Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How superpowers go to war and why other states help them: The impact of asymmetric security interdependence on war coalition formation
by Fritz, Alarik Morgan, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2008, 417; 3339336
Abstract (Summary)

Nations usually go to war to defend against a threat (balancing) or gain some profit (bandwagoning). However, they sometimes join war coalitions without such motivations – or refuse to join them despite great pressure from the coalition leader. For example, the US-led coalition against Iraq in 2003 was largely composed of states that were not traditional US allies, were not threatened by Iraq, and had little to gain from the invasion. Furthermore, the US surprisingly failed to enlist key allies in the coalition. Are coalition formation dynamics different now than during the Cold War? This is an important question because such war coalitions may be more common in the future.

This dissertation examines the impact of asymmetric security interdependence between minor states and a superpower vis-à-vis their war coalition choices. Shifts in the global balance of power, such as from bipolarity to unipolarity, can lead to shifts in security interdependence because the security motivations for the superpower and minor states can become ‘delinked’ from each other. Some minor states become less concerned about their relationship with the unipole (because they are no longer threatened by the other bipole) while others become more concerned with it because of long-term regional threats (they can no longer rely upon a bipolar ally to protect them). This shift, when combined with the fact that the superpower-as-coalition leader values the contributions of some minor states more than others (due to its warplans) can lead to situations of asymmetric security interdependence.

Such interdependence is a source of power – thus it can determine which state is more likely to have greater bargaining leverage, which one pays for a coalition contribution, and how that contribution comes about. This explains many notable puzzles of coalition formation, including the failure of the US to enlist a Turkish contribution in 2003 and why states like Poland went to great lengths to contribute to US-led coalitions in 1990-91 and 2003. To test this, I examine three war coalitions (Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Korean War, and Desert Storm) and US efforts to enlist the support of four minor states (Turkey, Japan, Germany and Poland).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bennett, Andrew
Commitee: Byman, Daniel, Shambaugh, George
School: Georgetown University
Department: Government
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International law
Keywords: Asymmetric security interdependence, Coalition alliance, Superpowers, Unipolarity, War coalition
Publication Number: 3339336
ISBN: 9780549955498
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