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Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War (Belfer Center Studies in International Security) Hardcover – September 16, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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"American foreign policy has been based on the premise that democracy promotes peace. Electing to Fight conclusively shows, however, that democratization, when mishandled, leads to war. Its challenge to the conventional beliefs of scholars and politicians makes it one of the most important books on international affairs in recent decades." Samuel P. Huntington , Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, Harvard University



' Electing to Fight is an important book. With analytical power and historical depth, Mansfield and Snyder argue for a simple conclusion: democratization can be dangerous, even if democracy, once achieved, is a good thing. Scholars, journalists, politicians, and citizens all need to hear this message, and to heed it. If Mansfield and Snyder are right, then policies that rely on war to promote elections are bound to produce disaster.' Joshua Cohen , Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of the Humanities and Head of the Department of Political Science, MIT



"American foreign policy has been based on the premise that democracy promotes peace. *Electing to Fight* conclusively shows, however, that democratization, when mishandled, leads to war. Its challenge to the conventional beliefs of scholars and politicians makes it one of the most important books on international affairs in recent decades."--Samuel P. Huntington, Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • Series: Belfer Center Studies in International Security
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262134497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262134491
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,315,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Peter McCluskey on November 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book makes a convincing argument that it's misleading to assume that democracies are less likely to wage wars. That assumption is true of mature democracies, but unstable nations that are trying to make a transition to democracy are more likely than autocracies to wage war. At least part of the reasons are increased nationalism, competition among politicians to be the most nationalist, and the weakness of stabilizing institutions.

The book offers some hints about how a transition to a democracy might be managed to minimize the risks, but this part of the book is more speculative and less convincing.

In spite of the book's relevance to current events, it devotes little attention to the present. It covers the time period from the French revolution to the present with the perspective of a historian, and says as much about Iraq in 1948 as it does about the recent experiment with democracy in Iraq. It is somewhat valuable for reminding us how many attempts at democracy failed and have largely faded from collective memories.

The dry, scholarly style of the book is a bit mind-numbing.
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