My academic research includes three projects, described below with links that will take you to the papers that comprise each project.  Email me if you would like to see a paper that isn't linked here.

International Responses to the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

Since World War II, the spread of nuclear weapons has been a powerful source of international conflict.  The United States in particular has faced a series of long, tense interactions with Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and other proliferants, with repeated crises, episodes of sanctions, threats of attack, and even war in the case of Iraq.  These cases force US policymakers to make tough decisions, in which proliferation and war hang in the balance.  A better understanding of the fiendishly complex interactions associated with the spread of nuclear weapons should contribute to the sound management of these interactions.

Muhammet A. Bas and Andrew J. Coe.  2012.  "Arms Diffusion and War."  Journal of Conflict Resolution 56(4):  651-674.  Online appendix.

Andrew J. Coe and Jane Vaynman.  2015.  "Collusion and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime."  Journal of Politics 77(4):  983-997.  Online appendix.

Muhammet A. Bas and Andrew J. Coe.  2016.  "A Dynamic Theory of Nuclear Proliferation and Preventive War."  International Organization 70(4):  655-685.  Online appendix.

Muhammet A. Bas and Andrew J. Coe.  2018.  "Give Peace a (Second) Chance:  A Theory of Nonproliferation Deals."  International Studies Quarterly 62(3):  606-617.  Online appendix.

Rationalist Explanations for Costly Conflict

Two decades ago, Jim Fearon's ``Rationalist Explanations for War'' re-framed the study of the origins of war as an inefficiency puzzle:  why would rational actors resort to war to settle their disputes when they could just agree to the same outcome and avoid the costs of war?  The solutions to the puzzle were three bargaining problems:  issue indivisibility, asymmetric information, and commitment problems.

The central theme of this project is that the same puzzle, with the same solutions, applies to essentially any costly international behavior:  not just war, but also arming and arms races, the seeking of allies or clients, brinkmanship, terrorism, the imposition of sanctions, proxy conflicts, the erection of barriers to commerce and trade wars, and economic predation.  All of these are costly means for waging disputes that ultimately result in some outcome that could instead be agreed without the costs, and so all of these are caused by bargaining problems.  Put another way, the bargaining theory of war is in fact a bargaining theory of all modes of costly conflict.

Applying this line of thinking to each of these modes of costly conflict has generated a series of articles that make original contributions to the mostly-separate bodies of scholarly work on each of these costly behaviors.  These papers:  provide a new account of the origins of the Iraq War, Iraq's pre-war civil conflict, and the American War of Independence; explain why arms control is so rare and arming ubiquitous; account for why sanctions sometimes undermine and sometimes entrench the targeted regime, and why this is hard to predict ex ante; offer a new theory for why environmental or economic shocks are associated with civil and other conflict; and explain why the narcotics trade leads to so much violence.

Andrew J. Coe.  2018.  "Containing Rogues:  A Theory of Asymmetric Arming."  Journal of Politics 80(4):  1197-1210.  Online appendix.

Andrew J. Coe and Jane Vaynman.  2020.  "Why Arms Control Is So Rare."  American Political Science Review 114(2):  342-355.  Online appendix.

Andrew J. Coe.  "Costly Peace:  A New Rationalist Explanation for War."

Andrew J. Coe.  "Sanctions as Instruments of Regime Change."

Andrew J. Coe.  "Rationalist Explanations for Costly Conflict."

Muhammet A. Bas and Andrew J. Coe.  "Trying Times and Conflict."

Andrew J. Coe.  "Wars to End Predation."

Economic Origins of Modern Politics

The character of politics underwent sweeping changes in the latter half of the Modern Era.  For most of the history of human civilization, both domestic and international politics were characterized by concentrated, capricious power that was intensely and bloodily contested.  Mostly autocratic governments feared their subjects and each other and regularly engaged in warfare with both.  Today, at least among some nations, politics is increasingly marked by diffuse, rule-based power that is peacefully accepted and voluntarily transferred.  These states' democratic governments enjoy warm relations with their citizens and each other.  Arguably, we have no cogent explanation for these signal facts about politics.


I am developing a theory which attributes these changes to the rise of so-called "modern economies."  The theory provides a new explanation of the patterns of international peace and conflict that appears to fit the facts better than any extant theory; offers new insights into why, despite the apparent advantages of democracy, it was a rare form of governance for most of human history; and may yield a new understanding of the evolution of political ethics over time.

Andrew J. Coe.  "The Modern Economic Peace."

Andrew J. Coe and Jonathan N. Markowitz.  "Crude Calculations:  When Does Conquest Pay?Online appendix.


Andrew J. Coe.  "Modern Economic Democracy."

Please reload