Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Virtual seminar on democracy and peace

The democratic peace thesis (that democracies tend not to go to war against other democracies) is probably the closest thing to an empirical 'law' in political science. It has been extensively tested through empirical analysis - just type in 'democratic' and 'peace' on any reputable database for evidence of the copious amounts of literature on the topic. It is also a fundamental tenet of American foreign policy. President George W. Bush got it right when he issued the following challenge:
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
People like Erik Gartzke have argued there is a stronger link between peace and economic freedom, rather than political freedom alone. In reality, the promotion of both are worthy goals.

Emeritus Professor Rudy Rummel, one of the strongest supporters of the democratic peace proposition, is running a virtual seminar on this topic using Second Life. Second Life is a 3D computer game, and the seminar will be held in a 3D conference hall on September 2, California time. See his blog for further details. I doubt my computer will be good enough to run the program, but if anyone else is interested in asking questions of Professor Rummel in real time, it's certainly a novel way of doing so.

Update: I have uploaded my essay on the democratic peace question.

Update 2: A transcript of the virtual seminar run by Professor Rummel is now available online.


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