A Strategic Logic of the MilitaryFait Accompli Academic Article uri icon


  • The Author (2016). When trying to change the status quo in their favor, leaders sometimes launch sudden faits accomplis involving the costly, but limited, use of military force. In doing so, they hope that the potential defender accepts the consequences and does not pursue further military conflict. But comparatively little scholarship tries to explain the use of this strategy. I examine the logic for engaging in a fait accompli from within the rationalist bargaining approach to understanding costly military conflict. My analysis identifies informational and commitment problems that can cause a leader to undertake a fait accompli, as well as an informational problem under which the fait accompli can trigger an unwanted war with the potential defender. My model also applies to dilemmas of extended deterrence; it provides some new insights into this area as well. Overall, it helps explain wars that are not preceded by crisis bargaining.

published proceedings

  • International Studies Quarterly

altmetric score

  • 33

author list (cited authors)

  • Tarar, A.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Tarar, Ahmer

publication date

  • June 2016