Takuya Matsuda is a Ph.D. candidate in War Studies at King’s College London. His research focuses on great power relations and alliance politics. He holds a MA from Johns Hopkins/SAIS in Washington DC and a BA in political science from Keio University in Tokyo Japan. His analysis on security affairs in the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East has appeared in policy-oriented outlets such as War on the Rocks, The Diplomat, The National Interest, Foreign Policy, The Asan Forum and the East-West Center’s Asia-Pacific Bulletin
Great Power Relations, Alliance Politics, International Relations Theory, the Indo-Pacific and American Grand Strategy
Great Power Strategies and Alliance Politics: Are Allies an Asset or a Burden for Great Powers in Power Shifts?
What explains variations in alliance strategies that great powers adopt in times of power shifts? Alliance politics are often caught in the middle in debates concerning the rise and fall of great powers. Hegemonic stability theorists view a great power’s alliance commitments as an expression of expansion. As a result, the cost of alliance commitments—including the risk of entanglement or entrapment—have often been a target of scrutinization in times of power shifts. On the other hand, empirically speaking, it is rather common for a great power in relative decline to seek new alliances or tighten alliance relations to realign their ends and means amid diminishing resources. The main objective of this dissertation is to wrestle with this puzzle by analyzing the mechanism how great powers adjust approaches to alliances during power shifts to maintain alignment by process-tracing two historical case studies. This project makes several scholarly and policy-relevant contributions by filling an oft-overlooked gap in our understanding of the role of alliances in great power relations that informs intellectual debates on American grand strategy and great power competition.
Dr. Walter Ladwig and Dr. Alessio Patalano