In the first section of this essay the

In the first section of this essay
the analysis shall focus on the Democratic Peace Theory, the assumptions it
creates and the corresponding evidence that backs it up, and the second section
shall focus on the problems with the Democratic Peace Theory, incorporating the
realist perspective.

A Democracy as defined by George
Sørensen (1993) is “A highly inclusive level of political participation in the
selection of leaders and policies, at least through regular and fair elections,
such that no major (adult) social group is excluded.” In this day and age it is
such an integral part society and has become the norm in most every country in
the world, barring countries such as Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Vietnam (as
well as countries which are ruled by a monarchy e.g. Qatar).

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The main theory
which supports the argument that democracies do not go to war with one another
is the Democratic Peace Theory, put forward by Immanuel Kant (1903) which created the assumption that democracies do not engage
in war with one another, but instead engage in war solely with non-democracies.
“The absence of war between democracies comes close as anything we have to an
empirical law in international relations” (Levy 1989). This phenomenon has been
statistically researched by multiple academics including Dean Babst in 1964,
and Melvin Small and David Singer in 1976 who found an absence of war between
democratic states. In addition, Rudolph Rummel (1997) found that between 1816
and 2005, 205 wars occurred between non-democracies, 166 wars occurred between
democracies and non-democracies, but no wars occurred between democratic
nations.

The second assumption is that in any
conflict between two democratic nations force is rarely threatened and
oftentimes a peaceful resolution can be achieved through democratic processes
and through negotiations, which was more prevalent in the aftermath of the Cold
War. “Even though liberal states have become involved in numerous wars with
non-liberal states, constitutionally secure liberal states have yet to engage
in war with one another” (Doyle 1983). Kant believed that the majority of
people within a democracy would never vote to go to war unless it is for self-defence
as “this would mean calling down on themselves all the miseries
of war” (Kant 1903). He also claimed that democracies would not engage in war
with each other, and that they are also more peaceful than any other form of
government. This theory is also supported by the creation of international
organisations such as the UN, which show cooperation. Such organisations seek
to prevent conflict between nations and rely on a system of voting and
discussion before action is taken.

However, the sample used by Rummel has been
criticised as it was a small sample that didn’t include civil wars, such as the
American Civil War. It also failed to include wars like the Yugoslav Wars, the Six-Day War or the First Kashmir War,
which was ranked as a full-scale war between democracies in the International
Crisis Behaviour dataset, and more recently the Russo-Georgian War in
which both the Georgia and the Russian Federation were a democracies at the
time of the 2008 war. James Lee Ray
believed that ‘restricted definitions of democracy can also be constructed
which define away all wars between democracies, and yet include many regimes
often held to be democratic, he found this more rhetorically effective than
saying that full-scale international
war between established democracies
with wide suffrage is
less likely than between other pairs of states’. As such many of the
conflicts that would have been ruled out of the sample would have been considered
as war with different parameters for what is considered a democracy.

Also,
the claim that democracies do not go to war is too flippant and disregards any
future or past conflict, and solely using the democratic peace theory makes
such a thing difficult to predict or prove true as it disregards any other type
of world view or any other theory such as offensive realism, which under Ray’s
parameters would consider border expansionism as an act of conflict. The
democratic peace theory also assumes that democratic states want to be peaceful
and not go to war, this is proven false by the 2003 US-Iraq war and the
2011 France & UK military intervention in Libya. And it also assumes that
democracies want to live peacefully with one another, which can be disproven by
the current relations between the US and Russia or China, or the UK and the
European Union.

Jack Snyder and Edward Mansfield (1995) claimed that mature democracies (e.g.
UK, USA, France) do not engage in wars with one another, however the democratization
of states can promote nationalism and wars. They call to example Serbia and
Croatia, who found fell into war as a result of democratization. They also
state that there is statistical evidence that democratizing states are more
likely to fight wars than mature democracies or autocracies. Also, the
assumption that the democratic peace theory is the only correct theory about
international peace relies on the pre-existing socio-economic
conditions present after the Cold War, WW1 and WW2 when peace was desired so
any theory put forward about the end of conflict would be unilaterally accepted
and desired, and would assume that no future conflicts would occur as democracies
would not want to go back to a time of conflict.

A perspective of some realists is
that the positive relationship between democracy and peace is merely coincidental.
According to Layne (1994), historical data shows that democracies have avoided
conflict and war, but that they may not have done so because of shared
democratic norms, instead because they calculated their national interest and
if the drawbacks outweighed the interests of war then they would have backed
off. Another critique of the democratic peace theory questions whether the
statistics of Rummel are correct, and whether the statement that democracies
never fight wars with one another is valid. Spiro (1994) argues that the
absence of wars between democracies for the past two centuries is not
significant because wars between democracies are random. He states that the
chance of any two states going to war within a defined period is very low due
to the fact that there were so few democracies in the past. Therefore, it is
reasonable that democratic states have not been engaged in wars with one
another as such a small pool makes the probability lower, ergo fewer wars across
history and fewer conflicts for Rummel’s data. And to further this it entirely
depends upon ones view of what a democracy is, as to how it would further enhance
this data.

In conclusion, Kant’s Democratic
Peace Theory does not conclusively say that democracies do not go to war with
one another and is backed up by evidence that is inconclusive and exclusionary.
The data from Rummel, Babst, Small and Singer does not include many conflicts
which under another definition of democracy would be considered a war, therefore
the results of their findings would differ, given the examples of the
Russo-Georgian War and the Six-Day War amongst others. The theory also created the
assumption that all democracies are peaceful to one another, as is the ultimate
goal of the theory, but this is disproved by the US-Iraq War and the current
UK-EU relations.