Nils Petter Gleditsch
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
In what they label 'a self-consciously antiestablishment book', the authors propose that the separate peace between democratic states has generated wide-ranging socialization effects and spread extensively throughout the international system. Francis Fukuyama was spot on when he declared in 1989 that democracy was diffusing throughout the globe. Continued economic growth will create conditions for continued democratization. At the same time, this does not imply the continued dominance of the West. Instead, there will be competing democratizations, perhaps even a 'clash of democratizations'. Focusing on the next 25 years, the authors argue that major political conflict will increasingly be between democracies rather than between democratic and autocratic communities of nations, but not as armed violence. The book proposes a fusion of two seemingly incompatible theses by Fukuyama and Huntington. And while historian Niall Ferguson is pessimistic about the decline of the West, Harrison and Mitchell celebrate it as the fruition of modernization and as a Cold War dream come true. Their argument is clearly influenced by the Arab Spring, which the authors see as beginning in Iran after its experiment with political Islam failed to provide an answer to the problems facing Muslim societies. The spill-over of norms from the international community into the Arab world is essentially the same as what generated the peaceful revolutions in 1989. While interventions have their problems, non-intervention in Syria has produced a much bloodier civil war. Nevertheless, three years on, their view of the prospects of democracy in Egypt and Libya seem on the optimistic side. Despite some questions marks about their optimism, this is a challenging and pioneering book.