Muslim Arabs Favor Democracy

May 2, 2009


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On the right is my graphite stick painting, I call “Hero”, of one of the most memorable photos from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, China. The blog below is a repost of my July 24, 2005, post on my non-functioning Freedomist blog.

For those interested in freedom and systematically collected statistics on it, there are a few essential websites to know about. Among them are Freedom House and its rating of countries by their freedom and various reports on democracy; and another is the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal “Index of Economic Freedom”. Another site, apparently not well known outside of academia, is The World Values Survey at the University of Michigan.

So much of what the media has to say about other countries, their values, and their view of democracy and the United States, is by assumption, unreliable personal experiences, and hearsay. Yet, here is a huge survey that assessed the values of 65 societies over six continents and encompassing 80 percent of the world population. Moreover, they can track the change in values of particular societies over time, since they have done surveys in 1981 (limited to Europe), 1990-191, 1995-1996, and 1999-2001 (all global). Their sample for each nation ran to at least 1,000 people. All their reports and data are available from their website or given links.

One more thing. Their systematic analysis of the values they uncover is systematic and at the forefront of available methodologies. They use correlation, multiple regression, and factor analysis extensively, on which I have written a textbook (see my summary article here, and so I can attest to the validity of their results.

Of course, I will be exploiting their conclusions and data as relevant to freedomism, and for this blog want to focus on the valuation of democracy among Arab Muslim countries. I don’t need to garner quotes for what is obvious in the American media, which is the belief that by culture and religion, Arabs do not think highly of democracy. Or to make this comparative, they think much less highly of democracy than do Western democracies. Wrong. See their studies, Muslims and Democracy” (use the search box in the upper right to search under the author, Fares al-Braizat), and “The Worldviews of Islamic Publics in Global Perspective” (use the search box to search under the author, Ronald Inglehart).

Some tidbits from both studies:

The major differences in values lie along two dimensions (75% of the variance) a traditional vs. secular rational dimension, or religiosity vs. economic development; and a survival values vs. self-expression (e.g., economic security over self-expression).

Religion defines compact cultural zones, but historical experience plays a role just as it did for those nations that were ruled by communism

As low income societies, fourteen Islamic societies tend to emphasize tradition and survival values (e.g., low tolerance of outgroups such as gays and women, and low valuation of freedom of speech and political participation), except for Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran, which tend to be more secular-rational.

The correlations between secular-rational societies across the globe and freedom is.83.

To the statement that, “Democracy may have problems but it’s better than any other form of government,” the people of five Arab countries strongly agreed. See the table below. Note with amazement how this agreement is greater than that for the sample from other regions, such as Western Europe. Agreement for other Muslim nations is a little lower, but still greater than for Latin American and U.S./Canada/Australia/New Zealand..

I trust the validity of this study, and therefore must ask: why is there such a democracy deficit in the world’s 47 Muslim countries, only a fourth of which are at least electoral democracies? In the main, it is the rule by dictators who fear radical Islamicists. Besides their personal gain and their lust for power, these dictators see democratization as a risky gamble. Thus, they use the popular language of democracy to maintain their rule. Given the popularity of democracy among the people, why don’t they rise up and demand democracy. Tradition, religion, but above all the fear of what dictatorship will do to them.

As Natan Sharansky wrote in his important and informative book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, what most clearly distinguishes democracies from nondemocracies is that in nondemocracies people live in fear. We see this in the Arab countries. Therefore, if the democratization the Arab people value is to come, it must come from pressure from the outside. In this, President Bush’s “Forward Strategy of Freedom” is well aligned with our understanding of the Middle East, and it is working.

Links to Share

“Islam and Freedom” Dean’s World Blog:

In short, regardless of the percentage of muslims in the population, the trend in most of these nations is toward greater and greater freedom (although Albania sure has staggered a lot). The only nation in this group to have regressed significantly is only 20% muslim, while nations with 35, 60, and even 99% muslim populations have measurably increased in freedom.

“Uganda Misses US Cash Over Freedom”:

ANDA has once again missed out on the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) because of its poor performance in political freedom and civil liberties. The two-year-old MCA is a development initiative that was established in January 2004 when the US Congress provided nearly $1 billion in initial funding that financial year for more than a dozen selected poor countries. President George Bush has requested $3 billion for 2006 for this democracy incentive.

“The North Korea ‘Quagmire'”:

The steady economic decline and the barely adequate humanitarian assistance received from China have brought North Korea into an economic desperation that has caused the governments controlling the nation to rely on income from illegal drug sales, sales of arms and missiles and counterfeiting currency. All of these illicit dealings are highly documented.”



Never Again: Ending War, Democide, & Famine
Through Democratic Freedom.
Downloadable free as pdf


On Democratization and Its Globalization

April 24, 2009

[First published December 6, 2005] You may remember my blog on “Does Incomplete Democratization Risk War?”. I evaluated the book by Jack Snyder and Edward Mansfield on Electing To Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go To War, and concluded that their quantitative results about the war likeness of nations in transition to full democracy do not prove (show, establish, indicate) that they are more likely to make war than other nations. I warned, however, that their results are being misapplied to Iraq.

Well, here is a review of the book by John M. Owen IV that does so. To give you some priceless quotes:

According to the academics, Bush’s chief transgressions have had to do with foreign policy, especially the Iraq war — a mess that could have been avoided if only the president and his advisers had paid more attention to those who devote their lives to studying international relations. . . . [RJR: I am a former academic who has spent his life studying international relations, and I support Bush’s foreign policy and Iraq War]

[On] Iraq, and in particular the notion that the United States can turn it into a democracy at an acceptable cost. In effect, Mansfield and Snyder have raised the estimate of these costs by pointing out one other reason this effort may fail — a reason that few seem to have thought of. . . . . What if, following the departure of U.S. troops, Iraq holds together but as an incomplete democratizer, with broad suffrage but anemic state institutions? Such an Iraq might well treat its own citizens better than the Baathist regime did. Its treatment of its neighbors, however, might be just as bad. . . .

If Mansfield and Snyder are correct about the bellicose tendencies of young, incompletely democratized states, the stakes of Iraq’s transition are higher than most have supposed. They are high enough, in fact, that those who called so loudly in the 1990s for an end to UN sanctions because Iraqis were dying but who are silent about the Iraqis who are dying now ought to reconsider their proud aloofness from the war. An aggressive Iraq, prone to attack Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Israel, is in no one’s interest. The odds may be long that Iraq will ever turn into a mature democracy of the sort envisaged by the Bush administration.

Note that Owen does not even let a wisp of doubt cross his mind that Mansfield and Snyder are wrong.

Larry Diamond, editor of the Journal Democracy has a very good article on “Universal Democrary? appearing in Policy Review Online. He says:

[Re Iraq] This is the most ambitious effort to foster deliberate political change since European colonial rule drew to a close in the early post-World War II era. Can it succeed? Since Iraq lacks virtually all of the classic favorable conditions, to ask whether it can soon become a democracy is to ask, really, whether any country can become a democracy. Which is to ask as well, can every country become a democracy?
[note that Iraq is not a fully functioning democracy, and under a constitution that has been approved by the Iraqi people]

My answer here is a cautiously optimistic one. The current moment is in many respects without historical precedent. Much is made of the unparalleled gap between the military and economic power of the United States and that of any conceivable combination of competitors or adversaries. But no less unique are these additional facts:

• This breathtaking preponderance of power is held by a liberal democracy.

• The next most powerful global actor is a loose union of countries that are also all liberal democracies.

• The majority of states in the world are already democracies of one sort or another.

• There is no model of governance with any broad normative appeal or legitimacy in the world other than democracy.

• There is growing international legal and moral momentum toward the recognition of democracy as a basic human right of all peoples.

• States and international organizations are intruding on sovereignty in ever more numerous and audacious ways in order to promote democracy and freedom.

He concludes:

The fully global triumph of democracy is far from inevitable, yet it has never been more attainable. If we manage to sustain the process of global economic integration and growth while making freedom at least an important priority in our diplomacy, aid, and other international engagements, democracy will continue to expand in the world. History has proven that it is the best form of government. Gradually, more countries will become democratic while fewer revert to dictatorship. If we retain our power, reshape our strategy, and sustain our commitment, eventually — not in the next decade, but certainly by mid-century — every country in the world can be democratic.


Rule by Decree Best for China?

April 22, 2009


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[First published August 29, 2005] It is rare these days that I will be aghast at what I read in the press, but the article, “In China, democracy equals disaster,” by Gary Hogan in the Baltimore Sun (here) did it. At first I thought it was a parody and smiled as I read the first few paragraphs, but then it became all too clear that this was serious. For the rest of my reading I must have looked as though I was reading one of those beamed-up-to-an-alien starship stories. When I finished, I had to double-check my calendar to make sure indeed that I had not been transported by some quirk of nature back to the 1960s when this sort of article was popular.

Hogan begins by extolling the “Four Pests” campaign by Mao soon after the communists seized China. It was an attempt to eliminate sources of disease, such as flies and mosquitoes, by decreeing a daily quota to be killed and turned in. “And it worked,” says Hogan, and he uses this successful campaign as a model for the way China should be run. Oh yes, there was the “disastrous” Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, “But rule by imperial decree was and is the best way to govern the planet’s largest nation. . . . For China must be controlled. Tightly. A centralized oligarchy is vital for this. Democracy would be disastrous for China, for the United States and for everyone.

He concludes this incredibly article this way:

Like it or not, communism – or to use the boilerplate popularized by Mr. Deng, a “socialist market economy” – with its matrix of failsafe controls strictly applied by the Beijing leadership elite, works for China. And a workable China is in the best interests of the United States.

There is no recognition that the eradication of pests by quota was coincident with the eradication of human beings by the millions and later by quota also. While he does recognize that the Great Leap Forward was disastrous, he seems not to see the human horror in it leading to the world’s greatest famine that may have killed 30-40 million Chinese. And while also recognizing the disaster that was the Cultural Revolution, he seems unaware of the human toll, which may have been as high as 10 million (my calculation is about 7 million). China’s Communist Party, the government of China, was and still is (with it being the greatest executioner in the world today) a killing machine. Living bodies in, corpses out.

Then Hogan seems content that Chinese have no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of association, no freedom to choose their leaders, no rule of law, no right to a fair trial. After all, they live in a “stable and predictable China, [which] is vastly preferable to the vagaries and vicissitudes of a 1.3 billion-strong democracy.”

I wish I could twitch my nose and as though a witch, whisk him off to live under this marvelously stable rule be decree.

Link of Note

China’s Bloody Century: Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview R.J. Rummel (1991)

I say:

Once control over all of China was won and consolidated, and the proper party machinery and instruments of control were generally in place, the communists launched numerous movements to systematically destroy the traditional Chinese social and political system and replace it with a totally socialist, top to bottom “dictatorship of the proletariat.” In the beginning their model was Stalin’s Soviet Union; Soviet advisors even helping to construct their own Gulag. Their principles were derived from Marxism-Leninism, as largely interpreted by Mao Tse-tung; their goals were to thoroughly transform China into a communist society. In this they were consistent with their beginnings, but they now had a whole country to work with, without the need to give tactical and strategic consideration to another force–the Nationalists or Japanese–seeking and capable of destroying them.

Now, beginning in 1950, carefully and nationally organized movement after movement rapidly followed each other: Land Reform, Suppressing Anti-communist Guerrillas, New Marriage system, Religious Reform, Democratic Reform, Suppressing Counterrevolutionaries, Anti-Rightist Struggle, Suppressing the “Five Black Categories,” etc. Each of these was a step towards the final communization of China; each was bloody. Self-consciously bloody. Witness what Mao himself had to say in a speech to party cadre in 1958: 


What’s so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars. In the course of our repression of counter-revolutionary elements, haven’t we put to death a number of the counter-revolutionary scholars? I had an argument with the democratic personages. They say we are behaving worse than Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty. That’s definitely not correct. We are 100 times ahead of Emperor Shih of the Chin Dynasty in repression of counter-revolutionary scholars.

Only when these movements and especially the final, total collectivization of the peasants and “Great Leap Forward” destroyed the agricultural system, causing the world’s greatest recorded famine–[at least] 27,000,000 starved too death–did the communist begin to draw back from or slacken their drives. Shortly after this famine, in the mid-1960s, an intra-party civil war erupted between Mao Tse-tung and his followers, who wanted to continue the mass-based revolution, and a more moderate, pragmatically oriented faction. This “cultural revolution” probably cost near [10 million] lives. Mao won, but only temporarily. With his death soon after, the pragmatists and “capitalist roaders” regained power and launched China in a more open, economically experimental direction; even, until the Tianamen Square demonstrations and subsequent massacres of 1989, on a more liberal path.

So, overall, counting the democide, nondemocidal famine, and battle dead, the total cost of Chinese communism has been about 73 million lives. But, they did temporarily eradicate the flies and mosquitoes


China’s Cultural Revolution
A Docudrama


Redefining Historical Democracy

April 6, 2009


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[First published August 21, 2005] On the frontside of the Democratic Peace Chart [linked in right sidebar] I have defined democracy as: government by the people either directly or through elected representatives, and subdefined a modern version as one of two types — electoral, with universal franchise, secret ballot, and regular and competitive elections; and liberal with all that an electoral democracy has in procedures, plus freedom of speech, religion, association, and rule by law. So far, this is consistent with the political science literature on contemporary democracy.

The problem is that research has extended as far back in history as classical Greece and Rome to test the democratic peace proposition. Clearly, no ancient or medieval country was democratic in a modern sense. Not even the United State until 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was approved and women could vote. Researchers have finessed this by asking how much the democratic franchise can be limited before the idea of democracy collapses into a form of oligarchic rule. Major researchers have agreed that as long voters have equal rights, voting is secret, competitive, and regularized, and winners can lose the next election, then the limitation of the franchise to adult males still does not historically defeat the idea of democracy in the democratic peace proposition.

Therefore, I defined historical democracy as:

At least 50% of population can vote
Competitive elections for legislature and executive
At least one transfer of power

But, still there is a problem. Slavery was legal until modern times, and in the United States, slaves could not vote until the 14th Amendment ratified in 1868, and even then many states made it almost impossible for Afro-Americans to vote until Congress passed the voting rights bill in 1965. So, even allowing the franchise to be limited to 50 percent of the population, as I did above, does not work historically because of slavery, the limitation of the franchise to adult males, and the fact that at some time in some countries men were a minority due to war and a higher death rate.

I had adopted the historical definition from James Lee Ray in his book Democracy and International Conflict: An Evaluation of the Democratic Peace Proposition, where he defined democracy, among the other criteria, as where, “. . . at least half the adult population is eligible to vote . . . .” (p. 98).

How have other researchers dealt with this problem? Melvin Small and J. David Singer, in their article “The War-Proneness of Democratic Regimes, 1816-1965” (The Jerusalem Journal of International Relations Vol. 1, No. 4, 1976) list democracies in their classification of interstate wars (able 1, p. 56). They defined as democracies:

all those nations from 1816 to 1965 that (a) held periodically scheduled elections in which opposition parties were as free to run as government parties, and in which (b) at least ten percent of the adult population was allowed to vote either directly or indirectly for (c) a parliament that either controlled or enjoyed parity with the executive branch of government. Constitutional monarchies having hereditary rulers with circumscribed powers — England and Belgium, for example — were included in this category. But the existence of a popularly elected parliament alone was not sufficient for qualification. The Germany of the turn of this century featured a parliament which held only the most limited authority over the Kaiser.

Several states met the parliamentary criterion but failed on the suffrage issue: England until the Second Reform Bill of 1867, Italy until its electoral reform of 1882, and Holland until a comparable reform in 1887. During the periods prior to these reforms, all of these states failed to meet our relatively modest ten percent suffrage criterion. Less obvious, but reasonable and consistent, we note that Czechoslovakia in 1919 and Israel in 1948 — both “declared” republics — participated in war before elections could be held. Thus they had not met our criteria on the eve of their wars.

Then there is the historical analyses of Spencer Weart’s Never At War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another , an historical detective-like search for wars between democracies (a summaryis on my website). Since he goes back in time to the Greek city-states, his limitation of the voting franchise is especially interesting. He makes a distinction between republic and democracy, and says (p. 12) “I would begin by calling a republic a democracy if the body of citizens with political rights includes at least two-thirds of the adult males.”

Finally, Michael Doyle in his historical analyses of the democratic peace, “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and foreign Affairs, part 1,” (in Philosophy and Public Affairs , Vol. 12, No. 3) makes his franchise cutoff at 30 percent (Table I, footnote a).

With all this in mind, I will change the historical definition of democracy included on my chart to any regime that:

Has competitive elections for legislature and executive
At least one such transfer of power
A franchise extending to at least two-thirds of the adult male population.

It is a question whether this change in the franchise criterion would have any effect on the statistical relationship between democracy and war. Since Small and Singer, and Doyle had even more restrictive definitions, what I am defining as historical democracies would form a subset of those they included in their analyses, so that what is true for their democracies must be true for those I define. Moreover, I have adopted Weart’s definition, and so nothing should change regarding his most extensive historical analyses and the democratic peace propositions.

Link of Note

“DEFINING DEMOCRACY” A U.S. Department of State publication.

It says:

Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous. Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of a set of practices and procedures that have been molded through a long, often tortuous history. In short, democracy is the institutionalization of freedom. For this reason, it is possible to identify the time-tested fundamentals of constitutional government, human rights, and equality before the law that any society must possess to be properly called democratic. . . .

Today, the most common form of democracy, whether for a town of 50,000 or nations of 50 million, is representative democracy, in which citizens elect officials to make political decisions, formulate laws, and administer programs for the public good. In the name of the people, such officials can deliberate on complex public issues in a thoughtful and systematic manner that requires an investment of time and energy that is often impractical for the vast majority of private citizens.

How such officials are elected can vary enormously. On the national level, for example, legislators can be chosen from districts that each elect a single representative. Alternatively, under a system of proportional representation, each political party is represented in the legislature according to its percentage of the total vote nationwide. Provincial and local elections can mirror these national models, or choose their representatives more informally through group consensus instead of elections. Whatever the method used, public officials in a representative democracy hold office in the name of the people and remain accountable to the people for their actions.


On Democratization


Not a Parody — China’s White Paper on Democracy

April 2, 2009


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[First published October 20, 2005] China has published a white paper, “Building of Political Democracy in China.” (full paper here). This is a remarkable paper and provides an invaluable view of the Chinese communist elite’s perception of democracy, or what they believe would justify their dictatorship to the democracies. In short, what we see as red, they claim is truly blue. A few choice paragraphs:

In the course of their modern history, the Chinese people have waged unrelenting struggles and made arduous explorations in order to win their democratic rights. But only under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) did they really win the right to be masters of the state. The Chinese people dearly cherish and resolutely protect their hard-earned democratic achievements.

Because situations differ from one country to another, the paths the people of different countries take to win and develop democracy are different. Based on the specific conditions of China, the CPC and the Chinese people first engaged in a New Democratic Revolution, and after New China was founded in 1949, and proceeding from the actual situation of the primary stage of socialism, began to practice socialist democracy with its own characteristics. The experience over the past few decades has proved that embarking on this road of development of political democracy chosen by the Chinese people themselves not only realized the Chinese people’s demand to be masters of their own country, but is also gradually realizing their common ideal to build their country into a strong and modern socialist country. . . .

The experience of political civilization of mankind over a history of several millenniums is ample proof of the truth that the political system a country adopts and the road to democracy it takes must be in conformity with the conditions of that country. The socialist political democracy of China is rooted in the vast land of fertile soil on which the Chinese nation has depended for its subsistence and development over thousands of years. It grew out of the experience of the CPC and the Chinese people in their great practice of striving for national independence, liberation of the people and prosperity of the country. It is the apt choice suited to China’s conditions and meeting the requirement of social progress.

Then there is the choice part of the paper on “Respecting and Safeguarding Human Rights:”

Respecting and safeguarding human rights, ensuring that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedom according to law, represents an intrinsic requirement for the development of socialist democracy. Socialist democracy means that all power of the state belongs to the people and people enjoy in real terms the civil rights prescribed in the Constitution and law. China’s socialist democracy is a kind of democracy built on the basis that citizens’ rights are guaranteed and constantly developed.

As a committed representative of the Chinese people’s fundamental interests, the CPC has always taken as its basic task the maintenance of national sovereignty and independence, as well as the safeguarding and development of the various rights of the people, and regards the rights to subsistence and development as the paramount human rights. The CPC adheres to taking development as the task of first importance, implements the scientific concept of putting the people first and seeking an overall, coordinated and sustainable development, and strives to promote economic development and social progress to satisfy the people’s multiple needs and realize their all-round development.

The Chinese Constitution comprehensively stipulates the citizens’ basic rights and freedoms. Based on the Constitut ion, China has enacted a series of laws on the protection of human rights, and set up a relatively comprehensive legal system for the protection of human rights. On the basis of achievements made over the 50-plus years of economic and social development, the Chinese people are now enjoying human rights more comprehensive and fuller than they have ever enjoyed in the past.

All I can say is read my “Introduction and Overview” of China’s Bloody Century (here), and note that even with the recent advance in freedom of the Chinese people (still not democracy, even electorally), as Michael Backman says (from here):

China routinely executes hundreds and sometimes thousands of its citizens each year. There were 27,120 death sentences reported in China’s official media in the 1990s and more than 18,000 confirmed executions. More than 50 crimes are punishable by death. Famously, relatives of the executed are invoiced for bullets used in the dispatch.

Pre-trial confessions are still relied on extensively in place of forensic evidence and although torture is illegal it is still used to extract confessions. It is likely that many innocent people are executed each year on the basis of such “confessions”.

The legal system is poorly resourced. Many judges are poorly trained. They are nominated by local and provincial party committees and approved by local people’s congresses. The congresses provide the salaries, housing and other benefits for judges, many of whom are former military personnel with little or no legal training. There is not even a pretence of judicial independence: judges are expected to discuss sensitive cases with members of their local Communist Party political-legal committees before making rulings..

As to the Chinese Communist Party’s after 1949 beginning to “practice socialist democracy with its own characteristics,” what these characteristics were is well illustrated in the pie chart below.


Link of Note

“[China’s] DF-5 (CSS-4) INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE

:

The Dong Feng-5 (DF-5, NATO codename: CSS-4) is China’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle (CALT, also known as 1st Aerospace Academy), it is a silo-based, two-stage, liquid propellant ballistic missile. The missile carries a single 3 megatons nuclear warhead and has an effective range of 12,000km. The DF-5A is the improved variant with an extended range. The PLA currently deploys approximately 24~36 of this missile deployed in central China.

Following the success of the DF-4 (CSS-3) long-range ballistic missile, in 1964 China began to develop its first true ICBM capable of reaching the United States. The same design was also later used to develop China’s Chang Zheng (Long March) family space launch vehicle and became the foundation of the Chinese space programme.

RJR: And liberals and libertarians oppose our development of a missile space shield, which they still derisively call “Star Wars.” But, they offer no alternative defense except massive retaliation against Chinese ICBMs. Keep in mind what this would mean — the killing of tens of millions of Chinese people in retaliation for what a gang of Chinese communist thugs have done.

Links I Must Share

Terrorism Knowledge Base
RJR: this is an incredible resource, and even enables you to generate online your own terrorism time series charts.

Transparancy International
RJR: Provides a corruption index for most nations. Least corrupt is Iceland, U.S. is ranked 17th, under Germany and Hong Kong. At the bottom is Chad. China is 78th, along with Morocco, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Suriname. It seems from scanning the ranks that the democracies are the least corrupt. If no one correlated these ranking with democratic freedom, I will.


“Death With A Smile”
A docudrama of China’s Cultural Revolution


The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong

March 10, 2009


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[First published September 11, 2005] As a libertarian on domestic policy, I’ve supported, agreed with, and been happy to see much of the policy analyses and recommendations that the CATO Institute has published. It is with sadness, therefore, that I must point out how bad is CATO’s Chapter 2 in their Ninth Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. Perhaps I can encourage them to be more careful in the future about their publications.

It is more than appropriate to focus a critique on this chapter by the Columbia University Political Scientist, Erik Gartzke , since it is not buried in the report, but given fanfare in CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2005 Annual Report, released Thursday by the Cato Institute in conjunction with the Fraser Institute of Canada.

This is not only wrong, but also the Chapter 2 study on which this is based is incompetent. Even the very data Gartzke’s analyzes contradicts the above claim. For example, as I will document below, in his data there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries. How can economic freedom improve on that, not to mention being 50 times better?

Dean Esmay (blog here) and Colleague had independently pointed me toward the blog by Daniel W. Drezner (here), which favorably reported on this CATO study, repeating not only what CATO says in its press release, but adding Garzke’s conclusion:

The results here suggest that efforts to promote peace in the Middle East and in other regions dominated by autocratic governments through democratization are of particularly questionable worth.

This is the particular danger of the Gartzke’s study, and the reason it was so important beyond CATO’s reputation or it to have been especially careful in including this in their report. It may well lead intelligent and policy-wise analysts and commentators to draw the wrong conclusions about the importance of democratization.

Now, for the details. I’ve gone to the study to see how it arrived at a conclusion that contradicts so much research on the democratic peace. It is here. First, some nitpicking. It is wrong to say, as Drezner does, that: “researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally.” Presumably, the “no less ready” refers to nondemocracies. I published an article on this, “Democracies are less warlike than other regimes,” (here) in which I showed the errors in claims such as Drezner’s, and established empirically that in the 20th Century, democracies engage much less in severe foreign violence than do nondemocracies.

Gartzke says further that: “Democracy is desirable for many reasons but policies that encourage, or even seek to impose, representative government are unlikely to contribute directly to international peace.” There is that misbegotten “impose” again. This is a misunderstanding in what democratization of other countries means. See my blog, “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy,” on this here.

He also says that, “Developing countries do not benefit from a democratic peace.” Consistently, whether developed or not, developing or not,” the democratic peace of no wars between democracies holds. When there were, depending on the year, 25, 50, 80, or 117 democracies, as of now, the list surely includes all developing democracies as well as those at all levels of development. Yet, no two of them make war on each other. But, he claims that his study finds otherwise. He can only claim this and that democracies are unlikely to contribute to peace by ignoring his own data

So, lets look at his data. These are the Militarized Dispute Data (MID) set on “violence” that is widely available. The particular set he used is for 1816 to 2000. I’ve looked at the original data 1816-1992 in detail, and covered in my own collection the eight additional years to year 2000. (As to the original data set, see Frank W. Wayman’s paper on the “Incidence Of Militarized Disputes Between Liberal States,”) and Daniel M. Jones, Stuart A. Bremer, and J. David Singer, “Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816-1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, And Empirical Patterns”).

For one, the MID data involves threats, military action (e.g., alerts, mobilization, and hostile movements), and violence short of 1,000 killed. Note that in using these data Gartzke confounds nonviolence with violence, a serious mistake in evaluating the democratic peace since it concerns only violence (some researchers limit this to war, but I do not and consider any combat deaths to be relevant). Still, it may be that his data is capturing enough violence between democracies to be useful.

So how many incidents of violence between democracies are there? In the whole data set, OVER ALMOST TWO CENTURIES, out of 350 cases for all nations (up to 1992), and in the eight additional years, there are ZERO (0) CASES OF WAR, between democracies, and only 3 cases of violence between democracies in which someone was killed. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first and 1-25 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 in the data set was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed.

Given that this is not the best data set to test the democratic peace against economic freedom, how does he do the test? He uses multiple regression analysis to regress MID on economic freedom, democracy, and a number of other variables. Before evaluating this analysis, I should note from my own study that the correlation between economic freedom and democraticy is high. In fact, they form a common dimension among nations with many other human security and economic variables, and with which democraticy is correlated .83 and economic freedom .85 (table here). Their common , as apart from accidental or random correlation, is therefore, .85 X .83 = .70, which is high. (To better see this relationship, look at the table and figure in my “The Solution to Mass Poverty Blog” here).

This correlation is meaningful for the kind of regression analysis Gartzke did, but he apparently doesn’t know it. A problem in regression analysis is multicollinearity, which is to say moderate or high correlations among the independent variables. If two independent variables are highly correlated they are no longer statistically independent, and the first one entered into the regression, in this case economic freedom, steals that part of the correlation it has with democracy from the dependent variable. Thus, economic freedom is highly significant, while democracy is not. If Gartzke had done two bivariate regressions on his MID data, one with economic freedom and other with democracy as the independent variables, he surely would have found democracy highly significant. (An important statistical point about his use of significance tests — he is not analyzing a sample, but the universe of cases — thus standard significance tests are irrelevant). To protect against multicollinearity in his multiple regression, he should have orthogonalized the independent variables, which is to make them statistically independent of each other. Orthogonalization can be done through factor analysis, and then using the resulting factor scores in the regression.

Thus, his CATO acclaimed results are a result of his misuse of multiple regression and an ignorance of what is in his data. Even then, given his dependent variable, were the regression analysis properly done, I don’ think his data consisting of nonviolent and violent acts would be relevant to what is meant by democratic freedom and violence.

I did my own analysis of democracy, violence, economic development and economic freedom, plus some other human development variables. I asked: Can we predict the level of a nation’s human security (which includes violence) by knowing its level of democracy (analysis here). The final regression is of logviolence factor scores on the factor scores of freedom and human development (thus erasing the problem of multicollinearity), and dummy variables as to whether Moslem or not, or Christian or not (given the purpose of the regression, it did not matter if these two were correlated with the other impendent variables or each other). The regression was excellent, accounting for 74 percent of the variation in violence (with residuals properly dispersed), with democracy (freedom) being far more significant than human development (see Table A.23 here), which includes economic freedom.

How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report? Was it their libertarian opposition to intervention abroad, even if it is in favor of democracy? Was it their libertarian dislike of the democratic peace, shown by so many libertarian anti-democratic peace articles? Whatever. After reviewing the one study on what I know something about and finding it so poor, it provokes a questioning of their other studies in areas I know less about.

Link of Day

“Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” (just released by the Pentagon)

Deterrence is live and well. This strategic policy report elaborates on American nuclear policy, including that of preemption or FIRST USE, which bush signed off on in 1992. I consider this the most important document on defense policy issued in the last ten years. For those who are bored by such documentation, consider that it was decisions like this about American strategic policy that brought victory in the Cold War, without a world hot war.

Links I Must Share

“Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan”:

he Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

[RJR: one view of the above report]

“New Pentagon plans envision possible nuclear strikes”:

A Pentagon planning document being updated to reflect the doctrine of pre-emption declared by President Bush in 2002 envisions the use of nuclear weapons to deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies.

[RJR: Another view]

Arms Control Wonk:

The Joint Staff hates freedom. What else should I conclude when its staff knowingly place classified material they believe could be harmful to national security on a public webserver?

[A professional arm controller’s view]
Democratic Peace
Books/articles/statistics


The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong

March 10, 2009


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[First published September 11, 2005] As a libertarian on domestic policy, I’ve supported, agreed with, and been happy to see much of the policy analyses and recommendations that the CATO Institute has published. It is with sadness, therefore, that I must point out how bad is CATO’s Chapter 2 in their Ninth Annual Ranking of Economic Freedom. Perhaps I can encourage them to be more careful in the future about their publications.

It is more than appropriate to focus a critique on this chapter by the Columbia University Political Scientist, Erik Gartzke , since it is not buried in the report, but given fanfare in CATO’s news release:

Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2005 Annual Report, released Thursday by the Cato Institute in conjunction with the Fraser Institute of Canada.

This is not only wrong, but also the Chapter 2 study on which this is based is incompetent. Even the very data Gartzke’s analyzes contradicts the above claim. For example, as I will document below, in his data there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries. How can economic freedom improve on that, not to mention being 50 times better?

Dean Esmay (blog here) and Colleague had independently pointed me toward the blog by Daniel W. Drezner (here), which favorably reported on this CATO study, repeating not only what CATO says in its press release, but adding Garzke’s conclusion:

The results here suggest that efforts to promote peace in the Middle East and in other regions dominated by autocratic governments through democratization are of particularly questionable worth.

This is the particular danger of the Gartzke’s study, and the reason it was so important beyond CATO’s reputation or it to have been especially careful in including this in their report. It may well lead intelligent and policy-wise analysts and commentators to draw the wrong conclusions about the importance of democratization.

Now, for the details. I’ve gone to the study to see how it arrived at a conclusion that contradicts so much research on the democratic peace. It is here. First, some nitpicking. It is wrong to say, as Drezner does, that: “researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally.” Presumably, the “no less ready” refers to nondemocracies. I published an article on this, “Democracies are less warlike than other regimes,” (here) in which I showed the errors in claims such as Drezner’s, and established empirically that in the 20th Century, democracies engage much less in severe foreign violence than do nondemocracies.

Gartzke says further that: “Democracy is desirable for many reasons but policies that encourage, or even seek to impose, representative government are unlikely to contribute directly to international peace.” There is that misbegotten “impose” again. This is a misunderstanding in what democratization of other countries means. See my blog, “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy,” on this here.

He also says that, “Developing countries do not benefit from a democratic peace.” Consistently, whether developed or not, developing or not,” the democratic peace of no wars between democracies holds. When there were, depending on the year, 25, 50, 80, or 117 democracies, as of now, the list surely includes all developing democracies as well as those at all levels of development. Yet, no two of them make war on each other. But, he claims that his study finds otherwise. He can only claim this and that democracies are unlikely to contribute to peace by ignoring his own data

So, lets look at his data. These are the Militarized Dispute Data (MID) set on “violence” that is widely available. The particular set he used is for 1816 to 2000. I’ve looked at the original data 1816-1992 in detail, and covered in my own collection the eight additional years to year 2000. (As to the original data set, see Frank W. Wayman’s paper on the “Incidence Of Militarized Disputes Between Liberal States,”) and Daniel M. Jones, Stuart A. Bremer, and J. David Singer, “Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816-1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, And Empirical Patterns”).

For one, the MID data involves threats, military action (e.g., alerts, mobilization, and hostile movements), and violence short of 1,000 killed. Note that in using these data Gartzke confounds nonviolence with violence, a serious mistake in evaluating the democratic peace since it concerns only violence (some researchers limit this to war, but I do not and consider any combat deaths to be relevant). Still, it may be that his data is capturing enough violence between democracies to be useful.

So how many incidents of violence between democracies are there? In the whole data set, OVER ALMOST TWO CENTURIES, out of 350 cases for all nations (up to 1992), and in the eight additional years, there are ZERO (0) CASES OF WAR, between democracies, and only 3 cases of violence between democracies in which someone was killed. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first and 1-25 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 in the data set was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed.

Given that this is not the best data set to test the democratic peace against economic freedom, how does he do the test? He uses multiple regression analysis to regress MID on economic freedom, democracy, and a number of other variables. Before evaluating this analysis, I should note from my own study that the correlation between economic freedom and democraticy is high. In fact, they form a common dimension among nations with many other human security and economic variables, and with which democraticy is correlated .83 and economic freedom .85 (table here). Their common , as apart from accidental or random correlation, is therefore, .85 X .83 = .70, which is high. (To better see this relationship, look at the table and figure in my “The Solution to Mass Poverty Blog” here).

This correlation is meaningful for the kind of regression analysis Gartzke did, but he apparently doesn’t know it. A problem in regression analysis is multicollinearity, which is to say moderate or high correlations among the independent variables. If two independent variables are highly correlated they are no longer statistically independent, and the first one entered into the regression, in this case economic freedom, steals that part of the correlation it has with democracy from the dependent variable. Thus, economic freedom is highly significant, while democracy is not. If Gartzke had done two bivariate regressions on his MID data, one with economic freedom and other with democracy as the independent variables, he surely would have found democracy highly significant. (An important statistical point about his use of significance tests — he is not analyzing a sample, but the universe of cases — thus standard significance tests are irrelevant). To protect against multicollinearity in his multiple regression, he should have orthogonalized the independent variables, which is to make them statistically independent of each other. Orthogonalization can be done through factor analysis, and then using the resulting factor scores in the regression.

Thus, his CATO acclaimed results are a result of his misuse of multiple regression and an ignorance of what is in his data. Even then, given his dependent variable, were the regression analysis properly done, I don’ think his data consisting of nonviolent and violent acts would be relevant to what is meant by democratic freedom and violence.

I did my own analysis of democracy, violence, economic development and economic freedom, plus some other human development variables. I asked: Can we predict the level of a nation’s human security (which includes violence) by knowing its level of democracy (analysis here). The final regression is of logviolence factor scores on the factor scores of freedom and human development (thus erasing the problem of multicollinearity), and dummy variables as to whether Moslem or not, or Christian or not (given the purpose of the regression, it did not matter if these two were correlated with the other impendent variables or each other). The regression was excellent, accounting for 74 percent of the variation in violence (with residuals properly dispersed), with democracy (freedom) being far more significant than human development (see Table A.23 here), which includes economic freedom.

How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report? Was it their libertarian opposition to intervention abroad, even if it is in favor of democracy? Was it their libertarian dislike of the democratic peace, shown by so many libertarian anti-democratic peace articles? Whatever. After reviewing the one study on what I know something about and finding it so poor, it provokes a questioning of their other studies in areas I know less about.

Link of Day

“Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” (just released by the Pentagon)

Deterrence is live and well. This strategic policy report elaborates on American nuclear policy, including that of preemption or FIRST USE, which bush signed off on in 1992. I consider this the most important document on defense policy issued in the last ten years. For those who are bored by such documentation, consider that it was decisions like this about American strategic policy that brought victory in the Cold War, without a world hot war.

Links I Must Share

“Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan”:

he Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

[RJR: one view of the above report]

“New Pentagon plans envision possible nuclear strikes”:

A Pentagon planning document being updated to reflect the doctrine of pre-emption declared by President Bush in 2002 envisions the use of nuclear weapons to deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies.

[RJR: Another view]

Arms Control Wonk:

The Joint Staff hates freedom. What else should I conclude when its staff knowingly place classified material they believe could be harmful to national security on a public webserver?

[A professional arm controller’s view]
Democratic Peace
Books/articles/statistics