Fighting battles, winning wars

Alastair Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The author models warfare as a random-walk stochastic process. Rather than model war as a single-shot lottery, as is common in the literature, nations fight a series of battles. Nations do not defeat their foe in a single battle; rather, victory results from aggregate success over a series of interactions. Only by gradually reducing an opponent's capacity to resist can a nation force victory. Yet, under many circumstances, nations preempt defeat by surrendering once the tide of war moves against them. The author characterizes the distribution of resources that results in conflict. Against this background, the author examines how the preferences of leaders affect the conditions under which war occurs. Because the preferences of leaders affect the pattern of conflict, citizens' electoral choices are made contingent on the international environment. Hence, the author provides a link between conflict behavior and domestic electoral processes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)301-320
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jun 1998

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Business, Management and Accounting
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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