Power, Preferences, and Balancing: The Durability of Coalitions and the Expansion of Conflict

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Author: Scott Wolford
Date: Mar. 2014
From: International Studies Quarterly(Vol. 58, Issue 1)
Publisher: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 304 words

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Byline: Scott Wolford(1) Wolford, Scott. (2012) Power, Preferences, and Balancing: The Durability of Coalitions and the Expansion of Conflict. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/isqu.12036 
[c] 2012 International Studies Association Conflicts can expand when third parties perceive future threats from attackers, but how do they evaluate threats from coalitions rather than single states? Multilateral aggregations of power can generate fear in observers that coalitions may soon turn against them. Yet only some provoke opposition from observers, reducing their chances of success and expanding the conflict, while others do not. What accounts for this difference? I analyze a game-theoretic model of a third party's decision to intervene in an ongoing conflict and a coalition's decision to disband afterward, which is most likely when its preferences are diverse. When coalitions are powerful, an increasing diversity of foreign policy preferences reduces the probability that observer states balance against them, but when coalitions are weak, increasing diversity increases the probability of balancing. I find support for this conditional relationship between power, preferences, and balancing in a sample of 180 interstate crises from 1946 to 2000. Author Affiliation: (1)The University of Texas at Austin Article Note: Scott Wolford is Assistant Professor, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin. (*) Author's note: Data collection was supported by a Faculty Research Grant from the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence. A previous version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, April 12-15, 2012, Chicago, IL, USA. Thanks to Phil Arena, Terry Chapman, Moonhawk Kim, Dan Reiter, Toby Rider, Emily Ritter, audiences at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, the staff at Cafe Blossom, the editors of ISQ, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments, suggestions, and support. Finally, data and replication files will be available on ISQ's Web site.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A437160265