This chapter presents an overview of the book and discusses puzzles of Post-Cold War alliance politics and problems in the extant literature. The chapter introduces the readers to a market theory of military alliances, which treats alliances as contracts pledging a continuous exchange of goods, at least one of which is a military obligation but the others need not be. The model bases alliance politics in the demand for and supply of various goods – important examples include protection, military bases, and political and economic concessions. States and domestic actors participate in military alliances for various goals, and the common function of all alliances is to generate efficiency gains. With these assumptions, the theory explains how systemic polarity and domestic politics affect intra-alliance bargaining.
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