Paths to Peace: Is Democracy the Answer?

In This Review

Paths to Peace: Is Democracy the Answer?

Edited by Miriam Fendius Elman
MIT Press, 1997
526 pp. $25.00
Purchase

This book constitutes the latest round in the recent debate over the relationship between democracy and peace -- a debate that, in contrast to many academic arguments, has been rich, fruitful, and full of policy consequences. This book argues that democracy is only one of several domestic political factors, such as leadership orientations, civil-military relations, and the like, that determine the likelihood of a state to go to war. The book adds greatly to the fund of empirical knowledge on the subject since its case studies cover many less studied conflicts, such as Peru versus Colombia or Anglo-French relations under the July monarchy. Reasonably, it concludes that while there is indeed something to the correlation between democracy and peace, it is important to identify the specific conditions under which it is most likely to apply. One issue should have been dealt with at greater length: the authors on both sides of the argument tend to conflate democracy and liberalism. But as Fareed Zakaria has written in these pages lately, the two are theoretically and pragmatically separable forms of governance, and a stronger argument could be made for a liberal rather than a democratic peace, as originally argued by Michael Doyle.