in driving 50 of 67 transitions, or over 70 percent of countries where transitions began as dictatorial systems fell and/or new states arose from the disintegration of multinational states.

Of the 50 countries where civic resistance was a key strategy (i.e., either countries in which there were transitions driven by civic forces or countries where there were mixed transitions involving significant input from both civic forces and power holders), 25 were Partly Free countries, and 25 were Not Free countries. Today, years after the transition 32 of these countries are Free, 14 are Partly Free, and only 4 are Not Free.

Y axis = mean degree of freedom; X axis = civic, mixed civic forces/ powerholders, powerholder’s intervention

There is comparatively little positive effect for freedom in “top-down” transitions that were launched and led by elites. Before transition, 6 were Partly Free and 8 were Not Free, while today, post-transition, 2 are Free, 8 are Partly Free and 4 are Not Free. On a 7-point rating scale, top down transitions led to an improvement of 1.10 points in the combined average freedom score, while transitions with strong civic drivers led to an improvement of nearly 2.7 points on the same 1-to-7 scale.

Of the 35 Free countries post-transition, 32 (or more than 9 in 10) had a significant “bottom up” civic resistance component. Twenty-two (63 percent) of them had mixed transitions, driven by a combination of civic resistance forces and segments of the power holders, while 10 (29 percent) had openings driven by primarily by the force of civic resistance. Only two transitions that have led to high levels of freedom today were driven from the top-down by power holders and one by external military intervention.

Y axis = mean degree of freedom; X axis = civic, mixed civic forces/ powerholders, powerholder’s intervention

In 32 of the 67 countries (nearly 48 percent) that have seen transitions, strong, broad-based nonviolent popular fronts or civic coalitions were highly active, and often central to steering change. In these 32 instances, prior to the transition there had 17 Partly Free countries, and 15 Not Free countries. Now, years after the transition, 24 of the countries (75 percent) where a strong nonviolent civic movement was present are Free and democratic states and 8 (25 percent) are Partly Free states with some space for civic and political life, while none of the states whose transitions featured a strong civic force are Not Free.

The presence of strong and cohesive nonviolent civic coalitions is the most important of the factors examined in contributing to freedom. In 32 of the 67 countries (nearly 48 percent) that have seen transitions, strong, broad-based nonviolent popular fronts or civic coalitions were highly active, and often central to steering change. In these 32 instances, prior to the transition there had been 17 Partly Free countries, and 15 Not Free countries. Now, years after the transition, 24 of the countries (75 percent) where a strong nonviolent civic movement was present are Free and democratic states and 8 (25 percent) are Partly Free states with some space for civic and political life, while none of the states whose transitions featured a strong civic force are Not Free.

The data suggest that the prospects for freedom are significantly enhanced when the opposition does not itself use violence. In all, there were 47 transitions in which there was no (or almost no) opposition violence. Before the transition, 23 were Partly Free, and 24 were Not Free. Today, years after the transition, 31 are Free, 11 are Partly Free, and 5 are Not Free.

Therefore, recourse to violent conflict in resisting oppression is significantly less likely to produce sustainable freedom, in contrast to nonviolent opposition, which even in the face of state repression, is far more likely to yield a democratic outcome.

Y axis = mean degree of freedom; X axis = nonviolent/mostly nonviolent opposition, significantly/highly violent opposition.

WHAT TO DO
Given the significance of the civic factor in dozens of recent transitions from authoritarianism, it is surprising how small a proportion of international donor assistance is targeted to this sector.

One way to increase the odds for successful transitions to freedom is to invest in the creation of dynamic civic life. Such support is most effectively rendered in the following sequence:

General assistance for civil society forces.
Targeted assistance focused on education and training in civic nonviolent resistance.
Assistance for cohesive civic coalitions through which such resistance is expressed.

Such developments also should be matched by efforts to establish a broad-based civic coalition focused on nonviolent resistance. There are many reasons why such umbrella civic coalitions are important in the outcomes for freedom. In short, broad-based democracy coalitions can imbue leaders and activists with the principles and experience that makes for successful democratic governance.

Opposition forces can be helped in more effectively achieving their aims if they are assisted in thinking strategically about how to push change through nonviolent means. A growing civic infrastructure of well-trained activist groups and their coalescing into broad-based coalitions also needs to be coupled with knowledge on how to devise effective strategies of nonviolent resistance to authoritarian power.

Another crucial way of assisting democratic transitions is to work to constrain insurrectionist and state violence and to expand the political space for nonviolent civic action. This means that in the cases of civil wars, governments and international organizations should seek solutions that lead to an end to hostilities and to internationally supervised or monitored elections. Democracies also should engage in preventive diplomacy to avert violence and support policies that prevent or limit the spread of violence in its earliest stages.

Authoritarian leaders lack democratic legitimacy, and this lack of legitimacy needs to be challenged by democratic civic forces. But, because repressive governments limit or control media and communications, pro-democracy activists must develop independent outlets of communication to stake their claim to represent the legitimate aspirations of the people. Invaluable in this effort are the Internet; independent newspapers and newsletters; unauthorized or external broadcast facilities; and cell phones, satellite phones, and text-messaging devices.

Much of what is recommended here is being done in Iraq by the U.S. and its coalition partners. In evaluating this, one has to keep in mind that the reason for the Iraq war to begin with was to eliminate the danger that Saddam posed to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, and American national security. Once he was gone and the battles won, the question was what to do with Iraq. Democratization was the answer, and that is now what is in process against the wishes of foreign terrorists and insurrections. With this in mind, and consistent with How Freedom Is Won, what are we doing in Iraq, as shown by my two posts (here, and here) that provided details:

Aiding and assisting cohesive civic coalitions and civil society.
Seeking solutions to constrain and end violence through direct action and international organizations.
Encouraging independent communication outlets, such as newspapers, internet, telephones, and cell phones galore.
Internationally supervised and monitored elections.
Establishing central government legitimacy.


Links on Iraq

“U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006″ This is a very suspicious Zogby poll just released, and did in conjunction with the far left, “anti-war” Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies. For some questioning comments on it, see below:

Murdoc Online

“Mystery Pollster”

“The Officer’s Club”

“The Soldiers Speak. Will President Bush Listen?” (subscription required) Of course, Nicholas D. Kristof at The New York Times likes it.

Now, how can we explain the incredible contradiction between what American troops believe according to Zogby, and what public opinion polls show the Iraqis themselves believe as given in the chart below.


Does Incomplete Democratization Risk War?

January 7, 2009

[First published March 28, 2006] Perhaps you have come across this argument about promoting democracy: “Yes, maybe once countries achieve a liberal (mature, well-established) democracy, they don’t make war on each other, BUT in the process of democratization, they make more war than do other nations, even more than dictators against each other.” Therefore, it is sometimes concluded, fostering democracy is a dangerous project. And this argument is used against our involvement in Iraq.

A major source for this assertion is the published research by Jack Snyder and Edward Mansfield in their book, Electing To Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go To War (2005). I’m increasingly finding that academics, commentators, and journalist critical of Bush’s promotion of democratic freedom are supporting their arguments with quotations and “findings” from this book Snyder and Mansfield’s research is often misconstrued and anyway, their research does not support the claims made about it. For a most recent example of this misuse, see “Democracy and Violence”.

Because of the great importance of this issue and getting the facts right, I’m editing and reposting my review of the Snyder-Mansfield book.

They analyze data for over a century of wars, 1816-1992, during which they found (dealing with only their composite index of democratization for simplicity here) 90 incomplete transitions to democracy for 64 nations, and 50 complete transitions for 35 nations. Over this period, there were 79 wars, and for their sample, the probability of a nation going to war in their sample was .037, very small.

Now, using these data, they confirm—that is, further empirically prove— that when democratized, nations do not make war on each other. This is an easy one, since in their data no two democracies made war on each other.

This should be the highlight of any fair use of the Snyder-Mansfield book, since this confirms what Bush says in support of his Forward Strategy of Freedom: “democracies don’t make war on each other.” However, this empirical finding does not agree with the biases of those wanting to use the book against American involvement in Iraq and fostering freedom, and it is ignored.

Second, the authors go though extensive tests to determine whether incomplete democratized nations were most prone to war. Having done such research myself, I have much respect for the effort, time, and thought they put into this, and therefore hate to be a spoilsport. However, it is like two neighbors who build a car in their garage. It’s beautiful, with glittering chrome, comfortable fake leather seats, state of the art dashboard, and a well waxed red paint job. But when they start it up, all the unseen motor will do is put-put a few times, and stop.

Since they are trying to establish whether democratizing nations went to war (1 = yes, or 0 = no) more than others, they used logistic regression analysis, but they did not check if the assumptions of their model were met in order to assess the significance of their regression coefficients (see on the use of “p” and significance). They provide no correlations between the independent variables so that one can assess their multicollinearity (see my
Little Primer” on this here, which is as applicable to logistic regression as it is to multiple regression) and seem unaware of the problem it creates. They put much emphasis on the significance of their index of incomplete transition, but if their twelve independent variables are highly correlated, which I think they are, then the significance of their regression coefficients may be inflated. When they claim that nations with incomplete democratizations are “roughly four to fifteen times more likely to go to war,” this is probably based on highly biased regression coefficients.

Also, the authors provide no justification for their applying tests of significance to a whole population. If this whole sample is meant to represent all nations at all time, then it is not random, and its distribution is unknown. Then there is the problem of the number of cases for which they calculate their significance. As the number of cases (“N”) increases, smaller results become significant until what is significant is meaningless (again, see on the use of “p”). For example, a correlation of .378 is statistically significant for 20 cases, .165 for 100 cases, and .052 for 1,000 cases. Now, square .052, which is .003 rounded off. This says that the two variables only have 0.3% of their variation in common. This is meaningless (would you buy an expensive drug that had a 3 out of a 1,000 chance it would help you? Only if you had terminal cancer), although some unwary researchers might trumpet such significant results. This misuse of significance happens all the time, since the idea is that bigger samples are always better. This is only true if one concentrates not on significance, but on the percent of variation in common. All this being said, what was the sample size in the democratization study? It was 9,229! And the gist of their results depends on significance.

Then there is the question of efficiency. How well does the logistic regression fit (predict, account for, explain) wars, if democratization is incomplete? They provide no measure of this. In regular multiple regression, there is the multiple correlation squared (R^2) which tells us the proportion of variation in the dependent variable accounted for by the regression equation. However, such is inappropriate for logistic regression. So, there is a “pseudo R^2″ one can calculate, or for the list of wars, one can count the number of nations correctly placed in the no-war, or war category. The authors do neither.

But, there is one thing we can do. The logistic regression comes out with the likelihood — probability — that war will occur, given the independent variables, among which is incomplete democratization. But this is usually such a small number in logistic regression that the natural log of the likelihood is given. Now, to get the probability of war from their logistic regression, one takes the anti-log of the log likelihood, which is e^(log likelihood). I did this for their log likelihood of -1339.96, and it is an infinitesimal number. It is so small that the google and my Mac calculators could only give it as zero. Just for e^-13, it is 2.26 x 10^-6; for -130 it is 3.5 x 10^-57. That is, the equations they provide in their book are useless.

Then there is their way of measuring war, which is as yes, or no. And this is a methodological mindset that has led many researchers to mistakenly conclude that democracies are as warlike as other regimes (see my published article on this here). It gives the same weight to a war in which a democracy suffers few killed in combat versus a nondemocracy that has millions killed, e.g., the Boxer Rebellion counted as a war for Britain when it had 34 killed versus 7.5 million for the Soviets in WWII. One war each. This biases results against democracies, which by far have the least killed in wars, as they should by democratic peace theory. Rather, it is the number killed in war that should be counted for each country, and not the number of wars.

In sum, the results about the war likeness of democracy in Electing To Fight do not prove (show, establish, indicate) that incomplete democratization is a danger to peace. The results cannot fairly and objectively be used to argue against Bush’s foreign policy, BUT ONLY FOR IT.


Related Links

“He’s started a GOP civil war over foreign policy” By Daniel W. Drezner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago and a rare Republican one:

ON A VARIETY of recent national security issues — port security, Iran, Hamas, China — President Bush has received as much criticism from conservative Republicans as from Democrats. After a first term in which Republicans were in lock step with their leader, why is the president having trouble with his right flank? …. In the eyes of his party, Bush’s biggest foreign policy sin is not his aims, or even his means. It’s that he has done the improbable — he’s made the Democrats look like a credible alternative.
RJR: I don’t think that Drezner has a firm enough understanding of the democratic peace to criticize Bush in this way, judging among other thing by his apparent support for the shoddy research of fellow political scientist Erik Gartzke (I will soon be posting here my exchange with Gartzke)

“What Brings Peace, Wealth or Democracy”By Martin Sherman in The Middle East Quarterly (1998) After discussing these two paradigms, he says:

historical fact closely bears out the political explanation. Two prominent scholars review almost two decades of study and find a “near consensus” that democratically governed states rarely go to war with each other. In fact, they go further, observing that
the proposition that democracies are generally at peace with each other is [so] strongly supported . . . [it] has led some scholars to claim that this finding is probably the closest thing that we have to a law in international politics.

Sherman concludes that the American emphasis [by the Clinton Adm.] on economic development in the Middle East is stressing the wrong paradigm. Rather: …

American policymakers need seriously to rethink their present course, one which seems certain to foster warfare rather than welfare. [They should favor democratization].


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.