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Scott Wolford National Leaders & Intl Politics

International conflict bargaining takes place between leaders rather than states. Leaders (incumbents & successors) vary in their level of resolve; this creates incentives for new leaders to build reputations early on, and for their adversaries to discover their level of resoluteness. These beliefs and the actions by each affect both incumbents’ survival and the likelihood of conflict.


  • Actors = Leaders ¬States. Levels of resoluteness: types

    • Holds for B… what about A? (propositions)

  • Conflict is costly (better off ex post if avoided ex ante)

  • B’s prob of survival is determined by outcome of 1st crisis

    • How reasonable is this? Elections?

    • Regarding A’s prefs for B* over B… what does A know about B*?

  • B has good that A wants, only A has incentive to pick fights…

    • what does this say about the distrib of power?


      Propositions 1-6; many testable implications.

      Prop 3: if ↑øW, ↑ p(C), & effect is greater as p increases

      Prop 5: if ↑øP, p(C) can increase OR decrease, depending on p

      if p is low (below threshold) A does not make aggressive offers

      yet øW > øP, and ↑øW, ↑ p(C)… why wouldn’t B pick fight for good 2?


      - Plans?

      - How do you measure p? 1-p? Easier in some pairs than others

      - How do you measure level of resoluteness? distinguish (empirically) an irresolute A from a resolute A that believes she confronts a resolute B?

      General point: pick your battles. What are the 3 ideas you’d like readers to take away?

      Minor point: “distribution of power” = p, the probability that A wins