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The Logic and Dilemma of Alliance Restraint
Pages: 74-94+158
Year: Issue:  3
Journal: World Economics and Politics

Keyword:  alliance politicsalliance restraintstrategic assurancetactical pressure;
Abstract: When a powerful state attempts to restrain its smaller allies and partners from taking certain risky and provocative actions,the logic of power asymmetry suggests that success should be the rule.Yet small allies often defy their powerful patrons,which poses a significant puzzle for students of alliance politics and alliance management.The key to successful alliance restraint lies in an artful combination of strategic assurance and tactical pressure.Two recent cases of alliance restraint are examined to test the hypothesis.In the case of the U.S.restraint of Israel,the Obama administration successfully combined strategic assurance and tactical pressure to dissuade the latter from conducting a preventive strike against Iran’s nuclear program.On the other hand,in the case of the U.S.restraint of Georgia,the Bush administration’s unwavering support and uncritical attitude led to an unhealthy imbalance between strategic assurance and tactical pressure.With the Saakashivili government having attacked South Ossetia and drawn Russia into the war,the U.S.alliance restraint turned out to be a totally failure.
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