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Democratic states and commitment in international relations

  • Kurt Taylor Gaubatz

Making credible commitments is a formidable problem for states in the anarchic international system. A long-standing view holds that this is particularly true for democratic states in which changeable public preferences make it difficult for leaders to sustain commitments over time. However, a number of important elements in the values and institutions that have characterized the liberal democratic states should enhance their ability to sustain international commitments. Indeed, an examination of the durability of international military alliances confirms that those between democratic states have endured longer than either alliances between nondemocracies or alliances between democracies and nondemocracies.

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International Organization
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