In international studies, the “democratic peace thesis” stands out for its theoretical and empirical importance. In summary, this thesis presents three fundamental axioms: (a) the monadic: democracies are more peaceful than authoritarian regimes; (b) the dyadic: democracies rarely go to war with each other; and c) systemic: the more democracies there are, the more peaceful the international system will be. A fundamental debate has developed over the years between the promoters and detractors of this thesis. However, it seems necessary to comment on the problematic nature of its use as a foreign policy dogma.
The thesis finds its normative origin in a book by the philosopher Immanuel Kant from 1795: “To Perpetual Peace”. Two great maxims are presented: the expansion of a federation of republics as a formula for world peace and the consultation of philosophers on their conditions of possibility. However, Kant’s last aspiration was a world republic ruled by cosmopolitan law and universal hospitality, a fundamental distance from contemporary uses of the democratic peace thesis.
How did what had been an exercise in reflection become dogma? It was from American President Woodrow Wilson, and his famous 14 Points for World Peace, that a sort of missionary ideology was established, responsible for evangelizing other corners of the world with the values and form of American government. . This moreover becomes a cornerstone of the Cold War by providing the basis for President Truman’s doctrine of 1947. It is not the division of the world between communism and capitalism, but between democracy and authoritarianism, which traces the contours of the confrontation with the soviet. Union.
The thesis of democratic peace today
Far from disappearing with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the thesis of democratic peace did not fail to spread its appeal among the American elites. Achieved his media fame in the 1990s with Francis Fukuyama’s “end of story” argument, Clinton inscribed it as a guiding principle of his foreign policy, George W. Bush urged him to l extreme in Iraq and Afghanistan with “offensive wars”. after September 11, Obama reissued it in Libya and with the push of the Arab Spring and Trump claimed it in his crusade against the Huawei company and “Chinese authoritarianism.” Nothing is lost, everything is transformed.
The recent publication of the Interim National Security Strategic Directive shows a Biden administration determined to take an increasingly rigid, dogmatic and polarizing line on the challenge posed by a “totalitarian China.” Supporting the Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang, supporting the democratic movement in Hong Kong or firmly defending Taiwan are decisions that have a common thread: the vision of a world divided between democratic nations and aggressive dictatorships that seek to undermine it, in which only the United States, with a league of democracies, they would offer the long-awaited salvation.
Recent initiatives like the proposal to reaffirm NATO by bringing India, or the attempt to include South Korea in the quadrilateral alliance between the United States, India, Australia and Japan known as the name of Quad are risky bets in favor of a democratic coalition à la carte to fight. China and Russia. Add to that a more uncompromising stance on Beijing, as evidenced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s cold meeting with Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska. Part of the problem is a misconception: The United States believes it can still speak to China from a position of strength.
Biden and Latin America
If the so-called restoration wants to insist that democracy is the best political system, it suggests that the Biden administration does not exclude pressure on Latin American countries and does not intervene to “defend democracy. and human rights ”.
The nuances in a recent State Department report of “illegitimate regime” for Venezuela, “authoritarian state” for Cuba and “corrupt regime” for Nicaragua show the use of more sophisticated language for identify “illegal threats”. The extension of the decree declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to security or the open ruling on the rule of law in Bolivia foreshadows iron surveillance, economic sanctions and / or covert actions, without excluding the use of force against countries aligned with China and Russia in the region. It is geopolitics that is under the veil.
US presidents say the world to be safe must be as similar as possible to the United States. Fortunately, the temptation to impose political regime changes on other countries in the image and likeness of Washington has two major counterparts at the present time: the pronounced refusal of American society to engage in “Eternal wars” and the deepening of internal politico-ideological polarization. Today, as the world’s oldest representative democracy goes through one of the most fragile moments in its history, the big task will be to demonstrate that the system still works.
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