Alliance politics

power to divideAccommodative wedge strategy, a form of divisive statecraft and diplomacy designed to isolate adversaries from allies and potential supporters through inducements, is a powerful tool in the international politics arsenal. In his new book, The Power to Divide: Wedge Strategies in Great Power Competition (Cornell University Press, 2021), Boston College Associate Professor of Political Science Timothy Crawford looks at eight cases of alliance diplomacy from 1915 to 1941 and assesses the record of countries that tried an accommodative wedge strategy, and why ultimately, they succeeded or failed. Crawford argues that a deeper historical and theoretical grasp of the role of these wedge strategies in alliance politics and grand strategy is important for consideration of contemporary U.S. relations with China and Russia. Crawford concludes his book with a survey of China’s potential to use such strategies to divide India from the U.S. and the United States’ potential to use them to forestall a China-Russia alliance. Crawford wrote about the wedge strategy logic of U.S.-Russian dialogue ahead of last month’s summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. For more from Crawford about his book, read this Q&A from Cornell University Press.

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