Theory of Democratic Peace


This is a presentation of the main points in an article written by Christopher Layne titled “The Myth of the Democratic Peace”

Theory of Democratic Peace

The theory assumes that states that are democratic treat those that are democratic in a different manner when compared to those that are non-democratic.

-          This raises some serious theoretical issues as it brings a tussle in the field of international relation

-          Nonetheless, the theory has seen to it that security as well as democracy has spread allover the world.


Logic behind the theory

-          Culture and norm creates a shared commitment between democratic countries

-          Absence of war, this has led to institutional constraints

According to the author the logic on institutional-constrain does not provide adequate explanation for absence of war in democratic countries. To him the theory’s explanatory power rests on the ability of persuasiveness of the contention that democratic norms and culture seek to explain. Democratic countries do fight but do not go to war with each other.

After carefully analyzing the four cases he used, the author deduced that realism is superior to democratic peace theory as a predictor of international. There is need to resist the explanatory power of democratic peace theory since despite the fact that the theorist who brought out the concept claim that the theory is validated by lager number of cases might not hold water especially when powerful argument can be brought forth against it.

Case for a democratic peace

-          Democratic countries are less likely to engage in war, this is indeed not true. The theory puts forth that democratic country never goes to war against each other, this is with some variation and when such countries conflict with each other, force is not used as it is illegitimate.

-          To explain a number of anomalies, the theory developed to explanations

  • Institutional constraints-Here governments before going to war know clearly that it is answerable to its citizen, in addition the citizen pay the prize. Discussion about war risks are made open. Check and balances usually prevent democratic states into engaging in war.
  • Democratic norms and cultures-democracies are guided by culture, perception and practices that allow arriving at compromise and peaceful resolution of conflicts. What is key here is that these countries develop positive perception towards one another.

-          In situations where a democratic republic is in conflict with a non democratic one, the former with the realization that the later can take advantage of its democracy, is obliged to change tact and embrace a harsher and stiffer norms in terms of international relation.

Realist case

-          A number of characteristic overshadows international relations, this include war, power, economic competition, formation of alliances among other things. Realist paradigm is characterized by arnachy as it is responsive for giving politics its distinctive flavor.

-          Countries that come out of short end politics can easily get extinct. It is worth mentioning that a country cannot escape security dilemma as military steps taken to beef us security can be seen as a threat to other nations.

Testing democracy peace theory

Public opinion has played major roles in either fostering or constraining war. Thus this cannot be used to gauge democracy as it focuses on independent variable which is decisional constrain. The theory is tested by examining and focusing on near misses.


State democracy is shaped by influence of external factors on the internal political structure of such state. Democratic peaces theory collates between domestic structure and absence of war between democracies but does not clearly establish the link. Thus an alternative hypothesis makes it evident that the democratic peace there sees things in a reverse manner.

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