William R. Hawkins writes in his The Washington Times commentary, “The United States stake in Ukraine,” that, “The Ukraine crisis . . . discredits the liberal notion, popular in the 1990s, of a “democratic peace” ending international conflict via the voting booth. Too many countries have parties and factions with very different ideas on what their proper alignments and foreign policies should be based — whether ties of ethnicity, religion or ideology.
I’m glad to see that commentators are finally beginning to discover the democratic peace. But, I suppose, that on first acquaintance it is too much to expect them to understand it. I suggest to Hawkins that he reread his sources on the democratic peace. Conflict is a big word. It means not only violence, but also nonviolent disputes and strong disagreements. Democracies have these all the time. It is called politics. What the democratic peace refers to is violent conflict. Its propositions are:
Democracies don’t make war on each other.
Democracies have the least foreign and domestic violence.
Democracies commit the least democide, and liberal democracies virtually none.
Nowhere in these propositions, which are the general findings of systematic research on violence and war in international relations and comparative politics, is conflict mentioned.
And, therefore, in no way does the Ukrainian crisis reflect on the democratic peace.