RUCARR Seminar with Dr. Igor Istomin

Limits of Commitment: Responses of Junior Allies to Hegemonic Entrapment

Dr. Igor Istomin, Associate Professor of Associate Professor, MGIMO University and Davis Senior Fellow, Harvard University, will give the presentation Limits of Commitment: Responses of Junior Allies to Hegemonic Entrapment at the RUCARR seminar on May 18, 3.15-5 pm (zoom, CET). Sign-up link

Abstract

 Entrapment represents an inevitable concern for states in alliances. Junior allies are especially exposed to the demands for support from a hegemonic patron on whose benevolence they rely. In this regard, the paper seeks to examine strategies that they use to avoid entrapment by a great power. It draws attention to the manipulation with the salience of their response as a source of leverage. The author argues that junior allies are more likely to pursue low-level evasion from pressure by their hegemonic patron than to demonstrate resolve through loud signaling. By capitalizing on the entry points into the decision-making of a great power, small states rely on quiet diplomacy rather than public statements to express their concerns. Only if they view a hegemonic patron as intransigent, they embarrass it with their high-profile defection. The paper poses these theoretical claims against empirical record in four cases, which include the refusal of several NATO Member States to support the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq in 2003, the opposition of Belarus to the Russian military base on its territory in 2015, the abstention of Israel from Western sanctions towards Moscow in 2014 and the lack of contribution by the CSTO Member States to the Russian operation in Syria in 2017. Within-case analysis on all four instances illuminates the causal logic connecting the salience of the response by small states to the intransigence of a hegemonic patron, while refuting several alternative explanations.

Short Bio

Igor Istomin is an Associate Professor, Department of Applied International Political Analysis, MGIMO University, and Senior Fellow, Davis Center, Harvard University. He holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from MGIMO as well as undergraduate degree from St. Petersburg State University. Igor Istomin teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in applied foreign policy analysis and international relations theory. He also delivered lectures and talks in several institutions, such as Columbia University, Fletcher School at Tufts University, Georgetown University, Harvard University (all U.S.) and Jilin University (China). Igor Istomin is an executive editor at the Mezhdunarodnye Protsessy (International Trends), a leading Russian academic journal.

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