Republican Liberalism is an International Relations Theory which claims that Liberal Democracies rarely (if ever) go to war or fight each other, and in that sense are more peaceful. However, the theory does not propose that Democracies are more peaceful than non-democracies, as many Democracies are engaged in wars with non-democracies. The theory holds that the reason for this intra-democratic peace is rooted in the regime type of these countries (Democracy) and the existence of similar domestic political cultures, common moral values, economic cooperation and interdependence.
The issue of war and peace has been a very important political issue since the birth of armed conflicts as a "universal norm in human history." In particular, the 20th century turning into the Nuclear Age, leading to increased threats. The question then becomes, what can we do to ensure that the world is at peace, rather than at war and is it possible in this current climate.
Liberal theories in terms of International Relations (I.R.), attempts to explain how both peace and cooperation is possible. Perpetual Peace is a reference in world affairs where peace is established permanently. The idea of Perpetual Peace was made famous by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in his essay called, "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch," 1795. On the other hand, Realism tells us that international communities are in chaos. Realism focus on dominance and "explains international relations in terms of power." Modern Realist Theory was created as a reaction to the Liberal Theory in which scholars of Realism called Idealism. Idealism is the middle ground between Realist and Liberal Theory. Idealism emphasizes international law, morality, and international organizations rather than the concept of power alone. Another issue when it comes to the study of war and crises is "scholars seeking to understand them [wars and crises] focus much more on these events than in the situations of peace."
Kant and the Liberal School of Thought state that international cooperation is a more rational option for states than resorting to war. However, the Neo-Liberal approach concedes to the Realist School of Thought since the Realist believe that states achieve cooperation fairly often because it is in the best interest of the state.
The Definitive Articles of Perpetual Peace
When we are talking Perpetual Peace, Kant offer three definitive articles to make permanent peace function and each of which has become a dominant strain of post–World War II Liberal International Relations Theory.
- "The Civil Constitution of Every State should be Republican."
- "The Law of Nations shall be founded on a Federation of Free States."
- "The Law of World Citizenship shall be Limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality."
#1: "The Civil Constitution of Every State should be Republican."
The first Definitive Article of Perpetual Peace that Kant explains is, "The Civil Constitution of Every State should be Republican." When Kant says that every state should be Republican, we need to move away from the notion of political parties. Kant is not talking about Conservatism, but rather the form of government that existed in Rome. In Ancient Rome, they began to move away from Athenian Democracy (Direct Democracy) and started a Representative Democracy. Kant's main argument for this form of government is that, if all nations were to be Republics and all citizens have the right to vote on issues such as going to war. Also, war would come to end fairly quickly. Another reason for Republics is, with a "legislatures to check the power of monarchs (or presidents) to make war." This is an example of the principle of Checks and Balance to make sure that no-one person holds absolute power in the decision making process that impacts everyone. Kant also says, operating at a lower level of analysis and consistent with reciprocity but also relying on identity principles. What does all that mean? Well, peace is always dependent on the internal character of governments, republics, with a legislative body that will be able to hold the executive (monarch or president) in check, this will be more peaceful than autocracies.
#2: "The Law of Nations shall be founded on a Federation of Free States."
For the second definitive article, Kant argues that Nations are like individuals. The rule of law should be established internationally, but in order for that to occur nations must be willing to participate in it. Kant goes on to say that if nations fail to establish laws and courts of judgement, then force, or war, would be the only way to settle disputes. States ought to instead develop international organizations and rules that facilitate cooperation. In any case, some kind of federation is necessary in order to maintain peace between nations. Contemporary examples include the United Nations and the European Union (EU), which try to maintain peace respectfully and via the governing of international affairs.
#3: "The Law of World Citizenship shall be Limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality."
When Kant says hospitality, what he means is, "the right of the stranger to be treated with hospitality when he enters on someone else's territory." If the "stranger" is peaceful, he can in fact be turned away without aggression or even welcomed with open arms. An example of this is when a country is receiving a world leader, the host country usually holds a State Welcoming ceremony which are usually reserved for special relationships and reaffirms that bond. Kant reinforces this by writing, "One may refuse to receive him when this can be done without causing his destruction ... It is not the right to be a permanent visitor that one may demand." Many countries also protect themselves from countries occupying them. For instant, the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution states that, "No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." Even though this is addressing the quartering of American Soldiers, the idea is the same. A country does in fact have the right to protect themselves against aggression from anyone. This can also be achieved through trade which increase wealth, cooperation, and of course a states well-being. Under this theory, trade is another way to promote peace because it would in theory create less conflicts since governments would not want to disrupt anything that would add to the wealth of their states.
- Jackson, Robert and Georg Sorensen (2006), Introduction to International Relations:theories and approaches, Oxford, OUP, 3ed, p111
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