The popularity of and confidence in democracy has intensified over the past decade, accelerated by the collapse of communism at the end of the Cold War. The spread of democracy has been underscored by a correlation between democracy and the absence of war. The Democratic Peace Thesis has been a popular explanation for this phenomenon. This dissertation examines whether there is a similar correlation between democracy and patterns of bilateral security co-operation. Theoretically, the same characteristics that make democracies peaceful should also make democracies more cooperative in their relations with other democracies.
Neorealism, arguably the predominant explanation of international politics and state behaviour, rejects this correlation. Neorealists argue that systemic level factors are more important determinants of state behaviour than domestic characteristics. Democracy being a domestic factor should not have an independent effect on international processes such as the decision to go to war, or co-operation between states. According to neorealism, moreover, co-operation between states is constrained by two factors - concern for relative gains and fear of dependency or cheating.
Therefore this dissertation has both practical and theoretical aspects. The central research question reflects this: to what extent does democracy affect patterns of international co-operation, and does this undermine the validity of the neorealist approach? To compare the explanatory utility of neorealism and democracy, this dissertation adopts the focussed structural comparative case study method of Alexander George and examines three cases in which a newly democratised state has increased or improved its level of security co-operation with a mature democracy. The case studies are examined to determine whether democracy makes a critical difference to patterns of security co-operation between two democracies.
The first case study focuses on Hungary's improved security relations with the United States. This is examined particularly in the context of the NATO alliance, which Hungary joined in 1999. Democracy was a key factor in Hungary's decision to cooperate with the US and, in particular, was instrumental in overcoming the neorealist constraints on security co-operation. Hungary's status as a democracy was crucial to America's decision to extend new security guarantees. Neorealism is unable to offer a sufficient alternative explanation for the improvement in security relations between Hungary and the US.
The second case study examines South Korea's altered security approach to Japan since its transition to democracy in the late 1980s, with particular emphasis on the circumstances surrounding the 1998 Joint Declaration on a New ROK-Japan Partnership for the Twenty-First Century. South Korea's democratic evolution was a critical factor in overcoming the historical animosity that had previously inhibited security interaction with Japan. The adjustment in South Korea's approach, combined with the ROK's transition to democracy, encouraged Japan to respond positively to Korean willingness to develop closer relations. Neorealist explanations are again insufficient to account completely for the change in relations.
The final case study is Argentina's relations with the United Kingdom after 1983. Argentina's democratic transition prompted a significant change in the Argentine approach to its international relations. This is evident in its acceptance of the 'umbrella policy' in its negotiations with the United Kingdom. The effect of Argentina's democratisation is not so marked in the UK, but it nevertheless has encouraged a more positive approach, in line with Britain's generally pro-democratic foreign policy.
The case studies demonstrate that democracy does make a difference to patterns of bilateral security co-operation, from the perspectives of both the newly-democratised state and the mature democracy. This undermines the validity of neorealist explanations of the prospects for inter-state security co-operation. Evidence to support an extended thesis of democratic behaviour is provided and areas for future research are considered.