To intervene or not to intervene a biased decision

Alastair Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Alliances are related to the occurence of conflict. A theoretical model predicts how alliance reliability affects the occurrence of conflict in the international system. Suppose that two nations are at war. The intervention of a third nation into this war affects the likely outcome. Nations prefer to fight wars that they expect to win. Nations are more likely to involve themselves in wars in which they anticipate allied support. Estimates of alliance reliability are obtained and used to demonstrate that nations consider alliance reliability when deciding whether to become involved in conflict. For example, nations with unreliable allies are more likely to surrender if attacked than are nations with reliable allies. Alliance reliability affects the occurrence of war. Unfortunately, whether an alliance is honored is only observable when a war actually occurs. The author discusses the sampling bias that this creates.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)16-40
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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