Article

Alliances

Christopher Seely

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0045
Alliances

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Rulers and national leaders have used political alliances for many different reasons. Military alliances may serve as a deterrent against opponents because of the threat of multifront wars. Groups of nations have also come together to form multistate alliance networks during armed conflicts in order to counter perceived threats. Some famous examples of these networks include the Holy Alliance against Napoleon; the Triple Alliance and its rival, the Triple Entente, during World War I; and the Axis powers against the Grand Alliance during World War II. Alliances may also serve economic, political, or strategic interests. For example, many leaders have forged alliances in order to expand their empires through tribal networks and colonial patronage. Aside from their usefulness in both war and peacetime, alliances may also have negative aspects. An alliance can limit the diplomatic freedom of a country. Lesser powers may use their alliance as diplomatic leverage or as an excuse to act irresponsibly because of their guaranteed protection from more powerful allies. Great powers may also use their alliance to coerce or limit the actions of their less powerful allies.

Article.  6524 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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