Does Chain-Ganging Cause The Outbreak Of War?

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International Studies Quarterly


Realists have argued that fears over the defection or defeat of an ally can draw states into wars against their broader interests (“chain-ganging”). However, the logic underpinning chain-ganging theory is flawed, and the paradigmatic case—World War I—is not an instance of chain-ganging causing the outbreak of war. The paper draws on recent literatures on alliance restraint and the origins of World War I to provide the first extensive critique of chain-ganging theory, examines the impact on chain-ganging of a number of factors including power and interests, and suggests policy implications for an emerging multipolar system.