top of page



  • 2012. Constructing International Security: Alliances, Deterrence, and Moral Hazard, Cambridge University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • 2022. “Commitment Problems in Alliance Formation,” American Journal of Political Science (with Bradley C. Smith), January 2022,

  • 2016. Changing Capabilities, Uncertainty, and the Risk of War in Crisis Bargaining.Research and Politics (with Adam Meirowitz and Kristopher W. Ramsay), July-Sep: 1-6.

  • 2016.  Assessing the Variation of Formal Military Alliances Journal of Conflict Resolution (with Joshua D. Clinton), 60(5): 866-898.  Web Appendix and Data

  • 2014. “Inducing Deterrence Through Moral Hazard in Alliance Contracts,” Journal of Conflict Resolution (with Adam Meirowitz and Kris Ramsay), 58(2): 307-335.

  • 2013. “Ally Provocateur: Why Allies Do Not Always Behave,” Journal of Peace Research(with Patrick Bentley and Jim Ray) 50(1): 47-58.

  • 2011. “Unpacking Alliances: Deterrent and Compellent Alliances and Their Relationship with Conflict, 1816-2000,” Journal of Politics 73(4): 1111-1127. webappendix replication data

  • 2011. “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Bias in 2008 Presidential Election,” Electoral Studies (with John G. Geer and Jennifer Merolla), 30(4): 607-620.

  • 2007. “Economic Interdependence and Peace: A Game-Theoretic Analysis,” Journal of East Asian Studies (with Emerson M.S. Niou), 7(1): 35-59.

  • 2005. “Public Opinion, Foreign Policy, and the Security Balance in the Taiwan Strait,”Security Studies (with Emerson M.S. Niou), 14(2): 274-289.

Book Chapters

  • 2012. “Alliances: ATOP Data and Deterrence,” in What Do We Know About War?, 2nd ed., edited by John A. Vasquez, Rowman and Littlefield.

  • 2011. “A Bargaining Model of Nuclear Weapons Development and Disarmament,” in Causes and Consequences of Nuclear Proliferation: A Quantitative-Analysis Approach (with Quan Wen), edited by Robert Rauchhaus, Matthew Kroenig, and Erik Gartzke, Routledge Press.

Working Book Projects

  • “Provocative Cooperation: Military Assistance, Power Shifts, and War,” working book manuscript (with Bradley C. Smith).

Abstract.  This is a book about the provocative effects of military alliances and other military assistance agreements. Such alliances combine the war-fighting capabilities of members to produce shifts in the distribution of power between countries. Because these shifts in power can be immense, few moments are more concerning to a country than when a rival country makes a bid to join a powerful alliance. When a country stands to benefit by joining a new alliance, then it knows its hand will be strengthened in future negotiations. After the alliance and accompanying power shift, it may be strong enough to flout agreements reached today. This causes negotiated agreements in the present to lack staying power over time. The country targeted by the new partnership will desire to stop the rival alliance if it stands to lose too much in the future. This can trigger a dangerous race between efforts to implement and to block new alliances. 


In this book we provide new insights that build on and extend this theme. In addition, we offer empirical evidence from multiple historical examples and quantitative data. We provide several novel findings. First, the time before a military partnership is consummated -- the implementation window -- is an underappreciated but politically volatile period in interstate relations. Second, if the anticipated power shift from a new military partnership is large enough, then rival countries may launch a war to block the partnership. Third, wars to stop alliances might be predictably large or limited depending on the effectiveness of the blocking strategy. Fourth, prospective allies often cannot credibly commit NOT to try for an alliance that risks starting a war. Fifth, even so, they often do try to manipulate the terms of the alliance to keep it secret or to make it non-threatening to external countries. These actions may make it possible for new alliances that would otherwise be provocative to come into existence peacefully. Sixth, states targeted by alliances may offer bribes to prospective alliance members to convince them not to join.

  • “Taiwan and the Politics of Buying Time,” working book manuscript

Abstract. China's rise in power has not produced a change in the dispute between China and Taiwan over Taiwan's sovereignty. Over the past several decades, the relationship between China and Taiwan has, at times, been tense with military saber rattling by China and independence pressures in Taiwan. In spite of these tensions and a large ongoing power shift, there has not been a new settlement reflecting China's increasing bargaining advantage, nor has Taiwan made an effort to find or force a favorable outcome before China gets even stronger. In fact, for over two decades, both sides have deliberately chosen not to force a settlement. Theories of shifting power predict that governments in relative decline typically have incentives to lock in solutions before it is too late, and newly powerful governments will coerce advantageous bargains that reflect the new distribution of power. Why have both China and Taiwan instead delayed resolution? What factors and policies cause the delay? This book shows how pragmatic politics in Taiwan and tacit coordination between Taiwan and China has bought about years of peace. The strategies of delay have been sustained by economic dependence and Taiwanese hope of future institutional change in China. In addition, the possibility of US intervention in a conflict has the effect of freezing the status quo. Conventional third-party security commitments are meant to deter war, but in the case of China-Taiwan dispute, the US role also deters peaceful changes in the status quo. This implies that the US policy not only restrains China from demanding concessions from Taiwan, it also stays Taiwan's hand in trying to expand its autonomy. However, one can only kick the can down the road for so long before running out of road. The factors that have successfully delayed changes to the status quo are rapidly shifting in ways that force all governments to come to terms with the reality of the new distribution of power. Should we anticipate new aggressive demands for change backed by threats to use armed force? Do new policies exist that can buy more time? This book explores policy options as the clock runs out on the old delay strategies.  

Working Papers

  • “Economic Wars: When does Economic Dependence cause Peace and War?” (with Haonan Dong and Bradley C. Smith)

  • “Inducing Bargaining Delay with Alliances"

Abstract: Can third-party promises of defense conditional on allies’ non-provocation deter or delay conflict during ongoing shifts in power? This paper makes a distinction between deterrence of provocations and deterrence of war to examine the policy-stabilizing and peace-enhancing aspects of non-provocation alliances. We develop a formal model that shows that such alliances might deter any changes to the status quo, but such deterrence does not reduce the risk of war. Non-provocation alliances might also deter war even though they fail to deter provocations. Finally, non-provocation alliances can delay bargaining and deter preventive war even when a declining power stands to lose significantly in future bargaining and would behave aggressively without the alliance.

  • “Kicking the Can Down the Road: Strategic Delay in the China-Taiwan Crisis”

Abstract: Countries bargaining over a disputed issue or territory often agree to “kick the can down the road” or essentially freeze the status quo and delay resolution until some unspecified time in the future. When players discount the future, standard models predict immediate settlement. Under what conditions then do states that discount the future and have diametrically opposed political interests agree to wait? This paper models delay in a dynamic framework when one state is a rising power and the value of the disputed issue might change over time. When the anticipated power shift is large enough to induce a preventive attack from the declining power, growing the pie for the declining power induces delay rather than fighting in the short term. Three implications follow from the analysis. First, delays that freeze the status quo in the short-term can mean tolerating short-term bargaining concessions so as to avoid fighting and to realize future benefits. Second, delay in this context is pareto improving, raising the potential that states facing conflict through commitment problems and preventive war might collude to manipulate future stakes to permit delay and avoid fighting. Third, dangerous sizable potential power shifts create the greatest potential for disputants to agree to delay. Implications from the model are examined in depth with evidence of the agreement to delay bargaining between China and Taiwan in the “1992 Consensus”.

Abstract: Does the global trade in small arms and light weapons affect the deadliness of civil war conflict? We show how the arms trade network transmits conflict from terminated civil war locations to countries with ongoing civil war, creating a partial conservation of violence. Terminating a civil war reduces battle deaths and demand for weapons in that country. Countries with ongoing civil wars import more weapons at lower prices and experience an increase in battle deaths. Consequently, civil war terminations reduce global violence, but a portion of that violence is conserved and transmitted to civil wars elsewhere. Two implications follow. First, violence in civil wars is sensitive to changes in economic conditions in global markets. Second, the termination of war is itself a source of spillover for civil war.

  • “The Effect of Foreign Policy on Taiwan Public Opinion” (with Emerson M.S. Niou).

Abstract: Do voters’ attitudes toward their government’s foreign policies depend on the foreign policies of other countries? We examine public opinion on security issues in Taiwan to investigate the possibility that public preferences for a government’s foreign policy itself depends on perceptions held by the public about other governments’ foreign policies. We show that public support for policies in Taiwan depend critically on the foreign policy decisions of China and the United States.  We show that democratic publics are often so pragmatic that a majority might swing to either side of salient and polarizing issues depending on the anticipated behavior of another government.  A main implication is that foreign policies of democratic countries might be susceptible to a certain degree of manipulation by other countries’ foreign policies in a way that constrains democratic leaders’ actions.

Abstract: This paper studies nuclear armament and disarmament strategies with and without a verification mechanism. We compare two models of nuclear development. The first model analyzes a government’s development and disarmament decisions under “ambiguity,” where the absence of external verification makes it possible for states to develop nuclear weapons secretly. The second is an “inspections” model, in which a government’s arming decisions are verifiable. Welfare comparisons show that deterrence by doubt is Pareto optimal under limited conditions but ambiguity also leads to arming and conflict in other circumstances. In most states of the world, inspections are more likely to result in peace and non-proliferation. Additionally, there are not any extortion benefits of ambiguity that do not also exist with inspections. In fact, a counter proliferator is more willing to offer transfer payments with inspections, implying that governments might be willing to pay countries to join an inspections regime like the NPT.

  • “An Experimental Analysis of Alliance Design, War Payoffs, and War.”

Abstract: Does it matter how an alliance affects war payoffs when analyzing the relationship between military alliances and war?  This paper studies how military alliances relate to conflict in standard crisis bargaining games that are used extensively in the study of interstate war.  We analyze data from a lab experiment in which subjects play a two-player ultimatum bargaining game and payoffs for outside options are treated with alliance “shocks”.  Identifying how such shocks affect players’ incentives in bargaining provides intuition for understanding variation in aggression and bargaining failure.   We show that in an experimental context, shifts in probabilities of war depend on how alliance technologies change players’ war payoffs. Subtle shifts in how war fighting technologies of military alliances change the war environment result in dramatic directional differences in the probability of war. 

bottom of page