International Politics

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 231–256 | Cite as

The ‘knowledge politics’ of democratic peace theory

  • Inderjeet Parmar
Original Article


How do academic ideas influence US foreign policy, under what conditions and with what consequences? This article traces the rise, ‘securitisation’ and political consequences of democratic peace theory (DPT) in the United States by exploring the work of Doyle, Diamond and Fukuyama. Ideas influence US foreign policy under different circumstances, but are most likely to do either during and after crises when the policy environment permits ‘new thinking’, or when these ideas have been developed through state-connected elite knowledge networks, or when they are (or appear paradigmatically congenial to) foreign policymakers’ mindsets, or, finally, when they become institutionally-embedded. The appropriation of DPT by foreign policymakers has categorised the world into antagonistic blocs – democratic/non-democratic zones of peace/turmoil – as the corollary to a renewed American mission to make the world ‘safer’ through ‘democracy’ promotion. The roles of networked organic intellectuals – in universities and think tanks, for instance – were particularly important in elevating DPT from the academy to national security managers.


knowledge politics networks democratic peace democracy promotion elites American foundations 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inderjeet Parmar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International PoliticsCity University LondonLondonUK

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