Explanations for Limited and Unlimited Wars

Alex Weisiger

in Logics of War

Published by Cornell University Press

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780801451867
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780801468179
Explanations for Limited and Unlimited Wars

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This chapter presents theoretical arguments about the determinants of war duration and severity. It begins with a summary of the bargaining model of war. It then moves on to explain both unlimited and limited wars, starting with the situational commitment problem and preventive wars, before turning to the dispositional commitment problem and unconditional surrender. The chapter ends with an analysis of the other two causal mechanisms that are critical in bringing about violent conflict, in each case explaining both the logic of the decision to fight and the reason why wars driven by the mechanism will be limited in duration, intensity, or both. In addition to suggesting general predictions about whether wars driven by the different mechanisms will be limited, it also derives specific hypotheses for each mechanism that allow for more convincing empirical tests.

Keywords: war duration; war severity; bargaining model; unlimited wars; limited wars; situational commitment problem; preventive wars; dispositional commitment problem; unconditional surrender

Chapter.  18846 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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