Ballots, a barrier against the use of bullets and bombs: Democratization and military intervention

Margaret G. Hermann, Charles W. Kegley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Numerous empirical investigations have demonstrated that democracies are prone to cooperate with one another and that they almost never wage war against one another. Such research has inspired hope that so-called democratic peace might be achieved in the post-cold-war era, especially in light of the rapid diffusion of democracy worldwide since the mid-1970s. This article collates two streams of previously unexamined evidence that speak to the promise of this hope. Looking cross-nationally at the incidence of overt military intervention between 1975 and 1991, the study discovers that democracies were unlikely to be the targets of this form of coercive diplomacy. Both democracies and nondemocracies intervened in the internal affairs of democracies less than would be expected by chance. After exploring several contending explanations for this finding, this article advances some hypotheses about why being a democracy may shelter such states from foreign attack and considers the contribution democratization can make to national security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-459
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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