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The Moroccan Crisis of 1905–1906: An Analytic Narrative

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This paper interprets the Moroccan crisis of 1905–1906 in the context of an incomplete information game model, the Tripartite Crisis game, and one of its proper subgames, the Defender-Protégé subgame. In the early stages of the crisis the action choices of the players were shown to be consistent with the players’ beliefs, but their beliefs were not tested. In the final phase, beliefs and action choices were brought into harmony. British support of France during the conference that ended the crisis, the firm stand that France took at the conference, and the German decision to press for a conference is explained in terms of the model’s principal variables. The explanation derived from the model is not necessarily at odds with consensus historical interpretations of the Moroccan crisis. Nonetheless, it offers several advantages over standard, largely atheoretical or ad hoc descriptions. One clear advantage is the convenient framework the model provides for organizing information about the crisis around a common set of assumptions and concepts and for the clear way the most salient causal variables are highlighted. Another is the model’s ability to point to a logically consistent set of expectations about the connections between certain action choices and the beliefs that drive them. Finally, the model’s straightforward applicability to an important and complicated watershed event is suggestive of its potential generality.

Corresponding author: Frank C. Zagare, Department of Political Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA, E-mail:


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Published Online: 2015-6-1
Published in Print: 2015-8-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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