Pacts and Alliances: Why They Succeed, Why They Fail, and Why We Should Care

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Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies

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This conference brings together scholars and advanced graduate students to explore pacts and alliances, the mechanics of which have shaped history in fundamental ways, but whose presence has most often been ignored, taken for granted, and clearly understudied. Although sometimes pointing out reasons why a particular pact or alliance failed or succeeded in achieving its goals, historians largely have failed to say anything broader about the requisites necessary for the successful implementation of alliances. Drawing on both the nuanced work of historians and the structural expertise of social scientists, this conference aims to draw broad conclusions about the inner workings of this significant issue related to international security. Pacts and Alliances is organized around four fundamental but crucial questions. First, why do pacts and alliances generally fail in their aims? Second, what common denominators are shared by alliances and pacts that succeed in their objectives? Third, is it inevitable that pacts or alliances are destined to break down? And finally, what are the implications of these results on pact and alliance-making in the 21st century? The answers to these questions are critically important for the next generation of policy makers and international historians.


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pacts, alliances, history