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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers another cause of conflict, one that has received much less attention than informational problem: commitment problems. Such problems essentially derive from the inability of parties to write binding long-term contracts on arming or anything else. Commitment problems can lead to conflict primarily because negotiated outcomes and conflict often imply different future strengths for the adversaries. Added “benefits” of war can induce adversaries to fight instead of negotiate. The discussion looks on cases in which commitment problems come about as power shifts against one of the adversaries in favor of the other over time. The side that is expected to lose power might then decide to fight, rather than negotiate, as a way of forestalling its decline. The article also discusses how similar commitment problems extend to cases of domestic politics.

Keywords: commitment problems, domestic politics, arming contracts, war benefits

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