In This Review

The Origins Of Alliances
The Origins Of Alliances
By Stephen M. Walt
Cornell University Press, 1987, 322 pp

This rare combination of theory and practice will appeal most to specialists, but it contains useful insights for the making of policy as well. Looking at alliances in the Middle East between 1955 and 1979, Walt argues that nations are more likely to ally against strong states than to "bandwagon" by joining them. But the process is better conceived as a "balance of threat" than a balance of power. That perspective leads Walt to happy conclusions for American policy: since threats are being balanced, not power, the United States has been able to sustain alliances comprising three times more people and GNP than those of the Soviet Union.