Re: WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get Afghanistan...)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sun Nov 25 2001 - 14:33:36 MST

On Sun, Nov 25, 2001 at 09:34:02PM +1000, Alejandro Dubrovsky wrote:
> On Sun, 25 Nov 2001 20:10, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > Well, I did not say democracies can't turn into dictatorships (even
> > legally), just that democracies - and here I mean democracies in the
> > sense that there is a free press, people do get to hold the
> > government accountable and influence it, laws and rights are
> > respected and so on - so far have not gone to war against each other.
> > There are some borderline cases like the Balkan situation, but if you
> > look at the actual level of democracy in Serbia as opposed to the
> > formal level of democracy, it is clear that it was not a very
> > democratic country.
> >
> That's probably because those countries don't exist. (I mean which
> country has completely free press? Laws and rights respected by who?)
> Also, another democracy clash (not using Anders's tight definition, but
> the more common one) would be Ecuador-Peru in the mid-late nineties.

Free press doesn't mean you can print *anything*, but rather that you
are allowed to express opinions freely about a wide range of subjects,
especially society, economics and ideology without legal or other
reprisal. It is not a binary state, but a continuum. The same goes for
respect for law.

I can of course weasel my way out of a claim like the one I did by
arbitrarily tightening my definition of democracy, but that would make
the claim irrelevant. Instead we can turn it around: what is the case of
the most democratic countries going at war against each other, and why
did it happen?

The Ecuador-Peru conflict might be such an example. I see that the
Freedom house freedom index (combining various civil liberties) of Peru
in the period is 5.4 (partially free, just below unfree) and 2.3 (free)
for Ecuador (lower scores mean more freedom, most western states lie
near 1.1, Afghanistan reaches 7.7); Peru also seem to have taken the
initiative in the conflict.

Is this the conflict between the freest countries we can find?
India-Pakistan seems to come close; Pakistan seem to move between 3.5
and 7.5 over the last 30 years, while India has been 2.3-4.4. Again,
this is an old local conflict which might reflect more on local powers
and militaries than the central powers.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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