Which international relations theoretical perspective offers the strongest (and weakest) explanations for the democratic peace? Why?
Determining which theoretical perspective offers the strongest and weakest explanation for democratic peace can be hard. Part of me is inclined to say every factor is equally important, but as the book states, “If everything causes something, nothing does” (Nau, 2017). There cannot be cause and effect if everything holds an equal importance. So, taking that into mind, I feel like the liberal perspective provides the strongest explanation for democratic peace. No country is truly self-sufficient and each relies on others for some sort of creature comfort or life necessity. It is a harsh lesson the United States may soon learn if the current trade war continues to escalate just too feed a megalomaniac’s ego. For that reason, I also think that the identity perspective is the weakest. The United States, in general, has few common values with someplace like Saudi Arabia, but we rely on them for crude oil. We try to maintain peace with them so we do not lose a much-needed product.
Will the democratic peace be a long-lasting phenomenon? Why or why not?
I would be reluctant to say definitively that democratic peace will prevail for the long-term simply based on current world situations. If the primary determining factor in prevailing peace is trade and inter-dependence, what will happen if rampant Nationalism and isolationism continue to spread? If citizens of countries are forced to learn how to make do without things produced within their own borders, then what is to prevent the collapse of peace? The discomfort will have to be so great as to serve as a catalyst to re-globalization of trade.
In response to the democratic peace, should U.S. foreign policy encourage the spread of democracy? If so, how?
I believe it would be a mistake for the United States to push foreign policy that seeks to aggressively spread democracy. We have long envisioned ourselves as the world’s police and it has had some negative impact. The cost associated with the spread of democracy is part of what has led to the rise in Nationalism and isolationism in the US. People who are suffering financially see the money we spend on other countries and wonder why they must go without. This may be a false equivalency, but it is something many feel. There is an old saying about making sure your house is clean before criticizing another’s that applies here. The US should address their internal issues before trying to get others to follow in their footsteps.
Nau, H. R. (2017). Perspectives on international relations: Power, institutions, and ideas (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.