When Diplomacy Works

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This book explores when and why diplomacy facilitates (and sometimes hinders) peaceful settlements of international disputes. This book (1) describes a natural history of diplomacy and its institutions to identify several distinctive classes of diplomatic mechanisms at work in international conflict and (inter)national security strategy, (2) maps each mechanism onto a well-established (game-theoretic) model of international conflict, and (3) examines how, why, and when each mechanism shapes conflict behavior and outcomes through the combination of game-theoretic analysis, statistical analysis, and historical analysis. Providing a micro-foundational explanation for three distinctive classes of diplomatic mechanisms (communication, negotiation, and manipulation), this book presents the first comprehensive theory of diplomatic statecraft.

Book Proposal (.pdf) (Extended version)

Chapter outline
Chapter 1: Why Diplomacy?
Chapter 2: Diplomacy and War: Theoretical and Empirical Puzzles
Chapter 3: A Natural History of Diplomacy
Chapter 4: Diplomacy Games: Causes of War and Origins of Diplomacy
Chapter 5: Diplomatic Communication
Chapter 6: Testing Diplomatic Communication
Chapter 7: Diplomatic Negotiation
Chapter 8: Diplomatic Manipulation
Chapter 9: Assessing Efficient Secrecy [Poster]
Chapter 10: Conclusion


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Chapters 1 and 2 are introductory chapters. I first define the subject matter that this book deals with, identify the gap in knowledge about how diplomacy works, and explain the importance of improving our understanding of diplomacy. In doing so, I demonstrate the importance of this study from a normative and practical perspective. It also presents a brief literature review, which describes why diplomacy is understudied in the international relations literature. Chapter 2 presents a key theoretical puzzle of diplomacy to underscore why improving our understanding of diplomacy is important from a purely academic perspective. In particular, I argue that the puzzle of diplomacy has important implications for the rationalist explanations for war, so that until the puzzle of diplomacy is adequately addressed, the puzzle of war cannot be fully solved.

Chapter 3 describes the historical evolution of diplomatic institutions from antiquity to the modern day. To provide the factual knowledge about diplomacy, this chapter is intended to lay a historical foundation necessary for the development of theories of diplomacy in the subsequent chapters. Chapter 4 lays the overarching theoretical framework for my analysis of more specific mechanisms of diplomacy in conflict management and resolution. Using a game-theoretic model, I first describe international conflict as a bargaining game and identify how bargaining fails and war can occur. I then map each mechanism of diplomacy to this model to specify how exactly each mechanism is envisioned (by theorists and practitioners) to prevent bargaining failure, thus facilitating peaceful settlement of conflict short of war.

Chapters 5 through 9 present detailed analysis of the three diplomatic mechanisms mentioned above. Each chapter develops or tests an original theoretical analysis using game theory. The statistical analysis of the hypotheses involves my own original data set that is the first of its kind (Chapter 6) and a newly collected data set on international crises (Chapter 9). Historical analysis uses both primary and secondary sources, and I plan to supplement the evidence through additional archival research.