Threats and Promises: The Pursuit of International Influence

Threats and Promises: The Pursuit of International Influence

by James W. Davis, Jr. James Davis
     
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

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.

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

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801877360
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
09/01/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
244
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Alexander George

A solid contribution from a talented young scholar who makes the first serious effort to explore the relevance of prospect theory for evaluating the role of threats and promises in the conduct of foreign policy and for combining them in a much-needed broader influence theory.

Marc Trachtenberg

An insightful, well-argued, and indeed elegant study of a neglected problem: the role of promises and assurances in international politics. The central idea is that when aggressive behavior is rooted in anxiety and not in greed, it might not make sense to deal with it through a strategy of deterrence—that indeed in such cases more flexible strategies might well be in order. A scholarly and provocative piece of work.

Marc Trachtenberg, University of Pennsylvania

Janice Gross Stein

Threats and Promises is a tightly argued and well-written dissection of the logic and praxis of promises as part of a broader strategy of influence. Davis develops a coherent set of propositions which is informed by the arguments of prospect theory. This analysis will be a central part of any further examination of strategies of influence.

Janice Gross Stein, University of Toronto

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.

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