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War and Peace in the Taiwan Strait, Scott L. Kastner

Reviewed by Ketian Zhang
 

The prospect of war over Taiwan is a critical issue of utmost theoretical, empirical, and policy importance. It provides an empirical test of theories of the causes of war. Studies of cross-strait relations have policy implications for reducing the potential of conflict involving China, Taiwan, and the United States. Scott L. Kastner's book precisely examines these aspects. It comprehensively examines key factors that may contribute to conflicts in the Taiwan Strait and develops a rigorous framework to analyze how these different factors—economic integration, military power, U.S. commitment, and domestic politics—may affect conflict propensity in the Taiwan Strait. Kastner's book is commendable in several respects.

First and foremost, Kastner rigorously brings back the rationalist account of war and emphasizes two factors crucial to conflict propensity in the Taiwan Strait: the credible commitment issue and the private information issue. For one, private information increases the likelihood of others misinterpreting one state's behavior and intentions. As Kastner notes, China's mixing of revisionist goals (formal unification) and status quo goals (preventing formal Taiwan independence) can make it difficult for others to interpret its actions (14). For another, Kastner highlights the credible commitment issue as well as factors heigh

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