Join us for a discussion with the author of the book Reliability and Alliance Interdependence: The United States and Its Allies in Asia, 1949–1969 (Cornell University Press, 2022).

In Reliability and Alliance Interdependence, Iain D. Henry argues for a more sophisticated approach to alliance politics and ideas of interdependence. It is often assumed that if the United States failed to defend an ally, then this disloyalty would instantly and irrevocably damage US alliances across the globe. Henry proposes that such damage is by no means inevitable and that predictions of disaster are dangerously simplistic. If other allies fear the risks of military escalation more than the consequences of the United States abandoning an ally, then they will welcome, encourage, and even praise such an instance of disloyalty. It is also often assumed that alliance interdependence only constrains US policy options, but Henry shows how the United States can manipulate interdependence to set an example of what constitutes acceptable allied behavior. Using declassified documents, Henry explores five case studies involving US alliances with South Korea, Japan, the Republic of China, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand.

Author: Iain D. Henry (Senior Lecturer: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University)

Discussant: Fiona Cunningham (Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania)

Speaker Profiles:

Iain D. Henry is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. His research interests include alliance theory and politics, Asian security, the Cold War in Asia, diplomatic history and Australian strategic policy. His first book is Reliability and Alliance Interdependence: The United States and Its Allies in Asia, 1949-1969, published by Cornell University Press (2022). His articles have been published in International Security, Contemporary Politics, and the Australian Journal of International Affairs. Iain completed his PhD and MA at the Australian National University, and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of New South Wales. In 2014 he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. A graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, he has previously worked for the Australian Army, the Australian Public Service, and Qantas Airways.

Fiona Cunningham is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests lie the intersection of technology and conflict, with a focus on China. Her research has appeared in academic and popular outlets including International Security, Security Studies, The Washington Quarterly and The Texas National Security Review. Fiona has held fellowships at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She conducted fieldwork in at the Renmin University of China, supported by a China Confucius Studies Program research fellowship. Her research has also been supported by the Plougshares Fund, U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, Stanton Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. Fiona holds nonresident affiliations with the MIT Security Studies Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Fiona received her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at MIT in 2018. She also holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney and Bachelor of Arts from UNSW, both with first class honors. Before commencing her PhD studies, she was a Research Associate in Nuclear Policy at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

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For more information, contact the GRADNAS (The Graduate Research and Development Network on Asian Security) Coordinator, Dr. Stuti Bhatnagar at

This event is the sixth in the GRADNAS Seminar series of 2023 that showcases the cutting-edge academic research on Asian security by GRADNAS members. It presents an exciting opportunity for research exchange involving the network, providing a regular occasion for GRADNAS scholars to share and receive feedback on their ongoing and published research. Join us as we celebrate and showcase the excellent research by GRADNAS members and friends. Visit our website here.


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Event details

Event date

Tue, 22 Aug 2023, 9:30 - 11am

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