Note: This episode concludes the second season of the Social Science of War. We will be taking a short break to prepare a new season.

Optimists argue that alliances are a source of strength for American foreign policy, offering numerous benefits and providing significant advantage over competitors like China. Skeptics argue that the United States overpays and overextends itself in its alliances, and should instead take on fewer commitments and encourage its allies to bear more of the burden. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a more coercive approach to US alliances? What are best practices for US alliance management? How do these dynamics play out in the Indo-Pacific—a region of increasing importance to contemporary US foreign policy?

These questions are the focus of the final episode of Season 2 of the Social Science of War podcast. Dr. Alexandra Chinchilla is joined by three guests to examine US alliance politics in the Indo-Pacific.

Dr. Brian Blankenship is an assistant professor of political science at University of Miami. Brian has published widely on alliance politics and is the author of a recent book by Cornell University Press—The Burden-Sharing Dilemma: Coercive Diplomacy in US Alliance Politics—which will form the basis for our discussion today.

Dr. Nathan Finney is an Army officer and a strategist currently serving as a special assistant to the commander of US Indo-Pacific Command in the commander’s action group. Nate earned a PhD in history at Duke University. He has published widely, and most recently coedited and authored a book entitled Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics.

Mr. Chuck Casey is the special assistant to the president and CEO and manager, defense and aerospace at the US ASEAN Business Council. With twenty-four years of military service in aviation and international affairs, his experience ranges from fighter aircraft squadrons to embassy and headquarters assignments. As a military attaché at the US embassy in Hanoi from 2016 to 2020, Chuck represented national security interests, advising top officials on political-military affairs, war legacy challenges, and defense sales.

The Social Science of War podcast is produced by the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. Visit our website if you would like to be a student or teach in the department, or if you would like to connect with any of our instructors based on their expertise.

Kyle Atwell created the Social Science of War. Hosts on Season 2 of the podcast are Dr. Nakissa JahanbaniDr. Alexandra ChinchillaLieutenant Colonel Sean McKnight, and Major Gabriel Royal. Please reach out to the podcast team with any questions about this episode or the Social Science of War podcast in general.

The views expressed in this episode are those of the participants and do not reflect those the United States Military Academy, the US Army, or any agency of the US government.

Image credit: Chad J. McNeeley, DoD