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War and diplomacy on the world stage: Crisis bargaining before third parties

Scott Wolford

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2020, vol. 32, issue 2, 235-261

Abstract: I analyze a three-actor model of crisis bargaining with two key features. First, diplomatic opposition raises the costs of war, but an informed state can avoid it by conveying restraint to a supporter. Second, the means of conveying restraint may fail to convince an enemy tempted to risk war of the informed state’s willingness to fight. I derive three results. First, war is more likely when third parties believe the informed state to be generally restrained. Second, the threat of opposition that modestly affects the costs of war discourages risky bluffing. Third, the threat of opposition that substantially raises the costs of war can lead states to mask a true willingness to fight, securing diplomatic support at the price of an elevated risk of war despite the availability of a credible signal. Building diplomatic coalitions to prevent balancing can simultaneously make credible communication that averts war both easy and unattractive.

Keywords: bargaining; communication; diplomacy; war (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1177/0951629819893025

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Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:32:y:2020:i:2:p:235-261