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Issue Linkage and International Cooperation: An Empirical Evaluation.

By Paul Daniel Poast


Issue linkage - the simultaneous discussion of two or more issues for joint settlement - is a bargaining tactic used to increase the probability of of states reaching a negotiated agreement and to motivate states to commit to an agreement once it has been reached. Both theoretical claims regarding linkage are well known, but are they true? In other words, do issue linkages actually increase the probability of states reaching agreement and do issue linkages increase the likelihood that states will remain committed to their signed agreements? The reality is that, beyond some suggestive case studies and a few indirect statistical tests, there exists no direct and systematic evidence to support either claim. The overall goal of this dissertation is to empirically identify the effect of issue linkage, both on the probability of agreement formation and on the likelihood of commitment. To begin, I explore the ability of issue linkage to increase the probability of states reaching an agreement. I apply matching and a new technique for analyzing multilateral events to a new dataset of successful and failed alliance negotiations from 1815 to 1945. I find that from 1860 to 1945 offering to expand military alliance negotiations along an economic dimension increased the probability of agreement by 36 percentage points. Next, I use buffer states (states located between two recently warring rivals) to test whether issue linkages enhance treaty credibility. Buffer states are ideal for testing the ability of linkage to enhance treaty credibility because their high vulnerability to invasion and occupation makes other states reluctant to form and remain committed to an alliance agreement. I find that, compared to buffer states in other alliance arrangements, buffer states in alliances with trade provisions avoid occupation and invasion at a higher rate, are attacked by third parties at a lower rate, and experience fewer opportunistic violations of the alliance terms by their alliance partners. Thus, since linkage can help buffer states to form credible commitments, then linkage should be a useful tool in nearly any context

Topics: Alliances, Issue Linkage, International Relations
Year: 2011
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