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Causal Beliefs and War Termination: Religion and Rational Choice in the Iran-Iraq War
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1240-4323
2017 (English)In: Journal of Peace Research, ISSN 0022-3433, E-ISSN 1460-3578Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes the length of interstate wars and the process of reaching a mutually acceptable bargaining solution. Rational choice scholarship has mainly sought to explain long wars in terms of commitment problems and private information. This article complements these rational choice perspectives by arguing that causal beliefs—a variable not considered by previous research—can also prolong wars by increasing expectations of battlefield performance and slowing down information updating. The article illustrates the role of religiously based causal beliefs with the case of one of the longest interstate wars of modern time, the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–1988. Even though commitment problems were present, they do not identify the root cause of Iran’s high expected utility of continuing the war, as religiously based causal beliefs played a more prominent role in prolonging the war. Religious causal beliefs constitute a real word mechanism that not only creates different priors about expected military capacity, but also slows down the process of updating beliefs, as battlefield events are not seen as credible information. Although the prevalence of religious conflicts has increased ove r time, the formation of beliefs and their effects on wars remains understudied when applying rational choice to real world conflicts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2017.
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Political Science
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URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-36413DOI: 10.1177/0022343317730120OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-36413DiVA: diva2:1115273
Available from: 2017-06-26 Created: 2017-06-26 Last updated: 2017-12-02

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Nilsson, Marco

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