Democratic Jihad? Military Intervention and Democracy

Conference paper

Gleditsch, Nils Petter; Lene Siljeholm Christiansen & Håvard Hegre (2007) Democratic Jihad? Military Intervention and Democracy, presented at Post-Conflict Transitions Conference, 30 April-1 May.

Conference information

Democracies rarely if ever fight one another, but they participate in wars as frequently as au-tocracies. They tend to win the wars in which they participate. Democracies frequently build large alliances in wartime, but not only with other democracies. From time to time democra-cies intervene militarily in on-going conflicts. The democratic peace may contribute to a nor-mative justification for such interventions, for the purpose of promoting democracy and eventually for the promotion of peace. This is reinforced by an emerging norm of humanitar-ian intervention. Democracies may have a motivation to intervene in non-democracies, even in the absence of on-going conflict, for the purpose of regime change. The Iraq War may be in-terpreted in this perspective. A strong version of this type of foreign policy may be interpreted as a democratic crusade. The paper examines the normative and theoretical foundations of democratic interventionism. An empirical investigation of interventions in the period 1960–96 indicates that democracies intervene quite frequently, but rarely against other democracies. In the short term, democratic intervention appears to be successfully promoting democratiza-tion, but the target states tend to end up among the unstable semi-democracies. The most widely publicized recent interventions are targeted on poor or resource-dependent countries in non-democratic neighborhoods. Previous research has found these characteristics to re-duce the prospects for stable democracy. Thus, forced democratization is unpredictable with regard to achieving long-term democracy and potentially harmful with regard to securing peace. However, short-term military successes may stimulate more interventions until the negative consequences become more visible.

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