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From: Prof. Alison Griffiths, Communication Studies, Faculty Fellow in Global Strategies
Weissman Global Seminar
Please join us for the next Weissman Global Seminar featuring
Professor Roseanne McManus, Department of Political Science
“Crazy Like a Fox? Do Leaders Perceived as Mentally Unstable
Achieve Better Conflict Outcomes?”
Tuesday, May 2, 12:30-2:00pm, NVC 8-210
Light refreshments served
Nobel-prize-winning nuclear strategist Thomas Schelling famously claimed that being perceived as a little crazy is beneficial in conflict bargaining, and political figures ranging from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have expressed a similar view. This talk considers how much theoretical and empirical support exists for this view. It begins by considering how the concept of madness can be incorporated into the classic bargaining model of war. It then identifies which modern leaders have been perceived as mad, based on content analysis of news reporting, and tests several hypotheses about the impact of perceived madness on conflict initiation and conflict outcomes. It finds that leaders viewed as crazier are more likely to initiate and be targeted in military disputes, less likely to have their disputes reciprocated, and less likely to actually win disputes. These results suggest that while perceived madness may allow leaders to get away with minor provocations, it appears to be detrimental to deterring conflict and achieving desirable ultimate conflict bargaining outcomes.
Roseanne McManus holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from the University of Maryland. Her research is about international security, with a particular focus on how countries can credibly signal their intentions in the context of international disputes. Her book, Statements of Resolve: Achieving Coercive Credibility in International Conflict, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press this summer. She also has articles published or forthcoming in International Organization, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Journal of Peace Research, and International Interactions. In a previous career, she was a Senior Intelligence Analyst at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.