This article analyzes the circumstances under which conflict leads to the outbreak of war using a formal model which incorporates both the redistribution of resources as an alternative to war and imperfect information. Countries act as rational agents concerned with both consumption and the public bad of a war. In the first period both countries can either consume or build arms, whereas in the second period there can be either the threat or the use of force to reallocate resources. If both countries are fully informed, then there will be no war but rather a voluntary redistribution of resources. In a situation of asymmetric information, however, in which one country is fully informed and the other is not, a war can occur if the uninformed country uses a separating equilibrium strategy, precommitting itself to a positive probability of war in order to prevent bluffing by the informed country.