Domestic Signaling of Commitment Credibility: Military Recruitment and Alliance Formation
46 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 18, 2014
We provide a new perspective on how domestic factors shape the prospects for international cooperation. Internal arms, specifically conscription, signals a willingness and suitability to be a dependable ally. Possessing ineffective military forces inhibits a state's ability to assist prospective allies and renders a state less able to deter threats on its own. This exemplifies an instance where the tradeoff between arms and allies does not apply. Using new data on the military recruitment policies of states since 1816, we find that a adopting a conscription-based recruitment system in the previous 5 years makes a state more likely to form an alliance in the current year, even when accounting for a heightened threat environment. However, as the perception of conscription as the most effective way to generate military power faded when the United States switched to an all-volunteer military in the early 1970s, the effect faded as well.
Keywords: alliances, conscription, commitment credibility, international cooperation
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