Conflict Studies Memo

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Part 1

Oneal and Russett strive to show that Kant brought forward pertinent claims by advocating for interdependence, democracy and international organizations. Kant’s approach was realistic and is evident through the peace that has prevailed for many years. While a number of scholars have to appreciate the role of democratic peace, it is essential to note that such a view is limiting. Such a perspective fails to explore the full continuum of the Kantian perspective. It is therefore important to shed light on the importance of trade with economical benefits as well as the memberships in international organizations. This involves viewing threat of violence and conflict as inherent in a world that consists of sovereign states. Upholding the sovereignty of countries is important in solving the security dilemma. Moreover, to take Kant’s stand is to put power politics in the sidelines and prioritize international organizations, interdependence and democracy. It also incorporates the use of less force, peaceful relations arise from important trade and there is influence of decision makers by international organizations. 

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In “What Do We Know About War: Norms and the Democratic Peace”, Mitchell engages in a broad discussion revolving around democratic peace. At the moment, democratic states form a majority in the world. The fact that democratic states do not engage in war against each other is an indicator that democratic peace is critical. While it is impossible to generally discern the probability of cooperation by simply viewing the number of democratic states, it is a significant indicator of a state’s behavior and response in a particular situation. It is from this view that it becomes essential to assess the norms that have come up as a result of systemic democratic peace. However, domestic democratic institutions remain a limited way to explain the formation of democratic norms especially because some states lack such institutions. Sytemic democratic peace therefore remains a solid way to look at future interactions, as a normative order is maintained. 

Part 2

The authors leave an unanswered question when tackling their various issues regarding the effectiveness of democratic peace. There is minimal consideration of the negative impact of democratic peace especially in light of the fact that it may be a basis for justifying war (Ish-Shalom, 2013, p. 167). This is however not to say that democratic peace does not creates a favorable platform for explaining peace between democracies. In the past, there has been war against other states that are not necessarily democracies. Into the bargain, while democracies might be a majority in the world, one cannot ignore the numerous states that are not democracies and have the capacity to threaten peace of democracies (Smith, 2013, p. 195; Hobson and Kurki, 2012, p. 2). Evidence that would seek to disprove such a notion should show that indeed the democratic peace theory accounts for the peace of states that are not democracies. It should be explicit in shedding light to the criticism revolving around democratic peace and therefore strive to offer pertinent explanations (Paul, 2012, p. 50). It is a demand to view peace from the perspective of non-democracies that have international relations. While the article “The Kantian Peace: The Pacific Benefits of Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations, 1885-1992” strive to offer explanations inclining towards economically important trade and international organizations, they still fail to exhibit weaknesses of wrongful interpretation of the theory. To a huge extent, Mitchell’s article takes a narrow approach that is not sufficient in the discussion of peace amongst countries. 

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  1. Hobson, C. and Kurki, M. eds., 2012. The conceptual politics of democracy promotion (Vol. 20). London: Routledge.
  2. Ish-Shalom, P., 2013. Democratic peace: A political biography. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  3. Paul, T.V. ed., 2012. International relations theory and regional transformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Smith, R. A., 2013. The American anomaly: US politics and government in comparative perspective. London: Routledge.
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