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Pax Americana, truth or fiction?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Farm Boy, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    I will not be your dancing money!

    That'll take German brew.
     
  2. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    Now, what's the equation? If GDP > # Then Do not invade? Or what?

    My question is how is this any different from all of history in terms of cost-benefits analysis? Analysis which, might I remind you, are anything but inviolate. What was the economic interest in invading Iraq/Afghanistan? The trite answer is "oil" but that doesn't stand up to examination.

    Saying "that's just the way it is" does not by itself validate your unvalidated opinions. Using informed reasoning to express and defend an opinion is one thing, saying "since WW2 people are money-brained" is another entirely.
     
  3. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy Deity

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    Warsteiner acceptable? ;) They don't stock a lot of good stuff around here and people look at you like you're nuts when you start that brand with a "v" sound.

    I never know how much I should assume in people depending on age and country of origin how much they were plugged in to American public sentiment during the buildup to the invasion of Afghanistan. People didn't even know where it was, they just knew they wanted to blow it up.
     
  4. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    Crap, I misspelled monkey in a most unfortunate way :/

    I don't really care for a specific brand, it's just that during each holiday in Germany the beer from the tap is usually excellent.
     
  5. ImperialChaos

    ImperialChaos President

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    I highly doubt any nuclear states (with the possible exception of Israel-Iran (if Iran obtains it), Pakistan-India) would go to war with one another. China and America, besides being economically interdependent, both have the weapons to destroy one another. A Sino-American war is highly unlikely; proxy wars maybe.
     
  6. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    Economic interdependence also does not necessarily preclude war (to the extent two insulated economies can be truly said to be interdependent).
     
  7. Goodfella

    Goodfella Showing results for

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    At the same time it might be interesting to note how many times two democratic countries didn't go to war.
     
  8. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Okay, and then dig a level deeper and figure out how much of that was because they were democratic countries. :p
     
  9. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy Deity

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    Ok. So if we roll with the seeming general consensus that American military spending does seem to enforce the peace for at least it's blanket of allies how about the second part of the question: is it worth it? Take it any way you want. Is this a sustainable arrangement for mutual benefit? Are you an American tired of subsidizing the security of European states? Are you a European that wants American global military presence to go away Europe is fine maintaining it's own nuclear weaponry and conventional arms? How would the rest of the world not under the general influence of Pax Americana fare if the USA decided to go back to it's isolationist roots? Should we just do so already?
     
  10. JohannaK

    JohannaK Heroically Clueless

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    I'm sure I saw somewhere a graph which showed that the EU military spending is second to the US.
     
  11. lovett

    lovett Deity

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    This is not a good way to do case study work.

    The central tenant of Democratic Peace Theory is that democracies are less likely to go to war with each other than are non-democracies, or democracies and non-democracies. It is, like most theories in the social sciences, a probabilistic theory. One simply cannot refute probabilistic theories like this by detailed analysis of cases in which the (putatively) improbable event happened. In fact, it is a bit of a waste of time to try. A probabilistic theory accepts the existence of such cases, else it would not be probabilistic; it would be strict. To such a theory, these cases constitute outliers rather than counterexamples. They are evidence against the theory, but settle precisely nothing.

    The correct way to use case studies in the political sciences, when discussing a probabilistic theory, is in the identification of specific causal mechanisms by which a proposed effect is meant to work. But you can't do that by looking at cases in which the theory hasn't been confirmed; clearly whatever the mechanisms that might or might not be at work won't be visible there. You identify the causal mechanisms by looking at positive cases. So we might look at specific instances of peace between two democracies and therein see whether there is any plausible candidate for a causal mechanism by which democratic peace theory would be realized. Here, we probably will find evidence against democratic peace theory (peace between, for instance, Spain and Portugal is not due to them both being democracies). But the negative case is, clearly, useless for this. Another way case study work can be useful in political science is in answering more open ended questions (Why do countries become democratize? What makes countries federalize? and so on...). But that isn't hypothesis testing, which is at issue here.

    That doesn't mean there isn't good reason to be sceptical of democratic peace theory. But the reasons are general rather than particular. The fact is that, once we take account of confounding variables like per capita income, co-religiousity, co-ethnicity and so on, the link between democratic government and dyadic conflicts is on the edge of statistical significance. That is to say, although there does seem to be an empirical relation, it is not particularly robust.
     
  12. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    That's the "weak version" of the theory. There's also a strong version, that democracies never go to war with each other, the one advocated by a certain R. J. Rummel from the University of Hawaii.
     
  13. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    For example. High GDP means likely to build a large army and thus a difficult fight. Though usually, it is "large trading partner = do not invade".

    I tend to see Iraq more as death throw of the ideological view of foreign policy. WMD's aside, the Iraq was for a significant part justified as "spreading democracy". Now that notion is pretty much discredited by the said war.

    It cannot be validated since this exact science. Therefore, I'm unable to do anything more than use "informed reasoning to express and defend an opinion".
     
  14. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

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    Isn't that the wonderful 'Nae True Scotsman' argument rehashed? After all, The People (tm) never really want to go to war, so if any 'democracy' really goes to war, it's an indication that The Establishment (tm) has managed to override the wishes of The People (tm), and so the country is nae true democracy.

    It could also, of course, be argued that public opinion can easily be swayed towards aggression and is bloody difficult to stop once it gets set on that path, so mediocrely-functioning democracies are more likely to go to war (I'm thinking of France and Prussia/Germany in 1870 here) than well-functioning autocracies, since an individual in isolation is an awful lot more likely to calm down after a G&T and a good night's sleep than a population.

    EDIT: in this case, I was using 'democracy' in the truest - or loosest - sense, to mean a country where public policy is chiefly directed by the wishes of its citizens.
     
  15. lovett

    lovett Deity

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    I think it's easy to over-exaggerate the 'No True Scotsman' accusation here. It's true that there are many different definitions of 'democracy' around, and that on some of them no democracies have been to war with each other. It's also true that these definitions are much more substantive than others. So, Rummel's definition includes secret ballot's, at least 2/3rds male enfranchisement, a wide variety of freedoms, constitutional structure and so on. This isn't a very good definition of 'democracy' precisely because it excludes many countries we think of as democracies (Germany pre-1903, Britain pre- 1918, Chile in the 1990s, much of democratic Africa now and so on and so forth). So it doesn't support what most people mean by 'democratic peace theory.'

    But that does not mean that the predictions, and theories, built from these definitions are worthless. It means that it's bad form to say democracies never go to war with each other, but one might perfectly well say that these things - call them advanced democracies- never go to war with each other. And that's a perfectly testable hypothesis, which if true would be quite powerful.

    I shouldn't end this post before pointing out that, as a matter of fact, we cannot be confident that it is true. Again, once one controls for all the relevant variables (which Rummel tends not to), the association between 'democracies' and dyadic peace is not robust.
     
  16. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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  17. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    It's the truth cuz we built the Bomb.

    USA #1
     
  18. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

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    Well, not really, because the 'never' in that can never be tested - all that can be tested is the hypothesis that no two advanced democracies have ever gone to war. The possibility of it happening can never be tested without a crystal ball: even then, if we concluded on Doomsday that no two advanced democracies had ever gone to war, that would not prove that they could never have done so.
     
  19. lovett

    lovett Deity

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    Sure it can. Here's how you do it: introduce a number of variables known to effect the probability of dyadic conflict. Proximity is probably the most important, but it is fairly closely followed by economic development. Ethnic factionalization, co-religiousity, military legacy and past conflicts also spring to mind. Control for these variables. See if there remains a large statistically significant, negative, correlation between democracies and dyadic peace. If there is not, that is evidence against (this sort of) democratic peace theory. If there is, that is evidence for (this sort of) democratic peace theory.

    At least, it's evidence in the same sense as we have evidence in all the other sciences.What we get in the social sciences, like all the other sciences, is confidence. We do not get deductive proof. If your point is a more general scepticism about this sort of endeavour -about induction in general ("There may never have been photons with rest mass in past observations, but that doesn't mean that we could not pick up photons with rest mass in future observations!") - then you will want a different reply. But that sort of issue is rather out of place in a discussion of the social sciences in particular.
     
  20. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

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    You lost me at 'control for these variables'. The problem is that no two countries are sufficiently alike for this; even comparing the same country under two governments (say, Spain today versus under Franco) ignores the context in which those governments existed. We simply don't have a large enough sample of countries to be able to pick two - or more - that are at all similar in 'national character' except on a superficial level.
     

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