Democracy and International Conflict: An Evaluation of the Democratic Peace Proposition

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University of South Carolina Press, 1998 - History - 243 pages
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In Democracy and International Conflict James Lee Ray defends the idea, so optimistically advanced by diplomats in the wake of the Soviet Union's demise and so hotly debated by international relations scholars, that democratic states do not initiate war against one another and therefore offer an avenue to universal peace. Arguing that advocates of the democratic peace proposition have not adequately evaluated the impact of regime transition on democratization, Ray reviews every regime transition of the past 170 years and traces the extent to which democracy has prevailed in the global political system since 1825. His analysis reveals the important roles played by the international environment and by domestic factors in determining global movements toward or away from democracy. Ray also provides a simple, precise, and operational definition of democracy that serves as a basis for addressing the controversy surrounding the issue of whether democratic states have ever waged war against one another. He concludes that it is possible to defend the assertion that there has never been an international war between democratic states. Finally, Ray contends that because the number of wars eliminated by democracy's pacifying effect has been small, scholars must supplement quantitative analysis of a great number of cases with evidence generated by the intensive study of individual cases. He examines the relationship between these two types of analyses and demonstrates how they may be integrated to exploit their complementary virtues.

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About the author (1998)

James Lee Ray is a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. He previously taught at Florida State University, where he directed the International Affairs and the Peace Studies.

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