Publication details

Fishing in the Mild West. Democratic Peace and Militarized Interstate Disputes in the Transatlantic Community, in: Review of International Studies, 34: 3 (2008), 481-506.


Author(s): Hellmann, Gunther; Herborth, Benjamin
Year of publication: 2008

Abstract: According to many of its proponents, the proposition that democracies do not fight each other is ‘as close as anything we have to an empirical law’.1 However, there have been several incidents among solidified liberal democracies where force was threatened or even used. Since these inter-democratic militarised interstate disputes (MIDs) almost always took place in the context of fisheries disputes, we examine two of these conflicts in detail: the cod wars between Iceland and Britain between the 1950s and the 1970s and the turbot war between Canada and Spain. We ask why these fisheries conflicts became militarised in the first place but did not escalate further. In both cases it was actually the presumed impossibility of a more violent escalation which led the parties to use force in the first place. Moreover, the (limited) use of force was almost always accompanied by the efforts of the parties involved to achieve some formalisation of international rules in the context of expanding regimes. Having demonstrated how some of the more prominent causal mechanisms stipulated by democratic peace theorists fail to convincingly account of these cases, we refrain from concluding that any of this falsifies the democratic peace proposition. However, in conclusion we do call into question the premises of the falsificationist methodology underlying much of the democratic peace debate on both theoretical and metholdological grounds. Reframing the democratic peace proposition in terms of a large-scale process of descuritisation, we contend, allows us to understand better how democratic interstate interaction remains inherently conflictive and possibly still subject to process of resecuritisation.

Subject(s): political science

Back to publications list


Ringvorlesung „Demokratie in der Krise? Bruch, Regression und Resilienz“

Unter der wissenschaftlichen Leitung von Prof. Dr. Martin Saar und PD Dr. Thomas Biebricher findet vom 24. April bis 17. Juli 2019 die Ringvorlesung „Demokratie in der Krise? Bruch, Regression und Resilienz“ statt. Mehr...

Aus aktuellem Anlass:

Weitere Informationen zur Konferenz "Das islamische Kopftuch – Symbol der Würde oder der Unterdrückung?" unter Leitung von Prof. Dr. Susanne Schröter am 8. Mai 2019. Hier...

Upcoming Events

28 May 2019, 1pm

Fireside Chat of the Women's Network with Prof. Helen Longino. More...

28. Mai 2019, 18.15 Uhr

Ringvorlesung "Demokratie in der Krise? Bruch, Regression und Resilienz": Prof. Michael Walzer: Immigration and Nationalism. Mehr...

29. Mai 2019, 12 Uhr

Book lɔ:ntʃ des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen": PD Dr. Thomas Biebricher: The Political Theory of Neoliberalism (Stanford University Press 2019). Mehr...


Latest Media

"Souveränität Europas" oder zurück zum Nationalstaat? Mögliche Szenarien für die Zukunft der Europäischen Union

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kadelbach
Intervention der Römerberggespräche "Last Exit nach dem Brexit – Ist Europa noch zu retten?"

Von der ‚Geistig-Moralischen Wende‘ zur Erschöpfung des deutschen Konservatismus" - Nächste Goethe Lecture Offenbach am 16. Mai 2019

Dr. Thomas Biebricher
Goethe Lectures Offenbach

New full-text Publications

Kettemann, Matthias; Kleinwächter, Wolfgang; Senges, Max (2018):

The Time is Right for Europe to Take the Lead in Global Internet Governance. Normative Orders Working Paper 02/2018. More...

Kettemann, Matthias (2019):

Die normative Ordnung der Cyber-Sicherheit: zum Potenzial von Cyber-Sicherheitsnormen. Normative Orders Working Paper 01/2019. More...