Cohesion Deconstructed: Why Alliances Fail
Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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One of the most relevant alliances that has significantly influenced and shaped todays security environment is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO. Since 1949, the NATO alliance, which now includes 29 member states, has deterred, and contained Russian expansion into Europe. NATO achieved this military and political objective by maintaining a cohesive alliance. In order for NATO to continue to succeed in achieving this military and political objective, the Alliance needs to focus on maintaining political and military cohesion. Potential defection from the alliance by member states presents critical strategic and operational risk to international stability. In order to examine the relevance of cohesion within political-military alliances, the phenomenon of cohesion itself must be deconstructed. This monograph therefore does not assume military cohesion to be a mere sub-set of political cohesion but a unique, relevant element of alliances. Based on a theoretical framework inspired by George Liskas classic work on alliance formation and cohesion, this paper uses the methodological approach of structured, focused comparison. It adopts three hypotheses. It assumes that when alliances are politically cohesive, they will achieve their political goal. It secondly assumes that militarily cohesive alliances will achieve their military goal. Finally, it assumes that defection from an alliance will cause the alliance as a whole to fail. These hypotheses are the foundation for concrete questions that are applied to two historical case studies. Otto von Bismarcks alliance system post 1871 and the Axis Powers of World War 2 present very different and unique cases of alliances. The results of structured, focused comparison are then analyzed with regards towards their implications on NATO, in order to ultimately gain insight on what it takes for NATO to continue its successful record of deterrence.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics