Still No Wars Between Democracies

March 23, 2009

Still, No Wars Between Democracies

[First published July 13, 2005] Thanks to Dean Esmay for referring me to Matthew White’s page that raises questions about the democratic peace. I know of White’s useful Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century , and have used his statistics in my own research. He is careful, thoughtful, and systematic in what he presents, so when he questions the democratic peace, he has to be answered.

First, he presents the pros and cons about the various possible exceptions to the democratic peace. Keep in mind that the democratic peace, among other propositions, says that democracies don’t make war on each other. So, a true negative example thunders against this. Many have been proposed such exceptions, such as the War of 1812, the Boar War, WWI and Germany, democratic Finland being allied with Hitler in WWII, and the American Civil War. The sheer number of these exceptions and the weight of all the pros that White provides gives the impression that there has to be something to at least one or more of them. I have not studied them all, but those I have spent some time on in my own research, such as Germany in WWI, the case of Finland, the Boar War, and the Civil War simply cannot be treated as true exceptions. Others who have investigated these possible exceptions, in addition to the rest of them on White’s list, agree. In particular, I point you to Bruce Russett’s Grasping the Democratic Peace , James Lee Ray’s Democracy and International Conflict , and Spencer R. Weart’s, Never At War. Russett and Ray are political scientists, Weart is an historian. See also my democratic peace bibliography and my Q & A, which answers questions about some of these supposed exceptions (use the search command to find them).

After going through the exceptions, White concludes that the democratic peace depends on the definition of democracy and war. Researchers know this, of course, and have done different things about it. One is to collect their own data according to very clear, replicable criteria, while others have used data on democracy and war that have a wide reputation for their validity. Two sources especially have been important. One is the statistics on war collected by Melvin Small and J. David Singer, such as their data on wars during 1816 to 1992. I have used this in my research (see the table in the upper right here) as have hundreds of others. I should say that Small and Singer do not accept the democratic peace, which makes their classification of wars and democracies since 1816 particularly important. For democracy, in addition to the Small and Singer classification, which I am one of the few to use, there is the very popular and respected Polity data, which provides a scale for measuring the degree to which a country is democratic or autocratic. For additional data sets used in replicating the democratic peace, go here.

What is noteworthy about all the different data on democracy and war whose definitions or criteria slightly differ, is that those using them have come out with the same conclusions: there is a democratic peace. Replications have well established this to the point that students of international relations say it is the best-tested proposition in the field and almost has the status of a law.

Now, White also lists 39 wars 1945-1999, and says that six “might have been between democracies,” which means they might not have been, but still he makes much of it in calculating the probability of this happening by chance. Rather than deal with his might have been, I’m going to actually collect data from two sources on democracy and international violence between countries. The source I will use for violence is compiled by Monty G. Marshall on “Major Episodes of Political Violence 1946-2004,” ; for democracy, I will use Freedom’s House’s “All Country Ratings from 1972-2003”. Freedom House is not a proponent of the democratic peace (I don’t recall them ever mentioning it), so we can treat their data as independent of this proposition. Similarly with Marshall, who along with Ted Gurr, is the author of the Peace and Conflict Survey 2005 that I referred to in my last blog for ignoring the democratic peace.

From Marshall’s data, I’ll include as violence any that is indicated in his data as “international.” This is a hard test, since it includes violence short of war. From Freedom House, I will use their Free (F) rating of a country for a year as defining a liberal democracy in terms of civil liberties and political rights.

First, how many liberal democracies are there versus the total number of countries. For five years spans after 1972 and ending with 2003 (year, number of liberal democracies, total number of countries):

1972, 43, 148
1975, 39, 158
1980, 50, 162
1985, 55, 166
1990, 64, 165
1995, 75, 191
2000, 85, 192
2003, 87, 192

Now, for the classification of violence between types of regimes (F = free, PF = partly free, NF = not free, where F-F = between free countries, etc.)

F-F = 0
F-PF = 6
F-NF = 11
PF-PF = 5
PF-NF= 4
NF-NF= 20

So, between which countries is there the least violence ? Between liberal democracies. Which countries are the most violent towards each other? Nondemocracies. All as precisely predicted by the democratic peace. A note on statistical tests. Think of this subjectively. Here you have all these liberal democracies for each of thirty-one years, and none of them have violence between them. This is not a matter of just five or ten democracies, but by the end of the 1990s, there are over eighty. This number is not my reckoning, but that of Freedom House. And by Marshall’s data, in spite of so many democracies, none had violence between them vs. 20 cases of violence between the nonfree ones during these years.

Now, some people don’t llike subjective statistics, so lets calculate the probability. There are 46 cases of international violence, and six alternative ways that could occur (e.g., F-F, or PF-PF). Let the number 1 stand for the F-F alternative, and the other five numbers for each of the others. Throw a six-numbered die 46 times, and what is the probability that it will never come up with a 1? The probability that it will not come up a 1 in one throw is 5/6. So, the probability of no 1 in 46 throws is 5/6 to the 46th power (assuming each case of violence is independent), which is a probability of happening by chance of 8.017E-36, or about the probability of one being hit by a meteor. Obviously, there has to be something more than chance here. And what is that something? Surprise. It is two countries having democratic governments. That is, the democratic peace.

Link of Note

“DOES DEMOCRACY CAUSE PEACE?” By James Lee Ray. In Annual. Review of Political Science 1998. 1:27-46.

The idea that democratic states have not fought and are not likely to fight interstate wars against each other runs counter to the realist and neorealist theoretical traditions that have dominated the field of international politics. Since the mid-1970s, the generation of new data and the development of superior analytical techniques have enabled evaluators of the idea to generate impressive empirical evidence in favor of the democratic peace proposition, which is reinforced by substantial theoretical elaboration. Some critics argue that common interests during the Cold War have been primarily responsible for peace among democracies, but both statistical evidence and intuitive arguments cast doubt on that contention. It has also been argued that transitions to democracy can make states war-prone, but that criticism too has been responded to persuasively. The diverse empirical evidence and developing theoretical bases that support the democratic peace proposition warrant confidence in its validity.

Democratic Peace

Why The 20th Century Was The Bloodiest Of All

January 27, 2009

click me^–>

[First published September 15, 2005] Some have called the 20th Century now past the bloodiest of all. Usually, those who claim this seem always to have in mind World Wars I and II, plus the Korean and Vietnam Wars. However, there were many more people in the world then, a mid-century population of 2.3 billion compared to the mid-19th Century population of 1.2 billion.

Indeed, if we calculate conflict related deaths as a percent of population for previous centuries, what do we get? We get what you see the chart below from the UN 2005 Human Development Report.

click me

By this Table, the 20th Century was the bloodiest. And this chart, I am sure, does not even take into account the massive democides accounting for about 170 million deaths. That these would make the 20th Century even more bloody compared to the past can be seen in the table I included in the upper right.

How do we account for the 20th Century bloodletting? Through previous centuries, the prevailing form of government was monarchies — inherited rule of one person. Even seemingly absolute monarchs were chained down by tradition, and violated it at their own personal peril. By the beginning of the 20th Century, monarchies had been replaced by dictatorships in many countries, and by the end of WWI, dictatorships, or democracies dominated the world.

Monarchies, of course, could be bloody in their wars and democide, but few reached the heights of mass slaughter of the Mongols in the 14th-15th Centuries. See the table below.

click me

The much greater slaughter of the 20th Century occurred because of two ahistorical socio-political experiments, one fascism (especially in Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, Japan, and China), and the other, communism. These absolutist, unrestricted, uninhibited ideologies murdered people in war and democide without compunction, without the inhibition of tradition, culture, or religion. Their defeat and replacement by democracies whose leaders are restricted and inhibited by a democratic culture, liberal values, and an open and competitive electoral system has brought a virtual end to such incredible killing, as the charts I showed yesterday (see here) attest.

Leaving aside its many international and internal wars, communists murdered about 110 million people.

Link of Day

The Second Draft” Website

This website is devoted to exploring some of the problems and issues that plague modern journalism. In this age of globalization, the media has unprecedented influence on the way we see the world. And yet, whether out of misplaced good intentions, unconscious agendas and predispositions, or unwarranted faith in false information, they can get the story dramatically wrong. Therefore, we want to revisit and critique journalism’s “first draft of history”, and hopefully produce a more accurate second one. In our HYPERLINK “”current investigations we present the story the way the mainstream media initially told it, introduce further evidence, and let you decide what you think really happened.

A helpful corrective to the major media’s liberal bias.

Links I Must Share

“Beltway vs. Blogosphere” By Howard Fineman

Democrats are struggling to reconcile the differences between party leaders in D.C. and independent activists on the Net.

“Matt Drudge threatens N.Y. Times”:

E-journalist considers booting paper’s columnists over new reading fees

Like Drudge, I will not link to The N.Y. Times, once its pay-to-read goes into effect, or to any other source with such a retrograde requirement.

“Europe Learns the Wrong Lessons “:

Nearly one third of Germans under 30 say that the U.S. government ordered the 9/11 attacks. In France, a book insisting that Americans carried out the assault themselves to increase defense budgets becomes a huge bestseller. In Britain, major newspapers carry headlines like “The USA is Now the World’s Leading Rogue State.” Asked which countries are the biggest threat to world peace, Europeans name the U.S as often as North Korea and Iran (each are picked by 53 percent). Countries characterized by Euros as less menacing than the U.S. include Syria, Iraq, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Libya. As one American living in Britain, Anglican minister Dwight Longenecker, summarizes: “Our cultural ancestors have become unrecognizable, even hostile, to us.”

Having rescued Europe from the Kaiser, Hitler, post-WWII economic collapse, domestic communism, and Stalin, I don’t see these opinions abating until we have to rescue them again, this time from internal Islamofacism. But if one can’t wait to be appreciated, get a dog.

“But for the U.S. and its allies” By Hiwa Osman (media advisor to President Jalal Talabani):

Yesterday, [9/13/05] an important meeting took place between President Bush and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, hearalding a new era in Iraqi-American relations. For the first time in the history of the two nations, the White House received the first freely and democratically elected president of Iraq. 
The Iraqi president conveyed a thank-you message from the people of Iraq, who were empowered to vote last January, for making a democratic Iraq a reality.

This makes me proud to be an American.

Does Incomplete Democratization Risk War?

January 7, 2009

[First published March 28, 2006] Perhaps you have come across this argument about promoting democracy: “Yes, maybe once countries achieve a liberal (mature, well-established) democracy, they don’t make war on each other, BUT in the process of democratization, they make more war than do other nations, even more than dictators against each other.” Therefore, it is sometimes concluded, fostering democracy is a dangerous project. And this argument is used against our involvement in Iraq.

A major source for this assertion is the published research by Jack Snyder and Edward Mansfield in their book, Electing To Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go To War (2005). I’m increasingly finding that academics, commentators, and journalist critical of Bush’s promotion of democratic freedom are supporting their arguments with quotations and “findings” from this book Snyder and Mansfield’s research is often misconstrued and anyway, their research does not support the claims made about it. For a most recent example of this misuse, see “Democracy and Violence”.

Because of the great importance of this issue and getting the facts right, I’m editing and reposting my review of the Snyder-Mansfield book.

They analyze data for over a century of wars, 1816-1992, during which they found (dealing with only their composite index of democratization for simplicity here) 90 incomplete transitions to democracy for 64 nations, and 50 complete transitions for 35 nations. Over this period, there were 79 wars, and for their sample, the probability of a nation going to war in their sample was .037, very small.

Now, using these data, they confirm—that is, further empirically prove— that when democratized, nations do not make war on each other. This is an easy one, since in their data no two democracies made war on each other.

This should be the highlight of any fair use of the Snyder-Mansfield book, since this confirms what Bush says in support of his Forward Strategy of Freedom: “democracies don’t make war on each other.” However, this empirical finding does not agree with the biases of those wanting to use the book against American involvement in Iraq and fostering freedom, and it is ignored.

Second, the authors go though extensive tests to determine whether incomplete democratized nations were most prone to war. Having done such research myself, I have much respect for the effort, time, and thought they put into this, and therefore hate to be a spoilsport. However, it is like two neighbors who build a car in their garage. It’s beautiful, with glittering chrome, comfortable fake leather seats, state of the art dashboard, and a well waxed red paint job. But when they start it up, all the unseen motor will do is put-put a few times, and stop.

Since they are trying to establish whether democratizing nations went to war (1 = yes, or 0 = no) more than others, they used logistic regression analysis, but they did not check if the assumptions of their model were met in order to assess the significance of their regression coefficients (see on the use of “p” and significance). They provide no correlations between the independent variables so that one can assess their multicollinearity (see my
Little Primer” on this here, which is as applicable to logistic regression as it is to multiple regression) and seem unaware of the problem it creates. They put much emphasis on the significance of their index of incomplete transition, but if their twelve independent variables are highly correlated, which I think they are, then the significance of their regression coefficients may be inflated. When they claim that nations with incomplete democratizations are “roughly four to fifteen times more likely to go to war,” this is probably based on highly biased regression coefficients.

Also, the authors provide no justification for their applying tests of significance to a whole population. If this whole sample is meant to represent all nations at all time, then it is not random, and its distribution is unknown. Then there is the problem of the number of cases for which they calculate their significance. As the number of cases (“N”) increases, smaller results become significant until what is significant is meaningless (again, see on the use of “p”). For example, a correlation of .378 is statistically significant for 20 cases, .165 for 100 cases, and .052 for 1,000 cases. Now, square .052, which is .003 rounded off. This says that the two variables only have 0.3% of their variation in common. This is meaningless (would you buy an expensive drug that had a 3 out of a 1,000 chance it would help you? Only if you had terminal cancer), although some unwary researchers might trumpet such significant results. This misuse of significance happens all the time, since the idea is that bigger samples are always better. This is only true if one concentrates not on significance, but on the percent of variation in common. All this being said, what was the sample size in the democratization study? It was 9,229! And the gist of their results depends on significance.

Then there is the question of efficiency. How well does the logistic regression fit (predict, account for, explain) wars, if democratization is incomplete? They provide no measure of this. In regular multiple regression, there is the multiple correlation squared (R^2) which tells us the proportion of variation in the dependent variable accounted for by the regression equation. However, such is inappropriate for logistic regression. So, there is a “pseudo R^2” one can calculate, or for the list of wars, one can count the number of nations correctly placed in the no-war, or war category. The authors do neither.

But, there is one thing we can do. The logistic regression comes out with the likelihood — probability — that war will occur, given the independent variables, among which is incomplete democratization. But this is usually such a small number in logistic regression that the natural log of the likelihood is given. Now, to get the probability of war from their logistic regression, one takes the anti-log of the log likelihood, which is e^(log likelihood). I did this for their log likelihood of -1339.96, and it is an infinitesimal number. It is so small that the google and my Mac calculators could only give it as zero. Just for e^-13, it is 2.26 x 10^-6; for -130 it is 3.5 x 10^-57. That is, the equations they provide in their book are useless.

Then there is their way of measuring war, which is as yes, or no. And this is a methodological mindset that has led many researchers to mistakenly conclude that democracies are as warlike as other regimes (see my published article on this here). It gives the same weight to a war in which a democracy suffers few killed in combat versus a nondemocracy that has millions killed, e.g., the Boxer Rebellion counted as a war for Britain when it had 34 killed versus 7.5 million for the Soviets in WWII. One war each. This biases results against democracies, which by far have the least killed in wars, as they should by democratic peace theory. Rather, it is the number killed in war that should be counted for each country, and not the number of wars.

In sum, the results about the war likeness of democracy in Electing To Fight do not prove (show, establish, indicate) that incomplete democratization is a danger to peace. The results cannot fairly and objectively be used to argue against Bush’s foreign policy, BUT ONLY FOR IT.

Related Links

“He’s started a GOP civil war over foreign policy” By Daniel W. Drezner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago and a rare Republican one:

ON A VARIETY of recent national security issues — port security, Iran, Hamas, China — President Bush has received as much criticism from conservative Republicans as from Democrats. After a first term in which Republicans were in lock step with their leader, why is the president having trouble with his right flank? …. In the eyes of his party, Bush’s biggest foreign policy sin is not his aims, or even his means. It’s that he has done the improbable — he’s made the Democrats look like a credible alternative.

RJR: I don’t think that Drezner has a firm enough understanding of the democratic peace to criticize Bush in this way, judging among other thing by his apparent support for the shoddy research of fellow political scientist Erik Gartzke (I will soon be posting here my exchange with Gartzke)

“What Brings Peace, Wealth or Democracy”By Martin Sherman in The Middle East Quarterly (1998) After discussing these two paradigms, he says:

historical fact closely bears out the political explanation. Two prominent scholars review almost two decades of study and find a “near consensus” that democratically governed states rarely go to war with each other. In fact, they go further, observing that

the proposition that democracies are generally at peace with each other is [so] strongly supported . . . [it] has led some scholars to claim that this finding is probably the closest thing that we have to a law in international politics.

Sherman concludes that the American emphasis [by the Clinton Adm.] on economic development in the Middle East is stressing the wrong paradigm. Rather: …

American policymakers need seriously to rethink their present course, one which seems certain to foster warfare rather than welfare. [They should favor democratization].

What Is The Democratic Peace?

January 4, 2009

[First published March 31, 2006] Research on the democratic peace, the idea that democracies do not make war on each other, has become a dominant finding in the field of international relations.

What is the democratic peace? In the literature on or referring to the democratic peace, this means the idea or fact that democracies do not (or virtually never) make war on each other. I will call this the war version.

Although this understanding of the democratic peace is extremely important–after all, it implies the end of war–I believe that focusing only on this version is fundamentally misleading. It is as though we had scientifically established that a drug would generally cure or minimize all cancer, while only focusing the drug on lung cancer in our medical advice.

This analogy is not strained, for democracies have not only not made war on each other, but they also have, by far, the least foreign violence, domestic collective violence, and democide (a much greater killer than war by several orders of magnitude). That is, democracy, or to be more precise, democratic freedom is a general cure for political or collective violence of any kind–it is a method of nonviolence. This is truly a democratic peace. I call this understanding of the democratic peace, which is supported by the theory, evidence, and analyses on my web site at, the general version.

To be clear, then:

The War Version of the Democratic Peace is that:

democratically free countries do not or virtually never make war on each other.

The General Version of the Democratic Peace is that:

(1) Democracy is a general method of nonviolence. Democracies:

Do not make war on each other;
minimize the severity of foreign violence and war;
minimize domestic (collective) violence;
don’t murder their own people.

(2) And power kills. Totalitarian regimes (the power opposite of democracies):

make war on each other;
have the most severe foreign violence and war
have the most severe domestic (collective) violence
murder their own people.

Most of the world’s people have been robbed of their freedom by one dictatorship or another. Some, like the regimes of Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Turkmenistan, are more than just dictatorships. Their tyrannical dictators are slave masters ruling their people by the their slightest whims and desires and those of their henchmen. These poor people live in constant fear for themselves and their loved ones. And they are murdered by hundreds of millions. In the last century alone 272,000,000 of them were shot, burned, stabbed, tortured, beaten, starved to death, blasted to death, buried alive, or whatever other ways of murdering their slaves these thugs could imagine. This horrific and evil toll of bodies could head-to-toll circle the earth over ten times. It as though a catastrophic nuclear war had happened, but its mountain of deaths spread over each day of the last century.
The existence of these ruling thugs creates an unbridgeable chasm in the world. On one side are such criminal gangs, sanctified by the term “government,” and the United Nations they dominate, enforcing by their guns mass slavery, mass death, mass violence, mass impoverishment, and mass famines. On the other side are democratic countries where people are free, secure, and need never fear mass impoverishment, death at the hands of government agents, and killing famine.
This chasm between life and death, security and fear, on the same planet and at the same time, must no longer be tolerated. Dictatorships, even if benign, are by their very existence a crime against humanity, and must be eliminated peacefully, if possible; by force if they are murdering their people. However, the intellectuals, commentators, analysts, academics, and reporters of the democracies have identified power with greatness, thugs with statesmen, and propaganda with results; we have let moral and cultural relativism silence our outrage, while conceding the moral high ground to the utopian dreamers; we have refused to recognize evil as evil; and we have ignored the catastrophic human cost of such confusions, and the natural and moral right to freedom.
What is so often ignored is that all people, everywhere, want to be free, to exercise their human rights that are theirs by natural and international law, and by an implicit social contract. Were this the only justification for freedom, it would be sufficient to make spreading freedom the ultimate policy.
But there is more to freedom than this. Much more. It provides the most important Moral Goods that humanity can desire. First:

The more people are free, the greater their human development and
national wealth. In short, freedom is the way to economic and social human security.

Still, human security involves more than wealth and prosperity. There is the security of knowing that one’s life and the lives of loved ones are safe from deadly famines. Therefore, second:

Free people never have famines.

But as important as these Moral Goods are, they do not deal with the worst hell to which billions of human beings are still subject — torture, rape, beatings, forced labor, genocide, mass murder, executions, deportations, political violence, and war. With no human rights, these billions live in fear for their lives, and for those of their loved ones. There is a third Moral Good of freedom:

Where people are free, political violence is minimal.

Where people are not free, as in Burma, Sudan, and North Korea, people are only pieces on a playing board for the armed thugs and gangs that oppress them, rape them, loot them, exploiting them, and murdering them.
The gangs that control these so-called governments oppress whole nations under cover of international law. They are like a gang that captures a group of hikers and then does with them what it wills, robbing all, torturing and murdering some because gang members don’t like them or they are “disobedient,” and raping others.
And they murder their slaves by whim, by hatred, by quota, and sometimes for no reason at all. The worst of these gangs are megamurderers with their victims reaching into the tens of millions. Such murder is democide, and its elimination as one of humanity’s plagues is the greatest of all Moral Goods.
Then, fourth:

The more freedom a people have, the more unlikely their government
will murder them. Democratically free governments commit no democide.

This huge moral split in the world between governing thugs that murder their slaves wholesale, and free people that fear no such personal disaster for them or their loved ones, is unconscionable and unacceptable. It is time for concerted nonviolent action to eliminate these criminal thugs and free their slaves.
However, there is still one more Moral Good that even more strengthens this moral imperative. Finally:

The less free the people within any two nations are, the bloodier and
more destructive the wars between them; the greater their freedom,
the less likely such wars become. Free people do not make war on each other.

What this means is that we do not have to wait for all, or almost all nations to become democracies to reduce the severity of war. As we promote freedom, as the people of more and more nations gain greater human rights and political liberties, as those people without any freedom become partly free, we will decrease the bloodiness of the world’s wars. In short:

Increasing freedom in the world decreases the death toll of its wars.
Surely, whatever reduces and then finally ends the scourge of war in our history,
without causing a greater evil, must be the greatest moral good. And this is freedom.

The implications of all these Moral Goods of freedom for foreign policy and international activism are profound.

To promote global human security, to do away with famine, mass impoverishment, democide, and war, and to minimize internal violence, promote freedom.

Since peace, national security, and national and global welfare are the paramount concerns of a democratic nation’s foreign policy, its overriding goal should be to peacefully promote human rights and democratic freedom. This should be the bottom line of international negotiations, treaties, foreign aid, and military action (if necessary for defense or humanitarian reasons, as in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, or Iraq). As to defense policy, military planning usually is based on assessments of the intentions and capability of others. What is clear is that the less free the people of a nation are, the more we should beware of the intentions of their rulers. In other words, it is not the democracies of the world that we need to defend against.
Moreover, consider what the peace-creating power of freedom means for nuclear weapons. Many people are justly worried about the ultimate danger to humanity—nuclear war. They protest and demonstrate against nuclear weapons. Some cross the line into illegal activities, such as destroying military property, and risk prison to draw public attention to the cataclysmic danger of such weapons. Were these dedicated people to spend even half this effort on promoting freedom and human rights for the people of the most powerful dictatorships that have or may soon have such weapons—for instance, China, North Korea, and Iran—they would be striking at the root cause of the risk of nuclear war.
The power of freedom to end war, minimize violence within nations, and eradicate genocide and mass murder almost seems magical. It is as though we have a single-drug cure for cancer, but in the case of freedom, it is all true and well established.
Our knowledge of the peace-creating and peacemaking effects of freedom now gives us a nonviolent way to promote a nonviolent world. The ultimate conclusion of all this is:

Power kills, absolute power kills absolutely.


Democratic freedom is a method of nonviolence.

Click the icon

For the books, articles, papers, data, theory, and tests supporting the above propositions

The World’s Most Important Bibliography

December 16, 2008

[First published February 22, 2005] One of the problems that people have in writing about the democratic peace is understanding what it covers and the best sources for reading about it. Here are the five major empirical propositions of the democratic peace, which have been the basis of American foreign policy.

  • Democracies don’t make war on each other.
  • The more democratic a nation, the less its foreign violence.
  • The more democratic a nation, the less its internal violence.
  • The more democratic a nation, the less it murders its own citizens (democide).
  • Democracy is a method of nonviolence.

These are perhaps the most important proposition in contemporary social science, for they show that we have a solution to war and democide, and a way of minimizing political violence.

But, then, what are the sources? I just put on my website a comprehensive bibliography of pro and con papers, articles, and books on the first and second democratic peace propositions above (link here). [link also in sidebar] These propositions are usually considered the core ideas of the democratic peace, but narrowly define it. The other propositions generalize the democratic peace to domestic violence and have been much less investigated. Eventually, I hope to prepare a separate bibliography on them.

Following are among the most important books on the democratic peace.

Kant, Immanuel. Perpetual Peace. 1795.

Moore, John Norton. Solving The War Puzzle: Beyond The Democratic Peace, Carolina Academic Press, 2004.

Ray, James Lee. Democracy and International Conflict: An Evaluation Of The Democratic Peace Proposition. Columbia, SC: University Of South Carolina Press, 1995.

Rummel, R. J. Power Kills: Democracy As A Method Of Nonviolence. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1997.

Russett, Bruce, Grasping The Democratic Peace: Principles For A Post-Cold War World, Princeton U. Press, 2001.

Weart, Stewart, Never At War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another. Yale U. Press, 1998.

Singer, Max, and Aaron Wildavsky. The Real World Order: Zones Of Peace/Zones Of Turmoil. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers, 1993.

For an overview, which although outdated is useful for its coverage, see:

Ray, James Lee. “Does Democracy Cause Peace?” Annual Review Of Political Science, Edited By Nelson W. Polsby, 1998 (link here).

Anyone who wants to write an informed commentary on the democratic peace must at least be familiar with theses studies.

Link of Note

”Why Democracy” (2/11/05) By Victor Davis Hanson

“Yet for all its uncertainties and dangers in the Islamic Arab world, there remain some undeniable facts about democracy across time and space that suggest with effort and sacrifice it can both work in the Middle East and will be in the long-term security interests of the United States. So why exactly should we support the daunting task of democratizing the Middle East and how is it possible?”

Leftsville — the American University

December 4, 2008

[First published December 28, 2004] Links suggested and commented on by a “Colleague:”

Two good essays — nothing new, but apparently the “problem” of lack of conservative presence in the academy is becoming more acceptable to write about. The first is a short op-ed by George Will. The second is an excellent critical essay by Mark Bauerlein, “Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual,”
in the Chronicle Of Higher Education (November 12, 2004).

Thanks “Colleague.”

Will is only really passing on campus poll results and what Bauerlein has to say. I want to focus on Bauerlein, who is maddening.

First, not a minor point, he says of the dominance of the left on campus: “outright blackballing is rare. The disparate outcome emerges through an indirect filtering process that runs from graduate school to tenure and beyond.” He is wrong, badly wrong. The black balling takes place against conservative students and in faculty hiring. It is a conscious thing, I’ve seen it many times in many ways, and it has operated as well against me.

To give him credit, he well captures the groupthink, and consensus that dominates, but he misses the essential nature of it. He refuses to see that there is a rational, conscious, left wing agenda that underlies much of this. To him, again, it is a natural growth, a social dynamic that as well could happen with a right wing faculty in charge. Bull. The left set out to capture the campus, and have done so. True, they set in motion and were helped along by a certain naturalness in the process, but their conscious effort sped it up.

I remember as a student the days when there were a fair number of conservatives or moderate democrats around (No, I never shook hands with Theodore Roosevelt, although that is rumored). Then, the word was that we should hire a Marxists or so to give the students another side. Can you imagine a Marxist or leftist saying we should hire a conservative for students to get their side?.

Finally, Bauerlein’s solution is like the Hawaii highway engineer: If people drove slowly and carefully onto or off the ramps, there would be no problem with traffic merging.” No thought given to treating human beings as human beings and constructing ramps to compensate for this. Bauerlein’s similar solution is that professors must do this and that, and panels must . . . etc. Nothing should be done by force and coercion or command. Why? “That would poison the atmosphere and jeopardize the ideals of free inquiry.” Ha!! He seems to have no comprehension that it is like telling the North Korea thugs that they should allow more freedom of speech and discussion.

In all, he writes with rational naiveté and a political blindness to the nature of the left. Sure, they should be more accepting of conservatives ideas and faculty in their midst. Sure, when pigs fly.

Link of the Day

Freedom as a solution to war and violence By R.J. Rummel

Freedom lovers, unite. Your beliefs are incredibly more powerful than you realize. The freedom you prize is not only the solution to genocide and mass murder (democide), as I explained in a commentary on the website, but also to war. Yes, a solution to war! 

What? Only 35,000,000 Killed in 20th Century War?

November 30, 2008

[First published on December 15, 2004] pointed out in a 1986 Wall Street Journal article (here) that the 20th Century is noted for its absolute and bloody wars. World War I saw nine-million people killed in battle, an incredible record that was far surpassed within a few decades by the 15 million battle deaths of World War II. Even the number killed in twentieth century revolutions and civil wars have set historical records. In total, this century’s battle killed in all its international and domestic wars, revolutions, and violent conflicts is so far about 35,654,000.

I then received an email suggesting that my total is probably inaccurate; the total might be closer to 100 million.

I should have qualified the total as for military combat dead and civilians caught in the crossfire. Consider WWII for example. The most authoritative source, widely relied on in the field of war studies, are the statistical data on war published by J. David Singer (search under COW Project). His figure for WWII war dead is 15 million. Now, one may think he is in error, since the war dead ordinarily given for the USSR alone is about 20 million, and often cited is 50000,000 to 60,000,000 for the whole war. How then can Singer and I say 15,000,000 dead in the war? Part of the problem is that many figures one sees for wars include combat dead and those murdered by government (democide), such as in the Holocaust. The difference is due to Singer and I counting only combat dead, including civilians caught in crossfires, whereas the much higher totals also count those murdered by governments during the war (democide). For example, the Nazis murdered about 21,000,000 people, including the Holocaust; the Japanese murdered about 6,000,000; and the Soviets about 13,000,000. Now, when you add such democide totals to those killed in combat, one comes close to the 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 often mentioned for the war.

Overall, both WWI and WWII together had about 24,000,000 (combat) war dead. Which leaves still many, and smaller, wars to go to reach my approximate 35,000,000. A total far below the near 110,000,000 killed [later revised to about 140,000,000] by Marxist governments

I did a thorough amalgamation of the estimates of war dead for each nation, 1900-1987, in the process of collecting democide data, and included them in my statistical tables. They can be found in my books Lethal Politics for the USSR, China’s Bloody Century, Democide for Nazi Germany, and Statistics of Democide for all the other nation’s war dead. For their location on my website, see my website’s list of documents.