The World’s Greatest Q and A

February 21, 2009

[First published February 27, 2005] I’ve been running a website on the democratic peace since 2001 (links in the sidebar) and over that time have collected tons of questions from visitors to my site about the democratic peace, war, democide, genocide, and so on. I have now collected and organized all the best questions and my answers in a way useful to those interested in the website and this blog. (link here)

I have also added the link and that for my democratic peace bibliography to the sidebar on the right.

The Q&A amounts to about 170 pages single-spaced in hard copy, which is too much for even the dedicated scholar to go through. So, I set up initial links to the topic headings, and from there, the visitor can use his eyeballs or the browser search engine to find something specific.

For example, on the topic “Democracy,” are linked the following Q&A subtopics: “DEMOCRACY: Democracy, Freedom, Alternative Types of Governments, Stability, Specific Governments, Nondemocracies.”

Examples of a few of the Q&As:

Q: What color is freedom to you? Why?
A: White. This is the mixture of all colors, as freedom is the mixture of different beliefs, faiths, and political parties. Its flag would have the primary colors at the edges, all merging with each other and toward a central white circle.

Q: When it comes to totalitarian regimes, how come you like to choose the figures that are on the high side, while you tend to downplay the butcher bill of democratic states?
A: Simply not true. As a study of my many tables would show, I give both highs and lows and then a conservative estimate. Usually this estimate is closer to the low than the high. Overall the democide in this century, my range is 76,543,000 to 359,348,000 murdered, with my much quoted prudent estimate being 169,187,000. Note how much closer to the low than the high this is. Now, as to playing down the “butcher bill” of democratic democide versus totalitarian regimes, your accusation is too general. What specific estimates are too low or too high?

Q: I hear that a Russian submarine sank a ship filled with German refugees fleeing from the East around 1944-45. It is said that many more lives were lost than in any ship sinking before or since. Is this true?
A: The ship was the Wilhelm Gustloff. I estimate 7,700 lives were lost compared to about 1,503 in the sinking of the Titanic.

Q: What shocked you the most about democide?
A: That the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and communist Vietnam, at least, would order their cadre to kill a certain number of people. They were given a quota of murders they had to reach.

Q: During the Cold War, did not the U.S. intervene in many countries, some democracies such as Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador, support death squads murdering rebels, and help behind the scenes mass murder, such as in Indonesia?
A: Even if true, none of the events you mention was a war. No collection or list of international wars would include them. They are therefore irrelevant to the proposition that democracies do not make war on each other, and cannot be used as evidence to disprove it. Now, dealing with the events, in each case there appeared to be a communist revolution/overthrow in the making. They should be looked at as part of the Cold War and the American attempt to contain communist expansionism, particularly in Central and South America.

Any problems with this Q&A, please let me know.

Link of Note

“’Realists’ have it wrong” (1/31/05) Mark Steyn

The Afghan election worked so well that, there being insufficient bad news out of it, the Western media’s doom-mongers pretended it never happened. They’ll have a harder job doing that with Iraq, so instead they’ll have to play up every roadside bomb and every dead poll worker. But it won’t alter the basic reality: that the election may be imperfect but more than good enough.

The election was more than “good enough.” It surpassed the expectations of even the optimists.