Military Strategy, Private Information, and War

Citation metadata

Author: David Lindsey
Date: Dec. 2015
From: International Studies Quarterly(Vol. 59, Issue 4)
Publisher: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 226 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

Byline: David Lindsey In conventional crisis bargaining models, bluffing provides the primary rationale for states to misrepresent their private information, and war occurs because strong states are unable to credibly demonstrate strength to their opponents. Here, I argue that military strategy supplies an alternative reason for states to misrepresent their private information. Both strong and weak states may misrepresent themselves because of the battlefield benefits of fighting against an uninformed opponent, who may choose a suboptimal military strategy. Under appropriate conditions, the military gains for concealing information exceed the diplomatic gains available for revealing that information. Thus, states will choose to keep secrets and fight. To demonstrate this, I incorporate military strategy into the standard bargaining framework, showing that military concerns incentivize both strong and weak states to conceal information, even when they are able to reveal that information costlessly and credibly. As in the usual model, war may occur when states underestimate their adversaries, but it may also occur when states overestimate their adversaries. I further show that a mere willingness to fight does not reveal that a state is strong. I conclude the paper with two brief case studies. Article Note: Author's Note: I would like to thank Branislav Slantchev, Chris Chiego, and David Lake as well as the editors and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. CAPTION(S): Appendix S1. Online Formal Appendix.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A439973075