Diplomacy, defined as formal communication and bargaining between states, is subject to limits that diplomatic theory must demarcate and understand. This article compares state incentives and disincentives (including rejection of negotiation as well as refusal to concede) affecting the decision whether to negotiate in six cases of interstate crisis between militarily unequal antagonists. While it has been argued that asymmetric powers are more likely to reach negotiating agreement than their symmetric counterparts, with weaker states doing surprisingly well, that finding is questioned here in the crisis context. For example, the militarily inferior antagonist, attracted to diplomacy as an alternative to war, might well anticipate inferior results from direct negotiations. The weaker antagonist’s unwillingness in these cases to negotiate with a strong opponent suppressed diplomacy, but great power support for the weaker side, and the stronger power’s lack of war readiness, added to the stronger antagonist’s willingness to negotiate.
International Relations – SAGE
Published: Sep 1, 2018
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