Constructing Allied Cooperation
Diplomacy, Payments, and Power in Multilateral Military Coalitions
How do states overcome problems of collective action in the face of human atrocities, terrorism and the threat of weapons of mass destruction? How does international burden-sharing in this context look like: between the rich and the poor; the big and the small? These are the questions Marina E. Henke addresses in her new book Constructing Allied Cooperation. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis of 80 multilateral military coalitions, Henke demonstrates that coalitions do not emerge naturally. Rather, pivotal states deliberately build them. They develop operational plans and bargain suitable third parties into the coalition, purposefully using their bilateral and multilateral diplomatic connections—what Henke terms diplomatic embeddedness—as a resource. As Constructing Allied Cooperation shows, these ties constitute an invaluable state capability to engage others in collective action: they are tools to construct cooperation.
Pulling apart the strategy behind multilateral military coalition-building, Henke looks at the ramifications and side effects as well. As she notes, via these ties, pivotal states have access to private information on the deployment preferences of potential coalition participants. Moreover, they facilitate issue-linkages and side-payments and allow states to overcome problems of credible commitments. Finally, pivotal states can use common institutional contacts (IO officials) as cooperation brokers, and they can convert common institutional venues into fora for negotiating coalitions.
The theory and evidence presented by Henke force us to revisit the conventional wisdom on how cooperation in multilateral military operations comes about. The author generates new insights with respect to who is most likely to join a given multilateral intervention, what factors influence the strength and capacity of individual coalitions, and what diplomacy and diplomatic ties are good for. Moreover, as the Trump administration promotes an "America First" policy and withdraws from international agreements and the United Kingdom completes Brexit, Constructing Allied Cooperation is an important reminder that international security cannot be delinked from more mundane forms of cooperation; multilateral military coalitions thrive or fail depending on the breadth and depth of existing social and diplomatic networks.
Marina E. Henke
Marina E. Henke is Assistant Professor of International Relations and the Co-Chair of the War & Society Working Group at Northwestern University.