"Never at War" by Spencer R. Weart

Never at War Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another Spencer R. Weart

Publication date:
01 Apr 2000
434 pages: 229 x 152 x 24mm
black & white illustrations

This lively survey of the history of conflict between democracies reveals a remarkable-and tremendously important-finding: fully democratic nations have never made war on other democracies. Furthermore, historian Spencer R. Weart concludes in this thought-provoking book, they probably never will. Building his argument on some forty case studies ranging through history from ancient Athens to Renaissance Italy to modern America, the author analyzes for the first time every instance in which democracies or regimes like democracies have confronted each other with military force. Weart establishes a consistent set of definitions of democracy and other key terms, then draws on an array of international sources to demonstrate the absence of war among states of a particular democratic type. His survey also reveals the new and unexpected finding of a still broader zone of peace among oligarchic republics, even though there are more of such minority-controlled governments than democracies in history. In addition, Weart discovers that peaceful leagues and confederations-the converse of war-endure only when member states are democracies or oligarchies. With the help of related findings in political science, anthropology, and social psychology, the author explores how the political culture of democratic leaders prevents them from warring against others who are recognized as fellow democrats and how certain beliefs and behaviors lead to peace or war. Weart identifies danger points for democracies, and he offers crucial, practical information to help safeguard peace in the future.

Spencer R. Weart is director of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics.

"A stimulating, impressive and important contribution. It has three particular virtues. First, it is clearly written and is thus fully accessible to an audience beyond the academy. Second, the scope of its inquiry is wide...Third, [Weart] offers a refined and expanded version of the democratic peace hypothesis." Michael Mandelbaum, New York Times Book Review "Weart lays out his case in clear, readable prose and livens his narrative with entertaining anecdotes...Never at War is in many ways the most accessible and comprehensive brief for the democratic peace available." Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Affairs "Comprehensive...well informed...thoughtful, well written, and absorbing." Bruce Cumings, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists "A fascinating historical tour d'horizon." Lawrence S. Kaplan, Journal of Military History