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Old November 14th, 2012, 08:41 PM   #1

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What determines a good alliance?


So, common enemies result in alliances, but those don't last after the enemy has been defeated, according to this paper. I agree with it, and it's also interesting to note that friends can turn into enemies over the spoils of war. So, what determines a good alliance?

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Once the conflict is over, solidarity in alliances goes out of the window

Anyone who competes or is at war should be careful when entering alliances. Above all this applies when there is booty to be shared afterwards.
November 13, 2012
It is not always wise to form an alliance while in a conflict or at war, especially when there is something to be shared afterward. Economists from the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance have now shown by game theory experiments that, as soon as the enemy is gone, in-group solidarity of alliances vanishes rapidly. Former brothers in arms fight even more vigorously over the spoils of a victory than strangers do. During the conflict, they expend together only half the effort of their enemy. Furthermore, when anticipating a future distributional conflict, they reduce their contribution even more.
Research | Research news | Once the conflict is over, solidarity in alliances goes out of the window
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Old November 14th, 2012, 09:06 PM   #2
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Common long term interests. (bit of a dodge bit if both partners share common aims, it's much easier to work together long term, than partners while allied actually have different long term agendas)

"nations don't have friends or enemies...nations only have interests" (I think quoting someone or other)
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Old November 14th, 2012, 09:06 PM   #3

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Good question. A shared feeling of sacrifice? Mutual understanding that collective security far outweighs, by far, petty squabbles? A give & take in the alliance?
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Old November 14th, 2012, 09:16 PM   #4

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First of all a general balance of power. If one ally is far more powerful than the other, it will become less of an alliance and more of a puppet show.

By far the most important factor however is a lack of competition between the allies.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 10:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake10 View Post
So, common enemies result in alliances, but those don't last after the enemy has been defeated, according to this paper. I agree with it, and it's also interesting to note that friends can turn into enemies over the spoils of war. So, what determines a good alliance?



Research | Research news | Once the conflict is over, solidarity in alliances goes out of the window
Couldn't agree any more with the wise but hardly surprising conclusion of the researchers above.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 10:44 PM   #6

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Originally Posted by Pacific_Victory View Post
First of all a general balance of power. If one ally is far more powerful than the other, it will become less of an alliance and more of a puppet show.

By far the most important factor however is a lack of competition between the allies.
I don't think this necessarily is so. Canada and the US are an indicator of why. If there is equal power then competition for the lead results. If, however, there is a clearly stronger power, then the weaker nation/unit feels safe under the stronger power's protection and does not seek to challenge. At the same time, the weaker nation has to have something to contribute to the alliance.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 10:49 PM   #7

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Originally Posted by Panthera tigris altaica View Post
Good question. A shared feeling of sacrifice? Mutual understanding that collective security far outweighs, by far, petty squabbles? A give & take in the alliance?
Does this come down to ideals?
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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:28 PM   #8

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It depends also on what you mean using the word "good".

If we think to the most lasting alliance still existing today, NATO, we can make some considerations.

* NATO is not a balanced alliance: US is more powerful than the rest of the alliance all together.

This generates something similar to the "big tree shadow effect". If in a sunny and hot flat land there is a big tree animals will tend to stay under it to protect themselves from the excessive sun and heat.

An unbalanced alliance tends to last longer than a balanced one: the little members have got all the interests to stay in and the "big one" usually wants to keep its sphere of influence.

* NATO little members have got no alternatives but US.

There has been some years ago the proposal to make an alliance between EU [economical power] and Russia [military power] as alternative to the monopole of power of NATO. But such an alliance would be equally unbalanced with the difference that at geopolitical level Russia today is not able to grant the "coverage" that US grant to NATO members. So we won't see a NATO country betraying US in the next future [it may happen that a NATO country uses curious motivations of internal politics to avoid to take part to a NATO international mission, but nothing else].

So, if with "good" we intend effective, efficient and lasting, the columns of NATO are

- unbalanced alliance with a main dominating power
- no alternatives to that dominating power.

But of course we can debate if NATO is a "good" or a "bad" alliance.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 02:08 AM   #9

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^I agree with you, Alpin. The world politics right now is dominated by the U.S. and because of that, the alliance is a pseudo one because there is no equality among the nations that cooperate under its umbrella.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 02:27 AM   #10

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Does this come down to ideals?
I don't honestly know if that is the case. What i was thinking was more of what i thought was a realist approach in the latter part of the 20th century. Sharing the burden equals comprehending the common goals, In a alliance system their unity is their strength or by the give and take, for example: shared knowledge (HUMINT, SIGNIT, tech, R&D, finances, easy access to national assets regarding resources. Lot's of these seem to be undervalued by the allied public even though it is a reality today. *Well, I am talking about what occurs with certain Nato countries here specifically the Anglophones.

*Correction

Last edited by Panthera tigris altaica; November 15th, 2012 at 02:49 AM.
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