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02/22/2022

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That is a very interesting connection and something I hadn't though of before!

I found another interesting article that argues that countries that are democratic, trade heavily and belong to lots of international bodies fight each other less often than authoritarian, isolationist states do.

The article also looked at the correlation between democracy and peace and determined that the countries most prone to wars appear to be neither autocracies nor full democracies, but rather countries in between. A similar finding applies to prosperity. Middle-income countries are more warlike than very poor or rich ones.

I would argue that Russia falls into all of these categories. The article is linked here in case you're interested in reading more: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/11/08/which-countries-are-most-likely-to-fight-wars

Lisa - thanks. Yes, the idea that countries that are democracies and that trade a lot with each other tend not to go to war is known as "liberal peace theory" or "democratic peace theory". You can read about it here:
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022343396033001002
and here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_peace_theory
In my view these are among the most robust correlations in the field of international relations.
In my work with Spolaore we controlled for both democracy and trade and the effect of relatedness did not change - greater cultural distance was still predicting lower conflict. These findings did not make it in the published version of the paper but we still have them somewhere.

I also had never considered the argument presented in your paper, Professor. The argument that societies that are more closely related in terms of culture, religion, ancestry, etc. are more likely to go to war is fascinating to me as I always assumed at a high level that wars were a result of a “clash of civilizations.” However, this got me thinking about India and Pakistan. While the fighting is rooted in religious differences, both countries share pieces of culture, religion, and language. Not to mention that those who migrated to Pakistan when it was founded (like my grandparents) were born in India, so there is definitely shared ancestry. Despite all of the similarities, they have gone to war over their differences. If we were to apply Huntington’s view here, we would assume that India and Pakistan would not fight as the societies do not differ (at a high level) in terms of religion, language, values, and common ancestry. As much as I would like for them not to fight, what we see is the opposite, the view shared in Professor’s paper, and what is also happening with Russia and Ukraine, that closely related societies are more likely to go to war with each other. In both cases, countries have developed conflicts over goods or issues they both care about (for example, we could parallel Russia and Ukraine over Crimea to India and Pakistan over Kashmir).

With respect to Lisa’s article, I don’t find it that surprising that countries that are democratic, trade heavily, and belong to lots of international bodies fight each other less often than authoritarian and isolationist states. I would assume that they want to maintain peace to ensure they don’t break trade ties which would ultimately impact their economy. It seems that my assumption is correct based on Professor’s sharing of the literature on the liberal/democratic peace theory!

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