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The ‘knowledge politics’ of democratic peace theory

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. The roles of networked organic intellectuals are objectively and (normally) subjectively conditioned by the importance and influence of state imperatives. Hence, Ish-Shalom's (2008) thesis suggesting separation of ‘scientific’ theoreticians and unreflective ideologues, and opportunist politicians/policymakers gives insufficient weight to the idea that these are interlocked knowledge systems behind a common national mission.

  2. Statement by a Rockefeller Foundation official, cited in Parmar (2002b). For right-wing network power, see Jenkins and Eckert (1989).

  3. As Richard N. Haass, George W. Bush's former director of Policy Planning, argued: ‘Democracy promotion efforts are based on the most hard-headed of calculations…’; see ‘Planning Policy in Today's World,’ 22 May 2003; at http://www.state.gov/s/p/rem/2003/20910.htm (accessed 5 December 2008).

  4. In a personal communication with the author, Michael Doyle characterised such uses of DPT as ‘transmogrification’.

  5. Quotation from Levy (1988), part financed by a Carnegie grant.

  6. Doyle (1983); in Ford Foundation records, see latter, Doyle to Laurice H. Sarraf (Grants administrator, International Affairs Programs, Ford Foundation) 20 July 1983; in PA 795-677, Reel 3751.

  7. Grant number 07990618; Reels 3038; 5376-78; Ford Foundation archives, New York.

  8. Michael Doyle and Miles Kahler, ‘North and South in the International Economy,’ in PA 795-677; Reel 3751.

  9. Doyle (1997) acknowledges support of a Social Science Research Council/MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and of Harvard's Belfer Center, noting MacArthur's conscious plan to develop ideas challenging Cold War realist thinking (Doyle, private communication with the author; undated but ca. May 2009).

  10. See ‘Acknowledgements’ page.

  11. The original idea came from McGeorge Bundy, Ford Foundation president and former national security adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Ford's endowment to Harvard's Center grew to $6 million in 1979; see http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu.

  12. Graham Allison, ‘Message from the Director,’ at http://belfer.ksg.harvard.edu/about/welcome.html.

  13. Goldman and Berman (2000, p. 236) argue that Clinton dropped ‘democratic enlargement’ and retained ‘engagement’ because of ‘a set of academic arguments that democratization was often a conflict-prone process’.

  14. In footnote 2, Talbott cites academics on democratic peace, including John Ikenberry, David Lake and Christopher Layne.

  15. The New Orleans Declaration, p.1; at http://www.dlc.org; accessed 16 May 2008.

  16. Clinton's words appear to have been lifted from Diamond's report: ‘Democracies don’t go to war with each other … Democracies don’t sponsor terrorist acts against each other. They are more likely to be reliable trading partners, protect the global environment, and abide by international law’; speech, ‘A New Covenant for American Security,’ Georgetown University, 12 December 1991; at http://www.ndol.org; accessed 25 April 2008.

  17. Lake quoted in Buger and Villumsen, p.435.

  18. Talbott (1994).

  19. Diamond (1995).

  20. CCD: The First Five Years 2001–2005; www.ccd21.org ,accessed 15 August 2008.

  21. Remarks of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Harold H. Koh, at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the CCD Conference on The Community of Democracies meeting in Warsaw, Poland, 2 May 2000; www.ccd21.org/articles/wwc-502.htm, accessed 15 August 2008.

  22. Remarks of Paula Dobriansky at WWC and CCD Conference, 2 May 2000; www.ccd21.org/articles/wwc-502.htm, accessed 15 August 2008. Dobriansky was Under-Secretary of State for Democracy & Global Affairs from 2001.

  23. Fukuyama (1989).

  24. NATO's new strategic concept was developed by an expert group chaired by Madeleine Albright.

  25. Condoleeza (2005).

  26. ‘Remarks by John McCain to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council,’ 26 March 2008; at http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/Speeches/872473dd-9ccb-4ab4-9d0d-ec54f0e7a497.htm; accessed 10 October 2008.

  27. Clesse et al (1994). Interestingly, Michael Doyle, in Clesse, cites Streit as the first to note the pacific character of democracies and need for unity.

  28. L. Martin and C. Goodwin, A Report to the Ford Foundation on the Center for Science and International Affairs; 30 July 1980; in PA73-2004, 009254; Ford Foundation archives; New York.

  29. The big foundations like Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller, constitute key elements of a liberal establishment, recognized on both the left and right of the political-ideological spectrum.

  30. A CSIS survey of senior policymakers and analysts, including Brent Scowcroft, Richard Armitage, Joseph Nye, Strobe Talbott, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, shows a continuing attachment to the strategic importance of democracy promotion and its theoretical basis, ‘DPT’ (CSIS, 2009, pp. 10-12).

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Parmar, I. The ‘knowledge politics’ of democratic peace theory. Int Polit 50, 231–256 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1057/ip.2013.4

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Keywords

  • knowledge politics
  • networks
  • democratic peace
  • democracy promotion
  • elites
  • American foundations