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Careful Commitments: Democratic States and Alliance Design

Chiba, Daina and Johnson, Jesse C and Leeds, Brett Ashley (2015) 'Careful Commitments: Democratic States and Alliance Design.' The Journal of Politics, 77 (4). 968 - 982. ISSN 0022-3816

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Evidence suggests that leaders of democratic states experience high costs from violating past commitments. We argue that because democratic leaders foresee the costs of violation, they are careful to design agreements they expect to have a high probability of fulfilling. This may cause democratic leaders to prefer flexible or limited commitments. We evaluate our argument by analyzing the design of alliance treaties signed by countries of the world between 1815 and 2003. We find that alliances formed among democratic states are more likely to include obligations for future consultation rather than precommitting leaders to active conflict, and defense pacts formed among democratic states are more likely to specify limits to the conditions under which member states must join their partners in conflict. This research suggests that separating screening effects and constraining effects of international agreements is even more difficult than previously believed. States with the greatest likelihood of being constrained are more carefully screened.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: alliance; democracy; treaty; commitment; international agreement; international cooperation
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Daina Chiba
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2015 10:28
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2018 10:15

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