Volume 23, Issue 2, 2013
Democracy, Peace and the War System
The Democratic Peace Project
The idea that peace prevails in the relations among liberal democratic states, given its first expression in Kant’s essay “Toward Perpetual Peace,” has gathered a great deal of attention in the post-Cold War period as both a testable hypothesis and a proposal for expanding peace through democratization. This article examines the explanations for how a democratic peace is achieved and sustained. It argues that, despite tendencies within democratic state relations toward peaceful conflict resolution, such a peace is destabilized by continued adherence to a set of assumptions and practices which we might call, following Jane Addams and John Dewey, ‘the war system.’ In the context of the ideological and institutional supports of militarism, democratic states remain subject to the dynamics of conflict escalation that produce occasions for war. This war system is the undoing of the democratic peace.