A Unified Theory and Test of Extended Immediate Deterrence


  • Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2000 annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the Peace Science Society (International). Helpful comments were also received during seminar presentations at Emory University, Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Yale University, and by participants in the University of Rochester's Watson Center seminar series. In particular, we would like to thank Stuart Bremer, Charles Franklin, Stephen Gent, Arman Grigorian, Paul Huth, Kris Ramsay, Branislav Slantchev, Alan Stam, and Robert Walker for their helpful comments; Kris Ramsay, Dustin Tingley, and Kuzey Yilmaz for their research assistance; and Paul Huth for providing his data. We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (SES-9817947 and SES-0213771 for Signorino, and SES-0518945 for Tarar) and from the Watson Center for Conflict and Cooperation. Derivations, graphs, and additional case studies not included in this article are available from the authors at http://www.rochester.edu/College/PSC/Signorino.

Curtis S. Signorino is associate professor of political science, University of Rochester, 303 Harkness Hall, Rochester, NY 14627 (curt.signorino@rochester.edu). Ahmer Tarar is assistant professor of political science, Texas A&M University, 4348 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4348 (ahmertarar@polisci.tamu.edu).


We present a unified theory and test of extended immediate deterrence—unified in the sense that we employ our theoretical deterrence model as our statistical model in the empirical analysis. The theoretical model is a straightforward formalization of the deterrence logic in Huth (1988) and Huth and Russett (1984), coupled with private information concerning utilities. Our statistical analysis suggests that the attacker and defender's decisions are influenced by the balance of forces, nuclear weapons, defender-protege military alliances, arms transfers, and trade, as well as the regime types of those involved. Many of these findings contradict previous research by Huth (1988) and Huth and Russett (1988). We find that many of the variables involved in the deterrence calculus are nonmonotonically linked to the probability of deterrence success or war. We illustrate the results with case studies of the Soviet-Japanese dispute over Manchukuo (1937–1938) and the Berlin Blockade (1948).