Peaceful Democracies; Supporting Freedom Abroad Will Reduce conflicts.(OPED)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 13, 2002 | Go to article overview

Peaceful Democracies; Supporting Freedom Abroad Will Reduce conflicts.(OPED)


Byline: Arnold Beichman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

One of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest, for supporting democratic nations like Israel and Taiwan against their enemies is not merely because they are democracies but, equally important, that history shows that democracies do not fight each other regardless of cultural, political and economic differences between them. In other words, the more democracies in the world, the greater assurance of world peace. Modern wars have either been between dictatorships, theocratic or secular, or between a democracy and a non-democracy.

Recent wars in the Middle East have been between Iraq and Kuwait and between Iran and Iraq, none of which are democracies, and there have been seven wars between Israel and Arab states in the last half-century. Yet Turkey, a functioning democracy whose people also practice Islam, is a friend and ally of Israel. In all seven wars against Israel, Turkey has stood aloof.

More than two centuries have passed since the first modern democracy was established in Philadelphia. In that time there have been countless wars, but none between any two democracies, and in modern times none between Western, liberal, democratic capitalist countries. In fact, Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher, predicted in 1795 that a world of democracies would create what he called "perpetual peace."

In other words, America's crusade for democracy is no search for moonbeams. It is a policy of hard-headed realism. President Bush is aware of this "perpetual peace" phenomenon. In his June 1 West Point graduation speech, he said, "Competition between great nations is inevitable, but armed conflict in our world is not. More and more, civilized nations find ourselves on the same side - united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos."

Europe, a continent of democracies, is today nearer to a durable continental peace than at any time since the 19th century and the 100 year Pax Brittanica. Who can envision war among any of the democracies in the European Union? Germany versus France? Or even among non-EU members - democratic Russia versus the Baltic democratic states?

But there were wars in the last century, the century of totalitarianism, in which governments like the Soviet Union, Communist China, Nazi Germany and others became enemies of their own people. Professor Rudolph J. Rummel, a University of Hawaii political scientist, has been compiling statistics of mass murder and genocide in modern times by governments against their own peoples. His research has led him to the fearsome conclusion that 20th-century dictatorial governments killed more of their own people - three times as many -as have been killed in all civil and international wars put together. …

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