Domestic Structures and Democratic Foreign Policy: Peacemaking After World War II

Norrin Ripsman
Content Type
Working Paper
Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics, University of Pennsylvania
Unlike the comparative political economy literature, the literature on foreign security policy treats democracies as a coherent category of states, focusing on their commonalities rather than their differences. Both classical and contemporary theorists of foreign security policy have emphasized that all democratic states--states that are characterized by popular sovereignty, where the ultimate source of authority resides within the people as a whole -- share certain constitutional, procedural and normative features which affect the nature and content of their foreign security policies in similar ways. Using this logic, traditional Realists have argued that public involvement in the policy process makes democracies slow to react to international threats, reluctant to spend on defense, incapable of secrecy and war-averse; consequently, they conclude that democracies are at a disadvantage in international politics, where balance-of-power policies are necessary. Liberals, on the other hand, argue that democracies enjoy certain advantages at international bargaining, devote more aggregate resources to implementing their foreign and security policies, and are less likely than non-democratic states to have their policies subverted to serve the particular interests of their leaders, private interest groups or foreign countries. Moreover, as democratic peace theorists have recently argued, shared political norms and common political procedures prevent democracies from waging war against other democracies.
Security, Foreign Policy, Government, Peace Studies
Political Geography
United States, United Kingdom, Europe, France