Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the following sections: Nuclear Weapons, Peace, Rights, Rule of Law, and the Social Contract




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Foreign aid is good




Foreign aid is useless or bad


Economic assistance to poor nations has not proved helpful

Vladislav Inozemtsev (chairman of the advisory board for the journal Russia in Global Affairs) and Sergei Karaganov (chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; editorial board chairman, Russia in Global Affairs), “Imperialism of the fittest,” The National Interest, Summer 2005, p. 75-76

“The humanitarian and development aid that has been provided by Western countries has tended to corrupt the population and governments of the failing and failed states. Contrary to popular opinion, financial aid packages do not encourage the modernization of the target economies. Instead, they give rise to parasitic attitudes and overt corruption. Furthermore, granting these beleaguered countries a more favorable trade regime often has a similar effect, since raw materials make up the bulk of their exports. It should not be forgotten that no raw material economy has been successful in restructuring itself through the good fortune of high resource prices on the global markets. Moreover, in those regions where there have been no precedents for successful development, such as Africa and the Greater Middle East, a culture of insurmountable backwardness is manifest in the stagnation, and even degradation, of human capital. Indeed, most of these countries have eschewed economic development to remain exporters of raw materials and have retained semi-feudal political systems defined by patronage and corruption. (Of course, the ruling elites are more than happy to point to other reasons for their countries’ problems, but never to their own incompetence or greed.)”


Democracy promotion is good




Democracy promotion is useless or bad


The spread of democracy undermines U.S. foreign policy

Robert D. Kaplan (U.S. journalist, staff correspondent), “Supremacy by stealth,” The Atlantic, July-August 2003, p. 67

“Precisely because they foment dynamic change, liberal empires — like those of Venice, Great Britain, and the United States — create the conditions for their own demise. Thus they must be especially devious. The very spread of the democracy for which we struggle weakens our grip on many heretofore docile governments: behold the stubborn refusal by Turkey and Mexico to go along with U.S. policy on Iraq. Consequently, if we are to get our way, and at the same time to promote our democratic principles, we will have to operate nimbly, in the shadows and behind closed doors, using means far less obvious than the august array of power displayed in the air and ground war against Iraq.”


The transition to democracy takes time, and that transition is destabilizing

Thomas Carothers (senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for World Peace), World Policy Journal, Fall 1994, p. 51

“Thus, although democracy as an endpoint may provide a good means of managing conflicting forces in society, democratization as a process is a risky path in which unpredictable forces are unchained in societies where mediating values and institutions usually are still quite weak. Yet in promoting democracy abroad, what the United States is usually doing is helping countries initiate processes of democratization; the endpoint of consolidated democracy is usually very far from view in efforts to promote democracy.”


The transition to democracy destabilizes other nations

Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder (both professors of political science at Columbia Univ.), Foreign Affairs, May-June 1995, p. 79

“It is probably true that a world in which more countries were mature, stable democracies would be safer and preferable for the United States. But countries do not become mature democracies overnight. They usually go through a rocky transition, where mass politics mixes with authoritarian elite politics in a volatile way. Statistical evidence covering the past two centuries shows that in this transitional phase of democratization, countries become more aggressive and war-prone, not less, and they do fight wars with democratic states.”


Wars become more likely

Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder (both professors of political science at Columbia Univ.), Foreign Affairs, May-June 1995, p. 81

“Based on those tables, we compare the probability that a democratizing state subsequently goes to war with the probabilities of war for states in transition toward autocracy and for states undergoing no regime change. The results of all these tests show that democratizing states were more likely to fight wars than were states that had undergone no change in regime. This relationship is weakest one year into democratization and strongest at ten years. During any given ten-year period, a state experiencing no regime change had about one chance in six of fighting a war in the following decade. In the decade following democratization, a state’s chance of fighting a war was about one in four. When we analyze the components of our measure of democratization separately, the results are similar. On average, an increase in the openness in the selection process for the chief executive doubled the likelihood of war. Increasing the competitiveness of political participation or increasing the constraints on a country’s chief executive (both aspects of democratization) also made war more likely. On average, these changes increased the likelihood of war by about 90% and 35% respectively.”


Despite belief to the contrary, democracies are not peaceful

George Sorensen (professor of international politics and economics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark), Democracy and Democratization, 1993, p. 92

“However, several recent studies have rejected the idea that democracies are more peaceful than other regimes. Melvin Small and J. David Singer studied wars between 1816 and 1965 and found no significant difference between democracies and other regimes in terms of frequency of war involvement. This conclusion was supported by Steve Chan in his study of wars between 1816 and 1980; it was also supported by Erich Weede’s study or war involvement between 1960 and 1980.”


Studies that find democracies fight fewer use poor methodology

David Spiro (prof. of political science, Univ. of Arizona), International Security, Fall 1994, p. 51

“I will argue that the absence of wars between liberal democracies is not, in fact, a significant pattern format of the past two centuries. Studies that do claim significance for the absence of wars between democracies are based on analyses that are highly sensitive to the ways they select definitions of the key terms of democracy and war, and to the methods they choose for statistical analysis. I argue that much of the qualitative literature on democracy and war has little to do with the theories it seeks to confirm, and that the results rest on methods and operationalization of variables that undergo contortions before they yield apparently significant results.”


Democracies fight non-democratic states readily

Jo-Anne Hart (associate prof., strategy dept., Naval War College), Democracy, War, and Peace in the Middle East, ed. by David Garnham and Mark Tessler, 1995, p. 43

“The pacifism attributed to democracies does not apply to their relations with non-democracies. This is an important distinction: democratic dyads may be less war-prone, but individual democracies are not inhibited from warfare with non-democratic states.”


Democracies have a history of imperialism, but autarchies have embraced pacifism

Michael Line (senior editor, Harper’s Magazine), The New Republic, January 6, 1995, p. 28-29

“The theory that democracies are naturally pacific and that dictatorships are inherently expansionist is held by much of the American foreign policy elite. It is also highly dubious. Most of the states in the world in the past few centuries have been autocratic monarchies or dictatorships. Most have not tried to conquer their neighbors. At the same time, democracies such as the United States, France, and Britain have at various times conquered much of the planet and a sizable portion of mankind. The largest empire in history was won and maintained by the oldest parliamentary democracy on earth.”


Failed attempts at democratization may doom future efforts

Lisa Anderson (Middle East Institute), House Hearings: Promoting Pluralism and Democracy in the Middle East, August 11, 1992, p. 4:

“Efforts to introduce the full panoply of democratic institutions that end in failure are very costly, for they leave a residue of cynicism and disillusionment that make subsequent efforts more difficult.”


Even proponents find that democracy is merely a means to an end, not an end in itself

John Dewey (American philosopher and educator, 1859-1952), “Democracy” (1937) in Readings in Philosophy, 3rd edition, ed. by J.H. Ranall, Justus Buchler, and Evelyn Shirk, 1972, p. 288

“Universal suffrage, recurring elections, responsibility of those who are in political power to the voters, and the other factors of democratic government are means that have been found expedient for realizing democracy as the truly human way of living. They are not a final end and a final value. They are to be judged on the basis of their contribution to the end. It is a form of idolatry to erect means into the end which they serve.”


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