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Journal Article

Democracy and the Peaceful Settlement of International Conflict

William J. Dixon
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 88, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 14-32
DOI: 10.2307/2944879
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2944879
Page Count: 19
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Democracy and the Peaceful Settlement of International Conflict
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Abstract

The research reported here develops an explanation for the often-noted absence of international war between democratic states. This explanation is derived from a theoretical rationale centered on universal democratic norms for reconciling competing values and interests. I argue that democratic states locked in disputes are better equipped than others with the means for diffusing conflict situations at an early stage before they have an opportunity to escalate to military violence. Not only is this explanatory logic consistent with the published findings on democracy and war, but it also entails the novel empirical proposition that disputes between democracies are more amenable than are other disputes to peaceful settlements, the hypothesis I examine here. Analyses of contemporary interstate disputes reveal that even when potentially confounding factors are controlled, democratic opponents are significantly more likely to reach peaceful settlements than other types of disputants.

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