Democratic Peace Theory as Practice: (Re)Reading the Significance of Liberal Representations of War and Peace
Those in academia who have presented compelling evidence of the interactions between the Iroquois Confederacy and the founders of the American Constitution which plausibly points to the impact of the former on the latter, have been pilloried by their colleagues. While there seems to be no dispute within academia that the Iroquois political system embodied (and continues to embody) many characteristics that we might associate with liberal democracy (e.g., political representation, gender equality, individual freedoms), charges are still made that claims about the influence of the Iroquois on the American political system are unscholarly, without rigour, dogmatic, lacking in ‘objectivity’, and a practice of ‘myth-making’.The key question here is what does this have to do with international relations? The answer in part, is given that liberal democracy and the liberal democratic political system are firmly entrenched in the American national psyche, any suggestion that they are not wholly an ‘American’ (or at least ‘Western’) product is tantamount to a full scale attack on US national identity and the ontological presuppositions that form its foundations. This is particularly acute when Native Americans are involved, for they have traditionally been seen as the uncivilized and savage ‘other’ on the North American continent. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to demonstrate that far from being just window-dressing to (geo)strategic interests as argued by realists, or the ultimate guarantor of peace as argued by democratic peace adherents, the American (and Western) conception of liberal democracy creates the binaries necessary for the war-making practices of the United States and other like minded allies such as Canada.