Many scholars and policy-makers have pinned their hopes on the expectation that in the post-Cold War world peace will be preserved if the diffusion of democracy continues. This hope is grounded on the demonstrable evidence that historically democracies have rarely, if ever, waged large-scale war to resolve their disputes with one another. Yet explanations as to why this propensity is exhibited have been unsatisfactory, and debate about the causes of ‘the democratic peace’ as well as about the domain to which it applies have not resulted in consensus. Reviewing the empirical findings in this genre of research, this article examines a deviant case — the Reagan Administration's covert military interventions in the 1980s against established governments — to generate propositions about the heretofore neglected influence of democratic leaders' perceptions and beliefs on the linkage between democracy and peace. The implications for subsequent theory-building are probed to suggest how explanations and descriptions of the democratic peace might be improved by taking an expanded view of its preconditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)
- Political Science and International Relations