Marina Henke on Constructing Allied Cooperation

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We asked author Marina E. Henke three questions about her new book Constructing Allied Cooperation: Diplomacy, Payments, and Power in Multilateral Military Coalitions, and her research on multilateral military coalition-building.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

I got the chance to interview over 150 decision-makers for my book: Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, Defense Ministers, UN ambassadors, and high-ranking military officers. I particularly enjoyed meeting John Howard, the former Prime Minister of Australia. Our conversation started with a focus in East Timor—my research topic. But once he had responded to all my questions, the conversations quickly expanded to a whole host of other issues including Australia’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Australia’s role in Asia, the US-Australian relationship, and how to win elections. I learned a lot and it was fascinating to sit up close with a man that has shaped Australian and world politics (for better or worse) to such a degree. I was able to engage in a real character study, which I greatly enjoyed.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

I wish I had known how valuable archival research would be for my research endeavor. I started out focusing on statistics and interviews and only discovered the immense treasure of archival documents four years into my research. Fortunately, it was not too late. My book now contains a myriad of interesting evidence, especially on the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars, that I have gathered from archival resources. The details of these documents cannot be matched by any other type of research method.

3. How do you wish you could change the field of International Studies?

Much research in international studies today focuses on establishing almost perfect causal inference. Many researchers thereby engage in a trade-off: they accept to focus on relatively small research questions that allow them to gather the best data possible. Much of this work involves experiments. There is merit in such type of work, but we still do need research that tries to address big picture phenomena. I try to do this in my work, which focuses on the question of how do states organize collective action in the face of human rights atrocities, genocide, and the threat of weapons of mass destruction. How does burden-sharing under these circumstances look like: between the rich and the poor; the big and the small?

Cover image of Constructing Allied Cooperation. Read more about this book.

Marina E. Henke is Assistant Professor of International Relations and the Co-Chair of the War & Society Working Group at Northwestern University.

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