Perception of order as a source of alliance cohesion

Jae Jeok Park, Sang Bok Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The level of alliance cohesion is affected by the shift of attitudinal aspects (such as homogeneity in goals and threat perceptions) and behavioural aspects (such as strategic compatibility, command structure and defence burden-sharing) of alliance operation. In particular, a clear threat perception tends to make an alliance cohesive, as it suppresses (potential) disputes over the behavioural aspects of alliance operation. This article argues, however, that it is not sufficient to evaluate whether an alliance is cohesive or not only by looking at how these attitudinal and behavioural indicators have changed over time. If it were sufficient to do so, it would be supposed that the level of alliance cohesion would be bound to become lower with a change of government from conservative political forces to liberal ones in cases such as those of the US-ROK and the US-Japan alliances. We argue that the list of indicators for alliance cohesion should include not only attitudinal and behavioural aspects of alliance operation, but also functional aspects. While serving its primary purpose of responding to a specific threat, an alliance incurs an additional function of serving to maintain or to build a favourable regional order that is appreciated by both liberal and conservative governments. The interests in relation to order-building and order-maintenance motivate allies to invest for the alliance, often at their own political risk, even while they are engaged in contentious negotiations with the United States over attitudinal and behavioural aspects of alliance operations. Such investments can be considered as a different type of alliance burden sharing than has heretofore been given adequate attention. The investments indeed consolidate the alliance, paving the way for further upgrading of the alliance as conditions warrant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-168
Number of pages22
JournalPacific Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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