The utility of military threats as a means to deter international crises and war has been a central topic of international relations research. Rational choice models have provided the foundation for theorizing about the conditions under which conventional deterrence is likely to succeed or fail. Rational deterrence theorists have focused on four sets of variables: the balance of military forces, costly signaling and bargaining behavior, reputations, and interests at stake. Over the past two decades, scholars have tested propositions from rational deterrence theory utilizing both statistical and comparative case study methods. Although the empirical results from these tests have supported a number of hypotheses derived from the theoretical literature, they have also challenged some theoretical arguments and have sparked vigorous debates about both theory and research designs for conducting empirical research.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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