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Conflict and Stability in Anarchic International Systems

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Niou, Emerson M. S.; Ordeshook, Peter C.
Date: 1989
Agency: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Series: Social Science Working Papers, no. 700
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5785
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): international relations
game theory
Abstract: "A considerable part of theory in international relations concerns the issue of whether cooperation and stability can emerge from the competition and self-interest of sovereign powers existing in a state of anarchy. Does anarchy, if ever, imply stability in the form of a balance-of-power, or does stability require restraints which arise from the complex nexus of interdependencies characterizing the contemporary world economy and its associated institutions? The analysis in this essay supposes that nation-states are each endowed with some infinitely divisible resource, which those states maximize and which also measures their ability to overcome adversaries in the event of conflict. In this context we reexamine and reformulate the realist view, by offering a noncooperative, extensive-form model of international conflict without exogenous mechanisms for the enforcement of agreements in order to uncover the conditions under which a balance-of-power as construed by our model ensures the sovereignty of all states in anarchic systems. Our primary conclusion is simple: there exists at least one world, albeit abstract and reminiscent of the frictionless planes with which we introduce the perspectives of physics, in which a balance-of-power ensures sovereignty."

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