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Freedom to Fight
Political science professor examines why emerging democracies go to war.
April 25, 2006
States that attempt the changeover from authoritarian regimes to democracy without a strong judicial system, a professional news media, organized political parties and other institutions of accountability are unlikely to complete the transition. “When these institutions are deformed or weak,” states Mansfield, “politicians are better able to resort to nationalist appeals, tarring their opponents as enemies of the nation, in order to prevail in electoral competition. The use of such appeals generally heightens the prospect that democratization will stimulate the use of force.” It’s a pattern that dates back at least to the French Revolution, the political scientists say, and they marshal quantitative data and case studies to support their claim. The adage about mature democratic states not warring against each other might be true, but the way to “democratic peace,” Mansfield and Snyder show, is a perilous path.
School of Arts & Sciences Office of Advancement
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