Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Theories of war try to explain why war occurs, given that it is often an inefficient way to resolve disputes. Scholars have proposed several explanations, among them the lack of information about relative capabilities or resolve and the inability of the parties to reach a credible commitment to end their dispute without resorting to violence. Some argue that, once war occurs, the only way to end it and ensure that there is no recurrence of violence is to have a decisive victory of one side as most negotiated settlements generate credible commitment problems. This is an argument of particular relevance to civil (or intrastate) wars, which are today the most common form of large-scale armed conflict. One of the striking stylized facts emerging from the literature on civil wars is that these wars last a long time, and when they end, they frequently restart. These insights from rationalist theories of ...