The Democratic Peace is What States Make of It: A Constructivist Analysis of the US-Indian ‘Near-Miss’ in the 1971 South Asian Crisis
In 1971, the United States and India - the world's two largest democracies - almost went to war in a 'near-miss' at odds with the hypothesis that democracies do not fight one another. In this article, I reformulate the democratic peace hypothesis by subsuming it under a broadened constructivist analysis, one that recognizes that institutional qualities do not 'speak for themselves' but rather that struggles over the meaning of democracy can engender conflict. I then argue that differences regarding the meaning of democracy shaped post-World War II US perceptions of the South Asian distribution of power, explaining shifts from periods of Democratic friendship to Republican enmity toward India, with the latter most clearly manifested in the 1971 crisis. I conclude by emphasizing the merit of a constructivist theory of democratic interactions in explaining cooperation and conflict.
European Journal of International Relations
Political Science not elsewhere classified