Professor of Political Science
Director, War and Peace Studies, Center for International Studies
College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Patricia Weitsman's area of expertise lies in international relations, with an emphasis on international security and international relations theory. Her research focuses on alliances in peacetime and wartime. Her latest book, "Dangerous Alliances: Proponents of Peace, Weapons of War," argues that threats within alliances are highly consequential - it is not just common enemies outside the alliance that drive member state behavior or cohesion. Weitsman reveals that states frequently form alliances to keep peace among the allied countries, not simply to counter common enemies. Alliances are frequently forged to sustain peace; however, they may, in fact, increase the prospects of war.
Weitsman's most recent book, "Waging War: Alliances, Coalitions and Institutions of Interstate Violence," (forthcoming 2013) argues that alliances and coalitions are conduits through which states actualize power. Contemporary coalition warfare reveals that U.S. military might will be difficult to match by any other great power for some time to come. This has to do with the institutions of violence - not just the technology, capability and level of professionalism and training of the U.S. military, although these are essential ingredients of American hegemony as well.
Military alliances provide constituents and opportunities for states seeking to advance their interests around the globe. War, from the Western perspective, is not a solitary endeavor. Partnerships of all types serve as a foundation for the projection of power and the employment of force. These relationships among states provide the foundation upon which hegemony is built.
Institutions of interstate violence serve as ready mechanisms to employ force. They are not always well designed, do not always augment fighting effectiveness as they could and sometimes serve as drag on state capacity. Weitsman argues that certain institutional arrangements lubricate states' abilities to advance their agendas and prevail in wartime and some components of institutional arrangements undermine effectiveness, cohesion and increase costs to states. She analyzes the argument by examining the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
"When waged for the wrong reasons, coalition warfare is more costly and less effective than fighting alone," she says. "Coalition warfare requires a high degree of joint planning, consultation and cooperation. The presumption is that this loss of autonomy is more than compensated by having coalition partners provide additional troops on the ground and share the burden of fighting."
Weitsman led the creation of the interdisciplinary War and Peace Studies major, becoming the program's director in 2012. She is the co-author of "The Politics of Policy Making in Defense and Foreign Affairs," co-editor of "Towards a New Europe," and "Enforcing Cooperation." Her book, "Dangerous Alliances: Proponents of Peace, Weapons of War," was a finalist for several major book awards. She currently has a book on women and human security pending review, for which she served as co-editor.
Weitsman's Media Placements include:
Areas of Expertise