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Drones and Democratic Peace

Drone Proliferation and Oversight
John Kaag
Sarah Kreps

The increased use of combat drones in modern military conflicts requires a substantial revision of democratic peace theory. The development of this technology demonstrates the verity of certain premises of this theory, but its use stands to vitiate others and ultimately the prospects for democratic peace. In 1795, Immanuel Kant argued that cultural and technological forces would make war increasingly destructive and costly and that in trying to avoid these costs, every rational agent hence would have an incentive for maintaining peace. Kant was right that wars would become increasingly costly; the conflicts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries provide adequate evidence. Kant was also right that these costs would provide the impetus for large-scale peace movements; the twentieth century saw unprecedented mobilization of peace activists on the issues of nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War compared to the more limited peace advocacy of the previous century.1 Kant predicted in representative democracies such as the United States, such war protests would have the ability to revise policy and therefore could dramatically alter the course of military conflicts by demanding that governments be responsive to citizen interests and fears.