Liberal Peace: Selected Essays

Doyle is best known for his seminal essays on democratic peace theory, which have shaped debates about liberalism and war for an entire generation of scholars. Readers will not find a better guide to liberal internationalism and its theoretical rivals than this collection of his writings from the past three decades. Doyle’s primary insight is that relations between liberal democracies tend to be peaceful and that this “separate peace” has provided a foundation for alliances such as NATO and other forms of international cooperation. But Doyle also recognizes that liberal states have not refrained from fighting wars with nonliberal states and have even exhibited a form of international “imprudence” -- for example, during the European colonial wars and in American military interventions during the last century. Several of the essays contrast the classical ideas of liberalism in the writings of Kant, Smith, Locke, Rousseau, and others with the realist alternatives lurking in the shadows of Thucydides. Others explore how the end of the Cold War afforded the United States and other democracies opportunities to strengthen and expand the “international liberal community” and make it the centerpiece of global order. But considering the legacy of George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda,” Doyle concludes that forcible democratization is wrong and self-defeating.

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