Democratic Jihad? Military Intervention and Democracy

Conference paper

Gleditsch, Nils Petter; Lene Siljeholm Christiansen & Håvard Hegre (2004) Democratic Jihad? Military Intervention and Democracy, presented at Joint Sessions of Workshops, 13-18 April.

Download programme from ECPR website


Democracies rarely if ever fight one another, but they participate in wars as fre-quently as autocracies. They tend to win the wars that they participate in. De-mocracies frequently build large alliances in wartime, but not only with other democracies. From time to time democracies intervene militarily in on-going con-flicts. The democratic peace may contribute to a normative 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 humanitarian in-tervention. 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 recent Iraq War may be interpreted in this perspective. A strong version of this type of foreign policy may be interpreted as a democratic crusade. The paper ex-amines 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 democratization, but the target states tend to end up among the unstable semi-democracies. The most widely publicized recent interventions are targeted on countries in regions of low democratization. Thus, forced democratization is un-predictable with regard to achieving long-term democracy and potentially harm-ful with regard to securing peace. However, the short-term successes may stimulate more interventions until the negative consequences become more visible.

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