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International Security 28.3 (2003/04) 181

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Fair Fights or Pointless Wars?

To the Editors:

In the debate between Michael Desch and his critics in a recent issue of International Security, a big point is overlooked. 1 The "fair fight" criterion, the critics say, is misplaced because their theories predict that democracies are good at choosing victims they know they can defeat. But why, when countries are mismatched, need a war be fought? The weaker can hardly threaten the stronger, yet democratic countries go to war against them.

If this is true, it tells us something frightening about the behavior of democratic countries: namely, that they excel at fighting and winning unnecessary wars.

Kenneth N. Waltz
New York, New York

Kenneth N. Waltz is a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University.


1. Michael C. Desch, "Democracy and Victory: Why Regime Type Hardly Matters," International Security, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp.5-47; and Ajin Choi, "The Power of Democratic Cooperation," David A. Lake, "Fair Fights? Evaluating Theories of Democracy and Victory," Dan Reiter and Allan C. Stam, "Understanding Victory: Why Political Institutions Matter," and Michael C. Desch, "Democracy and Victory: Fair Fights or Food Fights?" all in International Security, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Summer 2003), pp.142-153, 154-167, 168-179, 180-194.



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