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The Democratic peace theory stipulates that a democratic country should not engage in war with another democratic country. Democratic Peace theory can also be referred to as liberal democratic theory or the democratic peace. The concept of democratic peace was scientifically evaluated during the 1960s although it had existed earlier during the time Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant later on wrote an essay entitled Perpetual Peace in 1795. According to Kent in his essay, he believed people would never agree to vote to go to war unless it was for the sole purpose of self defense. Therefore, he believed that the solution to the end of war lay in all people becoming democrats. This way, according to him, nobody would ever vote to go to war hence war would cease. Although other explanations and theories have been put across, the modern theory still holds that democratic nations will hardly ever go to war. A criminologist, Dean Babst, also conducted some research to prove this theory. After conducting his research, he wrote an academic paper to support the theory. This was in 1964. In 1972, he further published another more popular version of the paper supporting the democratic peace theory. Rudolph J. Rummel, Melvin Small, J. David(1976), Maoz& Russet(1993),Bremer(1992), Maoz & Abdolali (1989)and Michael Doyle (1983) were some of the other early researchers who studied the theory and found it to be true. This observation was however based on their opinion and point of view.
A democratic state can be defined in many different ways depending on the opinion and understanding one has. For instance, researchers Small and Singer define a democratic state as any state that holds periodic and regular elections of its leaders and has opposition parties that are free to operate in government. Doyle on the other hand focused his definition on the basis of a country having a liberal régime, citizens who have been accorded their judicial rights as well as a state that has a representative government while Rummel defined a democratic state as a state that has a system where the leaders are elected by a majority of votes. All these people are right. A democratic state is a state where the political structure of government is selected by the people of the country. The people have a right to accept the leaders they feel are good or refuse the leaders they feel will not represent them accordingly. Moreover, citizens of a democratic state are subjected to periodic elections held at regular intervals. It's a form of government where people are in charge. This means that it is made by the people for the people. The will of the people is reflected in the democratic political process.
War on the other hand entails an organized violent conflict resulting from disagreements between two or more organized parties. A war is characterized by extreme aggression and violence, which in turn results in the disruption of the society's peace and day to day running. War is premeditated and its main objective is to force the opposing party to either submit, assimilate or to destroy the other group. In a war, at least one thousand (1,000) people die.
Therefore, to say that two democratic states will never engage in war is not entirely true. This is because at some point, countries are bound to disagree on various issues and this may in turn spark a war. Moreover, having peace does not come from being a democratic state. Peace is earned through hard work. , just like every other good thing in this world. Therefore, there are no shortcuts.
The theory of Democratic peace has evolved over the year. This has been through the effective use of empirical data that has been collected over time. According to the theory, 01liberal democratic states should never go to war with each other. Moreover, the rate of conflict between two liberal democratic states should be minimal. There are various reasons to back this theory.
The most common reason is that if two democratic states go to war, the elected leaders will no doubt be held accountable for any losses incurred. This in turn influences the political career of the leaders. Therefore, majority of the leaders will prefer to consider other alternatives to war. These other methods may include mediation, peace talks and arbitration between the warring parties. This in return prevents the loss of life and property.
However, it is not mandatory that democracy will bring peace in a society. Woodrow Wilson was one of the earliest proponents to this theory. He did not share the opinion that peace could only be achieved through democracy. This was reflected in his 'war message'. This was in April 2, 1917. In his message, Wilson stated," A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep the faith within it or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honor, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plotting of inner circles that could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart. Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honor steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own" (Lenhard, 2010).
Although it could be possible that democratic countries do not go to war against each other, it is not realistic. A good example lies in India which is a democratic state yet it wages war against Pakistan. United States on the other hand was waging war on Iraq and Afghanistan yet America is one of the world's leading democratic states. Therefore, the world's greatest threat is not inter-state war; rather, it is terrorism, nuclear arms and religious and ethnical conflicts. Moreover, the United States has over the last century been involved in almost every major war that has erupted in the world. This is irrespective of whether the involvement was direct or indirect. Therefore, democracy has not played any part in keeping its promises to its citizens.
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A democratic government is therefore not responsible for the peace of a nation. This can be shown through the example of Ukraine. In the1900s, Ukraine was a peaceful nation yet it was not a democratic state. Another example is in the Soviet Union. It held competitive elections periodically and it was peaceful yet only the communist party was allowed on the ballot. This proves that democracy does not make peace rather peace makes democracy.
Different countries have different political systems of government. A political system entails a system of government and politics. A political system has authority over the people it governs as well as it should practice fair and just means of doing things. Moreover, a political system contains all the rules that should be followed to do things within the country. A political system is composed of a set of institutions and members of a social organization. Therefore, everyone in a country is governed by the political system put in place (Clarke, 2001).
There are different types of political systems. They include; Anarchy, Democracy, monarchy, meritocracy, technocracy, republic, sultanate, Islamic democracy, theocracy, Westminster system and feudalism. The type of political system that is selected to govern a country is based on not only the ethnicity of the people, but also the religious views the people of that country hold. For example, Iraq or any other Islam country may prefer to choose the Islamic democracy type of government. This is because it co exists with the religious belief and practices of the people in that country. Trying o change the political system of such a country will create chaos. This as a result will breed turmoil and civil unrest. The country will as a result become divided between those who want change and those who do not leading to inter community wars.
Types of political systems are also determined by the cultural practices of a country. For example, the Arabic people practice the sultanate type of government. This is because; their culture recognizes the sultan as the symbol of power and authority making it difficult for any outsider to interfere with their political make-up (Gowa, 2000).
Although democracy is probably the most palatable system of government, countries need to realize that it is not the only one. Every country is best suited for a certain type of government and it does not necessarily have to match with that of another country. Therefore, countries can avoid the turmoil and chaos that arises from trying to change their system of government to a democratic one. Instead, the people should work together to improve their current system of government as long as it is effective. Trying changing the political structure of a country in most cases may lead to rebel groups forming. These groups oppress the people. An example is the country of Somalia. In an n attempt to make the government better, the country has been plunged into chaos and violence. This has led to very many people dying while scores of others have become refugees in neighboring countries. This does not have to be the case. This scenario can be prevented from occurring. After all, prevention is better than cure (Miller & Lynn, 1996).
For many years, it was believed that for a country to be peaceful, it had to transform its mode of government to a political one. This was brought about by the Democratic Peace Theory. However, years of research has proved otherwise. Peace does not come from being democratic. Although it may contribute to enhancing peace, democracy is not the solution to peace. This fact has been proved over and over by the fact that we find the United States of America an involved in almost every war that has occurred in the world. This is contradicting since it is the world's leading democratic country. Therefore this goes to show that being democratic does not mean that peace will come automatically (Thomson & Rasler, 2005).
Peace comes from an understanding between people. People come together and agree to live harmoniously with each other irrespective of their differences. Muslims and Christians have over the years learnt to live together in harmony despite their different religious backgrounds. It is therefore important for people to take time and understand each other to avoid unnecessary conflict. Countries on the other hand do not need to change their political make up in order to achieve peace. The only scenario when a political system should be changed is if the system is oppressive to its citizens. Otherwise, the people should work together to improve their political systems rather than waste time chasing to change their system to match that of another country in the belief that I t will bring peace. Peace is created by the people and not the political system that governs them.
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