I just realised I meant this, the democracy thing is kind of an extrapolation of this. But the point still stands: free trade and, broadly speaking, democracy prevents wars because both sides lose.skalpel wrote: I don't envy you having to write an essay on this.
I'll take us slightly aside for a moment: does that necessarily stand as proof that mutual democracy among individual countries is directly related to peace? You touched on trade initially and I read an interesting site on this topic a while ago, and found it again today after reading your post, in which it was suggested that in fact no two countries with a McDonalds restaurant had gone to war with each other either. That in fact raises an interesting consideration, much wider than the initial trivial example of McDonalds obviously, that a linked reliance on the global economy seems to prevent war more convincingly than merely democracy itself.
This mutual reliance transcends country borders, so doesn't this somewhat diminish the importance of countries and of democracy? Democracy being more common across richer countries and war most common among the poorer staples in a pretty clear link to economy after all.
Democracy is key, because democracy is the only system in which free trade works properly. What countries aren't democracies and have properly open economies? China isn't one, it is heavily regulated, forcing export-led growth and undervaluation (I think, possibly overvaluation) of it's currency, making its citizens poorer (they can't afford to buy western goods). The Gulf states certainly don't, only the sheiks/exceptionally wealthy can do as they choose. The poorer workers are basically slaves. I could go on.
Basically, what I'm arguing is that Free Trade = Peace, but Free Trade requires Democracy to work properly, or you get the bastardised trade situation of China. Further, Democracy is, in many ways, a commodity exported like any other. Witness the Arab Spring: people saw that it didn't need to be as it was, with corrupt dictators and so on ruining their lives.