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Bargaining and Rationalist Explanations for War
Unformatted Document Text:  35 theoretical grounds therefore misses the nature of using force in international politics. Instead, I propose a bargaining design that integrates traditional crisis and intrawar bargaining into a continuous process. Traditional difference between crisis and war is captured by their related bargaining costs and risks of losing control. Another benefit for such a design is that it also provides a way to solve the controversy between war as a process and war as a game-ending costly lottery. The second task is to reexamine the consensus that war will never occur with complete information. Using a typical Rubinstein-style bargaining game, I demonstrate that war can be in subgame perfect equilibrium if we relax some constraints on the bargaining process. In such equilibrium, war occurs because complete information helps participants to comprehensively evaluate their advantages and disadvantages on different dimensions. War will occur when the militarily strong state realizes that the opponent may use its other advantages (e.g., bargaining advantage and first-move advantage) in the bargaining process. This model also sheds light on the rationalist explanations of preemptive attack because a first-move advantage is a “selectable” advantage rather than pre-determined endowment. Because Rubinstein-style bargaining games are widely used in the investigation of information problems, my finding may entail a reexamination of our previous conclusions about the role of private information.

Authors: Ye, Min.
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theoretical grounds therefore misses the nature of using force in international politics. Instead, I
propose a bargaining design that integrates traditional crisis and intrawar bargaining into a
continuous process. Traditional difference between crisis and war is captured by their related
bargaining costs and risks of losing control. Another benefit for such a design is that it also
provides a way to solve the controversy between war as a process and war as a game-ending
costly lottery.
The second task is to reexamine the consensus that war will never occur with complete
information. Using a typical Rubinstein-style bargaining game, I demonstrate that war can be in
subgame perfect equilibrium if we relax some constraints on the bargaining process. In such
equilibrium, war occurs because complete information helps participants to comprehensively
evaluate their advantages and disadvantages on different dimensions. War will occur when the
militarily strong state realizes that the opponent may use its other advantages (e.g., bargaining
advantage and first-move advantage) in the bargaining process. This model also sheds light on
the rationalist explanations of preemptive attack because a first-move advantage is a “selectable”
advantage rather than pre-determined endowment. Because Rubinstein-style bargaining games
are widely used in the investigation of information problems, my finding may entail a
reexamination of our previous conclusions about the role of private information.


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