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Dictatorial Peace?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2004

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1121 (
Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont, The Old Mill, P.O. Box 54110, Burlington, VT 05405-4110 (
Ph.D. student, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455.


Is there a dictatorial peace that resembles the democratic peace? This paper uses a new data set compiled by Barbara Geddes to examine the conflict behavior of three types of autocratic regimes—personalist, military, and single-party dictatorships—in the post-World War II era. We find some evidence that specific types of authoritarian regimes are peaceful toward one another. No two personalist dictators or two military regimes have gone to war with each other since 1945. These dyads were not less likely to engage in militarized interstate disputes than were mixed dyads, however. Although single-party regimes were the only homogeneous dyad in this study to have experienced war, multivariate analyses of participation in militarized interstate disputes suggest that single-party states are more peaceful toward one another than are mixed dyads. Thus, while we have found no unambiguous evidence of a dictatorial peace to match the robustness of the democratic peace, there is substantial interesting variation in the conflict behavior of specific types of authoritarian regimes. The analysis presented here demonstrates that studies of the impact of regime type on conflict behavior must work from a more sophisticated conception of authoritarianism.

Research Article
© 2002 by the American Political Science Association

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