Deadly Doves: Liberal Nationalism and the Democratic Peace in the Soviet Successor States

Braumoeller, Bear F.
International Studies Quarterly, 41(3): 375-402, 1997

This article’s purpose is to assess the arguments of democratic peace scholars as they apply to the states of the former Soviet Union. The claim that liberalism is associated with nonviolent means of conflict resolution, in particular, is questionable in the case of newly independent states, in which liberalism bears a closer resemblance to nineteenth‐century European liberal nationalism than it does to the universalist liberalism envisioned by theories of the democratic peace. I argue that this nonuniversalist form of liberalism is in fact widespread among the Soviet successor states and that, as a result, liberalism’s implications for peace are not nearly as benign as had previously been believed. In other regards, however, the attitudes of elites, the mass public, and liberals are in fact fairly consistent with those posited by democratic peace theory, though relative elite bellicosity declines as the policy‐making arena broadens. A democratic peace in the region is therefore viable but particularly vulnerable to national issues, as well as to the effects of concentration of political power in the hands of a narrow group of elites.