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Constructing International Security
Alliances, Deterrence, and Moral Hazard

$24.99 (P)

  • Date Published: October 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107658196

$ 24.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Constructing International Security helps policy makers and students recognize effective third-party strategies for balancing deterrence and restraint in security relationships. Brett V. Benson shows that there are systematic differences among types of security commitments. Understanding these commitments is key, because commitments, such as formal military alliances and extended deterrence threats, form the basis of international security order. Benson argues that sometimes the optimal commitment conditions military assistance on specific hostile actions the adversary might take. At other times, he finds, it is best to be ambiguous by leaving an ally and adversary uncertain about whether the third party will intervene. Such uncertainty transfers risk to the ally, thereby reducing the ally's motivation to behave too aggressively. The choice of security commitment depends on how well defenders can observe hostilities leading to war and on their evaluations of dispute settlements, their ally's security, and the relative strength of the defender.

    • A typology of alliance commitments to help us organize the way we study alliances
    • A new theory of the deterrence-vs.-restraint dilemma in alliance relationships along with supporting evidence based on actual alliance commitments categorized according to typology
    • A multi-method approach to the study of alliances and extended deterrence including formal theory, quantitative statistical analysis and qualitative case study analysis
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “In making alliance commitments to friendly but threatened states, how do states balance the need to credibly deter a potential aggressor while at the same time avoiding the moral hazard of encouraging risky behavior by the ally? When will a state opt for an ambiguous alliance commitment, and how does this strategic ambiguity affect the behaviors of the ally and the threatening state? Benson answers these questions by developing and testing a new theory of alliances and probabilistic commitment. Constructing International Security’s substantive importance, theoretical rigor, and empirical sophistication make it required reading for all conflict theorists.” – Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University

    “Moral hazard in military alliances has been neglected by scholars for the most part. Benson’s book is the definitive study to date of the problem of moral hazard in alliances. It is a major contribution that should be read by anyone interested in alliances and those more generally engaged with international security.” – James Morrow, University of Michigan

    “In Constructing International Security, Brett V. Benson summons strong evidence and convincing logic to uncover important relationships between the content of alliance agreements and incentives for war. This research substantially advances our understanding of the effect of moral hazard on alliance behavior and its links to military conflict. Scholars and policy makers alike will find important insights throughout the pages of this book.” –Kristopher W. Ramsay, Princeton University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107658196
    • length: 216 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.3kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Understanding the design of security commitments
    2. A typology of third-party commitments
    3. Time consistency and entrapment
    4. Evidence of moral hazard in military alliances
    5. A theory of commitment design
    6. Testing the implications for alliance design
    7. Deterrent commitments in East Asia
    8. Constructing security in today's world.

  • Author

    Brett V. Benson, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
    Brett V. Benson is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University. His research concentrates on alliances, deterrence, nuclear disarmament and international arms sales. He also studies Chinese politics and East Asia relations. His articles have been published in the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Peace Research, Security Studies and the Journal of East Asian Studies.

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