Collective Avtion Problems in NATO


Collective action problems derive from interactions among actors pursuing the same goal to generate so-called collective goods such as collective defense. Yet, each actor involved faces simultaneously a high incentive to shirk on his own contribution to the common cause because he will benefit anyway if others produce these desired collective goods. In NATO European allies have been criticized for “free riding” on American collective goods production for a long time. This raises the question why NATO does not crumble from these irreconcilable conflicts. After all it consists of highly heterogenous member states.

This article answers this puzzle by demonstrating that NATO build up and adjusted many different institutions to address and ameliorate a wide range of collective action problems. These institutional adjustments and innovations therefore provide a very persuasive explanation why NATO still persists despite substantial collective action challenges.

This rather abstract explanation is illustrated by analyzing several illuminating examples such as burden sharing, NATO’s defense planning system, procedures to generate and activate national forces for NATO operations, and decisions for the first use of nuclear weapons.

Democracy and Autocracy

This article (German language only) guides teachers to lecture on democracy and autocracy. It identifies the key features of both concepts and compares them systematically.

The article also explains how democracies seek to solve the dilemma that government is a necessary evil. Only governments can provide some necessary services to societies. Yet, it should not become too powerful. State and society must balance each other.

Democracies turn into autocracies when formal institutions such as the separation of powers disappear or when the informal guardrails erode.

Moreover, inertness is a necessary feature of democracies often underappreciated. It helps protect the guardrails and optimizes problem solving.

Todays democracies expose two underlining long-term trends. First, political communication and action used to be channeled through formal organizations such as interest groups, churches, or political parties. Today, people prefer acting through informal channels in a flexible and more spontaneous manner. Second, in the past citizens mostly demonstrated political allegiance. Today they practice individualism by being politically assertive.

The Europeanization of Politics

This chapter seeks to demonstrate that EU politics deeply and directly affects the daily life of all its citizens. It creates both, opportunities and constraints for member state governments and people. They cannot be disentangled because the EU deeply penetrates domestic politics in member states. In essence, domestic politics cannot be understood without the inescapable context of EU politics. The EU effectively transformed its members. EU politics therefore raises two key puzzles that political scientists sought to reckon with. Why did Europeans integrate into the EU in the first place when its effects were so ambiguous? How did Europeans respond and sought to protect themselves against undesirable penetration, when the EU hit home? The answer to both questions will allow to discuss the question of how democratically legitimate EU politics can be.

The paper is published in the Aus der Forschung research notes series as no. 1/2023 in English language.

History of NATO-Expansion (Book Review)

Here is a German language review of the most comprehensive book on the history NATO expansion. The book is based on extensive archival research and analysis of all available sources. It shows that the West under US leadership changed its political promises to Russia that NATO will not extend one inch beyond the inner-German border. The promise has been turned into its opposite: NATO would not exclude one inch of territory from its expansion. Russia was considered too weak to prevent NATO expansion and was compensated for its security loss by economic and financial aid. The book review is available open access. It provides important historical context to the current war between Russia and Ukarine.

Why Nations Rise (Book Review)

This review of “Miller, Manjari Chatterjee (2021): Why Nations Rise. Narratives and the Path to Great Power“, shows that the rise of great powers in international relations ist not only caused by factors such as power resources that transition theory or rationalist and neo-realist theories propose but also by factors emphazised by constructivist theories – specifically narratives of ambition. These narratives in fact determine why some nations pursue great power status while others do not even though they posses the material factors neccessary.

The book review has been published in German language in Politische Vierteljahresschrift (vol. 63, no. 1, pp-137-139) and is available as open access.

The Ukraine Conflict

Interview with “Die Furche” (Austrian Weekly)

This Interview has been recorded on February 7, 2022 and is available as a podcast and in print in the weekly newspaper both in German language.

European Integration vs. Democracy?

European Integration vs. Democracy?

This brief analysis of the German Constitutional Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the European Central Bank’s bond purchaising programs concludes that the European Union is pulled into opposite directions of cohesion vs. democracy.

Reconfiguration of Neoliberalism

Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy under President Donald Trump

This article describes how the public’s huge discontent with neoliberal reforms led to the election of Donald Trump in 2016. These reforms originated in the 1970s and generated initial successes. The economy overcame the mounting problem of stagflation and the United States returned to economic growth. In addition, cultural change from materialism to post-material values initially supported the neoliberal reforms. However, these early successes proved to be overly expensive. The social inequality of society grew substantially. Broad sections of the American society were exposed to high risks against which they were not effectively protected. The financial crisis of 2008 revealed the full misery and led to heightened disillusionment, uncertainty, and broad discontent with neoliberalism.

Donald Trump promised his voters to eliminate these calamities. However, rather than initiating domestic reforms of neoliberalism he focused his plans on foreign affairs. He uses American structural powers in international affairs in order to reduce the societies’ exposure to risk and to alleviate the burden globalization allegedly put on the American people. This is in essence Trump’s reconfiguration of neoliberalism.

The article further shows that under existing conditions of high levels of interdependence international relations consist of irreconcilable conflicts among desirable foreign policy goals. Pursuing some goals of political priority must necessarily lead to some disadvantages in pursuing conflicting goals. The article uses the example of U.S. foreign policy to demonstrate that the willingness of a society to accept risks and/or to adjust to pressures deriving from international interdependence is the key domestic driving force for the making of foreign policy.

The article (available in German language only) can be downloaded here.

How Trump’s Personality shapes U.S. Foreign Policies

How Trump’s Personalty shapes U.S. Foreign Policies

This study is a brief excerpt from a larger conference paper on the domestic sources of U.S. foreign policy and hegemony. It shows how the personality of Donald Trump affects U.S. foreign policy and prevents international cooperation as well as possible successes.

Download the study here.