The end of the cold war: Predicting an emergent property

Bruce Bueno De Mesquita

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Gaddis claimed that international relations theory failed to predict the Gulf War, the Soviet Union's collapse, and the cold war's end. Subsequently, he acknowledged that the expected utility model captures the logic behind complex adaptive systems such as the cold war international system. That model correctly predicted two of the events to which Gaddis pointed. Here, that model is used to simulate alternative scenarios to determine whether the cold war's end could have been predicted based only on information available in 1948. The simulations show a 68% to 78% probability that the United States would win the cold war peacefully given the conditions in 1948 and plausible shifts in the attentiveness of each state to security concerns over time. The analysis demonstrates a rigorous method for testing counterfactual histories and shows that the pro-American end to the cold war was an emergent property of the initial post-World War II conditions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)131-155
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 1998

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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