In the latter case, President Polk, who wanted to fight Mexico, had to resist popular pressure to fight Britain, too, over the U.S.-Canada boundary. In 1898 President McKinley gave in to popular pressure for war with Spain. In 1917 President Wilson easily ignited mass belligerency after campaigning against war the year before.
Assuming lax enough tests of democracy, exceptions to democratic pacifism abound.
That pretty much shrinks the democratic category to the Cold War democracies, to those states that have continuously enjoyed high-class democratic regimes since soon after World War II.
The idea that 'democracies do not war on each other' is not a natural law, like the gravitational constant. It's an observation made from history. War between democracies is not forbidden, it's just very rare, much more rare than despotic regimes warring on each other, or on democracies. It suggests that if you don't want war, democracy is a very powerful tool, and the more democracies we have, the fewer wars.
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