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Strategic Ambiguity and Arms Proliferation

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  • Sandeep Baliga
  • Tomas Sjöström

Abstract

A big power is facing a small power that may have developed weapons of mass destruction. The small power can create strategic ambiguity by refusing arms inspections. We study the impact of strategic ambiguity on arms proliferation and welfare. Strategic ambiguity is a substitute for actually acquiring weapons: ambiguity reduces the incentive for the small power to invest in weapons, which reduces the threat of arms proliferation. But strategic ambiguity hides information, and this can lead to costly mistakes. Cheap-talk messages can be used to trigger inspections when such mistakes are particularly costly. Tough messages that trigger inspections always imply a greater risk of arms proliferation. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjöström, 2008. "Strategic Ambiguity and Arms Proliferation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1023-1057, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:116:y:2008:i:6:p:1023-1057
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    2. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjöström, 2004. "Arms Races and Negotiations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 351-369.
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    9. Philip Bond, 2004. "Bank and Nonbank Financial Intermediation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(6), pages 2489-2529, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2009. "Third-Party Intervention in Conflicts and the Indirect Samaritan's Dilemma," CESifo Working Paper Series 2695, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Lang, Matthias & Wambach, Achim, 2013. "The fog of fraud – Mitigating fraud by strategic ambiguity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 255-275.
    3. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:479-500 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Joungseok Park, 2016. "The Strategic Manipulation of Asymmetric Climate Conflicts," Working Papers 16-21, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    5. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2013. "Bargaining and War: A Review of Some Formal Models," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 29, pages 235-266.
    6. Golosov, Mikhail & Skreta, Vasiliki & Tsyvinski, Aleh & Wilson, Andrea, 2014. "Dynamic strategic information transmission," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 304-341.
    7. Long, Iain W., 2015. "Better feared than loved: Reputations and the motives for conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 46-61.
    8. Di Maggio, Marco, 2009. "Accountability and Cheap Talk," MPRA Paper 18652, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Margaret Meyer & Florian Ederer & Richard Holden, 2013. "Gaming and Strategic Ambiguity in Incentive Provision," Economics Series Working Papers 640, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    10. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2012. "The Strategy of Manipulating Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2897-2922, October.
    11. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:177-189 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Antonis Adam & Petros G. Sekeris, 2010. "Self-Containment: Achieving Peace in Anarchic Settings," Working Papers 1014, University of Namur, Department of Economics.

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