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When democracies go to war: public debate and the French decision on war in 1999 and 2003


Goetze, C, When democracies go to war: public debate and the French decision on war in 1999 and 2003, Global Society, 22, (1) pp. 57-74. ISSN 1360-0826 (2008) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2008 University of Kent

DOI: doi:10.1080/13600820701740738


On what grounds do democratic states wage war? Public opinion is often considered as being of crucial importance in the decision to go to war. This article analyses two debates over war in France. It finds that democracies debate war within a limited range of arguments from which classical reasons for war such as the geostrategic one are absent. However, within the limited range of arguments, public support for decisions to go to war seems to depend significantly on the convergence of all public opinion actors over the interpretation of the crisis situation. The high politics nature of crisis situations gives the political leadership strong leverage in the shaping of thick discourses. The control function of public opinion is then diminished and a de facto prerogative of the government established even though justifications remain restricted to a limited number of arguments. Thick discourses of justification seem to be framed predominantly by arguments of just war.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:International relations
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:International relations
Objective Field:International organisations
UTAS Author:Goetze, C (Dr Catherine Goetze)
ID Code:122534
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2017-11-16
Last Modified:2018-05-10

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