The Origins of Alliance

The Origins of Alliance

Stephen M. Walt
Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Origins of Alliance
    Book Description:

    How are alliances made? In this book, Stephen M. Walt makes a significant contribution to this topic, surveying theories of the origins of international alliances and identifying the most important causes of security cooperation between states. In addition, he proposes a fundamental change in the present conceptions of alliance systems. Contrary to traditional balance-of-power theories, Walt shows that states form alliances not simply to balance power but in order to balance threats. Walt begins by outlining five general hypotheses about the causes of alliances.

    Drawing upon diplomatic history and a detailed study of alliance formation in the Middle East between 1955 and 1979, he demonstrates that states are more likely to join together against threats than they are to ally themselves with threatening powers. Walt also examines the impact of ideology on alliance preferences and the role of foreign aid and transnational penetration. His analysis show, however, that these motives for alignment are relatively less important. In his conclusion, he examines the implications of "balance of threat" for U.S. foreign policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6999-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Preface to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. vi-viii)
    Stephen M. Walt
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Stephen M. Walt
  5. 1 Introduction: Exploring Alliance Formation
    (pp. 1-16)

    This book is about the origins of alliances.¹ I seek answers to questions such as these: What causes states to support one another’s foreign policy or territorial integrity? How do statesmen choose among potential threats when seeking external support? How do the great powers choose which states to protect, and how do weaker states decide whose protection to accept? In short, how do states choose their friends?

    The importance of this subject is manifest.² The forces that bring states together and drive them apart will affect the security of individual states by determining both how large a threat they face...

  6. 2 Explaining Alliance Formation
    (pp. 17-49)

    In this chapter I propose five general explanations for international alliances. I explore the logic of the various hypotheses, present illustrative examples, and outline the conditions under which the behavior predicted by each should be expected.

    When confronted by a significant external threat, states may either balance or bandwagon. Balancing is defined as allying with others against the prevailing threat; bandwagoning refers to alignment with the source of danger. Thus two distinct hypotheses about how states will select their alliance partners can be identified on the basis of whether the states ally against or with the principal external threat.¹


  7. 3 From the Baghdad Pact to the Six Day War
    (pp. 50-103)

    This chapter and the next describe the principal alliances in the Middle East from 1955 to 1979. The purpose is to provide the historical background for the analysis in chapters 5 to 7 by identifying the most important causes for the various alliances.

    Middle East diplomacy from the Baghdad Pact to the Six Day War was dominated by three interrelated themes. The first was the repeated failure of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s various efforts to translate his own charisma and Egypt’s regional stature into permanent hegemony in the Arab world. Relying on propaganda, subversion, and the astute manipulation of the ideology...

  8. 4 From the Six Day War to the Camp David Accords
    (pp. 104-146)

    This chapter continues the historical account by describing the alliances that formed in the Middle East from 1967 to 1979. The story begins in the aftermath of the Six Day War and ends following the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

    This period in Middle East diplomacy can be summarized in terms of two main themes. The first is the gradual rise and dramatic decline in Arab collaboration against Israel, both the result of Egypt’s abandoning its quest for hegemony in the Arab world. Egypt’s new-found moderation was predictable; the Six Day War had left Nasser dependent on subsidies from his former rivals,...

  9. 5 Balancing and Bandwagoning
    (pp. 147-180)

    Chapters 5 through 7 evaluate the propositions developed in chapter 2 in light of the events described in chapters 3 and 4. Specifically, chapter 5 examines the competing hypotheses on balancing and bandwagoning, chapter 6 explores the relationship between ideology and alignment, and chapter 7 assesses the impact of foreign aid and penetration.

    This chapter considers first the overwhelming tendency for states to prefer balancing and then the rare cases of bandwagoning that do occur. The analysis addresses four broad questions. First, which of the two—balancing or bandwagoning—is more common? Second, do the responses of the superpowers differ...

  10. 6 Ideology and Alliance Formation
    (pp. 181-217)

    In this chapter I analyze the impact of ideological solidarity on alliance formation. I define ideological solidarity as a tendency for states with similar internal traits to prefer alignment with one another to alignment with states whose domestic characteristics are different. I consider three questions. First, how powerful is this tendency? Second, does its impact vary as predicted in chapter 2? Third, do certain ideologies exert divisive effects by provoking conflict among adherents rather than encouraging cooperation?

    I reach three main conclusions. First, there is a modest association between ideology and alignment. As expected, this association is more pronounced in...

  11. 7 The Instruments of Alliance: Aid and Penetration
    (pp. 218-261)

    In this chapter, I examine a number of hypotheses about the impact of foreign aid and transnational penetration on alliance formation. My analysis supports the predictions made in chapter 2: both aid and penetration play subordinate roles in determining how states choose their allies. To show why this is the case, I first consider the impact of foreign aid and then examine the effects of penetration.

    As outlined in chapter 2, the hypothesis about foreign aid and alliances predicts that states select alliance partners in order to obtain side payments of material assistance, such as economic or military aid. If...

  12. 8 Conclusion: Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power
    (pp. 262-286)

    I began this book by arguing that the forces that shape international alliances are among the most important in international politics. In particular, I suggested that many debates over foreign policy and grand strategy are based primarily on conflicting beliefs about the origins of international alliances. These beliefs have been especially important in postwar U.S. foreign policy, but the United States is hardly unique in this regard.¹ By examining existing theory, European diplomatic history, and the contemporary debate on U.S. foreign policy, I identified several popular hypotheses that are often used to explain how states choose their friends. After surveying...

  13. Appendix 1: Alliances and Alignments in the Middle East, 1955–1979
    (pp. 287-288)
  14. Appendix 2: The Balance of World Power
    (pp. 289-292)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-310)
  16. Index
    (pp. 311-322)