Academic journal article Military Review

Unipolarity and the Evolution of America's Cold War Alliances

Academic journal article Military Review

Unipolarity and the Evolution of America's Cold War Alliances

Article excerpt

UNIPOLARITY AND THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICA'S COLD WAR ALLIANCES, Nigel R. Thalakada, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2012, 198 pages, $85.00

THE EVOLUTION OF America's major Cold War alliances "evince a similar pattern of moving beyond the logic of balance of power to what is referred to as management of power" suggests Nigel Thalakada in Unipolarity and the Evolution of America's Cold War Alliances. The author utilizes case studies of U.S. alliance relationships with NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to develop a thesis that takes a "pan-alliance" perspective. Thalakada argues that the post-Cold War shift of American-led alliance objectives, from static territorial defense to the global projection of stability, is the outgrowth of America's unipolar military superiority.

In a multipolar or bipolar world, alliances take the shape of balance of power instruments, balancing against any perceived hegemonic nation or coalition. However, the rise of a unipolar power creates a management of power dynamic within standing alliances. The objectives of both the superpower and its allies evolve to reflect this shift in power, as unspecified global threats replace declared regional adversaries. Allies seek to maintain the "superpower's security guarantee in face of uncertainty," to leverage the "superpower's superior capabilities to achieve national security objectives," and attempt to influence the "superpower's exercise of power."

Concurrently, the superpower seeks to distribute the burden of maintaining international security, stifle the tendency to balance against it, and maintain its international leadership role. Such a dynamic encourages bandwagoning by allies who support superpower objectives rather than attempting to balance against it; in return seeking the political-military and economic benefits, which only the superpower can bestow. …

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