The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Crisis Bargaining and Domestic Opposition

Philip Arena, SUNY-Buffalo

Fri, November 9, 2012 | BAT 5.108

1:00 PM

Why do democracies sometimes fight long, politically divisive wars that end poorly? Philip Arena argues that electoral accountability, induced by party competition, can sometimes promote this and other tragic outcomes. To demonstrate this, he analyzes a bargaining model in which one state is conceived of as a unitary actor while the other consists of a government and an opposition that is motivated both by electoral ambition and concern for the national interest. Perhaps surprisingly, it is the opposition's concern for the national interest that causes the most tragic outcomes, as advocating peace simultaneously prevents war yet undercuts the government's bargaining position. Arena closes with a discussion of why the United States appears to be particularly prone to such tragic outcomes, treating the Vietnam War as an illustrative example.

Philip Arena

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