Perils of a democratic peace
Brookes, Michael A.
Patenaude, Bertrand M.
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President Clinton has declared that the promotion of democracy is the key to ensuring America's security in the post-Cold War world. This assertion is based upon an international relations theory called the "democratic peace." Expressed simply, it states that democracies are reluctant to engage one another in war; therefore, increasing the number of democracies worldwide will promote peace and, ultimately, America's security. Although it is a seductive theory, the notion of the democratic peace has many pitfalls. The goal of this thesis is to demonstrate that the democratic peace theory is not an appropriate foundation for U.S. national security strategy. First, I establish that "democracy" is not universally desirable. Instead, cultural factors, ethnic nationalism, and economics create imperatives that thwart efforts to develop democracy. Second, I cite the actions of the intelligence services of democratic states against fellow democracies - including espionage, economic espionage, and covert action - to illustrate that peace is not without peril. Ultimately, pursuit of a democratic peace may jeopardize national security because it threatens to entangle the United States in costly foreign interventions. Additionally, the false sense of security it engenders may lull the U.S. into a state of complacency from which it will be unable to recover.
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