Still Not 50 Times Better Than Democracy–Part I

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[First published September 19, 2005] Gartzke has responded to my critique, “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong,” (here) of his chapter 2 published in the CATO Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. In reading my response, keep in mind how this Gartzke chapter was trumped in the very first lines of CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war.

My response will be in two parts. Here I will respond to Gartzke’s claim about the literature on whether democracy as less warlike as other types of government. This is an important question, for I have asserted as a proposition of the democratic peace, that democracies have the least foreign violence. I will present Gartzke’s reply on this interspersed with my comments in green. Gartzke says:

Dr. Rummel claims that I am wrong to write that [IR] researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally. [RJR: First “less likely” is a weak way of putting this — in the main, the research literature finds that democracies either don’t make war on each other, rarely do, or virtually never do. Second, my statement that Gartzke was wrong refers not to the literature, but to his acceptance of it] This is what other researchers have found. In fact, it is what most proponents of the democratic peace claim to show. Dr. Rummel knows that the majority of studies by democratic peace proponents do not support the assertion that democracies are generally less warlike (Rousseau, et al. 1996). Indeed, he has advocated the strong claim that democracies are generally pacific, in opposition to other proponents of the democratic peace. This difference of views within the democratic peace research community is not made clear in Dr. Rummel’s comments and may confuse his readers. [RJR: I reference my study on this, and hoped that Gartzke would have read it first before replying. In regard to democracies being “less ready to use force,” this literature in general is wrong in finding this is not true and I am unimpressed by how many studies on this one can quote. To see the consistent error in the literature, see the excerpts from my study below. ]

The comment that Dr. Rummel objects to thus simply summarizes the dominant view among democratic peace researchers. As Huth and Allee put it “patterns of military conflict between democracies and non-democracies are not very different from patterns of military conflict among non-democracies” (page 1, 2002). [RJR: This is wrong, as I will show below.] Bruce Russett, the dean of quantitative democratic peace researchers acknowledges that there is little systematic evidence in support of the claim that democracies are generally less warlike (page 11, 1993). Together, Russett and his research partner John Oneal, state that, “Our analyses clearly reveal the separate peace among democratic states” (page 288, 1997). [RJR: This is old stuff. In a personal communication, Russett now agrees with me]

There are many other examples. HYPERLINK “”I quote the wikipedia encyclopedia:

Democratic peace theorists make two possible connections between democracy and war:
Babst, Singer, Rummel and Doyle claimed that democracies, properly defined, have never made war on each other; such DPTs face the difficulty that Ted Gurr classes both Spain and the United States as democracies in 1898, the year of the Spanish-American War. [RJR: Gurr’s classification is based on political attributes being given equal weight, and does not take account of the great importance that should be given to the independent power the King of Spain had in foreign and military policy. This is similar to that of the Germany’s Kaiser in WWI. Neither Spain in 1989 nor Germany in 1914 was democratic in making war and peace. ] Most more recent studies assert that two democracies are less likely to make war on each other than other pairs of states. [RJR: I see where Gartzke got the weak “less likely” from, but he shouldn’t accept this as consistent with the literature. ]

Now, what is going on in the literature on democracies being least likely to fight a war? The following excerpts are from my, “Democracies Are Less Warlike Than Other Regimes” (European Journal of International Relations 1, December 1995: 457-479):

While a consensus has grown that democracies don’t make war on each other, a second consensus has developed in parallel that democracies are neither more nor less likely to make war or commit violence than other types of regimes. . . . In spite of this consensus, it does not well reflect the evidence. As I try to show here, a careful reading of the studies underlying this consensus and of my own 1983 HYPERLINK “””Libertarianism and International Violence” (here) that is assumed to be the only exception (actually there are many more, [which I cite in the study] show that democracies are in fact the most pacific of regimes. Moreover, an analysis of the methodology of the core research studies that underlie this consensus further supports this conclusion. . . .

To begin with my [what the literature claims to be] “exceptional findings”, in HYPERLINK “”Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (here) offered the HYPERLINK “″Freedom Proposition that “[T]he more libertarian a state, the less it tends to be involved in violence:”

A . . . question has to do with the kind of violence limited by libertarian [democratic] systems. Libertarian systems are the natural enemies of authoritarian and totalitarian states. By their example and the products of freedom they are naturally subversive of authoritarian or totalitarian systems; and these freedoms seem to make libertarian states defenseless against unilateral changes in the status quo. Thus, libertarian states are often involved in reactive and defensive violence against the initiatives of nonlibertarian states. Therefore in general, I do not expect that there will be a correlation. . . between libertarianism and the frequency [note: the frequency] of involvement in war or violence. Nor should there be for the conflict behavior variables. The predicted correlations for these variables are therefore random . . . .

However, once a libertarian state is involved, domestic forces will usually begin to coalesce against increased violence and for a settlement of some sort. The growth in anti-Vietnam war [and the war in Iraq] sentiment and its impact on the American leadership’s war policies and decisions are a paradigm case of [this proposition]. It follows that the intensity of violence variable (which measures the scope, occurrence, and degree of violence) and the conflict scale (which has intense violence at the extreme) should be negatively correlated with libertarianism [democracy] . . . .

There are two things to note about this quote. One is that it emphasizes the severity of violence as the crucial variable; and, second, it throws out the frequency of war involvements or other violence as a relevant variable, predicting that the correlation between democracy and the frequency of foreign violence should be random. Ironically, this zero or near zero correlation that I predicted is in fact what allegedly has been found by the subsequent studies underlying the consensus that democracies are no less or more violent than other types of regimes, to which my positive findings on severity are supposed to be an exception. Indeed, I also had found through HYPERLINK “”factor analyses and HYPERLINK “”correlational studies that there was little correlation between a dimension of foreign conflict and violence and a dimension of democratic versus authoritarian and totalitarian regimes [citations in source]. . . .

[the proposition I will test using war intensity as the variable, and not frequency is:]

The More Democratic a Regime, the Less its Foreign Violence
To test this and show that my results are not due to the peculiarities of my own data set, I first used the most commonly employed data on war in this area–those of Small and Singer (1982)–in spite of their problems, to be subsequently described. They define war as any military action in which there are 1,000 or more battle dead and provide figures on battle dead for each participant in a war. It is these battle-dead data that I employed to operationalize foreign violence, since, as should be clear from the above, it is severity and not frequency of war that the theory predicts (the more democratic a regime and the more deadly a potential war, the more domestic and psychological restraint a leader will have to go to war). . . . [see Table 1 below]

The Table also presents the comparison of means for battle dead as a percentage of the regime’s population. This is a theoretically less important measure than that of battle dead itself. For democratic people and interest groups, as well as the governing elite, that a war may cost thousands of dead, or is in fact causing hundreds of deaths per week, is the more salient factor–not that a certain percentage of the population is being killed. Indeed–whether in the US pre-Pearl Harbor debate about coming actively to the aid of Great Britain (whose defeat appeared imminent), or in the great domestic debate about ending the Korean or Vietnam wars, or in the debate over launching military action against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait–no one, not at least according to my resources, phrased the concern about casualties in terms of the number of US citizens as a percentage of the population that would be or were being killed. Nonetheless, this is a favorite indicator among researchers and is included in HYPERLINK “”Table 1 for that reason.

HYPERLINK “”Figure 1 plots the means listed in the Table.

[for another test] on 73 additional regimes that did not commit democide, that reflected major regional and cultural patterns, and that involved large differences in type of regime from previous or succeeding ones, using the foreign violence dead of these non-demociders, and I again relied on the Singer and Small data, supplemented by my own data for the years 1900-87, see Table 2 (here). See also wealth, which is highly correlated with economic freedom factored out in Table 3 (here. To see power as capability factored out, go to Table 4 (here]

[How could other researchers miss this? It is because they counted frequency of wars as their dependent variable.] Counting wars or military actions equates conflicts that are vastly different. For example, according to Small and Singer the Philippines lost 90 killed in the Korean War (1982: 92), and this is counted as a war for the Philippines because there were more than 1,000 troops involved. But in the Small and Singer tables [cited in source], the Soviet Union lost 7,500,000 battle dead in World War II, and this also is counted as one war. Thus, in comparing the democraticness of regimes and their use of force, if we measure force by a frequency count of wars, then Great Britain in the Boxer Rebellion, the Philippines in the Korean War, and the USSR in World War II are treated as equally using force, since each gets a count of one for war, even although Great Britain lost only 34 in combat, the Philippines 90, and the Soviet Union over 7,000,000. Yet, such frequency counts of wars or the use of force have been the main way the Propositions on democracy and violence have been tested by others.

Consider also that whatever we theorize to be the underlying conditions inhibiting or preventing democracies and near democracies from violence, to my knowledge no one argues that democracies are equally inhibited from using force in a conflict in which the expectation is of losing a dozen or so soldiers versus engaging in a total war in which the loss of millions may be suffered. But this is the theoretical implication of the use of a simple count of wars.

[Now with this understanding, if one looks in detail at] the three most-cited studies — those of Small and Singer, Chan, and Weede — at the core of the consensus in the field that the Proposition is false, Small and Singer’s results tend to support the HYPERLINK “file:///Users/rudyrummel/INTERNET.WEB/WEB%20SITE%20FILES/DP95.HTM#FP”Proposition, and if one could accept their measurement of violence Chan and Weede would also support the Proposition. Small and Singer used an appropriate measure of severity (battle dead) and their results are relevant to the Proposition. But the Chan and Weede studies are inappropriate, since they measure violence by the number of years at war, by the frequency of wars, or by the existence of war, none of which measures the severity of violence central to the Proposition.

There are five other studies following on these that do analyses bearing on the HYPERLINK “file:///Users/rudyrummel/INTERNET.WEB/WEB%20SITE%20FILES/DP95.HTM#FP”Proposition, but they all use the Small and Singer (1982) war or the Gochman and Maoz (1984) militarized dispute data and cross-tabulate or correlate violence or war frequencies with some measure of democracy. If their use of frequencies was relevant to the Proposition, one study would be positive (Morgan and Schwebach, 1992), two would tend to be ambiguous (Domke, 1988; Maoz and Abdolali, 1989), and two studies would be negative (Cole, 1990; Morgan and Campbell, 1991), neither one strongly so. . . .

Overall, then, we find that when the Freedom/Foreign Violence HYPERLINK “file:///Users/rudyrummel/INTERNET.WEB/WEB%20SITE%20FILES/DP95.HTM#FP”Proposition is properly tested in terms of the severity of violence, all correlations or cross-tabulations of democracy and violence are in the proper direction. That is, democracy is less warlike (severity) than other regimes. This is contrary to the prevailing wisdom among students of war, but upon careful inspection the results underlying their consensus have not only been shown to equate for a nation wars involving a few dozen killed with wars killing millions, but also, were frequencies relevant, to support the Proposition, not negate it.

I say again, Gartzke was right in saying the literature mostly opposed the proposition, but wrong in accepting what these studies claimed, and what was claimed about them.

Link of Day

“Most scientific papers are probably wrong” By Kurt Kleiner (30 August 2005)

Kleiner says:

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

Yes, this is what I have generally found in the scientific studies of the democratic peace, as shown in my response to Gartzke above.

Links I Must Share

“Do blacks believe levee was blown?”

Washington Post columnist ‘stunned’ by ‘reasonable’ people suggesting plot.

This shows the power of racist demagoguery, especially among Black liberal leaders.

“Church wants to apologize for Iraq war”

Bishops of the Church of England are calling for Christian leaders in Britain to publicly apologize for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

“Chavez: U.S. Plans to Invade Venezuela

Hugo Chavez says he has documentary evidence that U.S. plans to invade Venezuela.

Just as Allende did, accuse the U.S. of planning to attack as a way of finessing opposition at home and unifying his people around him. Typical communist trick.

Democratic Peace

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