In This Review

Reluctant Warriors: Germany, Japan, and Their U.S. Alliance Dilemma
Reluctant Warriors: Germany, Japan, and Their U.S. Alliance Dilemma
By Alexandra Sakaki, Hanns W. Maull, Kerstin Lukner, Ellis S. Krauss, and Thomas U. Berger
314 pp, Brookings Institution Press, 2019

Germany and Japan have benefited from the U.S.-led postwar order, rising to the top of the developed world as what the authors of this book call “civilian great powers” within the U.S.-led alliance system. The United States, too, has been lucky to have Germany and Japan as stable and cooperative partners, anchoring its global leadership position in Europe and Asia. Since the end of the Cold War, both countries have moved closer to involvement in U.S. military interventions despite their postwar antimilitaristic legal and cultural norms. But as the authors cogently detail, these mutually beneficial ties have long been laced with frustrations. As early as the 1970s, Washington began criticizing Germany and Japan for free-riding and urging them to expand their defense spending and international military roles. The Trump administration now reiterates these demands, in blunter terms. The authors argue that Germany and Japan will continue to manage these tensions, inching just enough toward meeting U.S. demands to maintain ties. But that delicate balancing act will fall apart if the United States acts erratically and disrupts relations.