The Enforcement Problem in Coercive Bargaining: Interstate Conflict Over Rebel Support in Civil Wars
49 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2007
Date Written: October 11, 2007
This paper explores the strategic problems that arise when a state seeks to use military force to compel changes in another state's policies. Although the costs associated with military action mean that there generally exist compromises that both sides prefer to conflict, bargaining may fail if such deals are not enforceable in the face of temptations to renege on policy concessions. I develop a model which shows that inefficient conflict can occur when states bargain over policies that one of them can change unilaterally and covertly. I then show that this theory is useful for understanding a common, but under-appreciated, source of international conflict: conflicts that arise when one state supports rebel groups engaged in a civil war with another state. Indeed, episodes of rebel support are associated with a substantial increase in the risk of militarized conflict, comparable to the risk associated with territorial disputes. I show that agreements to limit rebel support are most likely to reduce interstate violence if they are coupled with concessions by the target state and/or monitoring mechanisms, both of which are shown theoretically to mitigate the enforcement problem.
Keywords: conflict processes, international conflict, civil war, compliance
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