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Old 01-11-2013   #1
TheCurmudgeon
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Default "Democracies at War"

Part of a project I am working on depends in large part on the findings in Reiter and Stam's "Democracies at War."

I am curious what others who have read it think about it.

Basic conclusions that interest me are:
Democracies prefer to fight wars where the odds of victory are largely in their favor; and
Democracies are more effective in war because of the their Army's leadership is chosen via merit.

Thanks
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Old 01-11-2013   #2
Surferbeetle
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What impact does open source/free market/darwinian thinking have upon the thesis being examined?

Canadian Tax Collectors Solve Mystery of Open Source Government, By Robert McMillan, 01.11.13, 6:30 AM, Wired http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise...le+Feedfetcher

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When you think of hotbeds of open source innovation, Canada’s Treasury Board typically doesn’t make the cut. But over the past three years, coders at this slightly obscure Canadian tax-collecting agency have produced something that’s pretty rare in government: a hit open source project.
Pirate parties team up for European Parliament elections, By Duncan Geere, 17 April 12, Wired UK, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/...ropean-pirates

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The various Pirate Parties across Europe have agreed to work together on a campaign for the elections to the European Parliament in 2014.
Iraq Militants Brag: We’ve Got Robotic Weapons, Too, By Noah Shachtman, 10.04.11, 1:36 PM, Wired http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011...ts-got-robots/

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Iraq’s militants have long been some of the world’s most sophisticated. They’ve detonated explosives with infrared triggers, jury-rigged “flying” bombs, encrypted their communications, and weaponized the remainders of Saddam Hussein’s chemical stockpile. For years, every time the U.S. found a way to stop the militants from remotely detonating bombs, the insurgents would respond with a countermeasure to the countermeasure.
Strong Societies and Weak States, Joel S. Migdal
http://www.amazon.com/Strong-Societi.../dp/0691010730

Amazon Editorial Review

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An important new landmark . . . One of the great strengths of this book is that the argument is anchored in a series of case studies built around four countries: Egypt, Sierra Leone, Israel, and Mexico. (Comparative Political Studies )
Amazon Review posted by By Enjolras

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Migdal's Strong Societies and Weak States seeks to explain why states in the developing world often have weak state institutions. He shows that state weakness is often not simply a lack of resources, but rather a strategic response to structural threats to the ruler's power. Rulers deliberately weaken states in order to weaken rival sources of power. It's an insightful look into the political origins of state failure.
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Old 01-11-2013   #3
TheCurmudgeon
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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
What impact does open source/free market/darwinian thinking have upon the thesis being examined?
None of that really applies, although my work touches on a couple of these tangentially. I am trying to look at what type of war the U.S. is likely to be involved in future based not on military threat but on domestic political preference -- what type of war will the politician's prefer to fight (versus when will they prefer concessions or some other form of settlement). It looks pretty much at the influence being a democracy has on these decisions, although it looks briefly at what other aspects of war democracy has an impact on (efficiency in battle, soldier morale, economic or technological advantages).

The book "Democracies and War" is primarily a statistical analysis using the Correlates of War and the Polity III databases, as well as the HERO/CAA battle database to validate its propositions. It really doesn't do a lot of specific case study analysis.


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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
Iraq Militants Brag: We’ve Got Robotic Weapons, Too, By Noah Shachtman, 10.04.11, 1:36 PM, Wired http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011...ts-got-robots/
The book finds that technology does not correlate to victory in battle, at least not as far as a democracy is concerned. Likewise, it finds that the economic advantage usually associated with a free market system is not the key to victory either.

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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
Strong Societies and Weak States, Joel S. Migdal
http://www.amazon.com/Strong-Societi.../dp/0691010730

Amazon Editorial Review



Amazon Review posted by By Enjolras
Trying to avoid looking at it from this perspective. Want to concentrate on the democratic state, not the aspects of the non-democratic one. Again, looking to see what type of war US politicians are most likely to get involved in based on the nature of democratic government.
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Old 01-12-2013   #4
Surferbeetle
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
None of that really applies, although my work touches on a couple of these tangentially.
Taxation (funds for the war machine if nothing else), political representation, affordable innovation, and political opposition would seem to be four forces that a (democratic or not) nation state (assemblage) is subject to during war and peacetime.

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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I am trying to look at what type of war the U.S. is likely to be involved in future based not on military threat but on domestic political preference -- what type of war will the politician's prefer to fight (versus when will they prefer concessions or some other form of settlement).
You appear to be addressing two broadly different (internal) groups here: domestic political preference and the preference of politicians.

There are approximately 200 million individuals who are eligible to vote and 535+1 individuals who represent them…in the case of the US. What broad trends do you see that these groups have in common and disagree about? Understanding (via market segmentation studies for example), mobilizing, and sustaining coherent national will, seems to be a tricky and volatile business to be in, notwithstanding having to deal with an unpredictable external foe whose actions continually change the internal ‘equilibrium’. Add in regular rotation of the political representatives and it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.

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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
The book finds that technology does not correlate to victory in battle, at least not as far as a democracy is concerned. Likewise, it finds that the economic advantage usually associated with a free market system is not the key to victory either.
How accurate/representative is your source compared to what one sees in the field? Does this correlate with what you have experienced?

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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
Trying to avoid looking at it from this perspective.
Isn't war, at some level, a contest between hope and reality?
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Old 01-12-2013   #5
TheCurmudgeon
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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
Taxation (funds for the war machine if nothing else), political representation, affordable innovation, and political opposition would seem to be four forces that a (democratic or not) nation state (assemblage) is subject to during war and peacetime.
I have read pieces on taxation and war. The general question of how political representation matters goes to the heart of the democratic/non-democratic distinction. What I have discovered thus far is that "democracy" does not really matter, but there are some aspects that are associated with democracies that do, like a better economic situation and legitimacy based on the support of the people. Because legitimacy is based on the will of the people part of the question becomes "why the population is willing, or sometimes demands, to go to war?"

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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
You appear to be addressing two broadly different (internal) groups here: domestic political preference and the preference of politicians.
True to a point. Politicians can work to stir up the people. Also the people can afford politicians no choice. Finland's attempt to deal with Russia before WWII and the Spanish-American war are two instances where the people left no room for accommodation.

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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
There are approximately 200 million individuals who are eligible to vote and 535+1 individuals who represent them…in the case of the US. What broad trends do you see that these groups have in common and disagree about? Understanding (via market segmentation studies for example), mobilizing, and sustaining coherent national will, seems to be a tricky and volatile business to be in, notwithstanding having to deal with an unpredictable external foe whose actions continually change the internal ‘equilibrium’. Add in regular rotation of the political representatives and it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.
One would think, but given the right motivation clearly it is not that difficult as Afghanistan and Iraq prove. In the case of the US there is a sufficient number of people who just don't care about war, as long as it is small and short and justified in the right way, that they will just not care that mush to get involved in stopping it.

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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
How accurate/representative is your source compared to what one sees in the field? Does this correlate with what you have experienced?
Depends on the source. I cannot fully answer that question here, and what I have seen is only anecdotal. Each source I have read has come at it trying to prove a point. They manipulate their data by either changing sources, altering the data set they pull from the source, or changing the definitions of "democracy" or "war" or "win". The biggest fight seems to be between the realists and the normative thinkers. I mostly side with the normative camp, but not always.



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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
Isn't war, at some level, a contest between hope and reality?
I am firmly of the opinion that war is exactly what Clausewitz says it is, the continuation of politics by other means. In a country where the government is mostly representative, the demands of the most active part of the population is likely to rule the day.
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Old 01-13-2013   #6
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Default Realitst versus Normative Thinkers

Also curious who is an advocate of realist thinking on Democracies versus those that take the Normative take on democracies at war. Who is an advocate of Stam and Reiter and those who advocate realist theories like Desch.
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