Recently in class we have discussed democratic peace theory, and if it should be used as a means of shaping foreign policy. Many may find the idea of promoting democracy around the world controversial and scholars have argued for and against it for some time. Some scholars argue that democracies are peaceful with all states in the international system and others argue that they are peaceful only with other democracies. And of course there are those who do not acknowledge any relationship between democracy and peace. I think it is fair to say that many of us in the west would like to see the rest of the world adopt democracy because we can see the freedoms that it offers. I personally take the position that the world would certainly be more peaceful if more countries adopted a democratic system.
During the 20th century the U.S. has shaped foreign policy to promote democracy and contain communism. An excellent example is Woodrow Wilson and his administrations decision to enter World War I, President Wilson Justified entering the war on the grounds that a world wide democracy would create a more peaceful world.
Promoting democracy as a means of creating a more peaceful international system in my opinion is a worth while cause. Democracies tend to be better governed and have useful mechanisms and tools for resolving conflicts peacefully. However I do not think going to war and attempting to set up a democracy for another state is the way to go as seen by the war in Iraq. Ultimately it is up to the people within the state to demand change. A 2005 freedom house study concluded that most states that transitioned to democracy were done by a civilians who demanded change at the local level and further gained support. Here I have linked a video showing the “March of Democracy throughout history.