Threats and Promises: The Pursuit of International Influence

Overview

Conventional wisdom dictates that the conditions of international politics require states to pursue "tough" strategies based on threats, ruling out "soft" strategies such as reassurances or appeasement. In Threats and Promises, James W. Davis, Jr., works toward a theory of influence in international politics that recognizes the power of promises and assurances as tools of statecraft.

Davis offers an analytic treatment of promises and assurances, drawing on relevant strands of ...

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Overview

Conventional wisdom dictates that the conditions of international politics require states to pursue "tough" strategies based on threats, ruling out "soft" strategies such as reassurances or appeasement. In Threats and Promises, James W. Davis, Jr., works toward a theory of influence in international politics that recognizes the power of promises and assurances as tools of statecraft.

Davis offers an analytic treatment of promises and assurances, drawing on relevant strands of international relations theory and deterrence theory, as well as cognitive and social psychology. Building on prospect theory (from cognitive psychology), he develops a testable theory of influence that suggests promises are most effective when potential aggressors are motivated by a desire to avoid loss. Davis then considers a series of case studies drawn principally from German diplomatic relations in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. From the case studies—which focus on such issues as European stability, colonial competition, and the outbreak of the First World War—Davis shows how a blending of threats and promises according to reasoned principles can lead to a new system of more creative statecraft.

While many critical analyses exist on the use of threats, there are relatively few on the use of promises. Davis argues that promises have been central to outcomes that were previously attributed to the successful use of deterrent threats, as well as the resolution of many crises where threats failed to deter aggression. Threats and Promises challenges the conventional wisdom and is an original contribution to the field of international politics.

The Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Political Science Quarterly
James Davis's important and persuasive new book addresses the previously under-theorized issue of promises and assurances in international relations.

— Rose McDermott

American Political Science Review
Davis has written a perceptive and thought-provoking book.

— Joe Lepgold

Political Science Quarterly - Rose McDermott

James Davis's important and persuasive new book addresses the previously under-theorized issue of promises and assurances in international relations.

American Political Science Review - Joe Lepgold

Davis has written a perceptive and thought-provoking book.

Booknews
Works toward a theory of influence in international politics that recognizes the power of promises and assurances as tools of statecraft, drawing on relevant strands of international relations theory and deterrence theory, as well as cognitive and social psychology. Considers a series of case studies from German diplomatic relations in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, showing how a blending of threats and promises can lead to a new system of more creative statecraft. Davis teaches international politics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit<:a>t, Germany. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801862960
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

James W. Davis, Jr., is an associate professor of international politics at the Geschwister-Scholl-Institut of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany, and an Associate editor of the European Journal of International Relations.

The Johns Hopkins University Press

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