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Peurile Pining for Muslim India

Thrashing the Neo-Cons, Again

Niall Ferguson on the Iraq War:

It was from the outset a strategy based more on political science than on history. The “democratic peace” theory states that two democracies are always and everywhere less likely to go to war with one another than two dictatorships, or a democracy and a dictatorship. The neocons inferred from this that a more democratic Middle East would be a more peaceful Middle East.

That's not quite right. The Democratic Peace Theory talks of wars only between liberal democracies of which there have been none in the past two centuries.

Yet history offers a salutary warning. Even a complete success in Iraq would leave an awful lot of non-democracies right next door, notably Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is now the principal menace to stability in the region. In any case, what the democratic peace theory doesn’t tell you is the number of countries that have plunged into civil war after democratization.

Yes, the war was risky for many reasons. Instead of this usual boring criticism, can't you offer something productive?

Iraq could easily go the way of Lebanon in the late 1970s, only bigger and bloodier. And such a war could easily escalate into a regional conflict.

If the history of 20th century Europe is anything to go by, all the ingredients are now in place for the biggest conflagration in Middle Eastern history. The only good news is that the first thing to go up in smoke will be the theory of a democratic peace.

No, it won't. Iraq is surrounded by non-democracies. How would a regional conflict with them hurt the "democratic" peace theory?


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