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Title: Settling the Score: The Interactive Effect of Talking and Fighting on War Duration and Termination
Authors: Mastro, Oriana Skylar
Advisors: Christensen, Thomas
Friedberg, Aaron
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Bargaining
Chinese foreign policy
Korean War
US foreign policy
Vietnam War
War termination
Subjects: Political Science
International relations
Asian studies
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: When will states talk while fighting and when will they evade wartime negotiations? What explains stretches during wars in which there is fighting without talking? The current international relations literature focuses on the causes of war, the durability of post-conflict agreements, and when talks lead to the termination of the war. However, the field ignores a question central to the resolution of limited wars: at what point do leaders finally agree to launch talks during the course of the war? Because the theoretical literature largely assumes that talk is cheap, conflict analyses have failed to explain decisions regarding whether to open talks with the enemy, an obvious precursor for a peace agreement. This dissertation evaluates the Vietnam War, the Sino-Indian War, and the Korean War - using interviews and primary and secondary sources - to better analyze how information from the battlefield and the bargaining table interact to shape leaders' decisions about peace talks. I present a `ratchet effect' model to explain the variation in countries' positions on wartime negotiations. I argue that states fear that a willingness to talk will communicate weakness to their opponents. Their opponents in turn could be encouraged to escalate to a level that is unsustainable or unfavorable to them. The risk of this dynamic explains the long periods of fighting in which there are no direct talks and offers to talk are not taken seriously by either side. However, not all countries perceive this risk equally. The state with less room to escalate is acutely concerned about the ratchet effect and will therefore set strict preconditions on talking and rarely, if at all, make offers to talk. The country with more room to escalate offers talks but refuses to concede to any preconditions because it is confident in its ability to achieve its goals militarily. Only when the incentive to escalate has been adequately reduced by the mounting costs of war will leaders be willing to relax their positions on preconditions to allow for the emergence of peace talks.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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