Rationalist Explanations For War By James Fearon

990 Words 4 Pages
Rationalist Explanations for War, written by James Fearon in 1995, provides an argumentation that launching a war is costly, thus there is an ex ante bargaining range that prompt to reach an agreement. This agreement will not only reflect the possible aftermath of a war, but also avoid the cost of it. That the two belligerent will make an agreement before the war which reflect the possible results of war is always better than a war plan. As Fearon argues that war is always ex post inefficient. So a puzzle occurs, which is why rational countries choose to wage a war rather than considering a bargaining or negotiation to make a peace agreement. According to that, Fearon raised three rationalist explanations, namely information asymmetry, issue …show more content…
Thus, the existence of private information commonly render the country to exaggerate their capacity and simultaneously underestimate the opposite country’s power. Consequently, they turn to be blindly positive for the upcoming warfare. These misconception usually render a country pursue a uncompromising policy(Robert Jervis 1976). Apart from the case mentioned in this book, I, as a Chinese student, can’t help thinking the Vietnam war in which the determination to war was misjudged by the United States. The army of the United States was marching forward to the North Korea disregard of China’s warnings, supposing that China will never take action against them. Then war was waged. If the United States would perceive precisely how much possibility that China will take to take part in the war, the United States will probably stop where it should stop and therefore prevent the war from happening.
According to above we can learn that as a result of the information asymmetry and actions like keeping private information, misrepresenting private information, etc, the both parties cannot effectively form a bargaining range ahead of the war, which means as Powell(2004) argues that war is a strategical replacement of negotiation, and game interaction ends once the states decide to
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Fearon argues that the bargaining issues among nations are rather complicated and multiple-dimension. And it is possible that side-payment is linked with other issues. In Principle, a nation may randomly choose the resolution to appease the conflict. Powell even discard the independent position of “issue indivisibility”, supposing that it still subject to commitment problems, because war is still costly, and there are still some possibilities of bargaining. The reason why negotiations break down is that even the tiniest concession will lead to catastrophic change on the distribution of power. The fast transferring of power provides a chance for those nations which want to gain power advantages over contracted nations by tearing up the agreement. For those nations who would likely to make concessions will probably make more concessions in the future, the shadow of the future will prompt them to wage a war instead of

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