Multilateralism: America's Insurance Policy Against Loss

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European Journal Of International Relations


When the United States faces loss or defeat in war, it is often loath to negotiate, make concessions to its adversary, and cut its losses. But the presence of allies and international organizations in the US coalition can help to correct this bias against compromise through a combination of simple bargaining, complex bargaining, and political cover. The costs of multilateralism can be considered a premium that is paid when operations are successful, so that the United States has an insurance policy to minimize loss in times of failure. The article contributes to a number of major debates over the costs and benefits of multilateralism and the impact of less powerful allies and international organizations on US foreign policy.

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