Thomas Christensen and Jack Snyder, “Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity,” International Organization, vol. 44 (1990), pp. 137-168. General Argument: Chain-ganging and buck-passing are pathologies of alliance behavior that impede efficient balancing to prevent war. Neither can arise in bipolarity, because superpowers do not need to chain themselves since they are not dependent on anyone else for survival, nor do superpowers pass the buck, since smaller allies can’t possible confront the opposing superpower alone. These two pathologies arise in multi-polarity when there is misperception of the OD (Offense-defense) advantage. Misperception is crucial to causing war – if the OD balance were correctly perceived, the two types of corresponding alliance behavior do not lead to war. Thus, the ACTUAL OD balance matters as much as the PERCEIVED OD balance – war happens when there’s a mismatch between the two. ChainGanging BuckPassing DEFINITION EXPECTED WHEN CAUSED BY Unconditional alliance, hyperactive balancing: State A chains itself to state B, and though B is reckless, B’s survival is seen as indispensable to the security of the alliance as a whole Free-riding, failure to balance: State A passes the costs of sustaining the balance of power to other states in the system Offense is perceived to have advantage Systemic factors: -Polarity (multipolarity means states have relatively equal power) -Technology -Geography: Checkerboard Defense is perceived to have advantage Domestic factors: - civil-military relations - war exhaustion/learning theory EFFECT ON OUTBREAK OF WAR, Conditional on MISPERCEPTION Spiral into war – alliance dynamics magnify local disputes, conquest is seen as easy, so if you don’t defend or support an ally right away he’ll be conquered. Ex. WWI Deterrence failure, encourages aggressors to risk piecemeal aggression Ex. WWII Main Hypothesis: Patterns of civil-military relations + lessons from history Misperception of OD balance Alliance Choice War 1. Military autonomy AND/OR offensive lessons from history cult of the offensive chain ganging Spiral into War 2. Civilian control AND/OR Defensive lessons from history cult of the defensive buck passing Deterrence failure and War Empirics: (skip as necessary) (1) WWI: In Germany, Schlieffen and his successors greatly exaggerated France’s offensive power and somewhat exaggerated their own. Therefore Germany adopted a war plan ensuring that a limited war in Eastern Europe would immediately escalate to a decisive showdown involving all of Europe’s great powers. This plan also increased Germany’s dependence on Austria because German war plan put most of its divisions in the West, leaving Austria to face Russia in the East. France exaggerated the advantages of the attacker and thus concluded that a tight alliance with Russia was needed to offset the threat posed by Germany. Russia was needed to bog down German troops in the East. French military also had an ideology of the offensive and presumed that a decisive victory or defeat would be achieved with great speed on the Franco-German front. Russia also believed in the importance of the offense and of the need to quickly attach Germany. This was why they rushed to attack Germany leading to their defeat at Tannenberg. They assessed German offensive advantage and thought that France could be knocked out quickly if they did not come to French aid and then they would have had to face Germany alone. (2) WWII: Stalin thought that the French could put up a fight and therefore did not try to actively deter German threat. He thought that French defense would be able to hold off Germany sufficiently and was genuinely surprised when France fell so quickly. This bias explains why despite the fact that Russian strategic position was similar in 1914 and 1939, Russia rushed to war in 1914 and why they were so cautious in 1939. French position was in the middle. They lacked faith in defense so they were heavily dependent on GB. They were not confident enough in offense so were not willing to challenge Germany in 1938 since GB was not committed. GB trusted French defenses and thought that they did not have to actively deter Germany; they did not believe the Germans would try to go to war with France since they imagined the defensive balance to favor France. Thus, given a choice, states prefer to pass costs along to others, but when offensive advantages were believed to make states extremely vulnerable and wars short, buck passing was seen as too risky. Critiques: Theory: What does the work in explaining war – alliance behavior or the things that causes alliances, such as threat misperception or misperception of the OD-balance? Alliances don’t seem to have causal primacy. The authors want to explain outcomes by combining only Balance of Power theory and Security Dilemma theory, but invoke second and first image factors at will to explain what realists don’t. Yet it’s not clear when these non-systemic factors will matter, how much they will matter. So what good is this theory? Empirics: External validity issues – Causes of misperception, like lessons learned from history are NOT generalizable. Will an unrestrained military always cause cult of offensive? Will civilian control always lead to misperception? What won’t lead to misperception? Does this apply to any other wars? A theory of what causes misperception more generally needs to be formulated and tested. No such theory exists, thus no theory of foreign policy exists, and a history of two wars is not a rigorous test of a general theory. Where this fits in the literature: (1) The key is perception, so complements work on perception by Jervis and Van Evera. Also, it fits into the discussion on the OD-balance being a critical component of explanation. (2) Anarchy is a constant. Variation is primarily explained by Waltz’s polarity and the additional variable (from Jervis) of the perception of the OD balance. It is a way of explaining variation in a systemic theory where the system is a constant. This adds on to Waltz, who doesn’t predict what alliance decisions states will make in particular situations. (But of course they also problematically invoke other explanatory variables like ideology) (3) The other way this fits into the literature is that chain-ganging contributes to the spiral model and buck-passing to the deterrence failure debate.