The Democratic Peace: Fact or Fad
Prepare: Read the Conclusion in the course text.
Reflect: The Conclusion in the course text examines several explanations to account for the empirically well-supported phenomenon of the democratic peace. According to nearly all research conducted on this topic, established democracies do not fight other strong democracies. Each of the theoretical perspectives we have investigated offer different reasons as to why and how this occurs. For example, the realist perspective suggests that the democratic peace is a result of the fact that democracies often belong to the same alliances or that they are able to effectively balance power, thereby decreasing the need for war. The identity perspective proposes that democracies are inherently peaceful or that they are bound together by common norms, values, and ideas. The liberal perspective argues that democracies do not fight other democracies because of the high levels of trade between them, the fact that they belong to common institutions, or the possibility that they possess superior negotiating skills that allow them to deftly avoid war. Examining this fascinating phenomenon of international relations enables us to apply many valuable, relevant concepts and theories of international relations. The democratic peace and the concepts used to explain it are indeed valuable tools that allow us to expand our understanding of global politics and enlarge our overall political science knowledge base.
Write: In your initial post of at least 200 words, answer the following:
Which international relations theoretical perspective offers the strongest (and weakest) explanations for the democratic peace? Why?
Will the democratic peace be a long-lasting phenomenon? Why or why not?
In response to the democratic peace, should U.S. foreign policy encourage the spread of democracy? If so, how?