"The only conflict that is worse than one that is intended is one that is unintended." - U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden. December 3, 2013, Tokyo.
Dissertation: Tying the Adversary's Hands: Crises, Provocation, and Inadvertent War
From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the South China Sea today, students of international crises have frequently warned of the danger of inadvertent escalation and war. Existing studies, however, rely on the role of accidents and threat misperceptions to explain such outcomes, overlooking how deliberate coerce actions can have a provocative effect that leads to war. Why might coercive actions during a crisis have a counterproductive effect? Under what circumstances does such backlash overwhelm the intended coercive effect and result in escalation and war that states did not seek? This dissertation develops a theory of provocation to specify a causal mechanism by which coercive actions during crises backfire and even lead to inadvertent war. Integrating this mechanism into the standard crisis bargaining model, I develop three game theoretic models to demonstrate how the logic of provocation affects crisis dynamics and when and how inadvertent war occurs. These models differ in terms of how a coercive military strategy uses the logic of provocation during a crisis: a naval blockade, the limited use of force, and military skirmishes. To test my theory and illustrate its significance, I examine the Sino-India War of 1962 and Sino-Soviet Border Conflict of 1969 using primary Chinese sources.
Publications and Working Papers
"Review of Todd H. Hall, `On Provocation: Outrage, International Relations, and the Franco-Prussian War,' Security Studies 26:1 (2017): 1-29," forthcoming in H-Diplo/ISSF.
"Provocative Threats and Audience Costs," scheduled to be presented at APSA 2017.
"International Relations Theory and Security in the Maritime Domain," scheduled to be presented at ISA Hong Kong 2017.
"Asymmetric Nuclear Forces and Crisis Bargaining: A Study of the Sino-Soviet Border Confict of 1969," presented at ISA 2017.
"Tying the Adversary's Hands: A Provocation Model and the Sino-India War of 1962," presented at APSA 2015, ISA 2016.
"The Pacifying Effects of Drones," with Michael C. Horowitz and Alex Weisiger, presented at APSA 2015.
"Danger of Inadvertent Conflict in Asia," Korea Times, Op-ed, July 4, 2014.
"The `China Alternative'? Chinese Counter-Norms and China's Offensive and Defensive Soft Power," Asia Pacific Perspectives, 10:2 (2011), 161-171.