Diversionary incentives, rally effects, and crisis bargaining

Philip Arena, Daehee Bak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

We do not yet have strong evidence that the rally effect motivates domestically vulnerable leaders to become engaged in international conflict. We draw upon mechanism design to argue that, if anything, diversionary incentives should be associated with a greater likelihood of being the target of disputes, though the conditions under which the result obtains are restrictive. Our analysis of all dyad-months involving the United States and its rivals for the period from 1956-1996 yields suggestive evidence of the unconventional behavior anticipated by our model, while failing to find evidence of patterns anticipated by either traditional diversionary accounts or strategic conflict avoidance. These results suggest that if we are to better understand international conflict by focusing on diversionary incentives, which may not be very useful, we should focus on the behavior described by our formal model rather than that anticipated by either traditional diversionary accounts or strategic conflict avoidance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-250
Number of pages18
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

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