Main Page Contact Register Log In

Being stronger does increase your bargaining power, but there's more to it than that. War always hurts both sides. It just hurts the more powerful side less. This means that the more powerful side will tend to be quicker to threaten war, but the whole thing about not responding to blackmail applies.

Imagine there were two countries that were equally powerful. One of them could demand 10% of the land from the other, saying that if they refuse they'll start a war which will be several times more costly to both sides. It seems like the rational thing would be to give in to the demands, but if you consistently use that strategy everyone will demand territory from you and you'll do poorly. If you use the strategy of defending your territory regardless of cost, then people will quickly stop demanding territory from you, and you'll do better.

This isn't just some game theory thing. People are built for things like this. This is why you get angry when people take stuff from you, and act "irrational" when angry. Countries will act the same way. People will fight illegitimate stuff more, so if you want to actually benefit from making demands to a country, you have to convince them it's somehow legitimate.

if you want to actually benefit from making demands to a country, you have to convince them it's somehow legitimate.

Can you give an example when this was successfully accomplished? I cannot recall any cases where a country voluntary gave up a part of its territory because it was convinced of legitimacy of another country’s demands. At least not in the European history.
Replies (2)

By strength I don't mean just military strength. Strength has many components to it. Being willing to sacrifice many people for the cause, is unfortunately one of them. Having the international community on your side, being able to generate positive media coverage etc are also parts of it.

I believe these so called "rules" are mostly used internally, to justify your own policy to your people - to whip them into rage, or reassure them. This is why we have several contradictory rules, whose use is dictated by convenience. An elementary example: Russia has been using the "territorial integrity" clause for Chechnya, and is now using "national determination" clause for East Ukraine. The vast majority of Russia's population buy both and don't see a contradiction. Needless to say this is not working at all on Ukrainians - they are of course applying the rules they see fit to both situations.

So yes, you are right that people will fight what they perceive as illegitimate stuff more. But what they perceive as illegitimate depends on many factors (like what kind of propaganda they are listening to), and on logic to a much lesser extent.
Replies (2)