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Correspondence The Democratic Peace Bruce Xussett Christopher Layne David E. Spiro Michael W. Doyle ”And Yet It Moves” (Bruce Xussett on the Democratic Peace): In their introduction to the Fall 1994 issue on the democratic peace, the editors of International Security called it (p. 3) “the conventional wisdom.”’ If it has become conventional wisdom, or seems likely to do so, we should expect to see challenges to it. The theoretical edifice of realism will collapse if attributes of states’ political systems are shown to have a major influence on which states do or do not fight each other. The dialectic of proposition and attempted refutation is a healthy necessity for developing any kind of scholarly understanding. The critiques published in this journal argue that the new “conventional wisdom” is, in terms of the old Scottish verdict, “not proven.” But that ”conventional wisdom” is not dispelled by either critique: the logic of their contents fails to match their snappy titles. Christopher Layne and David Spiro offer three major objections: 1)To be valid, democratic peace theory (Layne, p. 13) ”must account powerfully for the fact that serious crises between democratic states ended in near misses rather than in war,” and cannot do so. 2) The number of wars between democracies is somewhat higher than proponents of democratic peace admit, because they engage in “intellectual suppleness” with ”continual tinkering with definitions and categories” (Layne, p. 40), or “selectively adopt definitions of key variables so that data analysis yields the results they seek (Spiro, p. 55). Bruce Russett is Dean Acheson Professorof International Relations and Political Science at Yale University. He thanks Don Green, G a y King, Zeev Maoz, Bary O’Neill, James Ray, Dan Reiter, R.J. Rummel, and Spencer Weart for comments, and Soo-Yeon Kim for computations. Christopher Layne is an unaffiliated scholar in Los Angeles. He is presently a consultant to the government contracts practice group of Hill, Wynne, Trap,and Meisinger, which represents major firms in the defense industy. David E. Spiro is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Hegemony Unbound: Petrodollar Recycling and the De-legitimization of American Hegemony (Cornell Uniwrsity Press,forthcoming).He thanks Michael Desch,John Mearsheimer, Edward Muller, Tom Volgy,and Steven Weberfor their comments. Michael W. Doyle is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at the Center of International Studies, Princeton University. 1. ”Editors’Note,” International Security, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Fall 1994),p. 3; Christopher Layne, ”Kant or Cant: The Myth of Democratic Peace,” ibid., pp. 549; David Spiro, “The Insignificance of the Liberal Peace,” ibid., pp. 50-86. International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Spring 19951, pp. 164-184 0 1995by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 164 Correspondence 1 165 3) Wars are rare phenomena, and through most of modern world history,democracies are also rare. Thus the number of wars to be expected between democraciesis so small that no statistical test can distinguish the actual number (zero, or very low, depending on who counts) from the very low number that would be predicted by chance. This argument-the main burden of Spiro’s piece, seconded by Layne (p.39)-does not claim to have disproved the hypothesis of democratic peace. It says only that the evidence is so sparse that statistical tests cannot confirm the hypothesis. John Owen’s article in the same issue in part considers the first two objections, so they require less attention here.* But since Owen does not address the third, it needs more extensive discussion, which I offer below. I conclude with some new analyses, stimulated by the critiques, that strongly support the democratic peace proposition. NEAR MISSES, AND DOGS THAT DIDN’T BARK We begin with the matter of why in particular instances democratic states have not fought each other. Layneargues (p.38) that whereas ”democraticpeace theory identifies a correlation between domestic structure and the absence of war between democracies, it fails to establish a causal link.” Yet certainly the literature on the democratic peace has gone well beyond correlation, and has postulated a variety of causal mechanisms, involving perceptions of shared norms, institutional constraints,and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1531-4804
Print ISSN
0162-2889
Pages
pp. 164-184
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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