Coalition and Alliance War

Richard L. DiNardo

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Coalition and Alliance War

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Arguably coalition warfare is as old as civilization itself. The ancient Greek city-states combined to defend Greece against the Persian Empire, although the latter might also be construed as a collection of states acting under Persian auspices. The Peloponnesian War was fought between contending coalitions headed by Athens and Sparta, respectively. The China of Sun Tzu was made up of a collection of warring principalities, often caught up in a series of shifting alliances. Likewise, the Crusades could be considered to be a type of coalition warfare. For the purposes of this article, however, this bibliography will begin after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, when Europe was organized into recognizable nation-states. Thereafter, the history of international relations was marked by several countries combining efforts against another country aiming to attain regional or even world hegemony. Here it is worth noting that while the terms coalition and alliance might be used interchangeably, there are some rather nuanced differences between them. A coalition might be marked by being motivated by a goal shared by all of its members. An alliance might be described as a relationship between two or more countries, but each pursues its own interest more than a common goal. This would be the clearest way to define the difference between the Allies and the Axis in World War II. The nature of coalition warfare often skews the degree of attention given in studies of coalition or alliance warfare. For example, attention aimed at the Napoleonic Wars is often focused on the object against whom the coalition was directed, namely the French emperor. Although Louis XIV fought a series of wars against coalitions, most of the focus of studies written on the period is the Sun King and his army, exemplified by works such as Lynn 1999 (cited under the 17th Century). Often material on the coalition side can come in the form of biographies of leading commanders such as the Duke of Marlborough or the Duke of Wellington. This is especially true when it comes to the 17th or 18th centuries. The 20th century, in contrast, provides a much greater number of studies focused on coalition warfare, although, here again, more attention has been devoted to the Anglo-American side of the two world wars. While this article is by no means exhaustive, the hope is to provide the user with works that can serve as a starting point for further study on the subject.

Article.  4145 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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