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Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War [Paperback]

by Sarah E. Kreps

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Book Description

January 14, 2011 0199753806 978-0199753802 1
Why does the United States sometimes seek multilateral support for its military interventions? When does it instead sidestep international institutions and intervene unilaterally? In Coalitions of Convenience, a comprehensive study of US military interventions in the post-Cold War era, Sarah Kreps shows that contrary to conventional wisdom, even superpowers have strong incentives to intervene multilaterally: coalitions confer legitimacy and provide ways to share the costly burdens of war. Despite these advantages, multilateralism comes with costs: multilateral responses are often diplomatic battles of attrition in which reluctant allies hold out for side payments in exchange for their consent. A powerful state's willingness to work multilaterally, then, depends on its time horizons--how it values the future versus the present. States with long-term--those that do not face immediate threats--see multilateralism as a power-conserving strategy over time. States with shorter-term horizons will find the expediency of unilateralism more attractive. A systematic account of how multilateral coalitions function, Coalitions of Convenience also considers the broader effects of power on international institutions and what the rise of China may mean for international cooperation and conflict.

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Editorial Reviews


"When will countries seek allies for military intervention, and when will they go it alone? This is one of the most pressing security questions of today, and Coalitions of Convenience provides the best answer I've seen to date. Sarah Kreps' clear-eyed assessment of how the United States makes this decision evokes E.H. Carr in its supple analysis and graceful prose." --Daniel W. Drezner, Professor of International Politics, Tufts University, and author of All Politics is Global

"The striking variation in the United States' proclivity to act alone or in consort with other states has befuddled scholars and policymakers since the Cold War's end. In Coalitions of Convenience Sarah Kreps provides a rich and yet logically concise explanation, one that combines scholarly rigor with a feel for the realities of statecraft. This important book will shape the debate for years to come." --William C. Wohlforth, Professor of Government, Dartmouth College, and author of World Out of Balance

"This is an innovative study that adds a new dynamic to the field of international relations. it builds a bridge between scholarly approaches that tend to operate from either a realist/structural perspective or a liberal/normative approach... Coalitions of Convenience has a definite place in courses related to international conflict and intervention. It has the potential to transform the dated mindsets that see the world in black and white, neo-realist and liberal terms." --International Dialogue

About the Author

Sarah E. Kreps is an Assistant Professor of Government at Cornell University. She previously held fellowships at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, and the Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Between 1999 and 2003, Kreps served as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force.

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More About the Author

Sarah Kreps is an assistant professor in the Department of Government, an affiliate of the Einaudi Center for International Studies' Foreign Policy Initiative, and co-director of the Cornell Law School's International Law-International Relations colloquium. Her research focuses on issues of international security, particularly questions of conflict and cooperation, international law and institutions, alliance politics, and nuclear proliferation. Kreps received her B.A. from Harvard University, her MSc from Oxford, and her PhD from Georgetown University. Prior to graduate school, she served on active duty in the United States Air Force.

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