What does bargaining theory tell us about common explanations for war?
- For unitary actor war to occur, you need both a grievance and a source of bargaining failure.
- Explanations for war that only give one of these are insufficient.
- Thus, saying “taxation without representation” caused the American Revolution or “colonial ambitions” caused World War I are incorrect. If these were the only problems the actors faced, they should have reached a bargained settlement.
- This means that most of the explanations for wars you learned in high school or history classes do not actually explain why wars were fought.
- Political scientists tend to focus on the sources of bargaining failure because they are far less idiosyncratic.