Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Rational Appeasement

  • Daniel Treisman (a1)

Abstract

Since Munich, appeasement—a policy of making unilateral concessions in the hope of avoiding conflict—has been considered a disastrous strategy. Conceding to one adversary is thought to undermine the conceder's reputation for resolve, provoking additional challenges. Kreps, Wilson, Milgrom, and Roberts formalized this logic in their 1982 solutions to the “chain-store paradox.” I show with a series of models that if a state faces multiple challenges and has limited resources, the presumption against appeasement breaks down: appeasing in one arena may then be vital to conserve sufficient resources to deter in others. I identify “appeasement” and “deterrence” equilibria, and I show that when the stakes of conflict are either high or low, or when the costs of fighting are high, only appeasement equilibria exist. I illustrate the result with discussions of successful appeasement by Imperial Britain and unsuccessful attempts at reputation-building by Spain under Philip IV.I thank Rui de Figueiredo, Jim Fearon, Tim Groseclose, David Laitin, Ed Mansfield, James Morrow, Barry O'Neill, Bob Powell, Lawrence Saez, Ken Schultz, Art Stein, Marc Trachtenberg, Romain Wacziarg, Justin Wolfers, and other participants in seminars at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the 2002 American Political Science Association meeting for helpful comments.

Copyright

References

Hide All

REFERENCES

Alt, James, Randall Calvert, and Brian Humes. 1988. Reputation and Hegemonic Stability: A Game-Theoretic Analysis. American Political Science Review 82 (2):44566.
Ball, George W. 1982. The Past Has Another Pattern: Memoirs. New York: Norton.
Comfort, Nicholas. 1993. Brewer's Politics: A Phrase and Fable Dictionary. London: Cassell.
Darby, Graham. 1994. Spain in the Seventeenth Century. New York: Longman.
Elliott, J. H. 1963. Imperial Spain, 1469–1716. New York: Penguin.
Elliott, J. H. 1989. Spain and its World, 1500–1700: Selected Essays. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Elliott, J. H. 1991. Managing Decline: Olivares and the Grand Strategy of Imperial Spain. In Grand Strategies in War and Peace, edited by Paul Kennedy, 87104. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Fearon, James. 1995. Rationalist Explanations for War. International Organization 49 (3):379414.
Fudenberg, Drew, and Jean Tirole. 1991. Perfect Bayesian Equilibrium and Sequential Equilibrium. Journal of Economic Theory 53 (2):23660.
Gaddis, John Lewis. 1982. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gutmann, Myron. 1988. The Origins of the Thirty Years' War. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18 (4):74970.
Harsanyi, John. 1967. Games with Incomplete Information Played by Bayesian Players, Part I: The Basic Model. Management Science 14 (3):15982.
Harsanyi, John. 1968. Games with Incomplete Information Played by Bayesian Players, Part II: Bayesian Equilibrium Points. Management Science 14 (5):32034.
Harsanyi, John. 1968. Games with Incomplete Information Played by Bayesian Players, Part III: The Basic Probability Distribution of the Game Management Science 14 (7):486502.
Hirshleifer, Jack. 2001. Appeasement: Can It Work? American Economic Review 91 (2):34246.
Howard, Michael. 1981. British Military Preparations for the Second World War. In Retreat from Power: Studies in Britain's Foreign Policy of the Twentieth Century, Vol. 1, 1906–39, edited by David Dilks, 10217. London: MacMillan.
Hughes, Jeffrey. 1988. The Origins of World War II in Europe: British Deterrence Failure and German Expansionism. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18 (4):85191.
Huth, Paul. 1997. Reputations and Deterrence: A Theoretical and Empirical Assessment. Security Studies 7 (1):7299.
Jervis, Robert. 1991. Domino Beliefs and Strategic Behavior. In Dominoes and Bandwagons: Strategic Beliefs and Great Power Competition in the Eurasian Rimland, edited by Robert Jervis and Jack Snyder, 2050. New York: Oxford University Press.
Keltner, Dacher, Randall Young, and B. N. Buswell. 1997. Appeasement in Human Emotion, Social Practice, and Personality. Aggressive Behavior 23 (5):35974.
Kennedy, Paul. 1981. The Realities Behind Diplomacy: Background Influences on British External Policy, 1865–1980. London: Allen & Unwin.
Kennedy, Paul. 1982. Appeasement. History Today 32 (10):5153.
Kennedy, Paul. 1983. The Tradition of Appeasement in British Foreign Policy, 1865–1939. In Strategy and Diplomacy, 1870–1945: Eight Studies, edited by Paul Kennedy, 1339. London: Allen & Unwin.
Kennedy, Paul. 1987. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000. New York: Random House.
Kreps, David, and Robert Wilson. 1982. Reputation and Imperfect Information. Journal of Economic Theory 27 (2):25379.
Lebow, Richard Ned, and Janice Gross Stein. 1989. Rational Deterrence Theory: I Think, Therefore I Deter. World Politics 41 (2):20824.
Lobell, Steven. 2001. Britain's Paradox: Cooperation or Punishment Prior to World War I. Review of International Studies 27 (2):16986.
Machiavelli, Niccolò. 1984. The Discourses, edited by Bernard Crick. Translated by Leslie Walker. New York: Viking.
Mercer, Jonathan. 1996. Reputation and International Politics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Milgrom, Paul, and John Roberts. 1982. Predation, Reputation, and Entry Deterrence. Journal of Economic Theory 27 (2):280312.
Parker, Geoffrey. 1979. Spain and the Netherlands, 1559–1659: Ten Studies. London: Collins.
Powell, Robert. 1996. Uncertainty, Shifting Power, and Appeasement. American Political Science Review 90 (4):74964.
Rock, Stephen. 2000. Appeasement in International Politics. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Sartori, Anne. 2002. The Might of the Pen: A Reputational Theory of Communication in International Disputes. International Organization 56 (1):12149.
Schelling, Thomas. 1966. Arms and Influence. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Selten, Reinhard. 1978. The Chain-Store Paradox. Theory and Decision 9 (2):12759.
Snyder, Jack. 1991a. Introduction. In Dominoes and Bandwagons: Strategic Beliefs and Great Power Competition in the Eurasian Rimland, edited by Robert Jervis and Jack Snyder, 319. New York: Oxford University Press.
Snyder, Jack. 1991b. Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Spence, Michael A. 1974. Market Signaling: Informational Transfer in Hiring and Related Screening Processes. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Thucydides. 1972. History of the Peloponnesian War. Translated by Rex Warner. London: Penguin.
Treisman, Daniel. 2002. Rational Appeasement. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles.
Walt, Stephen. 1991. Alliance Formation in Southwest Asia: Balancing and Bandwagoning in Cold War Competition. In Dominoes and Bandwagons: Strategic Beliefs and Great Power Competition in the Eurasian Rimland, edited by Robert Jervis and Jack Snyder, 5184. New York: Oxford University Press.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed