Democratic leaders and the democratic peace: The operational codes of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton

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Do the beliefs of leaders make a significant difference in determining if democracies are peaceful and explaining why democracies (almost) never fight one another? Our comparisons of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton reveal that both leaders view democracies as more friendly than nondemocracies, and they have significantly less cooperative beliefs toward the latter than toward the former, a difference that extends to the behavior of their respective governments during the Kosovo conflict. We also find that individual differences in the operational codes of the two leaders matter in the management of conflict with nondemocracies; the leaders exhibit opposite leadership styles and behavior associated with the domestic political culture of the two states. Overall, these results support the dyadic version of the democratic peace and suggest that the conflict behavior of democratic states depends upon the beliefs and calculations of their leaders in dealing with nondemocracies. © 2006 International Studies Association.

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International Studies Quarterly

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