Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict

When do democracies participate in armed conflict and when do they abstain? Studies on the democratic peace have largely neglected democratic war involvement. Moreover, while scholars made the case that democracy needs to be unpacked to be meaningful, this is rarely done in international relations. In comparative politics, on the other hand, there has been extensive research on democratic subtypes, but this is seldom applied to security policy. Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict provides an integrative theoretical framework that draws on the novel methodological approach of fsQCA. The book identifies pathways of military participation and abstention across 30 democracies and their involvement in the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

  • Best Dissertation Award 2015, German Political Science Association (Deutsche Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft) [Press Release] [Laudation]

Reviewed in

  • Perspectives on Politics (Volume 15, Issue 1) [PDF]
  • International Affairs (Volume 90, Issue 6) [PDF]
  • Politische Vierteljahresschrift (Volume 55, Issue 4) [PDF]
  • Political Studies Review (Volume 16, Issue 2) [PDF]

Book Endorsements

‘Analyzing the wide variation in democratic alliance contributions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Mello debunks prominent explanations  that give undue weight to single variables. Rather, he finds that these contributions are explained by complex interactions among public opinion, parliamentary veto points, military capabilities, partisanship, and especially, constitutional constraints. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in alliances or the foreign policies of democracies.’
Andrew Bennett, Georgetown University, USA

‘This book addresses an essential but neglected question of the democratic peace: Why are some democracies more war prone than others? With this theoretically innovative, methodologically rigorous and data-rich study, Mello has made a major contribution to research on democracy and war involvement.’
Christopher Daase, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

‘A breath of theoretical and methodological fresh-air into the discussion of democracy and foreign policy. Combines theory, QCA, and case studies into a powerful package for explaining when democracies get involved in armed conflict.’
Gary Goertz, University of Notre Dame, USA

‘This timely study advances the debate about democracies and war. Mello focuses not on why democracies don’t fight each other but instead on the question of when democracies are likely to intervene abroad. […] A must read for anyone interested in the forces driving military intervention today.’
Elizabeth Kier, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

‘Patrick Mello presents a comprehensive and nuanced picture of the forces driving liberal democracies to participate in military mission. […] this is a major contribution to our understanding of the complex relationship between democratic politics, peace and armed conflict. ‘Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict’ is essential reading for everyone interested in the Democratic Peace debate.’
Wolfgang Wagner, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands