Allied nations often stop each other from going to war. Some
countries even form alliances with the specific intent of
restraining another power and thereby preventing war. Furthermore,
restraint often becomes an issue in existing alliances as one ally
wants to start a war, launch a military intervention, or pursue
some other risky military policy while the other ally balks. In
Warring Friends, Jeremy Pressman draws on and critiques
realist, normative, and institutionalist understandings of how
alliance decisions are made.
Alliance restraint often has a role to play both in the genesis
of alliances and in their continuation. As this book demonstrates,
an external power can apply the brakes to an incipient conflict,
and even unheeded advice can aid in clarifying national goals. The
power differentials between allies in these partnerships are
influenced by leadership unity, deception, policy substitutes, and
national security priorities. Recent controversy over the
complicated relationship between the U.S. and Israeli
governments-especially in regard to military and security
concerns-is a reminder that the alliance has never been easy or
Pressman highlights multiple episodes during which the United
States attempted to restrain Israel's military policies: Israeli
nuclear proliferation during the Kennedy Administration; the 1967
Arab-Israeli War; preventing an Israeli preemptive attack in 1973;
a small Israeli operation in Lebanon in 1977; the Israeli invasion
of Lebanon in 1982; and Israeli action during the Gulf War of 1991.
As Pressman shows, U.S. initiatives were successful only in 1973,
1977, and 1991, and tensions have flared up again recently as a
result of Israeli arms sales to China.
Pressman also illuminates aspects of the Anglo-American special
relationship as revealed in several cases: British nonintervention
in Iran in 1951; U.S. nonintervention in Indochina in 1954; U.S.
commitments to Taiwan that Britain opposed, 1954-1955; and British
intervention and then withdrawal during the Suez War of 1956. These
historical examples go far to explain the context within which the
Blair administration failed to prevent the U.S. government from
pursuing war in Iraq at a time of unprecedented American power.
Subjects: Political Science
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