Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2021

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Affairs

Department Chair or Program Director

Larus, Elizabeth

First Advisor

Davidson, Jason

Second Advisor

Larus, Elizabeth

Major or Concentration

International Affairs


Modern conflict is rarely fought bilaterally, instead many states share the burden of war. Multilateralism adds legitimacy to, and potentially reduces the cost of, the mission and so the major powers recruit its allies to fight wars with them. Conflict is costly for all states involved. As a result, the decision to join the effort is not simple. The smaller allies that major powers ask to join in must justify the cost of that conflict. Some states always fight alongside its major allies, others have more variability in its commitments. This paper aims to find the reasons why states, specifically secondary allies with a fear of abandonment, choose to burden share in these multilateral conflicts. The question is evaluated through case studies on Australian military participation in Vietnam, involvement in Iraq, and their current balancing efforts against China. I conclude that if a secondary ally highly values their alliance with a major power, then they will come to their aid unless public opinion is preventative. Public opinion will not be preventative if they recognize either a threat to national security or the importance of the major power ally. The United States must reassure allies that it is a highly valuable ally and its commitments are reliable if it wishes to maintain its relationship with secondary allies.