The Shadow of the Past

The Shadow of the Past

by Gregory D. Miller
     
 

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In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability—confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises—in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of

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Overview

In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability—confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises—in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of credibility—a state's reputation for following through on its threats—Miller finds that reliable states have much greater freedom in forming alliances than those that invest resources in building military force but then use it inconsistently.

To explore the formation and maintenance of alliances based on reputation, Miller draws on insights from both political science and business theory to track the evolution of great power relations before the First World War. He starts with the British decision to abandon "splendid isolation" in 1900 and examines three crises—the First Moroccan Crisis (1905–6), the Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis (1908–9), and the Agadir Crisis (1911)—leading up to the war. He determines that states with a reputation for being a reliable ally have an easier time finding other reliable allies, and have greater autonomy within their alliances, than do states with a reputation for unreliability. Further, a history of reliability carries long-term benefits, as states tend not to lose allies even when their reputation declines.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Shadow of the Past is one of the best books on reputations and alliance behavior to come out over the last ten to fifteen years. Gregory D. Miller convincingly shows that a state's reputation for reliability strongly affects its ability to build and sustain effective alliances. In an era when many doubt the need for continued U.S. commitments to overseas alliances, the implications of this book are clearly profound."—Dale C. Copeland, University of Virginia

"The Shadow of the Past is a very original book that deals with a central concept in International Relations. Using excellent historical evidence from several past crises, Gregory D. Miller demonstrates that leader concerns with state reputations are justified. Reputations for reliability allow leaders greater discretion in signing and servicing their alliances, making it easier to build coalitions in times of need. This is an important book for anyone interested in international relations theory or international conflict."—Douglas M. Gibler, author of The Territorial Peace: Borders, State Development, and International Conflict

"Gregory D. Miller's book advances our understanding of how a state’s reputation influences interactions with other states by testing novel hypotheses with in-depth case studies. This work also greatly contributes to our understanding of how alliances are formed and change over time due to a state’s reputation."—Brian H. Lai, University of Iowa

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801450310
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
01/05/2012
Series:
Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Gregory D. Miller has taught courses in international relations and terrorism at the College of William & Mary and the University of Oklahoma and served as director of the Summer Workshop on Teaching about Terrorism. He currently teaches at Oklahoma State University.

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