ANALYSIS PARALYSIS: THREAT PERCEPTION AND INCOHESION IN NATO, 1960 – 1980
Current international relations scholarship argues that increased threat perception results in increased alliance cohesion, but historical evidence demonstrates that alliances, when facing increasing threat, may experience a decrease in cohesion. Under what condition do these decreases in cohesion occur? This dissertation seeks to answer this puzzle by looking at a novel level of analysis and uses the alliance as an actor in examining incohesion. The dissertation argues that alliance cohesion only increases when the threat is perceived to be specific. In contrast, when the threat is only perceived to be general, the alliance undergoes analysis paralysis, resulting in losses of cohesion. This analysis paralysis occurs because the alliance’s threat perception is not homogeneous, i.e. alliance members interpret the general threat rises differently, and have different methods of response, leading to incohesion within the alliance. I demonstrate this argument through a multimethod research design, initially through the statistical analysis of three hundred twenty-five decisions NATO made between 1960 and 1980, using multivariate, binomial logistical, and multinomial logistical regressions, with statistically significant findings on four of the five proposed models. I then use process-tracing of a single case, the 1962-1963 incohesion over the sea-based MRBM nuclear force proposal, to examine the member-state level causal mechanism underpinning the alliance-level causal argument.