Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Dana Johnson


alliances, Russia, China, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, balance-of-power, balance-of-threat, neorealism, United States, Great Powers, India, unipolarity, multipolarity

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


This thesis explores the various, predominately realist-centric theories on why states form military alliances. Taking a theoretical overview of balance-of-power and balance-of-threat theories, the thesis looks at their application for two major powers that have a checkered history with each other, Russia and China, and determines the reasons for a potential alliance between them. Additionally, since this proposed alliance has implications for the United States, an overview of American strategies to counteract the Russo-Sino alliance is necessary. The prospect of a Russo-Sino alliance has drastic repercussions for the international system, thus making the theories as to why states form or remove themselves from alliances pertinent. The situation currently in the system is unique as it is seen, in the thesis, as a unipolar system transiting to a multipolar system with a clear hegemon.


© James Peter MacHaffie

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