Thus, the repeated attempts by King Louis XIV of France (reigned 1643–1715) to dominate continental Europe led to a coalition in opposition to France and eventually to the War of the Grand Alliance; and the ambitions ofNapoleon were similarly thwarted by a series of alliances formed against him.
• An alliance is a coalition of state that coordinate their
actions to accomplish some end. Most alliances are
formalized in written treaties, concern a common threat,
and are related to issues of international security , and
endure across a range or period of time.
• Short-term arrangements, such as the U.S led forces in
Iraq, may be called a coalition.
• Two countries may have a formal alliance and yet be
bitter enemies or two members may create practical
equivalent of an alliance without a treaty.
• Counter alliances are alliances that are formed by states
in reaction to already existing alliance.
• Walt's (1955) definition: "an alliance is a formal
or informal arrangement for security
cooperation between two or more sovereign
• Snyder's (1924-13) : "alliances ... are formal
associations of states for the use (or non-use) of
military force, intended for either the security of
their members, against specific other states..."
ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION
• In international relations, the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance,
signed in 1373 between the Kingdom of England(succeeded
by the United Kingdom) and Portugal, is the oldest alliance in
the world which is still in force.
• Some important alliances till dateHoly Alliance, coalition of Russia, Austria and Prussia created
Quadruple Alliance (disambiguation)
Triple Alliance (disambiguation)
Central powers and allies
Axis powers and Grand Alliance
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance
established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, agaist it
warsaw pact was formed.
• Alliances generally have the purpose of augmenting their
members’ power. By pooling their capabilities, two or more
states can exert greater leverage in their bargaining with other
• For smaller states, alliances can be their most important
power element and for great powers the structure of alliances
shapes the configuration of power in the system.
• Most alliances are formed as a response to a perceived threat.
When a state’s power clubbed with its allies grows and
threatens to overmatch that of its rivals, the other state form
counter alliances to limit that power.
• On average, bargaining power of lesser allies in asymmetric
alliances is strongest in a bipolar system, weaker in a
multipolar system, and weakest in a unipolar system.
ALLIANCES IN BIPOLAR
• A new level of alliance building in Europe was reached in
the late 19th century, when enmity between Germany
and France polarized Europe into two rival alliances. By
1910 most of the major states of Europe belonged to one
or the other of these great opposing alliances: the
Central Powers whose principal members were Germany
and Austria-Hungary, and the Allies, composed of France,
Russia, and Great Britain. This bipolar system had a
destabilizing effect, since conflict between any two
members of opposing blocs carried the threat of
general war. Eventually, a dispute between Russia and
Austria-Hungary in 1914 quickly drew their fellow bloc
members into the general conflict that became known
as World War I (1914–18).
• In 1949, the prospect of further Communist expansion
prompted the United States and 11 other Western
nations to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO). The Soviet Union and its affiliated Communist
nations in Eastern Europe founded a rival alliance, the
Warsaw Pact, in 1955. The alignment of nearly every
European nation into one of the two opposing camps
formalized the political division of the European
continent that had taken place since World War II (193945). This alignment provided the framework for the
military standoff that continued throughout the Cold War
ALLIANCES IN UNIPOLAR
• When the international system becomes unipolar, non great powers
increase their commitment to the existing and potential allies.
• The single great power reduces its commitment to the existing and
• Non great powers increase their commitment to the existing and
• the single great power removes restraining arrangements with its
allies (e.g. reduction of large military bases).
• In general, the unipole will enjoy greater freedom of action and be
less dependent on allied support, enabling it to rely more readily on
ad hoc “coalitions of the willing.”
• For eg- Because the single great power has a huge advantage in the
unipolar alliance it can raise the price or reduce the supply of its
ALLIANCES IN MULTIPOLAR
• Classical realist theorists, such as Hans Morgenthau and E. H.
Carr, hold that multipolar systems are more stable than
bipolar systems, as great powers can gain power through
• This system tends to have many shifting alliances until one of
two things happens. Either a balance of power is struck, and
neither side wants to attack the other; or one side will attack
the other because it either fears the potential of the new
alliance, or it feels that it can defeat the other side.
• Traditionally, Rulers and national leaders have used
political alliances for many different reasons . Military
alliances were made to serve as a deterrent against
opponents because of the threat of multifront wars.
Groups of nations have also come together to form
multistate alliance networks during armed conflicts in
order to counter perceived threats. Some famous
examples of these networks include the Holy Alliance
against Napoleon; the Triple Alliance and its rival, the
Triple Entente, during World War I; and the Axis powers
against the Grand Alliance during World War II.
• In contemporary world, alliances may also serve for economic,
political, or strategic interests
• that alliances function to reassure firms that their trading
relationships will remain safe into the future and that they
can count on cooperation between their governments to
ensure this. It also functions to increase maret and flourish
• For business purposes ,Airline alliance an agreement between
two or more airlines to cooperate on a substantial level. The
three largest passenger alliances are the Star
Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld.
• Colombia and the United States: A Successful Trade Alliance
• the Pacific Alliance
CONTRIBUTUION IN IR
• BALANCE OF POWERBalancing process helps to maintain the stability of relations
between states. A balance of power system functions most
effectively when alliances are fluid, when they are easily formed
or broken on the basis of expediency, regardless of values,
religion, history, or form of government. Alliances arise from
states’ attempts to maintain a balance of power with each other.
In a system composed of a number of medium-size countries,
such as that in Europe since the Middle Ages, no single state has
been able to establish a lasting hegemony over all the others,
largely because the other states join together in alliances against
it. Weakness invites attack, so countervailing power must be
used to deter potential aggressors.
• ALLIANCES AND SECURITY DILEMMA
The fluidity of alliances deepens the security dilemma.If there
were only two states, each could match capabilities to have
adequate defence but an ability to attack successfully. But if a
third state is free to ally with either side, then other state has to
build in adequate defences.
• ALLIANCES AND COLLECTIVE SECURITY
• An alliance is a collective security arrangement among states
in which all members of the alliance agree to not threaten
each other, to punish defectors from this agreement
whenever possible, and to threaten countries outside of the
alliance whenever it is in their individual interest to do so.
• POWER TRANSITION
The principle predictive power of the theory is in the likelihood
of war and the stability of alliances. War is most likely, of longest
duration, and greatest magnitude, when a challenger to the
dominant power enters into approximate parity with the
dominant state and is dissatisfied with the existing system.
Similarly, alliances are most stable when the parties to the
alliance are satisfied with the system structure.
Globalization and its impact on
nature of alliances
• Globalization which denotes widening, deepening and
speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness. It is evident in
all principal sectors of social interactions as
economic(worldwide trade,MNCs), Millitary(globals arms
trade and proliferation), legal(Int. laws),
Ecological(environmental probs), Social(migration) etc.
• States in order to fulfill its demand form alliances with other
states and make interactions accordingly in this globalised
world. Most alliances are made by looking upon the benefit
they would get.
• Global Strategic Alliances working partnerships between
companies (often more than two) across national boundaries
and increasingly across industries, sometimes formed
between company and a foreign government, or among
companies and governments.
• MNCs example
Alliances to treaties and
• Alliances may be formal or informal, they are typically
formalized by a treaty of alliance, the most critical clauses of
which are those that define the casus foederis, or the
circumstances under which the treaty obligates an ally to aid a
fellow member. Alliances of nations have traces to treaties.
• Treaties, international customs, and general principles are
stated as the three primary sources of International law; and
judicial decisions and scholarly writings are expressly
designated as the subsidiary sources of international law. All
these sources are affected by alliances between states.
Can increase capabilities of aggressive states
Provoke formation of counter-alliances
Must try to control behavior of allies
Today’s ally may be tomorrow’s enemy
Provoke fears of adversaries/parties
Entangle states in disputes of allies
Preserves existing rivalries
An alliance can limit the diplomatic freedom of a country.
Lesser powers may use their alliance as an excuse to act
irresponsibly because of their guaranteed protection from
more powerful allies.
• Great powers may also use their alliance to coerce or limit
the actions of their less powerful allies.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the Atlantic
Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the
North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949.
• U.S JAPANESE SECURITY TREATY
It is a bilateral alliance where the united states maintain nearly
50,000 troops in Japan and japan pays several billion dollars
annually to offset about half the cost of maintaining the troops.
The alliance was created in 1951 during the Korean war against
the potentials to japan.
• Pacific Alliance(economic)
• Alliance politics always impose costs and that
impediments to balancing are especially great in
unipolar system that emerged at the wake of
cold war. Alliances are not structural because
alliances are for less effective that states in
producing and deploying power internationally.
Distinction is to be made between distribution of
capabilities and alliances they form.
• John Baylis, Steve smith &Patricia Owens, THE
GLOBALIZATON OF WORLD POLITICS
• B.S Murthy, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND
• Gyanendra Singh, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
• Peu Ghosh, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
• Andrew G long, TRADING FOR SECURITY:
MILITARY ALLIANCES AND ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS
• Stephen M Walt, Alliances in Unipolar world