To arm or to ally? The patron's dilemma and the strategic logic of arms transfers and alliances

Yarhi-Milo, K., Lanoszka, A. & Cooper, Z. (2016). To arm or to ally? The patron's dilemma and the strategic logic of arms transfers and alliances. International Security, 41(2), pp. 90-139. doi: 10.1162/ISEC_a_00250

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Abstract

How do great powers decide whether to provide arms to or form alliances with client states? This “patron's dilemma” revolves around a decision about how to best provide security to clients without becoming entrapped in unwanted conflicts. Strong commitments worsen the risk of entrapment, whereas weak commitments intensify fears of abandonment. This traditional alliance dilemma can be addressed through the provision of arms and alliances. Great power patrons primarily make such decisions on the basis of two factors: first, the extent to which the patron believes it and its client have common security interests; and second, whether the patron believes that its client has sufficient military capabilities to deter its main adversary without the patron's assistance. Patrons assess the degree of shared threat and the local balances of capabilities in determining whether to support their clients with arms, alliances, or both. As demonstrated in the U.S. provision of security goods to Taiwan and Israel during the Cold War, this strategic logic explains how great powers manage the patron's dilemma.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright MIT Press, 2016.
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of International Politics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/16232

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