'Democratic peace' may not prevent international conflict

Credit: George Hodan/Public Domain

Using a new technique to analyze 52 years of international conflict, researchers suggest that there may be no such thing as a "democratic peace."

In addition, a model developed with this was found to predict international conflict five and even ten years in the future better than any existing model.

Democratic peace is the widely held theory that democracies are less likely to go to war against each other than countries with other types of government.

In the new study, researchers found that economic trade relationships and participation in international governmental organizations play a strong role in keeping the peace among countries. But democracy? Not so much.

"That's a startling finding because the value of joint democracy in preventing war is what we thought was the closest thing to a law in international politics," said Skyler Cranmer, lead author of the study and The Carter Phillips and Sue Henry Associate Professor of Political Science at The Ohio State University.

"There's been empirical research supporting this theory for the past 50 years. Even U.S. presidents have touted the value of a democratic peace, but it doesn't seem to hold up, at least the way we looked at it."

The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Cranmer's co-authors are Elizabeth Menninga, assistant professor of political science at the University of Iowa and recent Ph.D. graduate in at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Peter Mucha, professor of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Along with casting doubt on democratic peace theory, the study also developed a new way to predict levels of international conflict that is more accurate than any previous model. The researchers used a new technique to examine all violent conflicts between countries during the period of 1948 to 2000. The result was a model of international conflict that was 47 percent better than the standard model at predicting the level of worldwide conflict five and even 10 years into the future.

"The Department of Defense needs to know at least that far in advance what the world situation is going to be like, because it can't react in a year to changes in levels of conflict due to bureaucratic inertia and its longer funding cycle," Cranmer said.

"Being able to have a sense of the global climate in five or 10 years would be extremely helpful from a policy and planning perspective."

The researchers started the study with a famous idea posed by the philosopher Immanuel Kant back in 1795: that the world could enjoy a "perpetual peace" if countries would become more interconnected in three ways. The modern interpretation of those three ways is: Through the spread of democratic states, more economic interdependence through trade, and more joint membership in international governmental organizations, or IGOs. (Modern examples range from regional agricultural organizations to the European Union and NATO.)

Many studies have looked at how these three elements, either together or separately, affect conflict between countries. But even when they were considered together, the impact of the three individual factors were considered additively.

What makes this study unique is that the researchers were the first to use a new statistical measure developed by Mucha - called multislice community detection—to analyze all three of these components collectively. They were able to examine, for the first time, how each component was related to each other. For example, how membership in IGOs affected trade agreements between counties, and vice versa.

"When we looked at these networks holistically, we found communities of countries that are similar not only in terms of their IGO memberships, or trade agreements, or in their democratic governments, but in terms of all these three elements together," Cranmer said.

The separation between such communities in the world is what the researchers called "Kantian Fractionalization."

"You might think of it as the number of cliques the world is split up into and how easy it is to isolate those cliques from one another," Cranmer said.

But the deeper the separation between communities or cliques there are in the world at one time, the more dangerous the world becomes.

By measuring these communities in the world at one specific time, the researchers could predict with better accuracy than ever before how many would occur in one, 5 or 10 years in the future. This study had a broad definition of conflict: any military skirmish where one country deliberately kills a member of another country. Many of the conflicts in this study were relatively small, but it also includes major wars.

Predicting one year into the future, this new model was 13 percent better than the standard model at predicting levels of worldwide conflict. But it was 47 percent better at predicting conflict 5 and 10 years into the future.

"We measured how fragile these networks are to breaking up into communities," Mucha said. "Remarkably, that fragility in a mathematical sense has a clear political consequence in terms of increased conflict."

The linear relationship between higher levels of Kantian fractionalization and more future conflict was so strong that Cranmer couldn't believe it at first.

"I threw up my hands in frustration when I first saw the results. I thought we surely must have made a mistake because you almost never see the kind of clean, linear relationship that we found outside of textbooks," Cranmer said.

"But we confirmed that there is this strong relationship."

Explore further

Our world – an increasingly peaceful place

More information: Kantian fractionalization predicts the conflict propensity of the international system, Skyler J. Cranmer, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1509423112
Citation: 'Democratic peace' may not prevent international conflict (2015, September 3) retrieved 18 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-09-democratic-peace-international-conflict.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 04, 2015
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" -letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816
"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved-- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
-letter to Thomas Jefferson

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."

"God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world."

John Adams

More to come

Sep 04, 2015
"The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes."
- letter to John Taylor

". . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."


Sep 04, 2015
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."

We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions ... shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power ... we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.
-- John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785, quoted from Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom (1991)


Just one more

Sep 04, 2015
As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
"The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
-- Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)


It is customary to included a link when you copy and paste:http://www.wallbu...?id=8755

Sep 04, 2015

It's curious why the link you didn't provide but I easily found, mentioned Adams was one of two signers of the Bill of Rights. He had nothing to do with writing of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, but as Veep he signed with George Washington.

Sep 04, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 04, 2015
Democracy is mob rule. Why should anyone expect peace when 51% can control 49%?

The US is supposed to be a federal republic, NOT a democracy.

Today, any totalitarian socialist regime can hold elections, like Cuba, claim to be a democracy and have socialists like Jimmy Carter certify the results.

GW Bush asserted that trading partners seldom war with each other.

Another conundrum for the socialists, free trade, rule of law, limited govt leads to peace.

Sep 04, 2015

It's curious why the link you didn't provide but I easily found, mentioned Adams was one of two signers of the Bill of Rights. He had nothing to do with writing of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, but as Veep he signed with George Washington.

"The 1780 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drafted by John Adams, is the world's oldest functioning written constitution. It served as a model for the United States Constitution,"

Sep 04, 2015
"Adams saw the two branches of the legislature balancing the power of government, pulling together in times of crisis, but arguing and debating the slow path toward law. He knew people, he knew their weakness, and he and his contemporaries were very aware of the fragility of what they were attempting to build.

Adams even described our modern problem of voter turnout in his description of the republic of St. Marino in Italy.

Another remarkable circumstance is, the reluctance of the citizens to attend the assembly of the arengo, which obliged them to make a law, obliging themselves to attend, upon a penalty. This is a defect, and a misfortune natural to every democratical constitution, and to the popular part of every mixed government. A general or too common disinclination to attend, leaves room for persons and parties more active to carry points by faction and intrigue, which the majority, if all were present, would not approve. (Letter III)"

Sep 04, 2015
John Adams comments about the US Constitution are quite valid.
To assert otherwise is denying history and a lie.

Sep 04, 2015
Since the majority of people have turned their backs on God because of the false teachings for their passions, there was no peace and justice on this planet . Nor real democracy. We have a lot of formal democracy and multy party system that actually boils down to the one party system with common control center - a pseudo democracy. In fact it is difficult to be said governance as by taking into account the total incompetence of the self proclaimed elites, who have made from a paradise planet pigsty. There is no free market also. In the current world politico- economic system is communism or fascism. True democracy and capitalism are impossible in a society that does not live according to God's laws and principles.

Sep 05, 2015
A law, whether created by a majority or a dictator, the violates a right of one individual for the benefit of the many is a bad law.
Democracy is no guarantee of justice.

Sep 05, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 05, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 05, 2015
Pure democracy never works because people are not prefect.

Sep 05, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 05, 2015
mutually overlapping hierarchies - the branches of which at each level compete each other.

Why compete?

The US system was designed as a limited gov't. The Swiss system is a limited federal system. They don't compete. They must cooperate to pass and implement laws.

But the only way they can function is if the limited system is followed and those who conspire to usurp power must be put down, literally or figuratively.

If you don't learn from history, you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

In the US, it's the 70s again: high crime in major cities; riots; injustice; no rule of law; feckless leaders; failing economies; ....

Sep 05, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 05, 2015
What are 'hierarchies of executive and inspecting power'?

Want to limit bribes?

Limit they power of the state to control the lives of others.

The 70s was the result of 'liberal'/socialist gov't. NOT limited, conservative govts.

Sep 05, 2015
Since the majority of people have turned their backs on God because of the false teachings for their passions, there was no peace and justice on this planet
which god? yours? or the baptist? Islamic? Mennonite? Egyptian? Jewish? Greek? Norse? Lakota?
the one your religion stole from another culture?

you think "your" deity is the one true god, but so does EVERY OTHER religious person out there (not spiritual, not someone who has a "faith"- a RELIGIOUS person)

"your" deity can be proven to be false and pasted together from historical religions that are NOT xtian- but egyptian and others

also note: your morality is not the same as others. it is a cultural thing... it differs vastly depending upon your culture and upbringing even if you claim the same religion as someone else, THAT is why there is division even among your "true believers" and fundamentalists

Sep 06, 2015
Privatization (outright theft of public assets) and war are the two most profitable undertakings for kleptocrats, Until the financial incentive for both are eliminated and punished, there will be no peace. Moreover, preparing a nation for war as USA does while concealing $1.1trillion of yearly Afghan narcodollar profits in the military budget, is lucrative and precipitates the other two activities

Sep 06, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 06, 2015
my advice is to read and check the Bible prophesies. All without exception came true with extraordinary precision
only with YOUR interpretations: if you will look at biblical prophesies, they are intentionally vague and capitolise on facets of human nature that are bound to reoccur, from war and famine to "interpretations" of the value or horrendous nature of natural acts from lightning, earthquakes to death and disease
basically, they are vague for the same reason that the local horoscope, psychic hotline and tarot card readers all are vague: because it leaves everything predicted up to INTERPRETATION and when someone WANTS to believe, they will twist reality to suit their needs (this is religion 101)

also note
i know the bible FAR BETTER than you do (& that's been demonstrated)
including it's prophesies and the ways to heaven. i not only studied it and lived it as a youth, but i also continue to study for various reasons from Job to school

Sep 06, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 06, 2015
Scandinavian state in the US and in Scandinavia are notable for their limited corruption and homogeneous society.
Which is the only way they will trust the state to plunder and redistribute so much wealth.
But you will be hearing many complaints as their welfare is being sucked up by Muslims who don't appreciate or respect their society. Minnesota and ND are having difficulties with Somalis for example.
And the govts of Scandinavia, while intrusive into plunder, are much more respective of private property. Look it up under the Index of Economic Liberty.
And here: http://www.transp.../country

Sep 06, 2015
This is silly Russian propaganda, who and how would consume such a volume of narkotics in the USA? And how the USA government could profit from planting of opium there? Get real in these matters just a bit.
My source is American statistician who graduated Carnegie Mellon and makes more in a year than you could in ten. He also has a newsletter with 2500 paying subscribers who actually decide policy and he has connections to people so high you don't know they exist

But of course you think USA's Afghanistan invasion and subsequent hundredfold output of heroin trafficked via Albanian KLA terrorists and NATO are just coincidence. You're a good sheep

Sep 07, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 07, 2015
"As in 1968, crime again stands to dislodge the Democrats from the White House, in the same way that in 1988 crime helped propel George H.W. Bush to Ronald Reagan's third term."
" The ghosts of Chicago and the 1968 Democratic Convention are once again alive, and ready to haunt."

Sep 08, 2015
And you're poor Kremlin propagandist. As you told us already, you're a Russian living in USA, despite you don't like the USA government. Why are you doing it? Is it because you're enjoying the higher living standards in USA? You see, after then you're enjoying the money from narcotic business too. If you would be really high-principled person, you would return into Russia already.
See you're wrong from the start. I'm not living in USA, Must be your Slovak aggression. I'm watching USA implode like an astronomer. Fascinating stuff but you're too ignorant to take part in the conversation. All you can do is downvote like some amoeba and name call like some schoolchild

Sep 10, 2015
Thank you, I'm a Brit and know not a whole lot about the early political history of the USA, those quotes are illuminating.

Sep 10, 2015
Thank you, I'm a Brit and know not a whole lot about the early political history of the USA, those quotes are illuminating.
Vietvet missed the main point, which is that the fabled Jesus was killed at the hands of the moneychangers. The same people to whom he pledges undying allegiance, also known as the devil

Sep 11, 2015
That's a prediction and it's eternally True
no, it is an assumption based upon a book that is proven to be fallacious and also directly contradicts itself in numerous places... it is not validated in science (nor by historical record)so when you claim
There is only One, and only One Way
how do you know it is your way? Your book is proven to have stolen religious tenets and beliefs from other older religions, from the flood myth to your deities dead son from a virgin birth rising to re-live (See Egypt), therefore, if you want to base an opinion that there is a "true" way, it would have to appeal to older religions, from Egyptian to other shamanistic multi-deity worship
Some, not all
No, all...
do you know who authored the new testaments? you should research that a little...
also: there is NO historical proof of your deity or it's doings- just "eyewitness" testimony... the absolute worst there is
can you say UFO?

Sep 12, 2015
You cannot provide even one piece of evidence that says it may ever be possible to prove "That's a prediction and it's eternally True" is wrong
I don't need to, as it is a subjective argument with no empirical evidence, thus it can be dismissed out of hand as simply the proselytizing of a religious fanatic (AKA- conjecture without evidence = personal bias without proof)… this is supported by your argument
If you attempt to argue that then you don't have a truthful position
this comment means that, per your dogma, you allow no reasonable discourse, therefore you refuse to acknowledge the scientific method or evidence, thus you are arguing from a religion, not evidence


Sep 12, 2015
@daveTROLL cont'd
I understand what you have said and why, but you have made a presumption that is in truthful fact, incorrect
if you are stating it is incorrect, then you didn't understand at all
your argument, even the one of "truth" us purely subjective, thus based upon your opinion and experiences and beliefs… not on facts or the scientific method. Truth for you is not the same as truth for me, as I require evidence that meets the requirements of the scientific method. This means repeat-ability, for starters… and your "truth" is subjective to your religion. It is different in other religions as well as with different cultures, therefore: SUBJECTIVE

there is also no predictability with your "truth": even among your own religion of xtianity (or whatever) there is factions who differ in their interpretations of "truth" - you see this from the Anabaptists to the 7th day adventist

therefore, your entire argument is religious: NOT FACTUAL


Sep 12, 2015
@daveTROLL cont'd
God still loves those that have mental illness
at least you will still be loved by someone
you don't know yourself and unintentionally attempt to devalue yourself as less than most important
personal conjecture without evidence
what the Truth says; The Word of God
i know your xtian bible far better than you do
Faith comes from hearing the Word of God: The Truth
the ASSumption that the word of your deity is "truth" while quoting a reference that is repeatedly shown to contradict itself; while also failing to actually abide by the tenets in your own book; while refusing to acknowledge that you have failed to meet your own religious constraints... this proves you are arguing a subjective argument that is irrelevant and can be dismissed with no evidence.

there is NO evidence supporting the claim that your specific deity is "truth" or in any way superior to any other deity/natural element


Sep 12, 2015
@daveTROLL cont'd
Your understanding and statement of faith is completely incorrect
no, it isn't. A faith-Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence https://www.wordn...ds/faith

a faith is the foundation of a religion, typically (hence definitions 4-6)
a religion is the tenets (dogma, laws) that create a methodology for segregating unbelievers (thus they're designed, by definition, to create a prejudiced perspective)… these laws dictate actions and call for reprimand by various methods, from social pressure to physical action (ie: stoning/death)
If a person believes in what is true
one mans true is another mans fairy tale, ESPECIALLY WRT religions!
I suggest you put the books down
and i suggest you actually pick up some books and try to open your mind to FACTS and REALITY - the scientific method!

and i can quote random irrelevant stuff too... see?
Now you know the rest of the story
Paul Harvey

Sep 14, 2015
So, you when to name calling, "LYING", instead of accepting the mutual truth between all life
WTF does that even mean?
you are the only one lying... and that is evident in your delusional post... especially since, as i am not a "true believer" in your delusion, then you conclude
You represent evil in it's purest form
what do you call those who hypocritically live in a religion of "peace" but kill or cause harm indiscriminately with their misinformation and lies like you do?
If all life is lost here, and for every life that is needlessly lost until that time, the blood is on your hands
so now you want to blame me for your inadequacies?
can't take responsibility for your own self and your chosen religious beliefs?

you keep living in your fantasy world... i will live in reality

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more