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Bargaining Over Power: When Do Rapid Shifts in Power Lead to War?
Unformatted Document Text:  as well as by the removal of threatening weapons. Thus, the Cuban missile crisis is a case in which the bargaining power of the Soviet Union would have dramatically increased as soon as the missiles would have become operational. Direct conflict was avoided by negotiations over missiles—that is, explicitly over instruments of power. 9.2 Ending the War Commitment problems can also lead wars to last longer than they would otherwise: one difficulty in terminating a conflict is for the losing party to promise not to challenge the temporary agreement, and not to fight again in the future. 40 This inability to commit can be resolved in two ways: first, by disarming the vanquished by force—that is, by continuing the war and the destruction until the vanquished is so devastated that there is no hope of rapid reconstruction or revenge. Clearly, this is an inefficient solution. Often, however, war ends short of total destruction of the means to fight: it ends even though both parties are still able to hurt—and potentially to seek revenge in the future. In these cases, ending the war (i.e., reaching an agreement instead of continuing to fight) implies that the victor be able to ensure that the loser will not challenge the terms of the agreement in the near future. 41 By agreeing to disarm or to reduce its capabilities today, the losing side implicitly agrees to limit its own power in the future, and thereby avoids the costs of war continuation. Examples of such disarmaments and reduction of power abound in history. Perhaps the most famous is the 1919 treaty of Versailles, which was explicitly designed to alleviate France’s fear that Germany might rearm in the near future: by imposing the demilitarization of the vanquished and subsequently the occupation of the Ruhr, France obtained a credible guarantee that Germany would not be a threat, despite her initially 40 A similar problem exists in the case of civil wars, where the disarming party has no guarantee that theother player will not exploit his weakness once it has disarmed. See, for example, the work of Walter(2000) 41 The fact that such settlements are often perceived as imposed in such cases should not obscure thefact that the vanquished often retains the choice to keep fighting. The 1919 treaty of Versailles is anexample of this 23

Authors: Chadefaux, Thomas.
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as well as by the removal of threatening weapons. Thus, the Cuban missile crisis is a case
in which the bargaining power of the Soviet Union would have dramatically increased
as soon as the missiles would have become operational. Direct conflict was avoided by
negotiations over missiles—that is, explicitly over instruments of power.
9.2
Ending the War
Commitment problems can also lead wars to last longer than they would otherwise: one
difficulty in terminating a conflict is for the losing party to promise not to challenge the
temporary agreement, and not to fight again in the future.
40
This inability to commit can be resolved in two ways: first, by disarming the
vanquished by force—that is, by continuing the war and the destruction until the
vanquished is so devastated that there is no hope of rapid reconstruction or revenge.
Clearly, this is an inefficient solution. Often, however, war ends short of total destruction
of the means to fight: it ends even though both parties are still able to hurt—and
potentially to seek revenge in the future. In these cases, ending the war (i.e., reaching
an agreement instead of continuing to fight) implies that the victor be able to ensure
that the loser will not challenge the terms of the agreement in the near future.
41
By
agreeing to disarm or to reduce its capabilities today, the losing side implicitly agrees to
limit its own power in the future, and thereby avoids the costs of war continuation.
Examples of such disarmaments and reduction of power abound in history. Perhaps
the most famous is the 1919 treaty of Versailles, which was explicitly designed to
alleviate France’s fear that Germany might rearm in the near future: by imposing the
demilitarization of the vanquished and subsequently the occupation of the Ruhr, France
obtained a credible guarantee that Germany would not be a threat, despite her initially
40
A similar problem exists in the case of civil wars, where the disarming party has no guarantee that the
other player will not exploit his weakness once it has disarmed. See, for example, the work of Walter
(2000)
41
The fact that such settlements are often perceived as imposed in such cases should not obscure the
fact that the vanquished often retains the choice to keep fighting. The 1919 treaty of Versailles is an
example of this
23


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