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The Territorial Peace
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Book description

There is continued discussion in International Relations surrounding the existence (or not) of the 'democratic peace' - the idea that democracies do not fight each other. This book argues that threats to homeland territories force centralization within the state, for three reasons. First, territorial threats are highly salient to individuals, and leaders must respond by promoting the security of the state. Second, threatened territories must be defended by large, standing land armies and these armies can then be used as forces for repression during times of peace. Finally, domestic political bargaining is dramatically altered during times of territorial threat, with government opponents joining the leader in promoting the security of the state. Leaders therefore have a favorable environment in which to institutionalize greater executive power. These forces explain why conflicts are associated with centralized states, and in turn why peace is associated with democracy.


‘Existing research demonstrates that territorial issues often escalate to war and that violent conflict is rare between democratic states. Although these two findings tend to been seen as separate phenomena, Gibler argues that territorial issues shape state development and domestic politics; regional territorial threats foster political centralization, intolerance, and polarization, and the democratic peace emerges as a by-product of territorial peace. This insightful book is essential reading for all interested in the links between international conflict processes and domestic institutions and politics.’

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch - University of Essex

‘The Territorial Peace is one of the most important books I have read on international conflict in the past decade. Students of territorial conflict and the democratic peace will find this book both insightful and provocative.’

Paul Huth - University of Maryland, and Editor, Journal of Conflict Resolution

‘In tracing the complex and dynamic relationships between territorial disputes, domestic political centralization, democratic regimes, and international conflict, The Territorial Peace develops a novel and intriguing explanation for the near absence of war between democracies, and makes a powerful argument for the central role of territorial issues in international relations. Gibler engages some of the most central questions in the field, and all conflict analysts must deal with his argument.’

Jack S. Levy - Board of Governors' Professor, Rutgers University

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