Since the end of the Cold War, new international challenges have arisen. States face threats to their security and well being, such as terrorism and intrastate conflict. While international conflict once consisted of major global wars that pitted the world’s most powerful nations against each other, now we see states attempting to resolve conflict before the situation escalates. War is costly in many ways and can leave a country in ruin and its people physically and psychologically wounded. States use different conflict management and resolution techniques to bring an end to deadly combat or prevent combat from occurring.
Bargaining is a tool that is widely used in international relations. It is used to hopefully prevent two actors from engaging in war. Bargaining is defined as the negotiation of the terms of an agreement. The two sides first make demands. If they do not like the details of the demands, either side can reject them and eventually both sides will come to an agreement. Bargaining always involves interdependent actions because the decisions that are made by one actor will almost always depend on the likely or actual decisions of the other actor (Van Der Windt, 2011). Since successful bargaining can prevent war, it can be said that war is the result of failed bargaining.
In Rationalist Explanations of War, James D. Fearon suggests that war is a “costly lottery” where both sides must decide if going to war is worth the losses they will incur (Fearon, Rationalist explanations for war , 1995). The bargaining theory states that there is always a range, called the bargaining range, in which it would benefit two actors to negotiate rather than going to war. The bargaining range is determined by “the relative power of both states and by states’ values for the issues at stake relative to the cost of fighting” (Fearon, Rationalist explanations for war , 1995). More physical strength, such as a large military that possess advanced weaponry, and more financial resources are two factors that could work to a state’s advantage while bargaining. If two actors can already visualize the result of a war between them, they should work to reach that result without going to war and avoiding the many “costs”. This would eliminate the costs they would both experience. However, if both actors are optimistic in thinking that they could win a possible conflict, this could obscure the bargaining range (Fearon, 1995). Actors tend to exaggerate their capabilities in order to get the best offers from the other side (Reiter, 2003). Therefore, bargaining power depends greatly on the credibility of threats and powers.
If one side believes their chances of winning a war are great, they may risk it and go to war and get all that they desire without having to settle. On the other hand, the side that believes they do not have a chance at winning a war would probably avoid war to evade a harsh defeat. After Germany’s 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler confessed...