How strong perfect-information assumptions do you need to guarantee that rational decision-making can never lead both sides in a conflict to precommit to escalation, even in a situation where their behavior has signaling implications for other conflicts in the future? (I don't know the answer to this question, but my hunch is that even if this is possible, the assumptions would have to be unrealistic for anything conceivable in reality.)

And of course, as you note, even if every conflict is resolved by perfect Coasian bargaining, if there is a significant asymmetry of power, the practical outcome can still be little different from defeat and subjugation (or even obliteration) in a war for the weaker side.

Open Thread, April 2011

by ata 1 min read2nd Apr 2011111 comments


It seems we have agreed that open threads will continue but that they will go in the Discussion section, so here's this month's thread.