International Relations 101

Game theory provides a great tool for studying international relations. Countries must act strategically to stay alive and prosper in the international system. This course takes the tools from Game Theory 101 and applies them to war, trade, and international organizations. The Rationality of War (available on Amazon, $2.99) serves as a complementing guide to some of the lectures.

The Beginning

  1. Sovereignty
  2. Anarchy
  3. Proximate versus Underlying Causes
  4. The Strategic World

Conflict versus Cooperation

  1. Overview
  2. The Prisoner’s Dilemma
  3. The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of World War I
  4. Tariffs and the Barriers to Free Trade
  5. Arms Races
  6. The Shadow of the Future
  7. Grim Trigger
  8. Benevolent Cooperation

Rationalist Explanations for War

  1. The Rationality of War
  2. The Unitary Actor Assumption
  3. War’s Inefficiency Puzzle
  4. The Algebraic Bargaining Model of War
  5. War’s Bargaining Range
  6. Crisis Bargaining
  7. Preventive War
  8. Information Problems and Incentives to Misrepresent
  9. Issue Indivisibility
  10. Preemptive War
  11. Understanding War
  12. Militarized Interstate Disputes
  13. Correlates of War and the Long Peace

International Trade

  1. Absolute Advantage
  2. Comparative Advantage
  3. Trade Rivalry
  4. Resolving Trade Disputes
  5. The Relative Gains Problem

The Democratic Peace Theory

  1. What Is the Democratic Peace?
  2. Explaining the Democratic Peace
  3. Correlation versus Causation
  4. The McDonald’s Peace Theory
  5. Economic Interdependence
  6. The Rise of China

Principal-Agent Problems and Leader-Based Explanations

  1. What Are Principal-Agent Problems?
  2. Diversionary War
  3. Gambling for Resurrection
  4. Democratic Accountability
  5. Leader Retirement
  6. Peace through Instability and Fighting for Survival
  7. Bargaining and Leaders
  8. Pandering (to Ohio and Florida)
  9. Leaders, Uncertainty, and Tenure

Economic Sanctions

  1. Economic Sanctions Basics
  2. Selecting on the Dependent Variable
  3. Selection Problems
  4. The TIES Database
  5. Costly Signaling
  6. Sanctions and Leaders

The United Nations

  1. Background and the United Nations Security Council
  2. Veto Power on the United Nations Security Council
  3. Insincere Voting, Outside Options, Libya, and Syria
  4. Bribery on the Security Council
  5. The Rally ‘Round the Flag Effect
  6. Ideology in the United Nations General Assembly

Public Goods Provision

  1. What Is a Public Good?
  2. Monitoring Institutions
  3. Collective Action Problems
  4. Hegemonic Provision of Public Goods
  5. Issue Linkage

Nuclear Weapons

  1. Who Has Nuclear Weapons
  2. Mutually Assured Destruction
  3. Is War Obsolete?
  4. The Stability-Instability Paradox
  5. Nuclear Pessimism
  6. Leveraging Nuclear Strength
  7. Bargaining over Nuclear Weapons
  8. Iran’s Nuclear Program
  9. Covert Nuclear Programs
  10. The Iraq War: A Rational Mistake?

Terrorism, Insurgency, and Intervention

  1. Are Terrorists Rational?
  2. Why Suicide Terrorism?
  3. The Definition of Terrorism
  4. Spoiling the Peace
  5. Should We Ignore Terrorists?
  6. Where Does Terrorism Fester?
  7. Commitment Problems
  8. Exploitation and Civil War Settlements
  9. The Critical Barrier to Civil War Settlement

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