Realism and Liberal Peace Theory

This logic asserts that the citizens have the power to prevent the cost of war should they reckon it to be too high through the electoral influence over their sovereignty (Rosato 2003, p.587). Democracies have also established systems of “checks and balances” such as political competition, pluralism and executive selection in the process of decision making on matters of a foreign policy limiting the power held by individuals in authority. Rosato challenges the institutional logics claiming that the constraints presented by the institutions do not provide the explanations of democratic peace. Democracies would be peaceful with others if the opinion of the free public had the ascribed effect, whether the state is democratic or not. Also, the liberal ideology has an enormous impact on the perception of the people. An informed population in a country that is tolerant, democratic values the efficacy of other educated communities binding the same persuasion. The primary concern of the public is to evaluate the cost of war; however, it goes beyond such. When ideologies are shared between one or more democracies, the citizens accommodate each other more comfortably than between non-liberal states. Thus institutional limitations are not entirely situated on the cost of war, but also regarding the pattern beliefs which are similar. Mandelbaum (1998, P.26) argues that the war is not always inhibited by the public opinion, for example, it is the general opinion in France and Britain that embraced the war in 1914. Firstly, France and Britain did not perceive Germany as a liberal democracy, and most likely the public considered the cost of not engaging in war to be more critical; the illiberal European power would have challenged the liberal ideology of these states.

Normative Logics

This logic posits that liberal nations have a domestic culture of resolving violent externalized conflicts in their foreign policy and helps these democracies to respect and trust each other. Using a cooperation and perception process, international relations are expanded by liberal democracies through accommodating each other. The logic is flawed because of the practical evidence pointing towards the general peace between liberal democracies (Rosato 2003, p.588). The evidence should support the casual mechanism chain for the theory to be persuasive. Rosanto continues to argue that the externalization of resolving the conflict of democratic norms is not reliably done between democracies, and they also do not treat each other with respect and trust when experiencing a clash of interests.

Democratic leaders can only engage in violence when supported broadly by the population. Otherwise, the accountability makes them conscious of their actions (Mandelbaum 1998, P.28). Through this support, the leaders may also be removed from office when culpable of engaging in the offensive act of war because the subset or the whole society opposes costly wars. Several groups such as opposition political parties and the leaders of liberal opinion are some of the groups that may be mobilized to succor war because they benefit from open global economies. The interdependence of economy also creates groups with a common interest and opposed to fighting because it leads to disruption affecting the costs of investment and international trade. Rosato (2003, p.589) argues when the government is executing unpopular or popular policies the opposition may choose not to support it. The leaders of liberal opinion play a role in the making of decisions o foreign policy. These oppose violence against nations, and most of the general public supports their views when a crisis arises. Moreover, war is fought by the domestic groups and the general public because it is costly and sometimes morally unacceptable. Although it is hard to prove Rosato's claim, the line of thinking of realism asserts that the actions of the nations are driven by self-interests regardless of their internal framework challenging the normative casual logic of LPT.

Synthesizing Realism and LPT

The presence of peace between democratic nations uproots the critical concepts of realism. Despite the fact that order is not the natural state of the public, the aversion of war can be done by through mutual interdependence beneficiaries. For realists, the factors that drive international relations are self-preservation and power, implying that the manner in which foreign affairs of a state runs is not affected by the nation’s domestic construction. When the state's ability is balanced, peace exists temporarily. The criticism of LPT by realism is based on the fact that the realism does not give explanations when the ideological makeup of democracy fails to alter its way of interacting with other states. This implies that realism and LPT are interlocked where neither of them can give ground. However, when combining the two, a persuasive argument can be obtained for peace between liberal countries. LPT agrees that the role of shaping foreign policies is also played by power politics of liberal democracies. The key is that power politics is accepted as a segment of a larger picture, while it is seen as a vital element of international relations (BROWN 2004, p.489). The acceptance of both liberal ideology and power politics as concepts that affect liberal democracies strengthens the arguments of democratic peace as stated by the LPT.

According to Rosato (2003, p.594), the states' domestic structure affects how it relates to other democracies and also its decision of "balancing power." Wherefore, by discerning that the other nation as being peaceable because of normative and institutional logics, the liberal states provides persuading dissension that there is spread of peace caused by the fostering of liberal ideology. This is because the nations would view each other as peaceable and form unions than they would with an illiberal country. Contract concerted economies require that the states to have fewer motives to engage in wars; strong states. In a liberal argument, these states have a common interest in growing wealth.  For liberal democracies, war is considered to be costly (Mandelbaum 1998, p.21). This argument persuades the correctness of the LPT. It is only in liberal democracies where contract-intensive states can thrive, as the central ideology in these states is the liberal economy. BROWN (2004, p.495) elaborates the benefits of interdependence between liberal countries that the necessity of patterns and potential power resources are closely affiliated. This proposition, therefore, demonstrates that the composition of realism and LPT is possible when many concepts that create peace are considered. The ideologies of economic interdependence, liberalism and realism serve essentially in this.

Strategic Interests

By considering the historical trends on how democracies made alliances, is shows that democracies are not sustained by democracy but because of the shared vital interest which they share (Mandelbaum 1998, p.27). For example, the standard benefit of all the capitalist nations during the Cold War was to stall the communism development. Also, the recent extremist's groups profiling hatred and random attacks for liberal values makes most states potential targets. Therefore democracies unite with a common strategic interest against the leaders of these extremists such as Bin Laden.

Conflict Patterns

When Cold War ended their emerged an ostensible “new world order” which saw America implement its hegemonic orientation. Firstly, the Gulf War which was led by the U.S and reinforced by the United Nations marked the first significant occurrence in 1989. The operation was done within a short duration making it to a purely military conflict. The relationship of this operation can dismally be related to the LPT. According to Anderson (2002, p.28), the role played by the U.S is classifiable to that of an aggressor because this short campaign involved less democratization. By applying the realist critique of peaceful populist, it demonstrates that this conflict driven by U.S strategic interests. Therefore, it can be argued that the U.S executed the operation based on self-interest rather than liberating the people of Kuwait. On the other hand, the accountability factor of LP Theory was incorporated in the case of Afghanistan. The U.S leaders waged the attack in 9.11terrorism after the loss of lives of American people with broad public support. The peace theory posits the vitality of democracies is engaging popular support to rationalize involvement. It also elicited speculations whether popular backing was adequately achieved in the Iraq attack (Shaw 2000, p.176).

Finally, political actions such democratization, integration, cooperation, and transparency could develop the relations among democracies and not necessarily the peace theory (Shaw 2000, p.174). The role of learning development of cooperation norms and the essence of community accents the need for positive impacts of interdependence and mutual interests in the running of interdependence relations. However, it can be detailed that unstable nations or democracies within the process of democratization are not entirely pacific, and this can prevail when political consortiums are not strong enough to bear the system of democracies.


This article has argued that the Liberal Peace Theory (LPT) has satisfactorily explained the existence of peace between liberal democracies. On the other hand, the critics find the defects in the theory, especially with the institutional and normative casual logics applied; however, it does not damage the principal ideas of the LPT. Moreover, a balanced approach is necessary for it to address the peace between liberal states. Liberal ideology is one of the factors contributing to an explanation of democratic order. Other concepts that can be used are economic peace and power and holds validly alongside the ideology of liberalism. When linked with realism, the liberal ideology can shape the aggression perceptions of states, which is vital in the creation of benevolent associations or alliances. LPT would, therefore be persuasive when all these alternative theories are incorporated.


Anderson, P., 2002. Force and consent. New Left Review, 17, p.5.

Brown, W., 2004. Ordering the international: history, change, and transformation. London [u.a.], Pluto.

Mandelbaum, M., 1998. Is major war obsolete?. Survival, 40(4), pp.20-38.

Rosato, S., 2003. The flawed logic of democratic peace theory. American political science review, 97(4), pp.585-602.

Shaw, M., 2000. The contemporary mode of warfare? Mary Kaldor's theory of New Wars.

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