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Expanding the Zone of Peace?: Democratization and International Security.

Expanding the Zone of Peace?: Democratization and International Security. By Alexander V. Kozhemiakin. New York: St. Martin's, 1998. l90p. $65.00.

Against the background of the war in Yugoslavia opposing NATO (an alliance of democratic states) and Serbia (which experienced a process of democratization after 1990), the reading of Kozhemiakin's book seems particularly sobering and illuminating. It teaches us about the limits of the "democratic peace" argument and its confinement to the interaction between and among consolidated liberal democracies. Echoing Edward Mansfield and Jack Synder's seminal article ("Democratization and the Danger of War," International Security 20 [Summer 1995]: 5-38), Kozhemiakin argues that "problematic" processes of democratization may lead to the rise of belligerent nationalism, conflict, and even war. But unlike Mansfield and Synder, this book offers a more interesting and convoluted argument in terms of causality, by collapsing comparative politics and international relations.

According to Kozhemiakin, aggressiveness stems from a "discrepancy" between the formal democratic political attributes of a transitional regime and its radicalized domestic preferences in the framework of an illiberal society, which push and shape the foreign policy of the democratizing regime in belligerent directions. The (domestic) political mechanisms of democratization--"vertical" accountability in the form of popular elections and "horizontal" accountability of the chief executive in the form of pressures and influences from the political elites--become "transmission belts" for these societal pressures that exacerbate foreign policy options, create incentives to resort to diversionary strategies, and exert hawkish pressures on the leadership. In turn, these radicalized societal preferences are a function of political, socioeconomic, and cultural problems (crises?) that usually accompany the problematic democratic transition at its earlier stages.

Around this theoretical explanation, which is developed in chapters 1-2, Kozhemiakin turns to an empirical examination of his basic argument in chapters 3-5. In chapter 3 he compares the foreign policy of the liberalizing (former) Soviet Union under Gorbachev (1985-91) with that of the democratizing Russia under Yeltsin (1991-95). In chapter 4 he examines the divergent democratizing trajectories of Hungary ("successful") and Serbia ("problematic"), plagued by common problems of nationalism and irredentism, and their contrasting effects in foreign policy. In addition, he analyzes Ukraine's changing attitudes toward signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In chapter 5 the list of cases is enlarged by an array of successful and problematic transitions, as the author searches for generalization. The criteria for case selection become biased and almost incomprehensible, since the author mixes up the basic distinction between "democratizing" and "auto-cratizing" regimes, as in the cases of Peronist Argentina (1946-55) or post-World War I Germany (1919-33).

In the most intriguing chapter of the book, Kozhemiakin suggests an ideal-type typology for different forms of international peace as well as some sensible policy suggestions about how to expand the "zone of peace" by upgrading it from mere "coercive" (realist, precarious, negative) peace, through "elite" (or Grotian) peace (as in the European Concert of the nineteenth century), toward the "democratic peace" of pluralistic security communities, as in Western Europe.

Despite the many insights and wealth of information of this relatively short book, several methodological and substantial (theoretical) pitfalls should be underlined. First, the argument about the effect of democratization on "international security" (an undefined term that probably refers to peace and/or war) is both overdetermined and underdetermined. The overdetermination of peace (or war) implies that third-level, systemic factors, such as "opportunity" and "willingness," are also brought into the equation, complicating the causal linkages. Moreover, what explains aggressive tendencies is not democratization per se but social and economic crises and an inherent nonliberal political culture. The result is that the explanation is rich and sensible but utterly confusing.

Second, the problem of underdetermination is recognized by the author, and he should be commended for that. In other words, "problematic" democratizing may lead to war, while "successful" democratizing may lead to peace, so democratization should be considered "an unreliable recipe for peace" (p. 129). This can be interpreted as a forceful critique of the "democratic peace" thesis from a case-study perspective, as in the recent volume edited by Miriam F. Elman (Paths to Peace: Is Democracy the Answer?, 1997). At the same time, this cautious note against the scope of the democratic zone of peace contrasts with the attempt to generalize that "problematic" democratization leads to conflict, if not war. Part of the problem stems, as mentioned above, from the lack of differentiation between "problematic democratization" and transitions (back) to authoritarianism in a process of self-destruction, as happened in the Weimar Republic, with the rise of Nazism in the early 1930s, and in Argentina, with the erosion of d emocracy by the elected leader Juan Peron in the early 1950s.

Third, there is an underlying tendency of the author to downgrade the (positive) effects of democratization upon the resolution of international conflicts and to "upgrade" preexisting peaceful relations among transitional regimes (p. 127). For instance, if one looks at the effects of the "third wave" of democratization in southern Latin America since the early 1980s, it is clear that democratization in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile has clearly contributed to their "international security" (e.g., resolution of pending international conflicts and improvement in foreign relations) in the direction of the emergence of an incipient pluralistic security community among them. Interestingly enough, at least in the cases of Argentina and Brazil, these are still not consolidated, liberal democracies but, rather, "delegative" or "presidential" democracies, which have experienced serious social and economic crises at the beginning of their transitions, although that did not translate into diversionary tendencies and aggr essive foreign policies but to an opposite, conciliatory trend.

Fourth, in more general terms, Kozhemiakin's argument (like that of Mansfield and Snyder) could be simply dismissed by suggesting that democratizing (or "autocratizing") regimes are inherently unstable and hence prone to promote instability (at home and abroad). Logically, stable regimes (be they consolidated democracies or autocracies) tend to be more conservative and to promote stability. Thus, the problem of democratizing versus democracy is one of posing short versus long terms, so that the two can be in principle reconciled. Thus, the title of the book could be answered affirmatively: If successful democratization leads to consolidated and liberal democracies, then the zone of peace indeed will be expanded, in the long term.

Despite these criticisms, I recommend the book for its boldness and its insights, its challenge of the "democratic peace" argument, and its attempt to synthesize different literatures and even world views (liberal and realist). It helps make sense of the events taking place in Russia and Kosovo.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Kacowicz, Arie M.
Publication:American Political Science Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1999
Words:1086
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