Raymond C. Kuo, "Following the Leader: Alliance Design, Security Strategies, and Institutional Emulation" (Stanford UP, 2021)


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Nations have powerful incentives to ensure that their military alliances are well-structured. Successful military alliances set long-lasting foundations for global and regional order, while unsuccessful ones can perpetuate and widen conflict. In Following the Leader: International Order, Alliance Strategies, and Emulation (Stanford UP, 2021), Kuo argues that nations do not consistently construct contextually appropriate military alliances. Rather, they often ignore their own security interests and follow the dominant alliance strategy. The author uses case studies and advanced statistical analysis to evaluate the period between 1815 and 2003, finding that hegemons who emerge after each collapse of the international system set up core military partnerships to target their key enemies. Secondary and peripheral countries, instead of forging novel alliances of their own, emulate the template set by the hegemon, thereby demonstrating their need for credibility and status.

Dr. Raymond Kuo is an expert in international security and East Asia. He is currently a Political Scientist with the RAND Corporation. He has published two books this year: Following the Leader on military alliances and Contests of Initiative on China's maritime gray zone strategy. Dr. Kuo was a tenure-track professor at Fordham University and the University at Albany, SUNY. He previously worked for the United Nations, the National Democratic Institute, and the Democratic Progressive Party (Taiwan). He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Aditya Srinivasan assisted with this episode.

Lamis Abdelaaty is an assistant professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at labdelaa@syr.edu or tweet to @LAbdelaaty.

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