Military Threats

The Costs of Coercion and the Price of Peace

Military Threats

Is military power central in determining which states get their voice heard? Must states run a high risk of war to communicate credible intent? Slantchev shows that states can often obtain concessions without incurring higher risks when they use military threats. Unlike diplomatic forms of communication, physical military moves improve a state's expected performance in war. If the opponent believes the threat, it will be more likely to back down. Military moves are also inherently costly, so only resolved states are willing to pay these costs. Slantchev argues that powerful states can secure better peaceful outcomes and lower the risk of war, but the likelihood of war depends on the extent to which a state is prepared to use military threats to deter challenges to peace and compel concessions without fighting. The price of peace may therefore be large: states invest in military forces that are both costly and unused.


“This book is an impressive display of intellectual firepower. It will be required reading for anyone interested in crisis bargaining or deterrence.”
– R. Harrison Wagner, Department of Government, The University of Texas at Austin

Military Threats offers the most comprehensive and sophisticated analysis of crisis bargaining and escalation I know. Full of new insights and intuitions, this book defines the cutting edge of research in one of the most important areas of formal work on war, that of endogenizing the distribution of power.”
– Robert Powell, Robson Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley