Benson, Brett V., and Kristopher W. Ramsay. In Preparation. Prometheus's Exchange: the Arms Trade Network and the Globalization of Violence.Abstract

The last fifty years have seen two big changes in world politics.  First, most political violence now occurs within states rather than between great powers. Second, the decrease in costs of exchange have integrated the smallest and most remote countries in the global exchange of goods and services. This book study how these two fundamental elements of modern world politics combine to spread political violence throughout the world through the global trade of small arms and light weapons.

Book Chapter
Ramsay, Kristopher W. Forthcoming. “Negotiations in Foreign Policy”. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Foreign Policy Analysis, New York: Oxford University Press.
Journal Article
Meirowitz, Adam, et al. Forthcoming. “Dispute Resolution Institutions and Strategic Militarization”. Journal of Political Economy.Abstract

Engagement in a costly and destructive war can be understood as the "punishment" for entering a dispute. So, institutions that reduce the chance that a dispute leads to war will lower the costs of entering into a dispute. This may incentivize militarization and make more disputes emerge. We provide a simple model in which the support for unmediated peace talks, while effective in improving the chance of peace for a given distribution of military strength, ultimately leads to the emergence of more disputes and to higher incidence of conflict outbreak. Happily, we find that not all conflict resolution institutions suffer from these, apparently paradoxical, but actually quite intuitive drawbacks. We identify a form of third-party mediation inspired by the celebrated work by Myerson, and show that it can effectively broker peace in disputes once they emerge and also avoid perverse militarization incentives.

Ramsay, Kristopher W. 2017. “Information, Uncertainty, and War”. Annual Review of Political Science 20. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this review I focus on two literature in this broad set of research that are related to two  classic arguments in security studies and show how new modeling techniques have allowed us to build  theories helping us better understand age old questions about the effect of uncertainty on the likelihood of war.    While many issues remain unresolved, these two literature make steps toward explaining different ways uncertainty  can matter for the decision to go to war.  These analyses help us clarify, if not complete answer, questions like: what does it mean for mutual optimism it case war?  How might we incorporate bounded rationality rigorously in our models of choice if we think it is a crucial element linking uncertainty to war?  And how might fear of other's intentions or uncertainty about fundamentals, like the technology of war, led to cascades of fear and spirals of conflictual behavior?

Fey, Mark, Kristopher W. Ramsay, and Jidong Chen. 2017. “A Non-Speculation Theorem with Applications to Committee Design”. BE Journal of Theoretical Economics 17 (2). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Various well known agreement theorems show that if players have common knowledge of actions and “veto” option is feasible (Geanakoplos 1994), then they cannot agree to forgo a Pareto optimal outcome simply because of private information in settings with unique equilibrium. We establish a non- speculation theorem, which is more general than Geanakoplos (1994) and can be applicable to political institutions that generate multiple equilibria. We apply this result to a problem of designing an independent committee free of private persuasion. 

Gowa, Joanne, and Kristopher W. Ramsay. 2017. “Gulliver Untied: Entry Deterrence under Unipolarity”. International Organization 71 (3) : 459-490. Publisher's VersionAbstract

That the anarchic system generates incentives for states to balance each other's power is conventional wisdom in international relations. As such, the contemporary unipolar system is an anomaly.  Observers explain its existence in several ways, including the benevolence of U.S. hegemony and the constraints international institutions impose on the exercise of U.S. power.  None of them, however, explain what is perhaps the most puzzling outcome of the Soviet collapse:  the decision of the United States to maintain its level of military spending. To explain its choice, we extend the seminal argument Waltz advanced long ago to a dynamic setting. Using a simple model, we show that the interest of the unipole in deterring a challenge to its power can induce it to continue to invest in guns rather than to shift its resources to the production of butter. This strategy can enable the incumbent unipole to preempt the balancing process that has long been thought to be central to state survival under anarchy.

Benson, Brett V, Adam Meirowitz, and Kristopher W. Ramsay. 2016. “Changing capabilities, uncertainty, and the risk of war in crisis bargaining”. Research and Politics 3 (3). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Understanding how changes to war-fighting technology influence the probability of war is central to security studies. Yet the effects of changes in the distribution of power are not obvious. All else equal, increasing a country’s power makes it more aggressive when making demands or more resistant to accepting offers, but all else is not equal. Changes in power influence the behavior of both countries and can generate countervailing incentives. In this note we characterize the conditions relating changes in war payoffs to changes in the probability of bargaining failure and war. For a variety of cases the strategic effects can be entirely offsetting and no change in the probability of war results from changes in the balance of power, a result sometimes called neutrality. When this neutralization does not occur, interesting and sometimes surprising effects can persist. For example, if countries are risk averse and neutrality fails, then supporting the weaker country can reduce the probability of war rather than make war more likely, even though the weaker side will now make higher demands and reject more proposals in favor of war.

Meirowitz, Adam, Kristopher W Ramsay, and Brett V Benson. 2014. “Inducing Deterrence through Moral Hazard in Alliance Contracts”. Journal of Conflict Resolution 58 (2) : 307-335. alliance_bmr.pdf
Fey, Mark, Adam Meirowitz, and Kristopher W Ramsay. 2013. “Credibility of Peaceful Agreements in Crisis Bargaining”. Political Science Research and Methods: the Journal of the European Politica Sciecne Assoc. 1 (1). commitmentR3Merg.pdf
Ramsay, Kristopher W., and Avidit Acharya. 2013. “The Calculus of the Security Dilemma”. Quarterly Journal of Political Science 8 (8) : 183-203.Abstract

Some scholars known as offensive realists claim that in the uncertainty of world politics, trust and cooperation between states is extremely unlikely. Others, such as defensive realists, claim that rational states are capable of finding ways to counteract the complications created by misperceptions and distrust, and to reduce uncertainty to levels where it no longer inhibits cooperation. In this paper, we construct a formal model to show how in some situations cooperation between states is indeed very unlikely: even in the presence of minor misperceptions, states fail to cooperate. We then ask whether diplomacy (modeled as cheap talk) is able to remedy the failure. We show that in many situations, allowing the countries to communicate prior to taking their actions does not enable them to cooperate. 

Meirowitz, Adam, et al. 2012. “Evolution of cooperation and skew under imperfect information”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Publisher's Version
Ramsay, Kristopher W. 2011. “Cheap Talk Diplomacy, Voluntary Negotiations, and Variable Bargaining Power”. International Studies Quartely. Publisher's Version
Ramsay, Kristopher W. 2011. “Revisiting the Resource Curse: Natural Disasters, the Price of Oil, and Democracy”. International Organization 65 (3) : 507--530. resources.pdf
Fey, Mark, and Kristopher W Ramsay. 2011. “Uncertainty and Incentives in Crisis Bargaining Games”. American Journal of Political Sciecne 55 (1) : 149–169. ajps_mech.pdf
Ramsay, Kristopher W, and Songying Fang. 2010. “Outside Options and Burden-Sharing in Nonbinding Alliances”. Political Resaerch Quarterly 63 (1) : 188–202. allianceprq.pdf
Fey, Mark, and Kristopher W Ramsay. 2010. “When is Shuttle Diplomacy Worth the Commute? Information Sharing through Mediation”. World Politics 62 (4) : 529–560. wp_med.pdf
Fey, Mark, and Kristopher W Ramsay. 2009. “Mechanism Design Goes to War: Peaceful Outcomes with Interdependent and Correlated Types”. Review of Economic Design 13 (3) : 233–250. red_mech.pdf
Ramsay, Kristopher W. 2008. “Settling it on the Field: Battlefield Events and War Termination”. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52 (6) : 850–879. jcr_bat.pdf
Ashworth, Scott, et al. 2008. “Design, Inference, and the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”. American Political Science Review 102 (2) : 269–273. acmr.pdf rejoinder3.pdf
Fey, Mark, and Kristopher W Ramsay. 2007. “Mutual Optimism and War”. American Journal of Political Science 51 (4) : 738–754. ajps_mopt.pdf
Fey, Mark, and Kristopher W Ramsay. 2006. “The Common Priors Assumption: A comment on Bargaining and the Nature of War”. Journal of Conflict Resolution 50 (4) : 607–613. jcr_common.pdf
Ramsay, Kristopher W. 2004. “Politics at the Water’s Edge: Crisis Bargaining and Electoral Competition”. Journal of Conflict Resolution 48 (4) : 459–486. jcr_h20.pdf
Working Paper
Jordan, Richard, and Kristopher W Ramsay. Working Paper. “Fanatical Peace”.
Krainin, Colin, and Kristopher W Ramsay. Working Paper. “Financing Peace: Commitment Problems with Sovereign Debt”.
Kenkel, Brenton, and Kristopher W. Ramsay. Working Paper. “A Quantitative Bargaining Theory of War”. qbtw-slides.pdf