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Outcome Commitments in Third Party Intervention: Theory and Application to U.S. Policy in Iraq


  • Miller, Nolan

    (Harvard U)


This paper presents a model of strategic interaction in which a third party intervenes on behalf of a government in its conflict with insurgents. It examines whether it is better for the intervenor to adopt an input-based strategy (i.e., specify the total resources it will spend) or an outcome-based strategy (i.e., specify the goal that it will achieve), and it shows that outcome- based strategies are better for the intervenor than input-based ones if and only if in the absence of intervention the insurgents are stronger than the government. A system of benchmarks that are tied to the efforts of both parties outperforms both input-based and outcome-based strategies. Lessons from the theory are applied to U.S. strategy in Iraq.

Suggested Citation

  • Miller, Nolan, 2008. "Outcome Commitments in Third Party Intervention: Theory and Application to U.S. Policy in Iraq," Working Paper Series rwp08-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp08-041

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nolan Miller & Amit Pazgal, 2007. "Advertising budgets in competitive environments," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 131-161, June.
    2. Nolan H. Miller & Amit I. Pazgal, 2006. "Budget or target: the choice between input and output strategies," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 391-415, June.
    3. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:2:p:391-415 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Miller, Nolan H & Pazgal, Amit I, 2001. "The Equivalence of Price and Quantity Competition with Delegation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 284-301, Summer.
    5. Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
    6. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
    7. Xavier Vives, 2001. "Oligopoly Pricing: Old Ideas and New Tools," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026272040x, January.
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