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Bandwagoning vs. Balancing Alliances in Regional Security Systems
Unformatted Document Text:  Licht 12 hierarchical system: minor states cede rule-making authority to hegemons, who in turn promise to provide protection. Hegemons benefit from the trust and partnership of a satisfied community, content with the status quo. Under such conditions, the rise of any one of the minor states to parity with the hegemon need not precipitate the devolution of the system into major war. Walt’s (1987) prediction that most powers will balance against any emerging threat will hold. Even if a dissatisfied state rises to a condition of parity with the dominant state, it will face not just that state, but all of the satisfied community. With little chance of winning a war against the entire community, and little chance of luring away enough of the dominant power’s allies to craft a comparable coalition such a challenger would be discouraged from initiating any international conflicts. 10 A system tending towards balancing dynamics, on the other hand, will create systems which fulfill the realist prophecy of anarchy and conflict. If the hegemon fails to foster bandwagon alliances with a sufficient number of minor states, the region will not evidence consistent acknowledgement of the hegemon and its rules. Minor states, reacting to the security threat posed by an uneven distribution of power, will join together in symmetric alliances in hopes of balancing against both the hegemon and other minor states in the region. Without the benefits of fulfilling asymmetric preferences and mitigating the security dilemma, these systems will exhibit tendencies towards unreliable alliances and frequent conflict. 11 H 3 : Conflict will be more likely in systems where balancing dynamics are frequent. 10 Kim (1986) redefines parity as the approximate equity of capability across coalitions. Strong bandwagoning tendencies would also be more peaceful if his hypothesis that equal coalitions trigger war is accurate; no revisionist state should be able to coax 50% of a satisfied community away from the hegemon. 11 This prediction is consistent with Vasquez’s (1993) argument that realpolitik strategy accounts for much of the conflict between great powers.

Authors: Licht, Amanda.
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Licht 12
hierarchical system: minor states cede rule-making authority to hegemons, who in turn
promise to provide protection. Hegemons benefit from the trust and partnership of a
satisfied community, content with the status quo. Under such conditions, the rise of any
one of the minor states to parity with the hegemon need not precipitate the devolution of
the system into major war. Walt’s (1987) prediction that most powers will balance
against any emerging threat will hold. Even if a dissatisfied state rises to a condition of
parity with the dominant state, it will face not just that state, but all of the satisfied
community. With little chance of winning a war against the entire community, and little
chance of luring away enough of the dominant power’s allies to craft a comparable
coalition such a challenger would be discouraged from initiating any international
conflicts.
A system tending towards balancing dynamics, on the other hand, will create
systems which fulfill the realist prophecy of anarchy and conflict. If the hegemon fails to
foster bandwagon alliances with a sufficient number of minor states, the region will not
evidence consistent acknowledgement of the hegemon and its rules. Minor states,
reacting to the security threat posed by an uneven distribution of power, will join together
in symmetric alliances in hopes of balancing against both the hegemon and other minor
states in the region. Without the benefits of fulfilling asymmetric preferences and
mitigating the security dilemma, these systems will exhibit tendencies towards unreliable
alliances and frequent conflict.
H
3
: Conflict will be more likely in systems where balancing dynamics are
frequent.
10
Kim (1986) redefines parity as the approximate equity of capability across coalitions. Strong
bandwagoning tendencies would also be more peaceful if his hypothesis that equal coalitions trigger war is
accurate; no revisionist state should be able to coax 50% of a satisfied community away from the hegemon.
11
This prediction is consistent with Vasquez’s (1993) argument that realpolitik strategy accounts for much
of the conflict between great powers.


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