Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World

Princeton University Press
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By illuminating the conflict-resolving mechanisms inherent in the relationships between democracies, Bruce Russett explains one of the most promising developments of the modern international system: the striking fact that the democracies that it comprises have almost never fought each other.
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About the author

Bruce Russett is Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Yale University and editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution. His many works include Controlling the Sword: The Democratic Governance of National Security and The Prisoners of Insecurity: Nuclear Deterrence, the Arms Race, and Arms Control. In writing Grasping the Democratic Peace, he was accompanied by anthropologists Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember and political scientists William Antholis and Zeev Maoz.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 29, 1994
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781400821020
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Why do democracies win wars? This is a critical question in the study of international relations, as a traditional view--expressed most famously by Alexis de Tocqueville--has been that democracies are inferior in crafting foreign policy and fighting wars. In Democracies at War, the first major study of its kind, Dan Reiter and Allan Stam come to a very different conclusion. Democracies tend to win the wars they fight--specifically, about eighty percent of the time.

Complementing their wide-ranging case-study analysis, the authors apply innovative statistical tests and new hypotheses. In unusually clear prose, they pinpoint two reasons for democracies' success at war. First, as elected leaders understand that losing a war can spell domestic political backlash, democracies start only those wars they are likely to win. Secondly, the emphasis on individuality within democratic societies means that their soldiers fight with greater initiative and superior leadership.


Surprisingly, Reiter and Stam find that it is neither economic muscle nor bandwagoning between democratic powers that enables democracies to win wars. They also show that, given societal consent, democracies are willing to initiate wars of empire or genocide. On the whole, they find, democracies' dependence on public consent makes for more, rather than less, effective foreign policy. Taking a fresh approach to a question that has long merited such a study, this book yields crucial insights on security policy, the causes of war, and the interplay between domestic politics and international relations.

This book provides the first detailed analysis of international rivalries, the long-standing and often violent confrontations between the same pairs of states. The book addresses conceptual components of rivalries and explores the origins, dynamics, and termination of the most dangerous form of rivalry--enduring rivalry--since 1816.
Paul Diehl and Gary Goertz identify 1166 rivalries since 1816. They label sixty-three of those as enduring rivalries. These include the competitions between the United States and Soviet Union, India and Pakistan, and Israel and her Arab neighbors. The authors explain how rivalries form, evolve, and end.
The first part of the book deals with how to conceptualize and measure rivalries and presents empirical patterns among rivalries in the period 1816-1992. The concepts derived from the study of rivalries are then used to reexamine two central pieces of international relations research, namely deterrence and "democratic peace" studies. The second half of the book builds an explanation of enduring rivalries based on a theory adapted from evolutionary biology, "punctuated equilibrium."
The study of international rivalries has become one of the centerpieces of behavioral research on international conflict. This book, by two of the scholars who pioneered such studies, is the first comprehensive treatment of the subject. It will become the standard reference for all future studies of rivalries.
Paul F. Diehl is Professor of Political Science and University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University of Illinois. He is the coeditor of Reconstructing Realpolitik and coauthor of Measuring the Correlates of War. Gary Goertz is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Arizona, and is the coauthor with Paul Diehl of Territorial Change and International Conflict.
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