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IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630ALLIANCES IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORYDR. SANGIT SARITA DWIVEDI**Assistant Professor,Bharati College, University of Delhi,Delhi.ABSTRACTLittle work has been done to examine, understand or predict which alliance groupings are likelyto form or not. This paper will begin by focusing on the balance of power theory of allianceswhich is the main tool used in the discipline of international relations to explain the formationand duration of alliances between states. Contrasted with „balance of power‟ (BoP) theory is„balance of threat‟ (BoT) theory, which suggests that states will react to increases in other state‟scapabilities. Alliances are regarded as a response to an external threat. Whether it is domesticpolitics or international politics, the logic and the reason of alliances and counter-alliances isquite an accepted phenomenon. Therefore they cannot be studied apart from other securitypolicies, enmities and rivalries to which they are designed to respond. The purpose is not toreview the entire alliance literature but to draw some of the themes that have played an importantrole in advancing the present understanding of alliances. BoT theory is applied in the context oftwo case studies – Pakistan and China, North Korea and China.KEYWORDS: Alliances, Balance of Power, Balance of Threat, China, Pakistan, NorthKorea.This paper begins by focusing on the balance of power theory of alliances which is themain tool used in the discipline of international relations to explain the formation and duration ofalliances between states. Contrasted with „balance of power‟ (BoP) theory is the „balance ofthreat‟ (BoT) theory. Stephen Walt (1987: 263) maintains that balance of threat “should be224Alliances play a central role in international relations because they are seen to be an integral partof statecraft. Alliances are formed between two or more countries to counter a commonadversary. They have been an important research focus in the theory of international relations.This is understandable because one of the central foreign policy debates in every country centerson the issue of which nation to ally with and for how long. Strong and weak nations alike feel theneed to form alliances. Weak states enter into alliance when they need protection against strongstates i.e., they enter into alliances to defend themselves. Strong states enter into alliances tocounter other strong states i.e., they enter into alliance to maintain balance of power. Statesexpect their allies to help militarily and diplomatically during the time of conflict. Thecommitment entered into by the alliance may be formal or informal i.e., there may or may not betreaties between them.www.indianresearchjournals.comINTRODUCTION

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630viewed as a refinement of traditional balance of power theory”. Whether it is domestic politics orinternational politics, the logic and the reason of alliances and counter-alliances is quite anaccepted phenomenon. Therefore they cannot be studied apart from other security policies,enmities and rivalries to which they are designed to respond. The purpose is not to review theentire alliance literature but to draw some of the themes that have played an important role inadvancing the present understanding of alliances. The BoT theory is applied in the context of twocase studies – Pakistan and China, North Korea and China.According to the realist theory, states are the central political actors and their actions aregoverned by perceptions of sovereignty, national interest and security. Realism is primarilyconcerned with the protection of the state and the survival of the state as a discrete actor. Beforediscussing the alternative theories of state‟s security, the related terms and concepts must bedefined.Threat: Threat is not an objective phenomenon. It is a perceptual concept. Capabilities andintentions of a state play an important role in determining threat.Security: According to realists, concept of security is a vicious cycle. In its most fundamentalunderstanding, to be secure is to be free from threats and dangers. States are not perfectly secureor completely insecure but rather experience either condition in degrees.Alliance: Alliance is described as a process or a technique of statecraft or a type of internationalorganization (Fedder 1968: 68). Arnold Wolfer (1968: 268) defines an alliance as „a promise ofmutual military assistance between two or more sovereign states‟. Alliances are only the formalsubset of a broader and more basic phenomenon, than that of „alignment‟ (Snyder 1990: 105).The primary purpose of most alliances is to combine the member‟s capabilities in a way thatfurthers their respective interests.Entente: Kann compares alliances and ententes. In case of ententes, no firm commitments existbetween partners. There should be simple recognition of the fact that agreements between themwill make sense only if they serve common interests. According to him, the inherent trend of anentente is in the opposite direction from that of an alliance (Kann 1976: 612). Secrecy,ideological issues etc. are well delineated in alliance treaties but not in ententes (Kann 1976:615). Entente is more flexible associations between states (Kann 1976: 611).225Alignment: Formal alliances strengthen existing alignments, or create new ones. Snyder (1990:105) described an alliance as „a subset of the broader phenomenon alignment‟. Alignment occurswhen a states brings its policies into close cooperation with another state in order to achievemutual security goals.www.indianresearchjournals.comCoalitions: Snyder differentiated between alliances and coalitions. According to him (1990:106), alliances are formed in peace time and coalitions are often found during war. Coalitionslack many of the political functions, such as deterrence of attack, preclusion and restraint of theally. Fedder (1968: 80) defined coalition as “a set of members acting in concert at x timeregarding one to n issues”.

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630Building alliances is not the only tactic states have; there are other strategies also.Balancing and bandwagoning can lead to formation of alliances. When confronted by an externalthreat, states may either balance or bandwagon.Balancing: It is defined as allying with others against the prevailing threat. States can balance ina variety of ways. Waltz (1979) distinguished between two kinds of balancing. States couldattempt to balance threats with their own resources. This is called internal balancing.Alternatively, they can seek out other states that share their fear and ally with them. This isknown as external balancing.Bandwagoning: If the system fails to provide a balance against an aggressor, individual nationsrespond differently to threat. Bandwagoning is joining the stronger side for the sake of protectionand payoffs, even if this meant insecurity vis-à-vis the protecting power and a certain sacrifice ofindependence (Schroeder 1994: 430). According to Schweller, bandwagoning refers to joiningwith a rising state, either from fear or from greed (Vasquez and Elman 2003: 79). Walt definedbandwagoning as „alignment with the source of danger‟. He differentiated it into two kinds:offensive and defensive. Offensive bandwagoning is alignment with a dominant state in order toshare in the spoils of victory. Defensive bandwagoning is a „form of appeasement‟; a state alignswith an aggressive state in order to avoid being attacked (Walt 1987: 21).Balancing and bandwagoning are not the only ways, in which state‟s behaviour is revealed.There is a range of responses and strategies. The following concepts do not lead to allianceformation but are important to show how states are engaged.Other factors that may affect how states respond to threat are suggested by Christensen andSnyder‟s analysis of chain-ganging and buck-passing, where they find that technology,geography, and perception of strategic incentives influence the way in which states respond tothreat.Chain-ganging: A multipolar balancing dynamic that results when interlocking alliancecommitments, alliance pull states into wars that they might have avoided. Christensen andSnyder (2003: 73) argue that this dynamic is most likely to occur when states perceive thatoffense has the advantage over defense, since states must then lend quick and decisive support to226Transcending: Schroeder defines transcending as „trying to deal with the dangers both ofconcentrations of power and of concrete threats by taking the problem to a higher level,establishing norms of a legal, religious, moral, or procedural nature to govern internationalpractice, with these norms to be somehow maintained and enforced by the internationalcommunity or by a particular segment by it‟ (Vasquez and Elman 2003: 119).www.indianresearchjournals.comHiding: One strategy of state behaviour is hiding from threats. This could take various forms:simply ignoring the threat or declaring neutrality in a general crisis, approaching other states onone or both sides of a quarrel to get them to guarantee one‟s safety, trying to withdraw intoisolation, assuming a purely defensive position, or seeking protection from some other powers inexchange for diplomatic services, or non-military support, without joining that power as an allyor committing itself to any use of force on its part (Schroeder 1994: 430).

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630their allies. The result is that all the members of an alliance become hostage to the behaviour ofthe least restrained state, with hyperactive balancing producing unrestrained war.Buck-passing: A multipolar balancing dynamic that occurs when a state refuses to balanceagainst a rising state, hoping that another threatened state will expend the necessary blood andtreasure. A mutual buck-pass could result in none of the threatened states balancing, with theconsequence that the rising state could achieve hegemony (Christensen and Snyder 2003: 73).Christensen and Snyder argue that this dynamic is most likely when states perceive that defensehas the advantage over offense.Before analyzing the cases, it is important to briefly discuss theories related to the alliancesin international politics. A number of scholars have attempted to develop theories of alliances.Modern alliances are distinguished from the traditional ones in terms of duration, scope etc.DIFFERENT THEORIES OF ALLIANCEAlliance as a military compact is also described by the scholars of international politics.For many regimes, maintaining an adequate military capability against external and internalenemies is a paramount objective to which many other needs must be subordinated. Wolfer(1968: 268) notes that „an alliance is a promise of mutual military assistance between two ormore sovereign states‟. William Fox and Annette Baker Fox (1967: 6) reinforce the assertion ofalliance as an instrument to rationalize diverse foreign military policies.But alliance formation or alliance duration is complex. The oldest explanations of alliancesare derived from BoP theory. The most important motive is to prevent any nation or combination227Liska‟s work was the first in the sphere of theory of alliances. In his words: “It isimpossible to speak of international relations without referring to alliances; the two often mergein all but name” (Liska 1962: 3). His Nations in Alliance emphasizes the relevance of traditionalalliance patterns in the contemporary international system. Affirmatively, states enter intoalliances with one another in order to supplement each other‟s capabilities. Negatively, analliance is a means of reducing the impact of antagonistic power, perceived as pressure, whichthreatens one‟s independence. He further states that “In economic terminology alliances aim atmaximizing gains and sharing liabilities. The decision to align, in what form, and with whom ornot to align, as part of a deliberate policy- is made with reference to national interests” (Liska1962: 40).www.indianresearchjournals.comA range of theories has been advanced to explain alliance formation, alliance performance andtheir nature. Alliances differ in many ways: the circumstances under which they becameoperative, the type of commitment, the degree of cooperation and their scope. It also includes:ideology, size, capabilities, leadership etc. Scholars have attempted to develop comprehensivetheories of alliances: the first to do so was George Liska, and his Nations in Alliance: The Limitsof Interdependence published in 1962; Ole Holsti, Terrence Hopmann and John Sullivan, Unityand Disintegration in International Alliances: Comparative Studies was published in 1973;Stephen Walt‟s book The Origins of Alliances published in 1987 contains valuable theoreticalinsights.

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630of countries from achieving a dominant position.BALANCE OF POWER AS AN ANALYTICAL METHODTheory of BoP is a useful point of departure for understanding alliance policies. According torealist conception, power must always be determined and measured relative to the power ofsomeone else. In the global context, BoP is useful as an analytical concept for assessing theoverall power capabilities of states and coalitions. Liska (1962), Morgenthau (1960), Kaplan(1957) etc. are of the BoP school. They assume that alliances are coalitions whose behaviour isposited upon rationally motivated agreement. According to BoP theory, nations should be morelikely to join the weaker coalition to prevent formation of a hegemonic one i.e., „balancing‟rather than join the dominant one in order to increase the probability of joining the winning sidesi.e., „bandwagoning‟. This concept was advanced by Waltz in 1979. He states (1979: 121),“Balance of power politics prevail wherever two, and only two, requirements are met: that theorder be anarchic and that it be populated by units wishing to survive”.According to Morgenthau (1973), in the BoP theory, nations form alliances to offsetgrowing powers and restore the balance. To him, an alliance is always a means to an end ofmaintaining equilibrium. He discusses alliance in terms of means/ends, costs/rewardscalculations. Another scholar, Quincy Wright (1942: 254) stated that the BoP is a systemdesigned to maintain a continuous conviction in every state that if it attempted aggression, itwould encounter an invincible combination of the others.THEORIES BASED ON PERCEPTIONA system of ideas or belief or even a single slogan or mobilizing phrase can effect significantchange in the definition of interests, which in turn can influence both individual and groupbehaviour (Biersteker 1995: 174-175). Ideas and the conceptual frameworks that accompanythem help to frame issues and define what an important problem is. According to Peter Hall(1989: 390), “Ideas have real power in political world, but they do not acquire political forceindependently of the constellation of institutions and interests already present there”.228However, scholars trained in international relations have paid little attention to perceptions.The power of belief and perception, of ideas and of ways of thinking has sown the seeds ofrivalry and competition in a very effective way, as states clashed with each other for dominancein international politics.www.indianresearchjournals.comA fundamental objective of creating a system of BoP is to protect the security andindependence of the particular nations. No single entity within the system should be allowed togain dominance over the others. Thus BoP becomes an analytical device. Although BoP theorydoes not prescribe a preferred model of global or regional stability, it does facilitate descriptionof the principal power configurations that have existed in the past. The theory enables todemonstrate graphically the power relations of major states and groups of states, whether theirrelation is global in interaction or limited to a region of the world.

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630Perceptual theorists distinguish among three components of perception: values, beliefsand cognitions. A value is a preference for one state of reality over another. Values do notspecify what is but rather what ought to be. A belief is a conviction that a description of reality istrue, proven or known. A belief is not the same as a value. Cognition is a data or informationreceived from the environment. Cognitions are key elements in establishing perpetual systemsand in changing these systems.Stein (1988: 246) categorizes threats in international relations into two kinds. When leadersuse strategies like deterrence for, example, they signal their commitment and resolve in part byissuing threats to a would-be challenger. This kind of threat is conditional. What is relevant tothe success of the strategy is not the threat itself but its perception. There is a gap between theintentions of the leaders who issues the threat and its perception by another. Leaders perceive notonly those threats that are communicated by another party but also those that inhere in theenvironment. This is termed as situational threats. Accuracy in the perception of situationalthreats is even more problematic for policy makers to achieve and for scholars to establish.Within BoP theory of alliances, there are basically two positions – the classical positionand the revisionist position, associated with the work of Stephen Walt. The classical theorists areof the opinion that alliances are an outcome of BoP among nations. The revisionist scholarsargue that states use alliances to increase their security by balancing against threats posed by(potentially) powerful challengers represented by Waltz (1979); Morgenthau (1985); Walt (1987,1988); Niou, Ordeshook, and Rose (1989), Christensen and Snyder (1990).229Goldstein (1995: 48) believes that balance of power theory suggests that states can counterperceive threats by internal means i.e., by increasing their own capabilities or by external meansi.e., by forming alliances. Bipolarity altered the relative importance of these two balancingtechniques, and in different ways for states of different capability. States face conflictingincentives when deciding whether and how much, to rely on allies for security. When the middlepowers like China confronted salient threats from one superpower (with the outbreak of theKorean War, the subsequent sequence of events during the decade clarified the seriousness of themilitary threat the US posed to Chinese national interests.), balance of power logic led them toseek assistance from the other in countering the common foe.www.indianresearchjournals.comAccording to Thomas J. Christensen (1997: 81), before the two world wars, securitypolicies were largely driven by the degree of threat perceived by political and military leaders.Before World War I (1914), when leaders felt they or their allies were relatively vulnerable tooffensives, most European nations built weapons and tightened formal or informal alliances.Alternatively, before World War II (1939), when defense was believed to have the advantage incontinental warfare, tight alliances did not form. Where loose ones existed, they were quicklyabandoned e.g., the case of France and the Little Entente in Eastern Europe (Christensen 1997:81). In 1914, both beliefs about the offense-defense balance and the balance of power affectedthe security policies of the major powers. To him (1997: 92), sensitivity to perceptions andmisperceptions of basic security conditions may be especially important in analyzing the stabilityof a rapidly changing Cold War East Asia. In the Cold War East Asia, multi-polarity is affectedby various factors- the collapse of Russian influence, the rise of China, the possibility of unifiedKorea, the uncertainties of Japanese militarization, the level of US deployments etc.

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630From the above review it may be seen that there are various theories, each focusing on aparticular aspect of alliances or approaching them from a distinctive perspective. Althoughdifferent theories of alliance are available, this paper will focus on Stephen Walt‟s theory ofalliance. By focusing solely on capabilities, BoP cannot explain why balances often failed toform. Thus BoT narrows this gap. This deficiency can be corrected by recognizing that statesform alliances in order to balance against threats, and power is only one element in theircalculations.STEPHEN M. WALT: BALANCE OF THREATWalt‟s BoT theory represents an important contribution to neorealist thought. His research onalliances tends to emphasize state‟s desire to balance against security threats. BoP theory predictsthat states ally in response to imbalances of power. It includes distribution of capabilities basedon population, economic capacity, military power, and political cohesion. Walt modifies Waltz‟saccount of alliance formation by claiming that states do not balance against power but ratheragainst threats. He brought the notion of perception and made the shift from BoP to BoT. It is notnecessarily the strongest neighbour who can be a threat; the weaker nation can also pose a threat.He tested his BoT theory by examining patterns of alliances in the Middle East.According to Walt, nations do occasionally cooperate but when they do so, the cooperationis meant to face a powerful threat from one or more states. When the threat is terminated, thecooperation also comes to an end. According to him, “when there is an imbalance of threat,states will form alliances or increase their internal efforts in order to reduce their vulnerability”.Several case studies, including Middle Eastern states were studied by Stephen Walt during 19551979, found support for the „balancing‟ hypothesis. Walt defined an alliance as “a formal orinformal arrangement of security cooperation between two or more sovereign states”. It includesboth formal treaties and informal commitments because states may be willing to cooperate butunwilling to sign a formal treaty. The presence or absence of a formal treaty often says relativelylittle about the actual level of commitment between the parties (Walt 1987: 12, 13).230Walt finds that it is the general tendency of states to “balance” against the most threatening stateor coalition, rather than “bandwagoning” with it. States are said to balance against the strongeststate or coalition. In fact, they balance against the state that poses the greatest threat. The level ofthreat a state poses to others is a function of its power, geographic proximity, offensive militarycapabilities and perceived aggressiveness, though the precise weight attached to each factor willvary across cases. Aggregate Power is the total power of states. The greater a state‟s totalresource e.g., population, industrial and military capability, and technological prowess, thegreater a potential threat it can pose to others. The ability to project power declines withdistance; states that are nearby pose a greater threat than those that are far away. States are morelikely to make their alliance choices in response to nearby powers than in response to those thatare distant. Offensive power is the ability to threaten the sovereignty or territorial integrity ofanother state. States with large offensive capabilities are more likely to provoke an alliance thanare those that are incapable of attacking. States that are viewed as aggressive are likely toprovoke others to balance against them. Perceptions of intent play a crucial role in alliancewww.indianresearchjournals.comBALANCE OF THREAT THEORY

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630choices. Intention, not power is crucial. Walt also discussed other factors that may encouragealignment, particularly when it is not obvious which state or states pose the greatest threat.Ideology is one factor among many that may encourage alignment. Other things being equal,states will prefer to ally with governments whose political outlook is similar to their own (Walt1997: 168). Ideology is a weaker cause of alliance formation. Offering or accepting aid is oneway that states with different capabilities can respond to a common threat. To Walt, a large aidrelationship is more often the result of alignment than a cause of it. Economic ties can create orreinforce strong alliance relations, particularly when one partner is heavily dependent on theother.Thus, Walt advanced five hypotheses: States ally against states that threaten them i.e., theybalance. States ally with states that threaten them i.e., they bandwagon. States choose allies ofsimilar ideology. Foreign aid attracts allies. Political penetration facilitates alliance. To test thesehypotheses, Walt used the following determinants: In deciding whether or not to balance, stateslook at aggregate power (more is more threatening), geographical proximity (closer is morethreatening), offensive capabilities (more is more threatening), and offensive intentions (statesthat have them are more threatening).BALANCING VERSUS BANDWAGONING231The tendency for states to balance against threats helps to explain why the United Stateswas able to lead a coalition whose combined capabilities were far greater than the Soviet alliancenetwork, contrary to the predictions of simple BoP theory. He shows that if states were reallyconcerned with power, then they would not have allied so extensively with the US. Such acoalition was a result not of the power of the USSR but of its perceived threat (Walt 1987: 273281). Thus, BoT theory also explains why states in the developing world usually seek alliesagainst local dangers, and not in response to shifts in the global balance of power. Walt‟s studysuggests that as a superpower, the US was interested in global balance of power, but it had toreact to the regional threats posed by the adversaries like China. US would attain global andregional balance by responding to the situation from countries that provided a threat. He alsoobserves that every state in modern Europe that attempted hegemony was near to states itthreatened, possessed offensive capabilities, and had malign intentions.www.indianresearchjournals.comWalt contends that balancing should be more common than bandwagoning and supports hiscontention with a survey of alliances in the Middle East from 1955 to 1979. States seek tocounter threats by adding the power of other states to their own. Although states choose allies tobalance against threats, such behaviour is not universal. He (1987: 28) argues that potentialbandwagoners are aware that increasing the capabilities of a threatening state carries great risks,and will opt to balance against them. According to Walt, balancing is more common thanbandwagoning because an alignment that preserves most of a state‟s freedom of action ispreferable to accepting subordination. Intentions can change and perceptions are unreliable, it issafer to balance against potential threats than to hope that strong states will remain benevolent(Walt 1985: 15).

IRJCInternational Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary ResearchVol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630IMPACT OF MULTIPOLARITYWalt also talked about the impact of multipolarity on alliances. The gradual emergence of amulti-polar system implies a diffusion of power. It will be difficult to determine which statespose the greatest threats, and international alignments will be more flexible and less durable thanthey were during the Cold War. Because states balance against threats and not just againstpower, how they evaluate each other‟s intentions will become more important as power becomesmore evenly distributed (Walt 1993: 245). Dealing with the efficiency of balancing behaviour ina multipolar world, he wrote that although states usually balance against threatening powers, thespeed and effectiveness of the balancing process can vary considerably. Weak states are morelikely to “bandwagon”. The end of the Cold War also means the end of superpower competitionin the developing world and hence new alliance options were created for great and small powersalike.Thus, the BoT theory more accurately describes the primary dynamics of allianceformation. For Walt, alliances are defensive and are driven by fear. With the changing globalscenario both politically as well as economically, Walt‟s theory finds a strong recommendation.Although the tendency for states to balance against threats has been widely recognized byscholars, some suggest limits on the relevance of Stephen Walt‟s work.In his analysis of Walt‟s theory, Schroeder finds difficulty with the definition of the terms,balance and threat. He argues that by focusing on perceptions of threat, Walt‟s balance of threattheory makes it virtually impossible to distinguish between balancing and bandwagoning or todetermine the real motives of actors, since any bandwagoning state is likely to claim that it isactually balancing against a threatening enemy. He (1994: 119) emphasizes the difficultiesinvolved in using perceptions and motivation to explain state actions, because policy makersoften have an incentive to lie. He argues that states followed a number of strategies, includingtrying to share in the profits, working out some accommodation or grouping.According to Sorokin (1994: 422), theories of alliances which support the argument thatstates use alliances to in

IRJC International Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary Research Vol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630 m 224 ALLIANCES IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY