WP Chapter 5
Alliances are very important in world politics and can greatly affect the bargaining
process. Some alliances are defensive while others are offensive, offensive means to
join together in attacking a state while defensive means joining together to attack a
state. Sometimes alliances have different reaction plans for each state during a crisis
or how territories are to be divided, one of the strongest alliances is NATO which
make sure that countries back each other up and provide protection for one
Symmetric vs. Asymmetric: depends on how powerful countries are in the alliance,
there is no doubt that the USA is the most powerful in NATO.
Usually countries join alliances because there is something in it for them, sometimes
state align because they share a common vision or a want for a good and need each
other in order to obtain it. Alliances are created to preserve what we call the balance
of power that is a situation in which the military capabilities of two states or groups
of states are roughly equal. When the balance of power is set, no state or block of
state has clear military advantage over the other. In contrast a power imbalance is
considered threatening to the weaker side’s interests. Sometimes two weaker states
may need to combine to match the power of a larger power. This can be seen as how
France and Russia joined forces against Germany, this is known as band-wagoning
(A strategy in which states join forces with the stronger side in conflict). Band-
wagoning alliances are often offensive which a common gain exists (in this case to
eliminate Germany as a power and to split the territory).
Sometimes states align themselves with ideology or for religious reasons such as
Saudi Arabia aligning itself with Egypt (with its fellow Arab brothers) even though
Israel clearly has a much better military. Other features can be geographical
proximity and similar cultural identity.
Alliances and the likelihood of war: Alliances help influence bargaining because they
can deter a country from starting a war with another seeing as though they know by
attacking one country they will have to deal with allied troops or can make
countries more confident because they know the countries in their alliances will
back them up. However credibility also comes into question because that ally might
decide to back out and not fight the war with their ally for whatever reason.
Alliances are not binding contracts. During World War 2, Germany had no problem
breaking their contract with Russia and invaded them in 1941.
a) during credibility it must be made clear that allies will fight alongside the country
in question, it should be in the best interest of the allied countries to help another
out incase one day the tables have turned and they then need the help of the country
fighting a war or defending their territory, sates have honored their commitment
75% of the time. Why aren’t alliance commitments ironclad:
Ironclad alliance guarantees that effectively deter challenges to the weaker partly
also enhance the risk that the weaker party will demand more of the target or
become intransigent in negotiations. It is to pursue a policy of strategic ambiguity as
in the case with the USA’s promise to help Taiwan but at the same time encourage it
not to declare independence as that means a war with China and the USA would
then have to get involved. This policy makes its allied intentions purposefully less
than fully clear this they hope that China would be deterred from attacking and
Taiwan act with constraint. States with the most credible alliances are those who
are most likely going to act the most opportunistically while those focused on
deterrence less so.
The success and failure of alliances in Europe: the success and failure depend on (1)
strength of the common interest (2) the ability of the alliance to alter the members
preferences (3) the effectiveness in scaring the adversary (4) the ability of partners
to risk the ability of entrapment.
Collective Security (why cant the UN keep the peace):
The Un and