Conflict and Leadership: Why is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?
We analyze an agency model of political competition to examine whether conflict encourages hawkish behavior, and if such behavior can itself aggravate conflict. We consider situations of conflict between a state and an insurgent group, such as a conflict over a piece of land. Negotiations are carried on behalf of the state, by a democratically elected leader, whose ability and ideology are imperfectly observed by the electorate. A more capable leader can cede less land at a lower cost (modeled as the probability of the conflict continuing the next period) than a less capable one, while an ideologically hawkish leader enjoys a greater intrinsic utility from retaining land than a less hawkish leader. Two main results that emerge are: certain types of politicians may be excessively hawkish, (as compared to their fi rst best policy choices), which itself increases the probability of conflict and for any credible voting strategy the probability of re-election for a hawk is greater than for a dove. Finally, we show that the voting equilibrium of this game does not always achieve a constrained Pareto optimum suggesting that third party mediation may improve welfare.
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