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Fear, Appeasement, and the Effectiveness of Deterrence

Author(s): Gurantz, Ron; Hirsch, Alexander V.

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Abstract: © 2017 by the Southern Political Science Association. Governments often fear the future intentions of their adversaries. In this article we show how this fear can make deterrent threats credible under seemingly incredible circumstances. We consider a model in which a defender seeks to deter a transgression with both intrinsic and military value. We examine how the defender's fear of the challenger's future belligerence affects his willingness to respond to the transgression with war.We derive conditions under which even a very minor transgression effectively "tests" for the challenger's future belligerence, whichmakes the defender's deterrent threat credible even when the transgression is objectively minor and the challenger is ex ante unlikely to be belligerent. We also show that fear can actually benefit the defender by allowing her to credibly deter.We apply themodel to analyze a series of historical cases and show the robustness of our results to a variety of extensions.
Publication Date: 18-May-2017
Citation: Gurantz, R, Hirsch, AV. (2017). Fear, Appeasement, and the Effectiveness of Deterrence. Journal of Politics, 79 (3), 1041 - 1056. doi:10.1086/691054
DOI: doi:10.1086/691054
ISSN: 0022-3816
EISSN: 1468-2508
Pages: 1041 - 1056
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Politics
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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