The deep comity of the West is a central but historically bizarre fact of contemporary international politics. Why do these states get along so well? If the answer is common interests, what conditions give rise to these common interests? I develop a theory in which the economic conflict of interests between two states is determined by the consequences of a coerced transfer of wealth from one to the other. This transfer may induce costly distortions in the targeted economy, which may diffuse to the coercing state's economy. If the coercing government internalizes these diffused costs, its incentive to seek a transfer will be reduced. Nations with representative polities and “modern" economies --which are sensitive to transfers and integrated --thus have less to fight over. An empirical estimate suggests the theorized reduction in incentives for transfers is plausibly large enough in the West to explain its unusual peacefulness.
Professor Andrew Coe is an Assistant Professor at the School of International Relations of the University of Southern California. You can download his CV here.
Professor Coe’s work is devoted to understanding the causes and consequences of violent conflict in human civilization. His research involves the development and analysis of game-theoretic models of various aspects of conflict, often drawing on the principles of economic theory and my experience working for the U.S. government on national security policy. He has taught a variety of courses, whose subject matter ranges across psychology, economics, political science, policy analysis, and a bit of evolutionary biology.