The person I'm speaking about is Immanuel Kant. I wish I could
remember the search term I used to find the following article, because
now I can't retrace my steps except by using Kant's name in the search
term. In any case, here's a book chapter I'm sure you will find very
Never at War
Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another
by Spencer R. Weart
"Almost in desperation we turn to the claim that free peoples will not
make war on one another. This idea had been developed by 1785, when
there were scarcely any democracies in existence, by the great
philosopher Immanuel Kant. A world where every state was a democracy,
he wrote, would be a world of perpetual peace. Free peoples, Kant
explained, are inherently peaceful; they will make war only when
driven to it by tyrants."
Weart goes on to say that in one sense Kant wasn't really right. But
then he points out that in most of the counterexamples to Kant's
thesis that one side wasn't really a democracy as we use the term
Here is part of what Kant said:
"If the consent of the citizens is required to decide that war should
be declared, nothing is more natural than that they would be very
cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all
of the calamities of war. Among the latter would be: having to fight,
having to pay the costs of the war from their own resources, having
painfully to repair the devastation war leaves behind, and, to fill up
the measure of evils, load themselves with a heavy national debt that
would embitter peace itself...."
I found Kant's statement in this article:
The Responsibilities of Democracies in Preventing Deadly Conflict
Here are some other resources that may be of use for you:
War Less Likely Between Mature Democracies
"Also, history shows that young democracies, or ones that are just
emerging as great Powers, can behave in quite an aggressive way. They
may argue that their opponents are undemocratic, or anyway less
democratic than themselves, but this difference is not always so
obvious to third parties. So perhaps we should confine ourselves to
saying that war is less likely between mature democracies.
"Why should that be so? The explanation that seems to me most
convincing, or most likely to be decisive, is that liberal democracy
is essentially an open and transparent system, which contains in-built
safeguards against military adventurism."
Kant's Ideas on Republics and Democracies
Bibliography on Democracy and War
Democracies at War
"... [S]uccessful democratization appears to bring peace to otherwise
potentially warring nations. Resurrecting an empirical observation
first speculated on by the political philosopher Immanuel Kant, a
consensus formed in the academic community during the early 1990s that
democracies almost never fight each other.3 This belief spread to the
American presidency, leading the Clinton administration to emphasize
democratization in its foreign policy as it concluded that the best
way to stabilize traditionally dangerous regions like Eastern Europe
was to foster the spread of liberal democratic institutions."
You have found an interesting subject. Best wishes in your studies!
Search term: democracies war kant
Request for Answer Clarification by
28 Dec 2003 12:56 PST
Dear Mr. Mvguy-
Your most illuminating response, unfortunately, as any good answer
should, opens up so many more questions!
The most specific detail that would satisfy my curiosity would be to
know at what point the Clinton Administration made the decision to
emphasize democratization as part of our foreign policy.
I ask this because on October 10, 1997 I sent President Clinton a
paper entitled: ?Victory In Bosnia ? where the ?War to End All War?
Some five weeks later ? on November 18th ? I received an
acknowledgement in the form of what has generally been accepted as a
personally signed letter.
I have been advising U.S. Presidents since JFK (whether they wanted my
advice or not!!!) so any timetable you could give me would either
inflate or deflate my ego tremendously ? but Satyagraha (the
discipline espoused by Gandhi and often mis-translated as
non-violence) properly translates as Truth-Force.