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July 17, 2010
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1 map, 11 figures, 6 tables
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The Limits of Alignment

Southeast Asia and the Great Powers since 1975

The Limits of Alignment is an engaging and accessible study that explores how small states and middle powers of Southeast Asia ensure their security in a world where they are overshadowed by greater powers. John D. Ciorciari challenges a central concept in international relations theory—that states respond to insecurity by either balancing against their principal foes, "bandwagoning" with them, or declaring themselves neutral. Instead, he shows that developing countries prefer limited alignments that steer between strict neutrality and formal alliances to obtain the fruits of security cooperation without the perils of undue dependency.

Ciorciari also shows how structural and normative shifts following the end of the Cold War and the advent of U.S. primacy have increased the prevalence of limited alignments in the developing world and that these can often place constraints on U.S. foreign policy. Finally, he discusses how limited alignments in the developing world may affect the future course of international security as China and other rising powers gather influence on the world stage.

About the Author

John D. Ciorciari is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He was previously a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Shorenstein Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Research Center, both at Stanford University.


"John Ciorciari's book challenges conventional wisdom about the alignment behavior of developing countries. Based on a systematic and superb analysis of the strategic behavior of ten Southeast Asian states since 1975, Ciorciari argues that most small and medium powers prefer 'limited alignments' with the great powers to balancing against, or bandwagoning with, them. This is an important contribution to international relations theory and Southeast Asian studies. "—Yuen Foong Khong, professor of international relations and John G. Winant University Lecturer, Nuffield College, Oxford University

"By empirically demonstrating the ubiquity of limited alignment by Southeast Asian states since 1975, John Ciorciari usefully redirects our attention toward complexly contingent engagement as normal behavior in international relations. His argument is timely too, in that it showcases responses to uncertainty—a prominent current and likely future condition of (in)security in world affairs."—Donald K. Emmerson, director, Southeast Asia Forum, Stanford University

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