Alignment despite Antagonism: The United States-Korea-Japan Security Triangle

By Victor D. Cha | Go to book overview

TWO
The Argument: Quasi Alliances

AN ANALYSIS OF the Japan-ROK relationship requires the development of a theory that can account for two weaker powers that share a common threat and common great-power protector but are afflicted by alliance hindrances (historical animosity). The quasi-alliance model aims to address the absence of an existing deductive theory for this. Quasi alliance is defined as the relationship between two states that remain unallied despite sharing a common ally. In order to understand the application of this concept to Japan-Korea relations, it is first necessary to assess briefly the literature on alliance theory.


Basic Elements

Alliances are a fundamental part of international relations. Under the self-help, anarchic conditions of the international system alliances serve as a means of attaining security through the deterring of aggressors, defending against attacks, or initiating offensive actions against others. 1 Three bodies of literature generally inform the study of this phenomenon: alliance formation, alliance management, and alliance effectiveness. 2 The first of these, alliance formation, addresses issues such as the determinants of alliances and their termination in times of peace, crisis, and war. 3 Studies on alliance management generally focus on the dynamics within an alliance, looking at issues such as burden-sharing, free-riding between parties, and the degree to which alliance security is a public good. 4 The last, alliance effectiveness, looks at the degree to which alliances affect the frequency of war and the preservation of peace. 5 As Liska described, despite these efforts, a common criticism of the literature on alliances is its lack of progress toward a general theory:

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