Alliance Norms and War
Point: How alliances are viewed legally within the international community can provide insight on why nations break alliances or honor them and how bound they feel by their treaties and how this relates to war. The conclusions of this study are that warfare is reduced when there is moderate flexibility in alliance structure and states believe that their alliance ties are binding.
Argument: Previous research has failed to take into account the norms by which the international community views alliances and how tightly they feel bound by them. When states are steeped in the international culture that views alliances as more tightly binding, they are more likely to honor their commitments. The authors take previous literature and add a variable that seeks to measure the sanctity with which states view alliances and shift the level of analysis to the systemic level of inquiry.
Findings: Their first findings indicate a weak relationship between binding alliance commitments and the reduction of interstate warfare. Their second model shows that binding alliance commitments are their strongest independent variable and binding alliance commitments were inversely related to war. The relationship takes the form of an inverted U, where either rigidly structured or extremely loose alliances were correlated with high levels of war.