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Daniel W. Drezner

Showing vs. telling on audience costs

With all the "loose talk" involving Iran and Israel the past week, it seems like an excellent time to discuss the role of nationalist domestic audiences in exacerbating conflict.  Now, there is a large literature on this topic in international relations:  how audience costs can be used to make costly signals in crisis bargaining, how ...

With all the "loose talk" involving Iran and Israel the past week, it seems like an excellent time to discuss the role of nationalist domestic audiences in exacerbating conflict.  Now, there is a large literature on this topic in international relations:  how audience costs can be used to make costly signals in crisis bargaining, how audience costs increase as crises escalate, how a world in which all countries have nationalist audiences creates an environment in which crises can spiral out of control, and how, in the information age, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign policy leaders to placate their domestic audiences without creating problems abroad. 

Sure, I could do all of that in a very long-winded and tedious way.  Or I can just embed Jon Stewart’s opening bit from last night’s Daily Show

Thanks, Jon — you saved me a good hour or two today. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies. His latest book is The Toddler in Chief. Twitter: @dandrezner

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