Democratic Peace Theory
The idea that democracies do not fight each other can be traced back to the writings of Immanuel Kant over two hundred years ago in essay ‘On Perpetual Peace’, however, only in the early 1980s and with the writings of Michael Doyle was the idea consolidated. According to Doyle and other advocates of the democratic peace theory, liberal democratic states have been able to maintain peaceful relations amongst themselves, but are prone to wage war against non-democratic regimes. In order to prove this theory, vast databases have been constructed of historical dyadic relationships between states as well as detailed breakdowns of incidents of inter-state war. The conclusions reached are best shown in the work of Bruce Russett who has argued that
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During this affair, Washington was dealing with the more serious problem of the conflict with the Confederation. Britain used this situation to indirectly give support to the south. Even though the US public was very inclined for war and wanted to resist Britain, the Lincoln administration recognized the disastrous consequences of entering a war against the south and England at the same time. The north was already fully occupied militarily and couldn’t afford another war, hence Washington finally seceded to English pressure and gave in to their demands.
“The british government was hardly less bellicose than the public and the press. Fortified by legal opinions holding that Mason and Slidell had been removed from the Trent in contravention of international law, the cabinet adopted a hard-line policy that mirrored the public mood. Prime minister lord Palmerstone’s first reaction to the news of the Trent incident was to write to the Secretary of State for war that, because of Britain’s precarious relations with the US, the government reconsider cuts in military expenditures planned to take effect in 1862.” (Layne, 1994)
We can therefore see that the avoidance of confrontation in this case cannot be explained by the democratic peace theory. Public opinion and inner state peaceful norms had nothing to do with the decision of going into war. Quite the contrary, the public was in favour of