Is democracy the ideal form of government and the best hope the international relations system has for finally achieving inter-state peace?
In his landmark work “The End of History and the Last Man,” Francis Fukuyama argues that the advent of Western liberal democracy may signalthe end point of humanity's socio-cultural evolution and the final form ofhuman government. He wrote specifically that "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period ofpost-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point ofmankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."
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First let's address the idea of idealism in government. There is no ideal form of government outside of the philosophical realm because governments are designed and run by humans, subject to the flaws in human nature. In terms of international relations, and the discussion of this article, I think I could agree that democracy serves diplomacy between countries much more effectively than any other existing form of government.
Dictatorships, on the other hand, have governments which seek to benefit the few or the one, and therefore there is little incentive to act on behalf of all of a country's citizens. If you look at Iran, North Korea or Cuba, to name a few, the governments there are usually much more recalcitrant and resistant to international efforts at peace.
The issues of population growth, resource limitations and climate change will severely test democracy as a form of government, as it will also strain relations between countries, even those between democracies themselves or between former allies. So it remains to be seen whether that form of government is the evolutionary endgame of our political systems.
I think I would tend to agree with the idealists (in International Relations terms) who believe that democracy is the best hope for lasting interstate peace. However, I would qualify this by saying that this is only the case if all states have TRUE democracies -- ones that all believe in human rights and tolerance. It will not be the case if you have "democracies" that are only called that because they have elections.
I agree with the idealists that true democracies will tend to share values and will therefore not want to engage in wars with one another. I do not think this is true of any other sort of government. I also think that you cannot achieve this through a more realist power-based system. Anytime that you have a hegemon, however strong, it will become a target for discontent and conflict will always be possible.
So I think that the only possibility for lasting peace is to have countries not WANT to fight each other. I think this is only possible if all states are true democracies.
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