Democracy is a Method of Nonviolence Part II

January 23, 2009

[First published on January 23, 2006] In Part I, I presented the empirical democratic peace propositions that in their totality imply the democracy is a method of nonviolence. These propositions, however, concerned violence. However, proponents of nonviolence might say: nonviolence is not just the avoidance of violence, it also involves willingness to negotiate and compromise, and to tolerate differences. It is an attitude of peacefulness. Can you say this about democratic leaders?

Yes, and indeed, democratic institutions encourage a democratic culture encouraging these nonviolent behaviors. And we now have empirical evidence of this in a book, The Democratic Peace and Territorial Conflict in the Twentieth Century, by Paul K. Huth and Todd L. Allee. They focus on the process of international disputes to their ending in settlement or war. I am impressed with the author’s methodological skills in using multinomial probit and bivariate logit analysis, and attention to detail and assumptions. Therefore, I think their empirical findings are solid.

They analyzed all 348 territorial disputes involving 1,528 rounds of talks between nations 1919-1995, each of which is described in the appendices. Territorial disputes are the kind most likely to lead to war. They also analyze 6,542 observations on whether parties to the dispute adopted a status quo stance, sought negotiations, or threatened force. In 374 cases, they led to military confrontations, which in 89 cases escalated to the brink of war or, in 40 cases to war.

Now, as to their results, they further verify the propositions on violence I presented in Part I. Out of the 348 cases, only 16 between democracies involved nonviolent military confrontations (troop movements, military alerts, reinforcing the border, threats), but “there are no cases of mutual decisions to escalate to a higher levels!” (p.251) E.g., to violence or war.

Then, they find that democracies are most likely to initiate talks over a dispute, and to offer concessions. Such, however, or tied into the election cycle in a democracy. After an election, talks and concessions are most likely. This generally supports an explanation of democratic peacefulness in terms of democratic institutions, rather than nonviolent norms among leaders.

Also, democratic leaders are more likely then nondemocratic leaders to favor negotiations over threats of force.

They are more likely to seek accommodations, even in disputes with nondemocracies. The common idea that democracies are only peaceful with each other, and are as aggressive toward nondemocracies as nondemocracies are toward each other is inconsistent with the evidence.

Absence of war between democracies is due largely to their reliance on negotiations. Its jaw, jaw, rather than fight, fight.

Military conflicts short of violence are more likely in disputes between new democracies than well established ones. This provides evidence for limiting the democratic peace propositions to “well-established democracies,” which some researchers do

In disputes between democracies and nondemocracies, when a dispute escalated to the military threat level, it was usually due to the more aggressive policies of the non-democracies.

Among nondemocracies, those whose leaders had particularly violent norms were more likely to initiate violent threats rather than negotiations.

The use of deterrent strategies by democracies is more effective in preventing escalation than those of nondemocracies.

The greater political accountability of democracies enhances the credibility of their deterrence strategies.

Also, because of the accountability of democratic leaders, their concessions and agreements in a dispute are more likely to be believed.

Putting Part I and II together, democracies avoid war with each other, do not murder their own people, have the least severe foreign and domestic violence, and are most likely to negotiate disputes and offer concessions compared to nondemocracies. Since all this is due to their democratic character, it follows that:

Democracy is a method of nonviolence

Links to Share

“Stoppa krig och folkmord med ett Demokratiernas förbund” Mathias Sundan has put on his blog the Swedish version of my paper I published here yesterday.

2006 Index of Economic Freedom. The book is downloadable free. On the ratings, Hong Kong and Singapore are number 1 and 2, the U.S. is 9th, below Labor Party governed Britain, former communist Estonia, Catholic Ireland, and Denmark, which is sometimes labeled democratic-socialist.

New Freedom House Website In setting up their new website, freedom house did not include transfer link coding for all old links to their site. So, except to their home page, all my links on previous blogs to their data and reports are invalidated. Best I not comment.

Just in case you missed this. Here is former Clinton aide Nancy Soderberg, author of “HYPERLINK “”The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might” (foreword by Bill Clinton, blurb by Madeleine Albright) in an interview by Jon Stewart actually hoping for an American defeat in Iraq, and failure in negotiations with Iran and N. Korea.

“Analyzing The Brookings Numbers [on Iraq] from December” Shows that there is a downward trend in civilian deaths, in terrorist/insurrectionist attacks, but a slight rise in IED deaths.

Special Note

I have withdrawn from my collection of democide photos the one below. There is too much doubt about its authenticity. Click it to see why: