Worse than a Monolith: Alliance Politics and Problems of Coercive Diplomacy in Asia, Thomas J. Christensen

David C. Kang
Content Type
Journal Article
Political Science Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Spring 2012
Academy of Political Science
Thomas Christensen has written a superb book that will be of value to scholars of both international relations theory and East Asian security. Refining theories of alliances to explore when and under what conditions weakly coordinated alliances lead to miscalculation, and when and why tightly coordinated alliances might also lead to miscalculation, Christensen provides a number of insights into the complexities of international relations. Christensen argues that while it may seem that facing a united and coordinated set of enemies may appear to be dangerous, it may be just as dangerous to face a set of enemies that are uncoordinated and internally divided. This is because engaging in successful coercive diplomacy with divided enemies is more difficult. Furthermore, internal divisions can lead to mixed signals and contradictory diplomacy, both of which can increase the possibility for miscalculation.
Political Geography