Negotiation in War


Encina Hall, 2nd floor


Abstract: What role do negotiations play in the midst of interstate wars? Extant scholarship has largely treated negotiations as being irrelevant to understanding a conflict's trajectory, or as being a direct reflection of hostilities on the battlefield. Neither view is supported by historical readings or empirical patterns of intra-war diplomacy. I present an alternative view of negotiations as being instrumental. Diplomatic bargaining not only occurs in response to battlefield outcomes, but is also used deceptively by disadvantaged belligerents to stall for time, manage political pressures, and regroup militarily. Using two new daily-level datasets of battles and diplomatic activity, I show that negotiations in post-1945 wars extend conflict when the war initiator has an advantage in fighting, occur in response to lop-sided battle outcomes, dampen the intensity of combat, and are associated with subsequent improvements in the war target's success on the battlefield. This framework of instrumental negotiations shows that the effect of intra-war diplomacy is conditional on the state of hostilities, and has substantial implications on our understanding of war termination and conflict resolution.

About the Speaker: Eric Min is a CISAC Predoctoral Fellow for 2016-2017 and a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stanford University. His research is focused on interstate diplomacy, information gathering and sharing during crises, and applications of machine learning and text analysis techniques to declassified documents related to conflict and foreign policy. 

His dissertation develops a theory regarding the strategic use of negotiations as a tool of war. Utilizing two new daily-level datasets of battles and diplomatic activity across all interstate wars since 1816, digitized versions of military operations reports and negotiation transcripts from the Korean War, and a series of case studies, he shows that states dynamically weigh costs and benefits with respect to “instrumental” negotiations. His findings demonstrate when, why, and how diplomacy is not only used to settle wars, but also to help win them. These conclusions have substantial implications on academic and policy-making approaches to conflict resolution.  
Eric is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. He has also received support from Stanford's Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) and the Center for International Cooperation and Negotiation (SCICN). Eric received his undergraduate degree in International Relations and Spanish/Linguistics at New York University, where he was valedictorian of the College of Arts and Science.