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Poast, Paul

Arguing about Alliances

The Art of Agreement in Military-Pact Negotiations


    86,95 € / $99.95 / £79.00*

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    November 2019
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    Aims and Scope

    Why do some attempts to conclude alliance treaties end in failure? From the inability of European powers to form an alliance that would stop Hitler in the 1930s, to the present inability of Ukraine to join NATO, states frequently attempt but fail to form alliance treaties. In Arguing about Alliances, Paul Poast sheds new light on the purpose of alliance treaties by recognizing that such treaties come from negotiations, and that negotiations can end in failure.

    In a book that bridges Stephen Walt's Origins of Alliance and Glenn Snyder's Alliance Politics, two classic works on alliances, Poast identifies two conditions that result in non-agreement: major incompatibilities in the internal war plans of the participants, and attractive alternatives to a negotiated agreement for various parties to the negotiations. As a result, Arguing about Alliances focuses on a group of states largely ignored by scholars: states that have attempted to form alliance treaties but failed. Poast suggests that to explain the outcomes of negotiations, specifically how they can end without agreement, we must pay particular attention to the wartime planning and coordinating functions of alliance treaties. Through his exploration of the outcomes of negotiations from European alliance negotiations between 1815 and 1945, Poast offers a typology of alliance treaty negotiations and establishes what conditions are most likely to stymie the attempt to formalize recognition of common national interests.


    258 pages
    9 b&w line drawings, 3 maps, 3 charts 3 Fig. 3 Tables
    security studies, diplomacy, NATO, war plans, Europe, WWI, WWII

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    Paul Poast is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is author of The Economics of War and co-author of Organizing Democracy. Follow him on Twitter @ProfPaulPoast.


    Douglas M. Gibler, University of Alabama, author of The Territorial Peace:

    "Paul Poast shows how the study of international alliances and international conflict more generally can benefit from understanding when states fail to agree on alliance. Poast's work is exemplary."

    Mark J.C. Crescenzi, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, author of Of Friends and Foes:

    "Arguing about Alliances makes an essential argument for the need to understand the context within which alliances are negotiated, and moves the literature forward."

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