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“When Nondemocratic Allies are Preferable: Domestic Politics, Asymmetry, and Alliance Cooperation” by Yasuki Kudo

October 6, 2021 @ 8:00 am 5:00 pm UTC+9

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Author: Yasuki Kudo (Kentucky).

Abstract: Why do nondemocracies sometimes succeed in establishing long-lasting alliances? A large body of research suggests that democratic states are advantaged in making durable international commitments. However, there are numerous examples of nondemocracies maintaining long-standing alliances. This research attempts to provide an answer to these puzzling cases by arguing that nondemocratic institutions are useful for the maintenance of some alliance relationships. More specifically, it is argued that when alliances are formed between a military strong state and a weaker state, the alliance will last longer if the strong state is a democracy, and the weak state is a nondemocracy. This is because while the superior commitment ability of democratic systems helps stronger members reassure their partners’ security, nondemocratic systems characterized by unaccountability and flexibility increase the decision-making power of leaders in weaker members and thereby help them cede autonomy to their stronger partners. This argument is evaluated on a sample of dyadic alliance termination from 1816 to 2011. The empirical results show that the probability of alliance termination for such asymmetric mixed dyads is not statistically different from the probability of termination for asymmetric joint democratic dyads but significantly lower than other types of dyads. This research makes a contribution to the international relations literature by proposing conditions under which nondemocratic institutions facilitate interstate cooperation.

Discussants: TBD.

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