Sunday, July 23, 2006

Whither the Democratic Peace?

Billmon raises an excellent question.

Noah Feldman joins in to explain that's it's OK to blow Lebanese civilians (and their houses, apartment buildings, cars, etc.) to kingdom come, because, you see, they live in a democracy... But what I want to know is how Dr. Feldman's line of reasoning jibes with the oft-expressed neocon/neolib article of faith that democracies don't go to war with other democracies?

My understanding is that the same question is asked about Finland during WWII - democratic, but allied with the Nazis against the Soviets (and understandably, considering the Soviets' history with Finland.) However, Democratic Peace Theorists have, I believe, generally waved this objection away by pointing out that British attacks on Finland were only directed at the Nazis. I imagine Feldman explains away the inconvenient facts in a similar fashion.

The DPT is one of my pet peeves, as everytime history (or in this case, the nightly news) gives a counter-example, some innovative political scientist finds some way to explain why country X wasn't really a democracy, or why war Y doesn't really count. There's ample empirical evidence that international conflicts are much, much rarer between democracies, which you'd think would be enough for some people. But you'd be wrong.

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