The Shadow of the Past

The Shadow of the Past: Reputation and Military Alliances before the First World War

Gregory D. Miller
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Shadow of the Past
    Book Description:

    In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability-confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises-in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of credibility-a state's reputation for following through on its threats-Miller finds that reliable states have much greater freedom in forming alliances than those that invest resources in building military force but then use it inconsistently.

    To explore the formation and maintenance of alliances based on reputation, Miller draws on insights from both political science and business theory to track the evolution of great power relations before the First World War. He starts with the British decision to abandon "splendid isolation" in 1900 and examines three crises--the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-6), the Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis (1908-9), and the Agadir Crisis (1911)-leading up to the war. He determines that states with a reputation for being a reliable ally have an easier time finding other reliable allies, and have greater autonomy within their alliances, than do states with a reputation for unreliability. Further, a history of reliability carries long-term benefits, as states tend not to lose allies even when their reputation declines.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6413-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Alliances and Reputation in International Relations
    (pp. 1-34)

    It is widely accepted in business that a positive reputation is a valuable commodity, both for individuals and for firms, and there is significant evidence to support this view. Individual reputations, often measured in the form of a credit report, influence whether someone will qualify for a loan, an apartment, or sometimes even a job. Similarly, firms value good reputations as a way to attract top employees, charge premium prices for products, and preserve customer loyalty. After one partner at an accounting firm was found to have taken bribes, the Wall Street Journal reported that ʺthe nationʹs 11th-largest accounting firm...

  6. 2 Reliability and Alliance Behavior
    (pp. 35-62)

    In the opening chapter I detailed how scholars have dealt with reputation, and I explored some of the major theories of alliance behavior. I also explained how the business literature treats the effects of a firmʹs reputation on its success and have suggested that the influence of a firmʹs reputation on the market is comparable to the effect that a stateʹs reputation has on other states in the international political system. In this chapter I discuss my assumptions as well as the methods used for studying reputation in this book, and then I lay out the hypotheses that are tested...

  7. 3 The End of Splendid Isolation: British Pursuit of an Ally, 1901–1905
    (pp. 63-91)

    Britain’s attitude toward the European Continent at the end of the nineteenth century is often described as one of ʺsplendid isolation.ʺ This is an unfortunate term because it mischaracterizes British foreign policy during that time. Rather than avoiding involvement in European power politics—which is how U.S. isolation is frequently described—Britain simply avoided any long-term formal defense commitments, giving it a free hand to switch allegiances and maintain the balance of power on the Continent. However, events toward the end of the nineteenth century contributed to a shift in British thinking. Growing competition for colonies among Europeʹs great powers...

  8. 4 The First Moroccan Crisis: Testing the Anglo-French Entente, 1904–1907
    (pp. 92-125)

    France signed an entente with England on 8 April 1904 to increase French control over Morocco. Between 1900 and 1904, the French negotiated similar agreements with Italy and Spain.¹ For example, France agreed to accept Italian rights in Tripoli in exchange for Italy accepting French control over Morocco (and an Italian promise that the Triple Alliance did not pose a threat to France). However, France failed to negotiate any type of settlement with Germany, believing that German interests in Morocco were minimal, and because the French foreign minister refused to deal with the Germans.² The German government viewed this as...

  9. 5 The Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis: Expanding the Entente, 1907–1911
    (pp. 126-151)

    Considerable diplomatic activity took place between the 1905 First Moroccan Crisis and the 1908–9 Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis: the Triple Alliance was tacitly renewed; England and Russia signed an agreement that effectively created the Triple Entente with France; and England and France engaged in military discussions to develop contingencies for war. Russia and Austria-Hungary also began negotiating an agreement in which Russia would grant Austria-Hungary privileged rights in Bosnia in exchange for Austriaʹs support in reopening the Dardanelles and Bosporus, which had been closed to shipping since the Crimean War (British defense of the Straits Treaty helped Japan during the Russo-Japanese...

  10. 6 The Agadir Crisis: Rolling toward War, 1910–1914
    (pp. 152-181)

    The 1911 Agadir Crisis, or Second Moroccan Crisis, was a renewal of tensions between Germany and France that began with the First Moroccan Crisis in 1905 over which state controlled Morocco, and was only temporarily suspended by the Algeciras conference (1906) and the Casablanca agreement (1909). Yet Morocco remained an unresolved issue because of Franceʹs desire to create a protectorate there combined with Germanyʹs unwillingness to allow that to happen, at least without compensation. A. J. P. Taylor claims that this case was the dividing line between the diplomatic crises that occurred before 1911 and the prewar crises that began...

  11. 7 Summary and Expansion of Findings
    (pp. 182-208)

    The puzzle posed at the beginning of this book was whether a stateʹs reputation influences the behavior of other states, given the differences between the conventional wisdom and more critical scholarship on reputation published in the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century. The general argument of this book is that states with reputations for being reliable allies will have greater autonomy in making their alliance choices than states with unreliable reputations. Although some of the specific hypotheses tested are more successful than others, the cases examined clearly show that a stateʹs reputation does influence its alliance autonomy....

  12. Appendix A First Treaty of Alliance between Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy, 20 May 1882
    (pp. 209-212)
  13. Appendix B The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 30 January 1902
    (pp. 213-216)
  14. Appendix C Declaration between the United Kingdom and France Respecting Egypt and Morocco, 8 April 1904
    (pp. 217-220)
  15. Appendix D The Second Anglo-Japanese Agreement, 12 August 1905
    (pp. 221-224)
  16. Appendix E Conventions between Russia and the United Kingdom Relating to Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet, 31 August 1907
    (pp. 225-228)
  17. Index
    (pp. 229-234)