« Brighouse and Swift on Parental Partiality | Main | Shipan on Senate Filibusters »

Kurazaki on private communication and crisis diplomacy

Abstract: This paper explores when and why private communication works in crisis diplomacy. Conventional audience-cost models suggest that state leaders must go public to reveal information in interstate crises because leaders cannot enhance their credibility by tying their hands if domestic audiences cannot observe their private signals. I present a crisis bargaining game where both the sender and the receiver of signals have a domestic audience. The equilibrium analysis demonstrates that a private threat, albeit of limited credibility, can be equally compelling as a fully credible public threat. Secrecy works in crisis diplomacy despite its informational inefficacy because secrecy insulates leaders from domestic political consequences when they capitulate to a challenge to avoid risking unwarranted war. The logic of efficient secrecy may shed light on the unaccounted history of private diplomacy in international crises. The Alaska Boundary Dispute illustrates this logic.

Shuhei Kurazaki (2007), “Efficient Secrecy: Public Versus Private Threats in Crisis Diplomacy,” American Political Science Review 101: 543-558. Available here.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)