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Published December 1990 | public
Journal Article

Stability in Anarchic International Systems


Can stability emerge solely from the competition and self-interest of sovereign powers existing in a state of anarchy, or does stability depend on restraints from the complex nexus of interdependencies characterizing the contemporary world economy and its associated institutions? We suppose some infinitely divisible resource, that all nation-states are endowed with and maximize and that enables them to overcome adversaries in the event of conflict. We offer a noncooperative, extensive-form model of international conflict without exogenous mechanisms to enforce agreements in order to learn under what conditions balance of power and collective security ensure the sovereignty of all states in anarchic systems. We conclude that there exists at least one world-albeit an abstract one-in which anarchy yields stability.

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© 1990 American Political Science Association.

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