The Big Picture PLSC 379r Lecture 6
Setting the Stage • Two actors, A and D • Can’t agree on how to split some issue • States don’t want to fight. Why? • However, each actor is thinking strategically, and that can get them into trouble
Onset of Violent Conflict • A violent bargaining match should occur when one of two things happens • One or both sides over-estimates their own strength or under-estimates the opponents • One side believes a conflict is inevitable, and it has a “window of opportunity”
Guessing Types • A wants something from D • A has a belief about D’s type • Strong • Weak • Resolved • Unresolved • A “knows” its own type • If A is unresolved, will it likely make a threat? Will it under any conditions? • A will balance 1)issue importance, 2) p(win), and 3) e(costs) • A is most likey to make a demand (and be resolved) when it believes that its share of the benefits are not about equal with its power
Watching Signals • D observes A make a first move and therefore has a clue about A’s type • If A makes a demand, what does D “know” • A uses everything it can to signal resolve • Domestic institutions • Democracies constrain • Democracies inform • D now “knows” that if it rejects A’s demand a costly conflict will occur • D will choose war when it believes that its share of the benefits are not about equal with its power • However, when D chooses war, what does that signal to A?
Choosing War • If both sides believe their share of the benefits is not about equal to their share of the power, then someone is likely wrong • The purpose of fighting is to reveal the “true” balance of power between A and D so the balance of benefits can be set to match
The Shape of War • A is not unreasonable. The demand it made initially will be one that a weak type should accept • If the course of the battle suggests that D is indeed a weak type, A will continue to fight • A became less optimistic when D chose war • Losses cause A to become less optimistic, while wins cause her to be more optimistic • As fighting continues, A and D update their expectations about 1) p(win) and 2 e(costs), and adjust demands and concessions accordingly
A Bargain is Reached! • War ceases when A and D can agree on a split of the benefits that BOTH prefer to continued fighting