Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 October 2012
In the last chapter I demonstrated that stable borders greatly affect relations between contiguous states. Settled borders encourage both peace and democratization. I also argued that these states at peace face different types of issues than most other states. With territorial issues removed from their agendas, the conflicts that do confront these states are likely to be of lesser consequence and more easily managed. Thus, states at territorial peace should be more likely to negotiate compromises of their disputes. I test that expectation in this chapter.
The baseline for tests in this chapter is once again a strong empirical regularity demonstrating variation in negotiation according to regime type. The logic of this argument follows from the domestic political norms to which democratic leaders are accustomed: since democratic leaders are normatively bounded not to use violence and coercion in dealing with domestic rivals, they are acculturated to treat potential international rivals in the same way. When two democracies have an international dispute, each trusts that the other is bounded by the same norm and cultured in the same non-violent approach. In short, democracies trust each other enough to peacefully negotiate settlements to their dispute. However, when the dyad includes at least one non-democratic state, this level of trust breaks down (Russett and Oneal 2001, 64–66).
If my argument is correct, norms of behavior are of little consequence in predicting negotiated settlements. Instead, most democracies are likely to be members of a group of states that have settled their border issues with neighbors.