What To Do About Nukes?

January 31, 2009

[First published May 19, 2005] For a month diplomats gathered in New York about revising the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and wrung their hands over North Korea’s self-proclaimed, and apparently actual, possession of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s intent to develop them. What to do? What to do?

It seems the best that the diplomats can recommend is to guarantee North Korea that it will not be attacked by any power, including especially the United States, and to offer inducements, such as international recognition and the multilateral promise of food and material aid. Regarding Iran, the idea is the same — guarantees of its security, enhance trade, encouraged investment, and reactor fuel for nuclear power. In other words, if the thugs that rule are clever enough, and can get the resources they need to seem on the verge of developing nukes, then most of the world will appease them. Indeed, they will argue among themselves as to how to best appease these thugs.

Of course, something must be done in the short run about their possessing or soon to get nukes. But, I don’t believe appeasement works. It only feeds the thugs hunger for more, and only encourages other thugs to exploit this obvious fear so created to get their own goodies. A fundamental principle is at work here:

Appeasement begets appeasement.
But, what to do in the long run? This is another amazing case of few recognizing what is in front of their noses, such as our ability to produce invisible solids (glass). The solution is obvious, when it is pointed out. Consider: the United States, Britain, France, and Israel have nuclear weapons. (South Africa had six, but then in 1993 the South African Parliament committed the country against developing nuclear weapons, and the six were dismantled — at that time South Africa was on the road from Apartheid to being a full-fledged liberal democracy, which was achieved the following year.) Note that none of these democratic nuclear powers perceive the other as a threat or as a matter of security, and have developed no defenses against the others, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS. It is just inconceivable that such democracies would go to nuclear war against each other. The only purpose of their nukes is protection against the thugs of this world, or, in the case of France, as also a ticket to the Big Power Club.

So, what to do for the long run elimination of the supreme danger of nuclear weapons? Pure and simple:

Foster democratic freedom
In a world of democracies, there should be complete nuclear disarmament, for democracies have no need for military forces against each other.

And so an interventionist policy of freeing people from their enslavement to the whims of thugs and ordinary dictators is also to wage peace and denuclearization.

Link of Note

” The anomalies killing nonproliferation” (5/18/05) By Ramesh Thakur

Ramesh Thakur is senior vice rector of the UN University in Tokyo. He says:

Significant gaps exist in the legal and institutional framework to combat today’s real threats. It is impossible to defang tyrants of their nuclear weapons the day after they acquire and use them. The UN seems incapable of doing so the day before: The Security Council can hardly table the North Korean threat for discussion and resolution.

If international institutions cannot cope, states will try to do so themselves, either unilaterally or in concert with like-minded allies. If prevention is strategically necessary and morally justified but legally not permitted, then the existing framework of laws and rules — not the anticipatory military action — is defective.

In other words, international law is an ass, and so is the fundamental legal norm against intervention in the affairs of a state.

Never Again Series

What? Only 34,000,000 20th Century Battle-dead?

January 30, 2009

[first published November 30, 2005] Over the years, I’ve run into considerable skepticism that only 34,000,000 have been killed in all domestic and foreign wars 1900-1987. My one source for 1900 to 1980 was Melvin Small and J. David Singer, Resort to Arms: International and Civil wars 1816-1980 , a statistical compilation of wars by nations involved, years for the start and end of war, duration, and battle deaths.

My second source was the updated Small and Singer list to 1992 in Daniel M. Jones, Stuart A. Bremer and J. David Singer (1996). “Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816-1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, and Empirical Patterns.” Conflict Management and Peace Science, 15(2): 163:213.

The Correlations of War Project (COW Project) has further updated the list to 1997 for international wars here, and for domestic wars here.

This latest compilation not only brought the collection up to 1997, but also corrected earlier figures. For this 1900-1997, the battle dead in international wars was 31,292,858; for domestic wars, it was a minimum of 9,952,452. There is a difference in the basis for the two counts. For the first, the total is of military battle deaths, including deaths from combat wounds, and from diseases contracted in the theater of war. For the dead in domestic wars, however, COW includes both military and civilians.

One correction COW made was to reduce the number of battle dead in WWI from 9,000,000 to 8,578,031; for WWII COW increased the estimate of battle dead from 15,000,000 to 16,634,907. I should note that these data are the most authoritative for research in international relations and on war, and, far, the most used and quoted.

So, overall, from 1900 to 1997, at least 41,245,310 soldiers and some civilians (in domestic wars) were killed or died from wounds and disease. Compare this to my new total of 212,000,000 for all deaths from democide 1900-1999.

What about the often-mentioned 50,000,000-60,000,000 killed in WWII? Much of these higher totals also count those murdered by governments during the war (democide). For example, the Nazis murdered about 21,000,000 people, including the Holocaust; the Japanese murdered about 6,000,000; the Soviets about 13,000,000; and Chiang Kai Chek and Mao Tse-tung murdered additional millions. Then there was the firebombing of German and Japanese cities, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which I count as democide. When you add such democides to those killed in combat, one comes close to the 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 often mentioned for the war.

My view is this. In no way do I think that the deaths of those killed in combat between armed soldiers should be lumped together with those helpless civilians lined up against a wall and machine gunned, buried alive, raped and murdered, or burned alive in their homes. It is a conceptual fallacy to do so.

I did a thorough amalgamation of the estimates of war dead for each nation, 1900-1987, in the process of collecting democide data, and included them in my statistical tables. They can be found in my books Lethal Politics for the USSR, China’s Bloody Century, Democide for Nazi Germany, and Statistics of Democide for all the other nation’s war dead. For their location on my website, see my website’s HYPERLINK “http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/LIST.HTM”list of documents here.

End war and democide by fostering freedom. It’s in the national interests of democracies and all our children.

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)


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.

Why Are We fighting In Iraq?

January 29, 2009

[First published November 2, 2005] The foreign policy of the United States, the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq is predicated on the democratic peace. President bush has expressed this explicitly in describing his Forward Strategy of Freedom. Secretary Rumsfeld has mentioned it, and Secretary Rice has accepted it as background to her speeches on democracy. Because of the democratic peace, even President Clinton made promoting democracy one of the pillars of his foreign policy.

The democratic peace is now the best empirically established theory and most widely held among students of international relations. The theory, which goes back to the Philosopher Immanuel Kant in his Perpetual Peace (1795), is that:

The republican constitution . . . gives a favorable prospect for the desired consequence, i.e., perpetual peace. The reason is this: if the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared (and in this constitution it cannot but be the case), nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war. . . . But, on the other hand, in a constitution which is not republican, and under which the subjects are not citizens, a declaration of war is the easiest thing in the world to decide upon, because war does not require of the ruler, who is the proprietor and not a member of the state, the least sacrifice of the pleasures of his table, the chase, his country houses, his court functions, and the like. He may, therefore, resolve on war as on a pleasure party for the most trivial reasons, and with perfect indifference leave the justification which decency requires to the diplomatic corps who are ever ready to provide it.

Indeed, we now know from research done over the last three decades that this is true. The table below shows that since 1816, there have been no wars between democracies, although 371 bilateral wars when one or both sides were nondemocracies.

A second table below shows that there have been only three cases of violence ending in deaths between democracies over the 190 years since 1816. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first, and 1 to 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 over these near two centuries was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed. Only three cases, and none since 1984 despite there being 117 democracies today.

There is much more to the democratic peace then the avoidance of war or international violence. Democracies have been involved in many wars, some they launched themselves (Afghanistan and Iraq being the most recent example). However, by an order of magnitude or more, democracies fight the least severe wars in killed compared to authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

Moreover, in general, democratic nations are the most internally peaceful — they have the least violence in number killed in rebellions, civil wars, civil unrest, anti-government riots, violent strikes, and coups.

Also, and perhaps most important, modern democracies seldom murder their own citizens. Democide (genocide and mass murder) is an evil of militarism (as in Burma), monarchism (Russia’s Peter the Great), theocratism (Iran), fascism (Hitler), and communism. Over the whole 20th Century during which governments murdered about 174,000,000 people, only 149,000 deaths were due to barely democratic regimes — nearly 100,000 to the far left Spanish Republican government during its 1936-39 civil war, 10,000 to Peru’s (1980-87) fight with communist guerrillas, 25,000 to India, 4,000 to Colombia, 2,000 to the U.S.A. (largely because of lynching in the early years of the century), and lesser numbers to a smattering of democracies. Among these democracies committing democide, none were liberal democracies at the time (when American domestic democide occurred women could not vote and minorities were systematically and legally segregated, harassed, and denied the vote in many states), and one might argue that some were not democracies at all. No democratically free people, liberal democracies of which there are about 88 today, have murdered their own.

How do we understand this nonviolence, peaceful nature of democracy? Kant had part of the answer. Democratic people usually oppose war. But not always. There are two other factors. One is that with democratic institutions comes a democratic culture of negotiation, compromise, and tolerance. And two, there is a civil society of independent and interlocking institutions and groups –churches, businesses, schools, and social, political, and recreation groups — that not only stitch and bond democratic society together, but also cross pressure interests so that the stakes in a conflict are never too high, and the conflicts themselves are isolated. Such a democratic culture and society also encompasses democratic nations, enfolding them in a dynamic democratic field of cross national governmental and nongovernmental organizations, multinational businesses, trade, cultural and educational exchanges, which are similarly bond the nations together and cross pressure interest that might favor violence. Moreover, the basic norm of negotiating and tolerating differences is shared among democracies, which is one reason democracies cannot well negotiate with dictatorship, to whom it is only war by other means.

So, why are we fighting in Iraq and fostering democratic freedom there and elsewhere? The answer is to promote an end to war, and democide, and to minimize internal political violence. In other words, it is to foster global human security. Surely, this is worth fighting for.

Why Freedomist?

January 28, 2009

[First published April 16, 2005] This is a blog for communication and activism among those who want to foster freedom at home and abroad. Whether Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians, or liberals or conservatives, if you believe in individual freedom foremost as a right of all people, and as an obligation of those who are free to help unchain those now suffering repression and enslavement in one country after another, this blog is for you.

Why invent the new terms, freedomists or freedomism, rather than apply one of the conventional political party labels? (-ist is a suffix meaning a follower or believer in certain beliefs, such as is a socialist or feminist.) Because their general politics to not entail freedom as a core theme, although some of their political leaders may so emphasize. Republicans, if I may take President Bush as most representative, are Freedomists in their foreign policy, to a much lesser extent in their economic policies, and not at all in their traditional social conservatism.

Democrats, judging by Secretary Hillary Clinton, who is not among the far left of her party, and former President Bill Clinton who is a more moderate Democrat than she is, the Democrats do want to spread democratic freedom. But precedence is given to the UN, to normalcy, and to stability in international relations. National defense is important, but second to international aid, sensitivity to the “international community, and “building bridges.” Moreover, Democrats are soft socialists at home, believing in tight government economic regulation and controls, spreading the wealth, and cradle to grave welfare. However, on social matters, they do emphasize freedom not only rhetorically, but in their policies.

Surely, however, there are the libertarians who seems much closer to what I mean by freedomists. When I wore my heart on my sleeve as a youth, I was a democratic socialist, but in the early 1970s, under the hammer blows of von Mises, Hayek, and Milton Friedman, I gave up a belief in socialism for democratic libertarianism. And libertarian is what I called myself until recently. I remain libertarian in domestic policy, which is to say the more domestic freedom from regulation, government control, taxation, and oppressive laws, the better up to a point. I am not an anarchist, but believe social justice means minimal government consistent with protecting and guaranteeing all have equal civil and political rights.

However, on foreign policy the libertarian, with some exceptions, is an isolationist, fundamentally opposed to foreign involvements and interventions, and on this some libertarians have formed an odd coalition with the democratic socialist to communist (Marxist) left. Most libertarians, however, say, “Let international relations also be free. Let there be free trade and commerce, and freedom for other countries to do whatever they want with their people. Not our business.”

On this, the libertarians are blinded by their desire for freedom, not realizing that everything, including freedom demands contextual qualification (should those with a dangerous infectious disease remain free, when they could spread it far and wide, killing maybe hundreds with it?). By their isolationism, libertarians are making the world safe for the gangs of thugs (called dictatorships) that murder, torture, and oppress their people, and rule by fear.

Not our business, the libertarian still will say, although his fundamental belief in freedom is being violated in the most horrible ways. By implication, in his isolationism the libertarian is declaring that since it’s some body else that’s suffering, not me, my loved ones, or my friends, it’s okay.

But besides this basic human me and mine, it is also a blindness to his own welfare and that of his loved ones. For in an age of readily transportable biological weapons, such as anthrax, and nuclear weapons, no longer can a country like the U.S. sit back and ignore what goes on elsewhere in the production and deliverability of such weapons. In the hands of those who hate the democracies and their libertarian values, democracies have too much vulnerability to attack. Now, explicit and concrete opposition to, and intervention in, the rapacious affairs of thug regimes is of necessity a protection of democracies, not to mention advancing human rights and the freedom libertarians praise. Quite simply, no thug regimes can be trusted with either the possession or the capability of producing such weapons.

The isolationist, of whatever political party, is willing to let the thugs rule not only their own sorry people, but the world.

So, I am a freedomists, and I believe many others are as well.

Why The 20th Century Was The Bloodiest Of All

January 27, 2009

click me^–>

[First published September 15, 2005] Some have called the 20th Century now past the bloodiest of all. Usually, those who claim this seem always to have in mind World Wars I and II, plus the Korean and Vietnam Wars. However, there were many more people in the world then, a mid-century population of 2.3 billion compared to the mid-19th Century population of 1.2 billion.

Indeed, if we calculate conflict related deaths as a percent of population for previous centuries, what do we get? We get what you see the chart below from the UN 2005 Human Development Report.

click me

By this Table, the 20th Century was the bloodiest. And this chart, I am sure, does not even take into account the massive democides accounting for about 170 million deaths. That these would make the 20th Century even more bloody compared to the past can be seen in the table I included in the upper right.

How do we account for the 20th Century bloodletting? Through previous centuries, the prevailing form of government was monarchies — inherited rule of one person. Even seemingly absolute monarchs were chained down by tradition, and violated it at their own personal peril. By the beginning of the 20th Century, monarchies had been replaced by dictatorships in many countries, and by the end of WWI, dictatorships, or democracies dominated the world.

Monarchies, of course, could be bloody in their wars and democide, but few reached the heights of mass slaughter of the Mongols in the 14th-15th Centuries. See the table below.

click me

The much greater slaughter of the 20th Century occurred because of two ahistorical socio-political experiments, one fascism (especially in Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, Japan, and China), and the other, communism. These absolutist, unrestricted, uninhibited ideologies murdered people in war and democide without compunction, without the inhibition of tradition, culture, or religion. Their defeat and replacement by democracies whose leaders are restricted and inhibited by a democratic culture, liberal values, and an open and competitive electoral system has brought a virtual end to such incredible killing, as the charts I showed yesterday (see here) attest.

Leaving aside its many international and internal wars, communists murdered about 110 million people.

Link of Day

The Second Draft” Website

This website is devoted to exploring some of the problems and issues that plague modern journalism. In this age of globalization, the media has unprecedented influence on the way we see the world. And yet, whether out of misplaced good intentions, unconscious agendas and predispositions, or unwarranted faith in false information, they can get the story dramatically wrong. Therefore, we want to revisit and critique journalism’s “first draft of history”, and hopefully produce a more accurate second one. In our HYPERLINK “http://www.seconddraft.org/cur_invest.php”current investigations we present the story the way the mainstream media initially told it, introduce further evidence, and let you decide what you think really happened.

A helpful corrective to the major media’s liberal bias.

Links I Must Share

“Beltway vs. Blogosphere” By Howard Fineman

Democrats are struggling to reconcile the differences between party leaders in D.C. and independent activists on the Net.

“Matt Drudge threatens N.Y. Times”:

E-journalist considers booting paper’s columnists over new reading fees

Like Drudge, I will not link to The N.Y. Times, once its pay-to-read goes into effect, or to any other source with such a retrograde requirement.

“Europe Learns the Wrong Lessons “:

Nearly one third of Germans under 30 say that the U.S. government ordered the 9/11 attacks. In France, a book insisting that Americans carried out the assault themselves to increase defense budgets becomes a huge bestseller. In Britain, major newspapers carry headlines like “The USA is Now the World’s Leading Rogue State.” Asked which countries are the biggest threat to world peace, Europeans name the U.S as often as North Korea and Iran (each are picked by 53 percent). Countries characterized by Euros as less menacing than the U.S. include Syria, Iraq, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Libya. As one American living in Britain, Anglican minister Dwight Longenecker, summarizes: “Our cultural ancestors have become unrecognizable, even hostile, to us.”

Having rescued Europe from the Kaiser, Hitler, post-WWII economic collapse, domestic communism, and Stalin, I don’t see these opinions abating until we have to rescue them again, this time from internal Islamofacism. But if one can’t wait to be appreciated, get a dog.

“But for the U.S. and its allies” By Hiwa Osman (media advisor to President Jalal Talabani):

Yesterday, [9/13/05] an important meeting took place between President Bush and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, hearalding a new era in Iraqi-American relations. For the first time in the history of the two nations, the White House received the first freely and democratically elected president of Iraq. 
The Iraqi president conveyed a thank-you message from the people of Iraq, who were empowered to vote last January, for making a democratic Iraq a reality.

This makes me proud to be an American.

Willful Blindness?

January 27, 2009

[First published July 12, 2005] In spite of being repetitive, I’m gong to keep writing about this as long as the press and academics keep misunderstanding or ignoring the reason for the recent decline in violence. In “Researchers see lowest levels of war in the world since ’50s,” (no free link), published in the National Weekly Edition of the Washington Times, David R. Sands points to the 2005 edition of the Marshall-Gurr “Peace and Conflict Survey, which shows a sharp drop in violence while the number of democracies has rocketed. But these and other academics, and Sands do not connect the dots. For the statistical analyses of this, see my Democratic Peace clock.

I addition to this, the Marshall-Gurr survey points to a study by Victor Asal and Amy Pate that shows that the governments practicing political discrimination against their ethnic groups has almost been cut in half while those trying to remedy past discrimination has quintupled.

It seems almost willful blindness to miss the role of democracy in all this, especially when one considers how others try to explain the decrease in violence. The most often cited reason is the end of the Cold War, which also ended the U.S. and Soviets indirectly fighting the Cold War through the Third World. I find this an amusing reach, since the most prevalent explanation for conflicts after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was that it took the lid off conflicts that the U.S. and soviets kept a lid on so that they didn’t escalate into direct violence between them. The expectation at that time among students of war and violence was that violence and war would increase in the 90s.

Another explanation is that the European Union and the U.N. have played a significant role in the decline of violence. I don’t see it. If anything, the E.U. and U.N. failed miserably in preventing the Bosnian and Kosovo violence, and then there is the U.N. and Rwanda, Sudan, and Burma. By its own reckoning, its peacekeeping efforts have been a failure.

Then there is the claim that war is an international institution that is becoming discredited and obsolete and is dying out like dueling and slavery did.

Since the huge increase in the number or democracies (about 120 today) is recognized, how can they not see the connection and completely ignore the voluminous democratic peace literature that makes the connection (bibliography here). I’m almost willing to say its willful blindness, since the Marshall-Gurr survey provides empirical support for President Bush’s claim that promoting freedom will promote peace. To my knowledge, no commentator or academic (I’m retired) has made the connection between the sharp decline in war/violence, the soaring number of democracies, and Bush’s Forward Strategy of Freedom.


Link of Note

“Laying to Rest the Autocratic Peace (2004) By Karen K. Peterson
Presented at “Journeys in world Politics,” University of Iowa

Professor Peterson is a political scientist at Vanderbilt University.

This research focuses on militarized interstate conflict between pairs of nondemocratic states. It is based in part on a categorical indicator of regime type that is more comprehensive than the dichotomous indicator currently used in most research. My measure distinguishes among the different types of democratic and non-democratic regimes found in the international system between 1816 and 2001. I then use my new measure in conjunction with the existing Correlates of War Militarized Interstate Dispute data to analyze the conflict propensity of different types of regimes.

As part of a larger project, I present findings below related to the conflict behavior of pairs of non-democratic states. Regardless of how I conceive of the idea of regime similarity, I find no evidence of an autocratic peace at either the initiation or escalation phases of militarized interstate conflict, suggesting that the notion of an autocratic peace that functions in a manner similar to the democratic peace lacks empirical support.

Her conclusion makes it clearer, “. . . there is something unique about joint democracy that reduces the likelihood of conflict initiation and escalation and that non-democratic regimes do not possess this quality.”
Democratic Peace