William Vincent Petti

PhD Candidate

Department of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania
242 Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215
Email: petti@sas.upenn.edu

 

Research/Papers

Dissertation: Conspicuous Conflict: Concerns for Reputation and the Use of Force (in progress)
Committee: Avery Goldstein (chair), Daryl Press (Dartmouth College), Ed Mansfield

Image Projection and the Signaling Dilemma: German Navigation of the Domestic-International Divide after the Cold War

Abstract: Recently, scholars in IR have returned to the subject of interstate communication, specifically the notion of signaling and image projection. States use signals to convey specific information about themselves to other states. The purpose of these signals is to convince the target (or receiver) that the state is the type of actor that it claims to be (e.g. the type that is capable and willing to launch a preemptive war, committed to free-trade, a dependable ally, etc.). Conversely, states try to determine what type of actors others are by monitoring and interpreting the signals sent by other states. Aware of this monitoring, states are concerned with image maintenancereassuring others about ones intentions/capabilities (i.e. the type of actor they are) by taking actions that are consistent with what other states have come to expect from them. Over time, states establish images of themselves and these images come to constitute the normative/institutionalized order that regulates state relationships. A states actions must signal to other actors that they have not changed their type, whether that type is a pacifistic, aggressive, or neutral state. When states send signals that are not consistent with their established images they risk arousing suspicion which can lead to distrust, breakdowns in cooperation or support, and even eventual military confrontations. While the return to signaling in the literature has been fruitful a number of theoretical gaps remain. More specifically, the literature often ignores the possibility of a signaling dilemma emerging, which can lead to a number of problems. These include the fact that a) their message is heard by and targeted at multiple audiences, and b) states must sometimes send signals to different audiences that are often incompatible. This article will evaluate the existing literature about signaling and offer a new signaling framework that utilizes a two-level game approach informed by insights from both realism and constructivism in order deal with the problem of multiple audiences. In order to examine how states attempt to manage different, often conflicting, images of themselves that are historically constructed I plan to examine German participation in both Gulf War I and the 1999 Kosovo War.

The Renaissance of Signaling in Security Studies: Examining the Issues of Multiple Audiences, Signaling Legacies, and Signal Interaction (w/ Keren Yarhi)

Abstract: Recently, scholars in IR have returned to the subject of interstate communication, specifically the notion of signaling. States use signals to convey specific information about themselves to other states. These signals are typically intended to convince the target (or receiver) that the state is the type of actor that it claims to be (e.g. the type that is capable and willing to launch a preemptive war, committed to free-trade, a dependable ally, etc.). Conversely, states try to determine what type of actors others are. This is typically done by interpreting the actions of other states and determining whether they reveal something dispositional about that state (i.e. an attribute that is difficult to manipulate) or whether it is merely a ploy by the state to bluff its way through. Despite the recent renaissance in the study of signaling in the literature a number of theoretical gaps and omissions remain. More specifically, the literature often ignores the fact then when states send signals: a) their message is heard by multiple audiences; b) interaction with signals sent from other states may generate feedback loops; and c) they create signaling legacies that lock states into specific policies, complicating diplomacy and bargaining. This paper will evaluate the existing literature about signaling and offer a new signaling framework that utilizes a two-level game approach informed by insights from both realism and constructivism. To illustrate the utility of the framework the paper presents two empirical case studies. First, it examines the extent to which the interaction between Israel's doctrine of nuclear opacity and Syria's doctrine of strategic parity prevented a political settlement of the territorial dispute over the Golan Heights. Second, it evaluates the German state's need to send seemingly conflicting signals of antimilitarism and multilateralismto its domestic and international audiences, respectivelyand how that shaped Germanys role in the 1999 NATO-led bombing campaign against Serbia.

Whence Agency? Understanding the Process of Change in International Politics

Abstract: Alexander Wendt argues that a variety of international structuresranging from Hobbesian to Lockean to Kantiancan emerge through repeated interactions among states. But his conception of this process remains under theorized. Like Neorealists before him, he subverts state agency to the very structures that states allegedly produce. The question thus arises as to how a shift from one structure (or culture) to another can happen. This paper seeks to fill the theoretical gap found in structural theories (both realist and constructivist strains) by suggesting that both the construction of a new culture (or structure) and the reconstruction of an existing culture are both agent-driven processesneither completely determined by the existing culture. Following the approach advocated by Mustafa Emirbayer and Anne Mische, this paper will define agency as the temporally constructed engagement by actors of different structural environments which, through the interplay of habit, imagination, and judgment, both reproduces and transforms those structures in interactive response to the problems posed by changing historical situations. Disaggregating agency into its iterational, projective and practical-evaluative elements and examining the interplay between them allows researchers the analytical leverage necessary to understand how change is possible given the seemingly self-fulfilling logic of culture. The evolution of German foreign policy since the end of World War II will be explored in order to illustrate the approach.

Reputational Concerns and International Stability

Abstract: Recently security scholars have challenged some of the long-established foundations in the literature on deterrence; namely, the notion that maintaining a strong reputation for resolve is crucial for successful deterrence. Authors such as Mercer and Press suggest that reputations are either difficult to alter (Mercer) or that they rarely factor into an opponent's assessment of a state's credibility (Press). Both analyses call into question the wisdom of formulating foreign policy based upon a concern for one's reputation. If reputations cannot change, or are rarely taken into account by adversaries, then policy based on maintaining one's reputation can hardly be justified. By elevating the importance of reputational interests vis--vis strategic or intrinsic interests, states are likely to engage in more crises and conflicts than are necessary to maintain security. In short, a world in which states are overly concerned about their reputations is less stable and more conflictual. Bus is this necessarily the case? Can concern for one's reputation actually cause states to be more cautious, avoiding rather than escalating conflicts? In this paper I take up these questions by theoretically examining the effects of reputational concerns for conflict and stability. While reputational concerns may lead to a more conflictual world they may also act as a stabilizing factor given different distributions of reputational concerns, state types (e.g. revisionist versus status-quo), and interests (e.g. primary versus secondary interests). The paper presents the conditions under which we should expect more and less stable worlds, as well as suggesting the nature of dyadic relations between states given different combinations of the three variables noted above.

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