Bargaining and Uncertainty in World Politics

Publication Year


As many crises do not evolve into full scale conflict, and almost all conflicts end short of war, an important question is how states manage uncertainty? This thesis investigates the relationships between uncertainty, rhetoric, alliances, and combat. The thesis consists of four articles. Much ado about nothing? Diplomacy, war, and the incentive to misrepresent. It is well known that during a crisis, states often have an incentive to Misrepresent their true resolve and willingness to go to war. This theoretical result has been taken to imply that diplomacy, interpreted as pre-bargaining communication, can have no effect on crisis bargaining. This paper shows an intuitive way that diplomatic "cheap talk" can influence crisis negotiations. In particular, if after the diplomatic exchange states can choose to either fight a war directly or bargain in hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement, then there exist equilibria where diplomacy influences whether there is war or peace. Politics at the water's edge: Crisis bargaining and electoral competition. This chapter investigates the role of domestic politics at the water's edge. The model developed shows how the apparently costless position taking of the domestic opposition during a crisis can reveal private information about the incumbent to a rival state. In particular, the public nature of democratic competition results in the institutionally induced credibility of the message. From fighting to peace: Battlefield events and war termination. This chapter examines battle level data from 20th century wars and focuses on analyzing relationships between battle events and the decision to end violent conflict. The analysis establishes the existence of some important empirical regularities and tests competing hypotheses relating battlefield events to war termination. The dynamics of alliances. This chapter studies the dynamics of alliances in a world of anarchy by taking states' outside options seriously. The analysis shows that anarchy plays an important role in mitigating the incentive to free-ride on alliance partners and that the incentive to invest political capital in an alliance arises endogenously.
Academic Department
Dissertation Abstracts International, A: The Humanities and Social Sciences
- A-1154-A