Arms races and the opportunity for peace

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, David Lalman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We model the evolution of international conflict as a game of sequential decisions and show that arms races are neither necessary nor sufficient for peace or war. Peaceful intentions are not adequate to insure peace, even when both rivals wish to avoid violence. Peaceful intentions together with complete information are sufficient for peace. A preference for forcefully pursuing foreign policy goals also is not sufficient to preclude the peaceful resolution of disputes, and this is true even if there is complete information. In some circumstances, the absence of an arms race can precipitate violence, even giving the military advantage to a nation that unilaterally stopped getting ready for a war it would initiate. Finally, we also show that empirical research is likely to be biased in favor of the hypothesis that deterrence leads to peace.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)263-283
    Number of pages21
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Aug 1988

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy
    • General Social Sciences


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