Democracy and Aggression

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by ShoeshineBoy, Apr 13, 2004.

  1. Need some backing from the history experts out there. I heard someone make the statement that a democracy has never been the aggressor in an (unprovoked) military attack of another nation?

    I can't think of any exceptions except possibly Rome which was 2000 years ago and was not really a modern democracy...

    Anyway, if this is true, and I can't think of any significant exceptions, it seems to be a fantastic testimony to the potential relationship of democracy and peace.

    Agree? Disagree?
  2. It all depends on what your definition of "a democracy" is.

    If someone has a good one, I would like to hear it.

    Barring that, I think the statement in question would questionable (at best).

    (How's that for a sentence?

  3. Are you arguing from the standpoint of candle's thread, i.e. that the U.S. has "meddled" in the affairs of many nations? I certainly can't argue that. But I don't think that lessens my point.

    Has Taiwan or Japan or South Korea every sought to militarily take over an adjoining nation? No - they would never even think of it. Has North Korea or mainland China every thought to take over an adjoining nation? Every day!

    I am simply saying that if you want peace in the world (w/o an Orwellian one world govt), one must foster demoocracy the way I see it. What other solution is there?
  4. Define 'Democracy', and (even more difficult) define 'provocation' first...
  5. Another example: The U.S. could easily take over Mexico or Canada in the last fifty years. We could roll across their countries with the speed and precision of any military campaign in the late twentieth century and we would most certainly be unstoppable.

    Yet neither the American people or its leaders would ever think of such an act of aggression.

    This is in direct contrast to a huge % of the tyrannies around the globe where virtually all neighbors live in continual fear. In other words, I don't think you have to spend a lot of time on definitions to see that democracies generally deal VERY differently with political power.

    (And, believe me, I am NOT saying democracies are perfect! They have their own set of problems.)

    If I am missing something obvious, though, let me know...
  6. No, not at all. There was no intent of any implication at all in my post. Just a simple question of what defines a "democracy".

    A popular vote? Hitler was elected.

    A popular uprising against a tyrannical monarchy? Like the USSR?

    What does "Democratic" mean in The Peoples DEMOCRATIC Republic of China?

    North Korea has elections. So did Iraq (for what they were worth).

    Great Britain is a monarchy, but you would probably consider it a democracy. They have a Parliament. So did the USSR. So does Communist China. And Cuba.

    You can make a strong case for what countries are "evil empire" and "axis of evil - aggressor" type "bad guy" countries. You can define "good guy" countries too. But you can't really make an absolute and conclusive case.

    Reardon's question is a great question too. He's right...what is the definition of "provocation"?

    Israel is a true "democracy". Yet they have, in the opinion of much of the world attacked targets "unprovoked". But were they really provoked or not? What's the definition? What justifies aggression? Does survival justify it? Preemption? We are in Iraq right now on that supposed basis.

    Anyway, questioning the historical record of unprovoked aggression by (or not by) "democracies" seems to me like a late night college dormitory discussion with a lot of good weed. And no good answers.

    There are too many angles and even the semantics can be argued. Is the USA a "democracy"? Or a "republic"?

    Present day...we have a President who got less votes than his opponent. Is Vietnam therefore more of a democracy than the USA now?

    Pass me that pipe!

  7. LOL!

  8. I forgot to ask. While what you say is true, why would we want to do that?

    In centuries past, people fought for "country and king". Meaning essentially looting whatever "value" there was in conquering new lands. Natural resources, be it gold, gems, spices, crops, and very often the people themselves.....(slavery).

    Now we just buy what we want or need (in general). Canada and Mexico are actually pretty good examples (after the laughter is over).

    Canada has the kind of natural resources that come out of the ground. So we buy them. Metals, lumber, petroleum, (bacon?) . Mexico provides us with some oil and we buy that too. Cheap labor? We buy it. Both legally and not. Crops too. It is so much easier to buy than to take.

    All without the hassle of having to administrate all that territory.

    You take Islamic fundamentalists out of the picture, and no one wants to "roll over" anyone.

    North Korea likes to rattle their sabres. Maybe they have issues with their country being split like Vietnam was. That is more along the lines of a civil war (like Vietnam). Same with (Red) China and Taiwan. Same happened in East Pakistan (if you are old enough to remember such a place it's called Bangladesh). Same in Kashmir.

    Yes, North Korea seems to enjoy intimidating Japan. All bluster. You have a country where everyone is named Kim, and you have to expect some in-bred craziness. So they bark like overbred Cocker Spaniels. But in reality, they know they have to behave to survive.

    Stalinism is dead. Stomping out uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia is "old economy" politics. Ruling countries where the languages are different can only be a giant pain in the ass. I always wondered during the Cold War why Russia wanted to control places like Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Azerbaijan? All the rest? It had to be a fucking Tower of Babble. I think in Estonia alone there are 4 or 5 different languages spoken. Imagine the administrative nightmares. We can't seem to effectively deal with the issue of so many spanish speaking Americans. That is just one "extra" language. The USSR must have had a hundred. (Actually, read the threads on ET, and you see we have serious problems with just ONE language)....and we don't even have dialects to deal with. Except for Murray T. Turtle, but I am not sure if that is a dialect or a language issue. Interplanetary communications are not yet well developed. But I digress.

    Now in places like Bosnia? Kosovo? Ubekestan and all the other "stans"? Ethnic "cultural/religious" disputes that have festered for centuries. It's about "taking BACK" not "taking" (at least in their heads...just like "Palestine").

    But can you give one single example of any country that would want to conquer another country for it's resources? (Or to show how tough they are?)

    The last example that comes to my mind is Japan (one of the countries you named as never having been an unprovoked aggressor.....they were. But they were not a "modern democracy" at the time).

    I don't know why I found history to be boring in school. Now I wish I paid more attention. Then I would know what I was talking about.

    I was never good at memorization. Math and music and science made sense. History was just dull facts. Now they don't seem so dull. Of course there was never much demand in the job market for historians. Unless you studied at West Point or Annapolis.

    Suggested movie: "The Mouse That Roared".

  9. Interesting examples. I find #1 the most disturbing of course and I hadn't thought about that case.

    But while I agree things can get a little grey, I still think 2-5 in particular support what I am saying:

    2. May have started out as an uprising of the proletariat but almost instantly was siezed by authoritarian control. And, true to form, Russia rolled over Eastern Europe and aggressively took it over.

    3. I think we'd all agree that mainland China is a democracy in name only. And, again, ask Taiwan and Hong Kong if they feel China is potentially aggressive!

    4. Many authoritarian countries - maybe all - had sham elections. If they had had real elections, those countries would have probably all been drastically different. Look at eastern europe now versus thirty years ago!

    5. In the UK the monarchy is 99% figurehead. The other examples are similar to #4: they're just shams...

    6. Yes, Israel can be aggressive. However, in their mind, right or wrong, they are engaging in self-defense. Again, Israel could fairly easily take over Syria, Jordan, etc. militarily. But, again, they would never even think about it at least from what we can tell...

    Again, all military aggression, i.e. let't take over another country, in this century comes from authoritarian regimes: Islamic, Communist, third world dictator, etc.
  10. And I came up with all that astonishing political analysis, by the way, w/o the benefit of THC!
    #10     Apr 13, 2004