Was The Democratic Peace Killed–Part I, Bibliographies

August 17, 2009


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


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

On The Sharp Drop in Global Violence, Again

April 21, 2009

[First published December 28, 2005] As I’ve pointed out a number of times, the growth in democracies, which now number 122, has reached a tipping point, where their contribution to a global democratic peace has caused a sharp decrease in the extent of global violence. This drop is pointed out by Andrew Mack, the director of the Human Security Center at the University of British Columbia, in a Washington Post article, “Peace on Earth? Increasingly, Yes.”. He says:

By 2003, there were 40 percent fewer conflicts than in 1992. The deadliest conflicts — those with 1,000 or more battle-deaths — fell by some 80 percent. The number of genocides and other mass slaughters of civilians also dropped by 80 percent, while core human rights abuses have declined in five out of six regions of the developing world since the mid-1990s. International terrorism is the only type of political violence that has increased. Although the death toll has jumped sharply over the past three years, terrorists kill only a fraction of the number who die in wars.

This change is extraordinary, and he wonders why it has been given so little attention in the media. His answer is that the media is addicted to reporting global violence. I agree, and in my terms, no violence is no news.

However, the most interesting aspect of Mack’s article is how he accounts for this decline. It is

The end of the Cold War, which had driven at least a third of all conflicts since World War II, appears to have been the single most critical factor.

In the late 1980s, Washington and Moscow stopped fueling “proxy wars” in the developing world, and the United Nations was liberated to play the global security role its founders intended. Freed from the paralyzing stasis of Cold War geopolitics, the Security Council initiated an unprecedented, though sometimes inchoate, explosion of international activism designed to stop ongoing wars and prevent new ones.

He seems unaware of the predictions at the end of the Cold War that conflicts and violence that the Soviets and U.S. kept a lid on so they would not escalate to involve them would now break out. But, lets say that this prediction was wrong, and lets suppose that the end of the Cold War meant less global violence.

As to the UN being also responsible for the drop in violence, this is an understandable claim from Mack, who was director of the Strategic Planning Unit in the executive office of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan between 1998 and 2001. I think he is flatly wrong, and even the UN’s own internal study, “Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations,” says it failed. In any case, Mack gives no credit to the growth of democracies — not a whiff.

Strange, since in personal communication he does recognize this growth also as a cause, and so does his Center’s report, ” War and Peace In The 21st Century,” that I discussed and presented in my blog, “More: The Democratic Peace Causes a Sharp Decline In Violence.” I suspect that among those who have dealt personally with the complexities of international relations and violence, it seems too simplistic, and even too idealistic, to ascribe the drop in violence to . . . democracy. With all its diverse variables and conditions, nations and cultures, and leaders and dictators, the political world seems more complex than that.

On War and Interventionism

April 20, 2009

[First published June 9, 2005] This is to clarify my position on war and intervention, given the confusion shown in the various comments here and to my website]

At first, I will provide the empirical and value assumptions on which my arguments are based.


Democratic freedom (liberal democracies) is a solution to war, internal violence, democide, famine, and national impoverishment. Thus, fostering freedom is a way to global peace and human security.

The more unfree, or totalitarian a regime, the more its rulers will murder its people, and is likely to make war.

Such thug regimes have killedseveral times more people than have wars. Thus, on the scale of bodies, thugs are more to be feared than war.

There ae about 117 electorla democracies in the world 2005, and about 89 of them are liberal democracies. Their exisence and the corresponding democratic peace has impacted world violence, such that for over five years it has been in sharp decline.


As established by the UN and international conventions, thus by international law, every human being has a right to individual freedom and a democratic government. All dictators are criminals denying people their basic rights, if not murdering them in the process.

The life of every innocent human is as precious as that of any other; there is a moral equality among all our souls and individual consciousnesses, except for those who show by their intentions and actions that they don’t respect human life (e.g., Saddam, Stalin, domestic murderers, etc.)

War is just when the evil resulting from not going to war is greater than the evil of war itself, such as in self defense, the defense of other democracies, or in the saving of lives (e.g., as in stopping the Rwandan genocide). Not only must there be a just cause, but also the war must be fought justly, that is proportional to the threat (no nuclear bombs on terrorist camps) and with due concern for the lives of noncombatants (E.g., in line with the Geneva Conventions).


When is war/intervention justified? If there is large-scale democide being carried out, as in Sudan (As happened in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo), military intervention is justified, and so it is in Burma. North Korea is a special case, because of the proportionality criteria — given Kim’s military capability and possible nukes, the cost in lives and destruction of intervention in the North may not be proportional to the evil of, or threat of, the regime. This is one reason I have called for Kim’s assassination — it would be just. It would be more than a proportional response to his evil and threat.

If by acquiring WMD’s, a regime is a danger to the national security of a democracy. A Pre-emptive war is justified. It is justifiedi also when a regime is supporting and aiding direct attacks, as by terrorists, on a democracy.

When is war/intervention not justified? For revenge, honor, territory, resources (e.g., oil), or to spread democracy. Democracy can be spread by means other than war, and war for democracy may well unleash demons that make democracy more unlikely. For many dictatorships, democracy is an evolutionary path in line with their economic growth, trade, communications, and is encouraged principally by the example of democracy in other countries.


The war in Afghanistan was justified for two reasons. The Taliban was a murderous regime killing Afghans by the tens of thousands, and enslaving he rest. It also provided aid and comfort to terrorists, particularly those intent on attacking the United States and other Western democracies.


In light of the intelligence available to President Bush about the potentially dangerous WMDs being developed by Saddam Hussein as reported by the UN and all major intelligence services, the uniformity in these intelligence reports, Saddam’s use of poison gas –a WMD — against his own people, his aid and connections to terrorists, and his mass murder of his own people amounting to the hundreds of thousands, the war against Hussein was justified by UN resolution and Just War doctrine.

Once such a war is fought and successful, then as with Japan and Germany after World War II, democratization should become the goal of the following occupation so as to create a democratic peace oriented government, such that war will not again be necessary in the future, and to set a democratic example for other countries in the region.

Link of Note

“Far from media focus: steady democratic progress in Iraq” (6/7/05) B A. Heather Coyne

Coyne writes:

These wild swings in the security and political environment that are depicted on front pages around the globe are not as evident here on the ground in Baghdad.

In fact, having spent the past two years in Iraq, first as an Army officer and now as the head of the Iraq office of the Washington-based US Institute of Peace, I am struck by the determination and steadiness of Iraqis as they struggle to build a stable, democratic country, and by the continuing, firm commitment of Iraqis to participate in – and manage – that process.

Book 1 Never Again

Roots Of War

March 30, 2009

[First published April 5, 2005] I have put on my website Frank H. Denton’s book, Knowing the Roots of War: Analyses and Interpretations Of Six Centuries Of Warfare. It is unavailable elsewhere. Well experienced and knowledgeable to write a book on war, Frank Denton has had a career of 50 years in defense and foreign affairs. After a time with the defense industry, he joined RAND and the foreign service. He served in Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Washington, and has retired to do research in the Philippines. He has published extensively in several different fields, but concentrated on patterns and trends in the political use of warfare. After undergraduate work in statistics and math, he obtained a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

Denton’s statistics and insights into war are useful and interesting for both the student of warfare and international relations, and those with a moral or historical interest.

He says:

While I am not in any sense someone who might be classified as a pacifist, the fundamental conclusion that is inescapable is that quite in antithesis to the Clausewitzian model of the employment of warfare to manage conflicts, warfare has demonstrably been used, if you will, to mismanage conflicts. Society has need of and opportunity to seek means for better controlling the use of warfare for the practice of initiating warfare is inordinately costly in lives, disruptions and treasure and is shown here to be frequently a failure. It is my observation that this presentation of results provides some background that can lead to better control of warfare. Just as importantly, it opens a wide range of ideas and hypotheses for further investigation.

His overall evaluation is this.

Across all time periods, in all types of governments, for any power relationships other than big/small, the party making the decision to go to war, that is firing the first shot in a war, has for two hundred years had less than a fifty-fifty success rate, often much less, in achieving its objectives in firing that first shot. Time-after-time, year-after-year, conflict after conflict, political leaders took decisions to initiate wars in which they failed to achieve their objectives. Based on a listing of 500 incidents of warfare that took place in a two-century interval this provides a hard to dispute validation of Barbara Tuchman’s statement in the first paragraphs of The March of Folly.

A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity. In this sphere, wisdom…is less operative and more frustrated than it should be. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?

Why did successive ministries of George III insist on coercing rather than conciliating the American colonies though repeatedly advised by many counselors that the harm done must be greater than any possible gain? Why did Charles XII and Napoleon and successively Hitler invade Russia despite the disasters incurred by each predecessor?

Former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara makes a saddened assertion in his memoirs of the Vietnam War build-up that is strangely similar to Tuchman’s:

Readers must wonder by now…how presumably intelligent, hardworking and experienced officials-both civilian and military-failed to address systematically and thoroughly questions whose answers so deeply affected the lives of our citizens and the welfare of our nation.

There is perhaps no better way of stating the results found here than to assert that Folly Marches Onward.

By his statistics, this is true across all types of governments, except when one focuses on democracy. Not only do they not make war on each other, as I have found (this is outside of Denton’s data, which focused on a nation’s war and not on the type of government of those who fought each other), but as he shows (search for the keyword “democracy”), in the 19th Century democracies won 76 percent of the wars they fought, while monarchies won 43 and dictators 42 percent. In the 20th Century, the percentages are respectively, 54, 37, and 33.

So, democracies have the best fighting machine, if they have to go to war against the thugs of this world or are attacked.

Link of Note

”The Berger wrist slap: A dangerous precedent” (4/5/2005)

By David Limbaugh
Limbaugh notes:

[Sandy] Berger, a national security adviser in the Clinton administration, was caught red-handed removing sensitive, classified documents from the National Archives. He wasn’t doing something as innocuous as research for his personal memoirs. No, he was preparing for testimony before the 9-11 commission to vindicate Bill Clinton’s performance in response to the terrorist threat. The documents he secreted, purloined and later deliberately destroyed, were exceedingly relevant to the subject matter of his 9-11 testimony. . . . Under a plea agreement with the government, Berger will be fined $10,000 and his national security clearance will be suspended for three years.

Note that at first Berger said that he took the documents unintentionally — his destruction of them was accidental or inadvertent. Now, he admits to the court he did it all intentionally.

Note also that for lying to investigators, Martha Stewart got five months in jail and two years probation. She destroyed no documents.

President Clinton was found by a court to have lied before a grand jury and to have lied under oath in a civil deposition. He eventually admitted wrongdoing, was fined $25,000, and barred from law practice for 5 years.

Why did Stewart get jail time when Berger and Clinton served no jail time for far more serious crimes?
Never Again Series

Somme Deadly Madness

March 24, 2009

[First published May 29, 2005] War remains ugly, a bloody evil, but one often necessitated for the democracies by the worse evil of not going to war. We should never forget, however, what war is like, and how even with the best of intentions, human lives can be squandered by the tens of thousands.

So it was in the Battle of the Somme in World War I, a battle that changed the public’s view of war. Up to that time war had been seen by too many as a glorious crusade against evildoers, replete with medals, parades, cheers, and handsome uniforms. And after World War I, when the horror and cost in lives of the Battle of the Somme became known, war was believed the worst of all evils. It spawned a general pacifism — a deep hostility to war, armaments, nationalism, and patriotism. Less than two-decades later, this fed the French and British appeasement of Hitler, and American isolationism, when confronting him might have avoided World War II. The general public learned the wrong lesson from the Battle of the Somme, and other such bloody battles in that war, and this lesson remains still deeply imbedded in our culture and helps fuel the antiwar movement.

Read the following docudrama and feel what war can really mean for the individual soldier, regardless of which side they are on.

Half squatting, Jimmy leaned against the side of the muddy trench, the toes of his boots invisible in the muck at the bottom. Jimmy was a short, skinny fellow, with a frame on which not even his military training could put muscle. His baggy uniform now rippled like a sail in a crosswind. His helmet hid his short brown hair, except when his shaking tipped it forward over his eyes and a few strands escaped.

Jimmy had grown up in Bristol, England. Before joining the army, he had spent most of his evenings drinking with his buddies at the local pub, or going to the new silent movies with them. That was his entertainment. Even at eighteen years of age, Jimmy had never gone out on a date and was shy of girls. His friends constantly ribbed him about being too embarrassed to participate when they’d dragged him off to a French bordello.

Once Jimmy had thought of going to college, and teachers had told him that he had the intelligence for it, but his father had never paid the family bills and later, he disappeared altogether, leaving Jimmy to support his mother and two sisters. He could read up and learn on his own, Jimmy told himself, and he did enjoy the rough and tumble of a warehouseman’s job.

Jimmy was part of the Army’s plan to create new volunteer divisions to fight alongside the regulars. The Army kept together as units all those volunteering from a particular company, town, or city neighborhood. This meant that Jimmy knew most of the soldiers around him, who in civilian life had drunk with him, sold him goods, or delivered ice or milk to his small home. Many had been his good friends. All but a few were now dead, as were his two best friends and his cousin. Jimmy had cried for hours after he had helped drag the upper half of his cousin’s body to the rear—all that remained of someone Jimmy had grown up with, played with, eaten many meals with, and, as boys do, argued with. Half his body gone!

As Jimmy waited for the scheduled cessation of seven days of shelling on the German trenches, he thought about dying. Despite his captain’s assurance that this next attack would be an easy victory, that Jimmy could walk over to the German lines and simply shove all the dead Germans out of the way, he knew he would die, as his friends had died. So he trembled as he awaited the silence that would follow the end of the shelling, and the captain’s whistle that would send him climbing out of the trench, to his death. He only hoped it would be quick and painless.

George Finch, crouched next to him in the trench, poked him in the side and leaned over to shout in his ear, “Jimmy, could you do me a favor?”

“What?” Jimmy yelled back.

“If I’m killed, will you give this to my mother?” George held out a small piece of dirty packaging from their rations. He had scrawled a few words on it with a blunt pencil. “You can read it,” George said.

It was easy to read in the dawning light, and said simply, “My Dearest Mom—I love you. Sonny.”

George lived several houses down from Jimmy on Bloy Street; Jimmy knew George’s mother. “Come on,” Jimmy said, “you won’t die.”


Jimmy shrugged and tucked the wrapper into his pocket. “Okay.”

At least this will make him feel better, Jimmy thought, although I’m the one that’s going to die.

Minutes later, there it was: The awful silence as the shelling stopped. Immediately, the officers came down the trench, getting them ready to move out. Jimmy heard the shrill whistle and then the yelling, and he scrambled out of the trench with all the others up and down the line and advanced on the Germans.

Jimmy’s jitters vanished. He focused everything on the trenches in the distance and unconsciously switched to automatic motion. Carrying sixty pounds of ammunition, food, water, and gear, he doglegged along the paths through their own barbed wire, moving at a slow walk through the mud.

“Please, God,” Jimmy kept murmuring, “no pain. Please, God, make it sudden.”

More here

War/peace docudramas


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