Counting the Democratic Peace Away

May 14, 2009

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[First published October 9, 2005] I often come across the assumption that science is so explicit, empirical, precise, and clear that it is a proven alternative to assumption laden philosophy, traditional scholarship and what passes for social analysis. Wrong.

Social scientific research is laden with assumptions. For example, one assumption in the scientific studies of which I’m aware that concerns me is the following. So many applications of correlational methods, as of the correlation coefficient itself or regression analysis, assume that the relationship between an x and y is necessary and sufficient (necessity: y does not occur without x; sufficiency: if x then y; necessary and sufficient: y occurs if and only if x). But what if x is sufficient only; or necessary only? Then the correlation could be weak, even though there is a very strong causal relationship. For example, that both nations be democratic is a sufficient condition that they will be at peace with each other. However, they may be at peace for other reasons, such as distance (e.g., Ecuador and Kenya), shared interests of the moment (e.g., Syria and Iran), or fear of a third party (e.g., China and Taiwan). For peace between countries, that they be democratic is only a sufficient, but not necessary condition. This theoretical relationship is shown in the figure below, each dot representing a hypothetical war or act of violence.

If the figures reflect the true relationship, which I’m sure it does, then it is incorrect to test this relationship between democracy and peace by correlational methods, since they would obscure it. But this is what is most often done, followed by the exclamation: “See, the relationship is weak. There is no significant democratic peace.”

A more appropriate way to test this is by cross-classification tables, such as Tables 1 and 2 in the upper left of the democratic peace chart below (click to enlarge)

A more specific problem of concern is the general use of a simple count of wars to test/assess relationships. The problem is especially evident in testing whether democracies are less warlike than other types of regimes. But a count of wars is very misleading, since a regime coded as having a war can have virtually no one killed in the war as long as, using the common criteria that it had over 1,000 troops involved, or that many were killed overall in the “war” (thus, a nation suffering 800 killed in a violent confrontation in which the overall toll is 950 would not be counted as having fought a war).

For example, in the Boxer Rebellion (1900), which is classified as a war since there were over 3,000 battle dead, Great Britain lost 34 killed, the United States 21, and France 24. Yet, this would be classified as a war for each of these nations. Then consider the Falklands War of 1982 between Great Britain and Argentina. Figures vary on the number killed, but somewhat less than 1,000 seems a good number, with about 650 to 700 of those being Argentineans. But by virtue of the criteria mentioned, since it did not rise to the 1,000 battle dead threshold, in spite of her high number killed compared to Great Britain, the USA and France in the Boxer rebellion, this would not be counted as a war for Argentina or Britain.

The problem with this simplistic count of wars for a regime can be seen in another way. Counting wars or military actions equates conflicts that are vastly different. For example, the Philippines lost 90 killed in the Korean War, and this is counted as one war for the Philippines because she had more than 1,000 troops involved. But the Soviet Union lost 7,500,000 battle dead in World War II, and this also is counted as one war. Thus, in comparing, say, 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 relationship between democracy and violence, among other relationships, have been tested.

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 assumption in the use of a simple count of wars.

Sometimes I think that the mechanics of analysis (getting and preparing data for analysis, setting up the computer application, applying it to the data, and then reporting the results), and the pressure to do what others have done in their research, overwhelms common sense.

Keep this in mind when you will read here and there on the internet that democracies are as warlike as other regimes.

Links of Day

“Mark Steyn: Islamist way or no way” By Mark Steyn (10/4/05)


. . . . the Islamists don’t even bother going through the traditional rhetorical feints. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. “We are here as on a darkling plain …” wrote Matthew Arnold in the famous concluding lines to Dover Beach, “where ignorant armies clash by night”.
But we choose in large part to stay in ignorance. Blow up the London Underground during a G8 summit and the world’s leaders twitter about how tragic and ironic it is that this should have happened just as they’re taking steps to deal with the issues, as though the terrorists are upset about poverty in Africa and global warming.
. . . . The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam — or House of Islam — to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace.”
That’s why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they’ll keep blowing it up. It’s not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It’s about a world where everything other than Islamism lies in ruins.

” Zarqawi justifies killing of civilians”:

Iraq’s al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi said militants were justified under Islam in killing civilians as long as they are infidels, according to a new audiotape attributed to him yesterday. “Islam does not differentiate between civilians and military, but rather distinguishes between Muslims and infidels,” said the man on the tape posted on the Internet, who sounded like Zarqawi.

RJR: If I may spell this out (assuming that you and your family is nonMuslim), it’s like getting an email or phone call from a gang leader saying, “I’m going to murder you, your mate, and your children.” What protects us is that we are hidden in a crowd of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Links I Must Share

“NATO widens role in Afghanistan”

NATO will increase its force in Afghanistan to as many as 15,000 soldiers and will take on counterinsurgency operations as its expands its mission into southern Afghanistan over coming months . . . .

RJR: This is quite a breakthrough in this war on terror. NATO, an all democratic 26 member military alliance of mainly East and West European democracies (plus Turkey, Iceland, Canada, and the U.S.) has broken out of its Europe only shell with its increasing involvement in African peacekeeping, and now this enlargement of its contribution to the Afghan democracy. Can one hope that NATO will soon be the military arm of a global Alliance of Democracies?

“Who Cares About Midterm Elections?”

RJR: This is sardonically put, I’m sure. The point is that too many are caught up in the 2008 battle, while ignoring the 2006 one for Congress that is of utmost importance. Imagine that the Democrats take over the House and Senate. What will they do then about Iraq and the War on Terror? Hmmmm.

“Terrorism Strikes the Heartland”:

. . . .it’s not every day that there’s a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and supposedly there hasn’t been one since 9/11. But that’s exactly what happened outside a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday night (10/1).

RJR: That authorities would suppress and distort information on this terrorist attempt to murder thousands should be a wake up call regarding what they will do if bird flu hits some area in the U.S. I’m not trying to malign health authorities, but their primary concern will be to avoid a panic that would make quarantine and the isolation of the pandemic difficult. What is society-wise may not be for the alert individual, if they can avoid the pandemic altogether.
STAY ALERT. Consult pandemic 2005 every day (here).

Freedom's Website

Arguments Against the Democratic Peace

May 13, 2009

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[First published October 10, 2005] I have on occasion linked to or critiqued articles arguing against the democratic peace (DP). They fall into four groups.

First, are those who argue from historical examples that allegedly disprove DP. Favorites are the Civil War, WWII against “democratically elected” Hitler, democratic Finland being allied with Germany in World War II, the various French-British crises, , and certain democratic American Indian tribes on which the U.S. made war. Also, there is the finger pointing at all the wars that the U.S. and U.K. fought. No amount of historical analysis that disproves these as exceptions persuades members of this group, who generally argue that DP supporters are defining them away.

Lets say that all the exceptions are true exceptions. There were 371 pairs of countries involved in wars against each other 1816-2005 About 22 exceptions have been put forward, which if excepted would mean that democracies fought that many wars out of 371, or 6 percent. Therefore, taking every claimed exception as true we can still say that democracies tend to be most peacefully disposed to each other. That is, if democracy were universalized, war in the world would still be sharply reduced.

The second group is those who, misunderstand what DP is, and thus use examples that are at different levels of analysis or conceptual design. For example, they argue: “Look at all the wars that Britain and the United States have fought. Indeed, Britain has fought more wars that any other nation.” Yes, but this says nothing about what nations Britain fought against after it became a democracy with the Reform Act of 1884 (which extended the franchise to agricultural laborers). Although both the U.S. and Britain have fought many wars, none were against democracies.

A variant of this is to argue that the U.S. and Britain were the aggressors in many wars. True, the U.S. started the Spanish-American and Mexican-American wars, and now the Afghan and Iraq Wars. But the DP does not say that democracies will never launch wars. Only that it will not do so against other democracies.

The third group argue from balance of power or power superiority theories, a la Hans Morgenthau, and assert that DP is Wilsonian idealism, i.e., unrealistic, and wishful thinking. This is the most common argument appearing in the elite journals and by foreign policy commentators. In effect, it is arguing DP away in a nice way — by labeling it as head-in-the-clouds idealism in contrast to the feet-on-the ground realist. Yet, it is the other way around. It is DP that is grounded in historical data, and its claims have been well tested by scientific methods. Those promoting their “realism” cannot say this. And in those cases where power and its balancing have been tested against DP, the results were in favor of DP, not the other way around. Most often, however, the comparison is a matter of speculative realism versus empirically well tested DP. But either this is something that realists are unaware of, or will deny by lifting arguments from the two groups mentioned previously.

Finally, there is the group of those who question the methodology, with one of the favorites being “correlation does not mean causation,” as though all of us using quantitative methods on DP never took Statistics 101. I find these people usually don’t know what they are talking about (although sometimes wrapped in the usual quantitative jargon), or like the above quote, assume we’re all naïve or empty headed. In some cases, however, they apply apparently sophisticated statistics to data on war and democracy, among other variables, and conclude: “Hey, see, how insignificant democracy is compared to other variables.” When, however, these studies are looked at carefully, one usually finds that the methods have been misunderstood, misapplied, or the data were inappropriate to the method used (for an example of this, see “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong” here). Such is the kinds of war counting, empirical studies, I referred to in my blog, “Counting the Democratic Peace Away” (here).

In 1981, to the conclusion of my five volumes on Understanding Conflict and War (here), I wrote: 

In total, some violence is inevitable; extreme violence and war are not. To eliminate war, to restrain violence, to nurture universal peace and justice, is to foster freedom.

That conclusion has not only held up well, it also now declarative American foreign policy.

Link of Day

” Democracy, Spontaneous Order and Peace” By Augustus diZerega

Abstract: The democratic peace hypothesis which states that democracies rarely or never go to war against one another and that democracies do not commit democide raises issues penetrating to the core of modern liberalism, classical and otherwise. If democracies are unique from other forms of government, as claims for their peacefulness towards citizens and one another suggest, then possibly the classical liberal and libertarian critique of democratic government needs re-examination. By separating liberal democracy from undemocratic states, the democratic peace hypothesis separates the classical liberal and libertarian critique of the state from a straight forward application to liberal democracy. The work of F. A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi holds the key to understanding the democratic peace, and thereby leads to rethinking the classical liberal and libertarian critique of politics. To jump ahead, democracies are spontaneous orders in Hayek’s sense of the term. Consequently democracies are not states in the usual sense, and often do not act like them.

RJR: diZerega is one of the few to recognize that Hayek’s spontaneous society provides an explanation of DP. Nonetheless, Hayekian libertarians, excepting diZeerega, will continue to treat DP as the muttering of diseased minds.

Links I Must Share

Marshall vs. Miers

Unqualified, no judicial experience, just a political crony. Miers? No, John Marshall, whose name generally is preceded by the adjective great, some describing him as the greatest figure in the history of American law. . . . But let’s ask ourselves realistically whether a fracas precipitated by an in-your-face nomination of a conservative with strong and well known commitments to hot-button issues would not simply have led to yet another ignominious defeat by the legions of Darth Vader.  At no time in recent memory has the Republican Senate leadership evidenced any notable parliamentary, tactical, or PR skills.  The Democrats have out-maneuvered them at every turn.

Maybe President Bush simply looked at the facts in the cold light of day and concluded that the nation’s interests would be better served by appointing someone who is both confirmable and committed to sound general principles.  Maybe he concluded that reliance on Senators like Arlen Specter and Bill Frist was as likely to be successful as buying a lottery ticket.

RJR: Too many conservatives are blind to this. For too long, they have wanted a fight with the Demos, and now they are upset by not getting it. Well, getting another strict constructionist on the Supreme Court is more important, and anyway, they would have lost the fight.

“Media Ignore Freedom’s Victories”

It’s troubling that so many refuse to recognize, let alone support, the struggle for freedom in Iraq. The groups behind the September 24 anti-war march on Washington, D.C. really do not care if an American withdrawal ushers in a terrorist victory. One of the co-sponsoring groups, International ANSWER, is actually led by members of the Workers World Party, a communist group that has backed Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Kim Jong-Il. But don’t look for the media to mention that fact.

RJR: They never do. The communist are free to organize as they will without mention of their involvement. True now, true during the anti-nuclear demonstrations, true during Vietnam. Can’t seem a McCarthy, you know.


. . . . the Army has been bankrolling “HYPERLINK “,+2005″Excalibur,” a Raytheon effort to build a 155mm artillery shell that’s guided by GPS. Think of it as the howitzer’s answer to smart bombs.

RJR: Combine this with a drone providing the GPS coordinates of a tall man dressed all in white, and . . . .

Synopsis, three chapters, and free download

Academic Tenure- Protecting Incompetence, Malingering, and Extremism

May 12, 2009

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[First published October 12, 2005] I have taught for most of my life in a university and had tenure. But I oppose its system of tenure. It has become a system that protects incompetent faculty, and a shield behind which many faculty take their salary, teach their courses from yellowed notes, do little real research, and spend much of their time socializing, pursuing personal interests, a hobby, or promoting their politics. It is an unbelievable life compared to that of the working stiff or the businessman. Faculty may teach six to twenty hours a week, depending on whether they are at a research university (one that has a Ph.D. program in most disciplines), or not. Aside from his teaching hours, the tenured professor is free to come and go. For those at a research university, teaching only six to nine hours, he may be expected to also counsel students, chair Ph.D. dissertations, and participate in department and university committees. But, through various ruses, he may avoid much of this. And indeed, if their incompetence and stupidly is known — and there are seldom secrets about this — he may be relieved of these academic obligations. Thus the dumber and less competent, the more free time to idle away at maybe $50,000-60,000 a year (if there is a faculty union, raises are across the board).

Those who suffer from this system are the students and fresh PhDs, from whom positions are held by the aged and feeble. With tenure, a guaranteed salary, and associated perks, these hanger-ons will not retire even when their lecture notes disintegrate from age and use.

There is something more here. The tenure system has enabled a coalition of leftist-socialist-Marxists (communist) professors to establish a politburo-like rule over an academic department. They control who is hired; who does not get tenure; the criteria for accepting graduate students into the department, and awarding them teaching assistantships, and grants; and the content of the curriculum. Because of tenure, this control is virtually impossible to change except by the death or, exceptionally, retirement of its members. And this is a wide-ranging coalition across departments and universities. They give good reviews to each other’s books; as peer reviewers, they recommend the publication of each others articles; as panel chairmen, they select who will be on a professional panel and who the discussants will be; and as grant application readers, they determine who will get funds for research; and perhaps most important, they decide what dissertations will be accepted. In other words, these tenured leftists move whole disciplines, such that they become marked by a dominant leftist ideology. Such is sociology, political science, and the humanities today.

The left shields their tenure by claiming it guarantees academic freedom. Don’t believe it. Even the tenured who disagree with the dominant left, or step on one of their icons (e.g., American “imperialism,” “greedy” capitalism, the Palestinian “just cause”), can be fired, or the conditions of their academic life made so miserable that they will leave. For the left, academic freedom is for the leftist professor, not the libertarian, conservative, or heaven forbid, Bush supporter. What applies to faculty is multiplied for students. To get a good grade and, most important recommendation (the coin of the academic realm), mirror the prof. on exams (if he claims white is black, then so it is), ask softball questions, or shut up.

What to do about this system? Legislators in some states are trying to pass an academic bill of rights (see link below) By itself, it will do no good as long as there is tenure to protect incompetence, malingering, and extremism. Other than getting rid of tenure (I favor five-year renewable contracts), the best way to deal with this is sunshine — transparency of what goes on with tenured academics. If outraged non-leftist faculty and students speak out with their personal stories, if what is going on within the university with tenure is disclosed, then this pollution will eventually be known by boards of overseers and regents, and those who support and fund universities and their projects. And students and their parents may start avoiding certain schools.

And finally, the poor worker, dedicated professional, and hard working businessman may see how their taxes or the tuition they pay for their children is being used. Especially, they will eventually see how while they work hard for what they earn, there is a malingering, money-sucking class like an ancient aristocracy, living within their university-castle, and surrounded by a tenure-moat

Links of Note

“The Tenure Debate — Near and Afar” ()

“Academic Bill of Rights”

Links I Must Share

“Why God Never Received Tenure at any University “

“Taking on the pro-Islamacists at Columbia U.”

Harvard Law prof Alan Dershowiz has a long track record of leftist political views and defense of human rights. After 9/11 he began to speak out openly on the need to confront militant Islamacism and terror tactics. So it’s not surprising that yesterday he took on Columbia Univ. and its faculty.

“Herd Behavior At Institutions Of Higher Leftism”

Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University writes on the effects of left wing groupthink at universities, and the effect it has on career advancement and curriculum.

RJR: I’ve seen it all.

Students Fight Back: Introducing

The recent firestorm of controversy over the Campus Watch website may be only the beginning. Now a new website called has the potential to draw wide public attention to the abuse of fairness and trust regularly practiced in today’s politically correct college classrooms.

RJR: This is the way democracy is supposed to work.

Freedomist Network

More on the Democratic Peace and Sharp Decline in Violence

May 11, 2009

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[First published October 17, 2005] A study has just been published by the Human Security Center, War and Peace In The 21St Century (pdf here). I recommend reading it for the comprehensiveness of its data and analysis.

The reports conclusions are:

Over the past dozen years, the global security climate has changed in dramatic, positive, but largely unheralded ways. Civil wars, genocides and international crises have all declined sharply. International wars, now only a small minority of all conflicts, have been in steady decline for a much longer period, as have military coups and the average number of people killed per conflict per year. The wars that dominated the headlines of the 1990s were real—and brutal—enough. But the global media have largely ignored the 100-odd conflicts that have quietly ended since 1988. During this period, more wars stopped than started. The extent of the change in global security following the end of the Cold War has been remarkable:

°The number of armed conflicts around the world has declined by more than 40% since the early 1990s. [See the igure below from the report]

°Between 1991 (the high point for the post–World War II period) and 2004, 28 armed struggles for self-determination started or restarted, while 43 were contained or ended. There were just 25 armed secessionist conflicts under way in 2004, the lowest number since 1976.

°Notwithstanding the horrors of Rwanda, Srebrenica and elsewhere, the number of genocides and politicides plummeted by 80% between the 1988 high point and 2001.

°International crises, often harbingers of war, declined by more than 70% between 1981 and 2001.

°The dollar value of major international arms transfers fell by 33% between 1990 and 2003 (Figure 1.10). Global military expenditure and troop numbers declined sharply in the 1990s as well.

°The number of refugees dropped by some 45% between 1992 and 2003, as more and more wars came to an end.

°Five out of six regions in the developing world saw a net decrease in core human rights abuses between 1994 and 2003.

The positive changes noted above date from the end of the Cold War. Other changes can be traced back to the 1950s:

°The average number of battle-deaths per conflict per year—the best measure of the deadliness of warfare— has been falling dramatically but unevenly since the 1950s. In 1950, for example, the average armed conflict killed 38,000 people; in 2002 the figure was 600, a 98% decline.

°The period since the end of World War II is the longest interval of uninterrupted peace between the major powers in hundreds of years.

°The number of actual and attempted military coups has been declining for more than 40 years. In 1963 there were 25 coups and attempted coups around the world, the highest number in the post–World War II period. In 2004 there were only 10 coup attempts—a 60% decline. All of them failed.

How do they explain this great decrease in warfare and its severity?

A dramatic increase in the number of democracies. In 1946, there were 20 democracies in the world; in 2005, there were 88.10 Many scholars argue that this trend has reduced the likelihood of international war because democratic states almost never fight each other.

An increase in economic interdependence . Greater global economic interdependence has increased the costs of cross-border aggression while reducing its benefits.

A decline in the economic utility of war . The most effective path to prosperity in modern economies is through increasing productivity and international trade, not through seizing land and raw materials. In addition, the existence of an open global trading regime means it is nearly always cheaper to buy resources from overseas than to use force to acquire them.

Growth in international institutions . The greatly increased involvement by governments in international institutions can help reduce the incidence of conflict. Such institutions play an important direct role in building global norms that encourage the peaceful settlement of disputes. They can also benefit security indirectly by helping promote democratisation and interdependence.

There you have it. The first empirical anslysis to note the sharp decrease in violence other than my own, and to attribute it to the democractic peace. My only disagreement is that I would consider the democracies achieving a critical mass to be the major cause, and the others to be minor. The other causes existed before the decrease in violence, and it is only that growth in democracies that is the factor that significantly changed — that along with the end of the Cold War, which be it recalled, was predicted at the time to lead to a leap in violence, since the Soviet Union (having disappeared) and U.S. were no longer concerned to cap any violence that might draw them into a major war with each other.

Link of Day

“Final Report of the Commission on Human Security” A UN Report different from the above

The report proposes a new security framework that centers directly and specifically on people. Human security focuses on shielding people from critical and pervasive threats and empowering them to take charge of their lives. It demands creating genuine opportunities for people to live in safety and dignity and earn their livelihood.

RJR: Note this policy conclusion: “Clarifying the need for a global human identity while respecting the freedom of individuals to have diverse identities and affiliations.”

Links I Must Share

“Book Learning:

A controversial new work says French school textbooks are just plain anti-American.

RJR: Is there any doubt?

“Rice: No presidential ambitions”

RJR: This is politicospeech for, “I’ll run if people show enough interest.”


The cultural left has a new tool for enforcing political conformity in schools of education. It is called dispositions theory, and it was set forth five years ago by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education: Future teachers should be judged by their “knowledge, skills, and dispositions.”

RJR: By dispositions, or what in my academic experience was called “political sensitivety,” which was used to evaluate faculty and graduate student applicants, means bowing before the left’s holy icons. Five degrees is no good. It has to be a full forty-five degrees.

“United Nations uselessness”

The chief of mission for Sudan in Washington, Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed, assures the world in a Sept. 28 Op-Ed in The Washington Times that since “Every reliable report coming our of Darfur indicates that the situation has stabilized and the mortality rate has returned to pre-war levels,” at last there is “the beginning of a new era in Sudan.” Despite this exercise in public relations, the facts on the ground in Darfur are savagely different.

RJR: This is the UN, you know. It could not be otherwise.

War/peace docudramas
On WWI, Stalin, Holocaust,
China, Cambodia, and others

Its Democide, Not Politicide

May 8, 2009

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[First published October 25, 2005] Some of you may have come across the term politicide. Barbara Harff (here) and I independently developed the concept. I used it to refer to the murder by government of people because of their politics, political activities, or their threat to the government. Politicide is not genocide, which is the attempt to eliminate in whole or in part people because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, or religion.

Harff, unfortunately, and those who have followed on her research have used the term to define any government murder other than genocide. This is a simple misunderstanding of the extent and variety of government murder. True, when a government kills “rightists,” “counterrevolutionaries,” or officials of the former defeated government, as Mao did in China, it was politicide. When Pol Pot tortured and murdered Khmer Rouge for supposedly plotting against him, it was politicide. When Lenin had Czar Nicolas II and his whole family assassinated in 1918, it was politicide. But then much, if not most, government murder is not politicide or genocide, but democide.

Now, democide is any murder by government, which is the intentional killing of unarmed people for whatever purpose. It is comparable to the concept of murder in domestic law. It includes genocide, politicide, massacres, atrocities, assassination, extermination, ethnic cleansing (if killing is involved), suicide bombing, and indiscriminate shelling, bombing, and strafing.

The problem with equating politicide with democide is the killing that is thereby omitted. For example, everyone knows about the so-called Rape of Nanking by the Japanese Army when it captured the city on December 13th, 1937. Its soldiers were given freedom to rape, loot, and kill for nearly two months. I calculate that about 200,000 civilians and POWs thus were massacred. But while some killing was politicide, most was not. The label cannot be applied, say, to women being raped and then murdered, or husbands and fathers shot while trying to prevent their wives or daughters from being raped. Nor, can it apply it to the binding of POWs together, pouring gasoline on them, and burning them alive, or using them for bayonet practice.

Similarly with the widespread rape and murder of helpless women and children as the Red Army pursued the defeated Germans across Eastern Europe and into Germany in 1945. None of this should be characterized as politicide, but as democide.

You may be surprised at the extent to which empirical research and solid research conclusions depend on the proper conceptualization of the subject. While the discussion of politics can tolerate confusion over such terms as liberal (as vs. 19th century liberal), scientific research begins with establishing and defining terms. And in research on the democratic peace, it is especially important to distinguish politicide from democide — that is, murder for political purposes from wanton murder.

Link of Note

“‘Us’ or ‘Them’?” By Thomas Sowell


Compromise and tolerance are not the hallmarks of true believers. What they believe in goes to the heart of what they are. As far as true believers are concerned, you are either one of Us or one of Them.
. . . [M]any issues that look on the surface like they are just about which alternative would best serve the general public are really about being one of Us or one of Them — and this woman was not about to become one of Them.

Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.

RJR: Exactly. And now I have the characterization of the 50-times-more-effective Gartzke (here) for which I was looking. He is a true believer.

Links I Must Share

“79% of Iraqi voters back constitution “

RJR: Much better than the American Constitution would have done if put to a referendum, and like the two Sunni provinces that voted in large numbers against it, so would have Maryland for sure, and perhaps Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts (only nine states needed for ratification).

“Rice Outlines Iraq Victory Strategy On Capitol Hill “:

. . . .The key to victory over the insurgency in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Senate Committee on Foreign Relations members, is to “clear areas from insurgent control, hold them securely, and build durable, national Iraqi institutions.” American servicemen and women are fighting in Iraq “at a pivotal time in world history,” Rice said. Efforts to defeat the insurgents “must succeed,” she said, if the Iraqis are to be successful in establishing an inclusive, democratic government unique in the Middle East. “Let’s work together on how we will win,” Rice said, calling for increased collaboration between U.S., coalition, and Iraqi security forces, as well as help from the U.S. Congress.

“Leahy says president needs to find plan to bring troops home”:

The president must develop a plan to bring the troops home from Iraq, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said Tuesday. “The American people need to know that the president has a plan that will bring our troops home,” said Leahy in a speech delivered in the Senate.

“This war has been a costly disaster for our country,” he said. “Far from making us safer from terrorists, in fact it has turned Iraq into a haven and recruiting ground for terrorists and deflected our attention and resources away from the fight against terrorism,” he said. “If anything, it has emboldened our enemies, as it has become increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world cannot stop a determined insurgency.”

RJR: Relevant follow-on to Rice’s hope above. This was said after the above announcement of the Iraqi constitution’s victory. He, and his liberal-left colleagues, are playing the Vietnam song all over again. We won every battle in Vietnam, the South was democratizing, but with the Democrats controlling Congress and the budget, they forced us to leave Vietnam to the communists and many Vietnamese to their deaths. Good thing the Republicans now control Congress, and we should make sure they continue to do so after the 2006 election.

” With a Whimper” Victor Davis Hanson:

How the violence in Iraq will end. . . . So when this is all over — and it will be more quickly than we imagine — there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.
Most of us tragically will forget many of the American soldiers who courageously fought, died, and gave the Middle East its freedom and us our security. Purple fingers, not overloaded American helicopters taking off from the embassy roof, is the future of Iraq.
Yes, the terrorists’ assault against the Iraqi democracy will end — as all failed insurrections do — not with a bang but with a whimper.

RJR: As history has mercifully forgotten all the no-sayers about the democratization of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany, and an American victory in the Cold War, so it will do so when Iraq is fully democratized and a stable contributor to peace and human security in the Middle East.

“Syria’s dissidents unite to issue call for change “
RJR: Democratic change in Syria is inevitable, but given the small ethnic gang that rules with their guns, I fear that such change will come only through massive internal violence, and life-saving intervention.

Book 3 of the Never Again Series
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Are Democracies Least Corrupt?

May 8, 2009

[First published October 27, 2005] One of the extraordinary characteristics of dictatorships, especially absolutists ones, is their government corruption. This comes out in biographies of those who, for example, have lived in North Korea or in South Vietnam when it was defeated and occupied by the North. And under authoritarian regimes, this corruption seems only marginally less, as under the Chinese Nationalists before their defeat by Mao. My impression, consistent with that of others, has been the democracy is among the least corrupt types of government.

Now, this has been tested. Transparency International has provided for 2005 a perception of corruption index for 146 nations (here). Kenneth Sikorski added to this index the freedom house ranking of nations on their civil liberties and civil rights (from here), which measures their freedom, and found that the index included 67 free, 45 partly free, and 34 unfree nations (excluding North Korea). He then averaged these three political groups on their perceived corruption, as shown below (total scores for all nations in the group/number of nations in the group — personal communication):

Free (2901/67) = 43.3
Partly Free (4076/45) = 96.6
Not Free (3470/34 = 102.05

So, partly free and not free nations are perceived to be over twice as corrupt as democracies. This is another plus for democracies, of course. They don’t war on each other, have the least domestic violence, virtually never kill their own people, experience no famines, and also are least corrupt.

This gets almost embarrassing after awhile in relating this to people who ignorant of research on the democratic peace, as I did in a talk today. It seems that one is obsessed with a one-factor theory of humanity’s major problems. This runs counter to general intuition, and to common sense in the social sciences, which is that the socio-political world is complex with multiple causes and conditions interacting to produce events. No one factor is sufficient, so it is felt. Well, there is one major factor, and that is democratic freedom. The evidence, such as the above, is always available to doubters, if only they will look at it. All I can say is what Galileo Galilei said when his astronomical observations were doubted and he was persecuted for them. “Look through the telescope,” he responded.

Death By Marxism

May 7, 2009

[First published November 10, 2005. Among all the democide estimates appearing here, some have been revised upward. I have changed that for Mao’s famine, 1958-1962, from zero to 38,000,000. And thus I have had to change the overall democide for the PRC (1928-1987) from 38,702,000 to 76,702,000.

I have changed my estimate for colonial democide from 870,000 to an additional 50,000,000.

Thus, the new world total: old total 1900-1999 = 174,000,000. New World total = 174,000,000 + 38,000,000 (new for China) + 50,000,000 (new for Colonies) = 262,000,000.

Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5′, then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century.]

What is the greatest source of democide?

First, I should note that by democide I mean to define the killing by governments as the concept of murder defines individual killing in domestic society. And it is focusing on this democide, rather than the genocide that is one of its components, which uncovers the true dimensions of mass murder in the world.

Since democide is a government activity or policy, we must consider what type of governments are the worse murderers. Is there a political factor that discriminates between mortacracies–governments characterized by murder–and those who may kill incidentally or situationally? Yes, totalitarianism. Almost without exception, totalitarian governments are or have been mortacracies.

There is much confusion about what totalitarian means in the literature. I define a totalitarian state as one with a system of government that is unlimited constitutionally or by countervailing powers in society (such as by a church, rural gentry, labor unions, or regional powers); is not held responsible to the public by periodic elections via secret ballot, and competitive elections; and employs its unlimited power to control all aspects of society, including the family, religion, education, business, private property, and social relationships. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was thus totalitarian, as was Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Hitler’s Germany, and U Ne Win’s Burma. Presently, North Korea is a prime example.

Totalitarianism is also an ideology for which a totalitarian government is the agency for realizing its ends. Thus, totalitarianism characterizes such ideologies as state socialism (as in Burma), Marxism-Leninism as in the former Soviet Union, and Italian fascism. Then, of course, there is Nazism, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei–National Socialist German Workers’ Party — although racist and nationalist doctrines dominated, economically, all become subverted to the Party, as under communism; as Hitler said: “We are socialists.” Other versions of totalitarianism dot the modern world, such as the socialist Baathist Party that ruled Iraq under Hussein and still rules Syria.

Not all totalitarianism is socialist. Theological totalitarianism, for example, characterized the Taliban, does so for revolutionary Moslem Iran since the overthrow of the Shaw in 1978-79 and Saudi Arabia. Here totalitarianism is married to Moslem fundamentalism.

In short, totalitarianism is the ideology of absolute power.

The worst of the totalitarian governments, however, by far have been the socialist. Socialist self-righteousness, desire to radically reconstruct the fundamental institution of society (throwing out the institutional evolution and cultural learning of generations), the belief that those who disagree are evil, and that one must “break eggs to make an omelet,” have led to monumental democide, as for example by the Soviet Union (about 61 million murdered), Mao’s China (about 35 million), and so on for all the communist regimes, as well as the nationalist socialists like Germany (21 million), state socialist like Burma, Baathists like Syria and Hussein’s Iraq, socialist Libya, and so on. See the figure below.

The details of communist democide are below:

By my count (here) for 1900-1987, totalitarian regimes murdered about 138 million (communist regimes about 110 million out of 169 million overall for all governments. Electoral or procedural democracies murdered 2 million (149 thousand domestic, mainly due to the Spanish Civil War); liberal democracies murdered none of their citizens.

Some, mainly on the left, argue that my figures for communist systems are way too high, while being too low for democracies, especially like the United States. Okay, cut in half all my estimates for communist systems, and double those for democracies. That leaves the communist murdering 55 million versus 4 million for the democracies (almost all wartime democide against enemy civilians). We can even go further and do this again, and the conclusion remains the same–nondemocratic socialism is one of the great threats to human life. In other words, as far as democide is concerned, the major danger, by far, is from the nondemocratic far left.

Be clear, regimes on the right, such as the absolute monarchies and non-socialist fascists like Chiang’s Nationalist government of China (10 million murdered) and Japan’s WWII military government (6 million), also committed major democide, but overall much less than the Marxists. Truly, we can say of communism, it is death by Marxism.