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Cycles of War and Peace. Fearon’s Rationalist explanations for war. The Puzzle. If war is costly, why do countries go to war? Leaders are ir rational Leaders who order wars enjoy the benefits but don’t pay any of the costs Rational leaders end up going to war as well.

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Presentation Transcript
the puzzle
The Puzzle
  • If war is costly, why do countries go to war?
    • Leaders are irrational
    • Leaders who order wars enjoy the benefits but don’t pay any of the costs
    • Rational leaders end up going to war as well
literature why do rational leaders go to war
Literature: Why do Rational Leaders go to War?
  • Anarchy
  • Expected benefits > Expected costs
  • Rational Preventive war
  • Rational miscalculation due to lack of information
  • Rational miscalculation or disagreement about relative power
literature why do rational leaders go to war1
Literature: Why do Rational Leaders go to War?

Fearon does not like these as Rationalist explanations

  • Anarchy
  • Expected benefits > Expected costs
  • Rational Preventive war
  • Rational miscalculation due to lack of information
  • Rational miscalculation or disagreement about relative power

Some hope for these

fearon why do rational leaders go to war
Fearon: Why do Rational Leaders go to War?
  • Private information plus incentives to misrepresent
  • Commitment problems
  • Issue indivisibility

Integrated into variations of other two?

questions for discussion
Questions for Discussion
  • What are the big takeaways from the article?
  • Do we have any disagreements with Fearon?
  • Do institutions such as the United Nations reduce commitment problems arising from anarchy?
  • Thinking about preventive war, is a “hard” peace less palatable than war?
  • What role does “bounded rationality” play in leaders’ decision process?
  • How does domestic politics and the “pathology” of leaders affect decision to war?