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To Treaty or Not to Treaty


Ferrous

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The following is a follow-up on a previous blog entry, The Optimal Number of MDP's. After establishing that there is an optimal number of MDP's for each alliance at any given moment, we can now proceed to analyze as to what would make an MDP worthwhile.

Costs:

First, to recap, there are several costs that are associated with MDP's. The first and foremost is that a single alliance typically has more than one other treaty. For instance, the NPO has over 20 MDP's (or MDP variants). If one alliance signs an MDP with the NPO (primary level), that means they are also indirectly linked politically to all of those other MDP partners (secondary level), and thus to a tertiary level of MDP's, which, while not as influential, can still carry political baggage that can influence an alliance's decision. Some of these costs may go unrecognized as, "We only sign treaties because we like the alliance, not because of who their friends are" or other such rhetoric, but that does not negate the political baggage that is brought with another alliance. Ignoring such costs is simply naive.

The political baggage of association has a more important implicit cost. Technically speaking, we all have a chance to start a war. For most of us, that chance to start a war is very small, but as we combine together as a group, that chance to start a war will increase. To some extent, this chance to start a war can be diminished when joining in a larger group - people can help check misinformed decisions, and can convince individuals to act rationally. However, as the size of a group grows, the chances that someone, somewhere will do something stupid to incite a war increases. Therefore, as the number of MDP's grows, the chances that the alliance will become involved in a war also increases, although this possibility is increased primarily by means of being proxy to the issue.

To a lesser extent, there is also cost of maintaining the connection which can be also interpreted as an opportunity cost. In order to maintain a healthy partnership, there needs to be regular communication between the two parties. However, diplomatic leaders only have so much time during the day, and cannot possibly keep in contact with every potential ally in the Cyberverse, and must pick and choose who to talk to according to their own preferences. Some empirical evidence may be helpful for this claim: larger alliances typically have more treaties because they also have more manpower to maintain them (among other reasons). Smaller alliances have more difficulty maintaining multiple connections, so their ability to sign multiple treaties is diminished. Furthermore, since time spent on furthering development on one inter-alliance relationship is time lost on developing another, there is an implicit cost with the inability to talk to every alliance at once.

An additional cost is that the general memberships may simply not like each other. It is very rare (if an occurrence at all) that two alliances will maintain a relationship when their general memberships do not see eye-to-eye. More often than not, such situations will end with alliances moving in different political directions, leaving the possibility of a powerful relationship in the past.

Last but not least, there is a cost of association, which is related to the first cost of political baggage. Some alliances have a stigma attached to them, which can influence how other alliances look at you. For instance, there was a heavy stigma attached to the Nordreich because it was accused of attracting Neo-Nazis and other disreputable individuals. Should one alliance ally itself with the Nordreich, it may lose face with other alliances, further diminishing it's overall political influence.

Benefits:

The benefits of signing an MDP are much more clear. Two alliances of roughly equal strength can effectively double their military effectiveness, thereby helping safeguard their own interests. Therefore, if we have "N" number of alliances who decided to work in cohesion with each other on a military front, and every alliance "X" has roughly the same amount of military strength, then the total force of their military will be roughly equal to "NX". Of course, it needs to be noted that this force is not exactly equal to the sum of all of the alliance's military forces. An effective military needs to be effectively organized, and therefore military cohesion can become an issue if there are too many separate groups who are trying to achieve the same military goal.

There is a second major benefit, as seen primarily on the diplomatic front. If an average alliance "A" makes a political statement of some kind, it does not have nearly the same political weight as two average alliances "A" and "B" making the same statement. There is the influence that each alliance exercises by itself from its own political weight, but there is also a public recognition from another alliance (A to B, and B to A) that the statement is accepted. Therefore, from a political standpoint, a political partnership is often greater than the sum of its parts.

The Benefit of Blocs:

Blocs, when created properly, can help diminish or erase a lot of the costs that would come up from a single MDP. Blocs usually have three important advantages that are not usually present in a mass of otherwise unorganized MDPs. The first is that when it comes to political and military cohesion amongst many allies, there is usually at least a set of guidelines, either explicit in a document or implicit in a general attitude as to how to organize such cohesion. Often there is a central forum for organizing the bloc towards its specific goals, whether it be to win a war or to distance themselves from a particular alliance. Since all of the signatorees have access to such a forum, it diminishes the cost of maintaining lines of communication to each individual alliance, and organizing political and military efforts with each individual alliance.

Second, since most of the signatorees have similar political goals, they also have similar allies and enemies. Therefore, the aforementioned cost of political baggage is shared amongst all of the signatorees, and signing onto the bloc may not increase the political baggage at all, but simply disperse amongst the new allies.

Finally, it is likely that many of the signatorees have similar membership profiles - members that have similar political views, are comfortable with each other, and can effectively communicate with each other - so it is likely that all of the signatorees will be able to help maintain their relations almost by peer pressure. If an alliance was thinking of leaving a bloc, they would not receive pressure to stay (or leave) from one alliance, but likely from all of the alliances involved in the bloc.

Practical Applications:

When considering whether or not to treaty another alliance, we can break down the issues noted above into a set of questions for the consideration of the signee:

1. Is the alliance militarily reliable? Can they help us in a war?

2. Do we have the manpower to maintain this relationship?

3. If we have this relationship, will it weaken lines of communication elsewhere by spreading out our diplomatic resources?

4. How will it look for us to treaty this alliance? Will we lose favor with our allies, and will we lose credit with other alliances? Or will we at least remain neutral in their eyes?

5. Do we agree with their policies and political direction?

6. Who are their friends and enemies? Who are their friends and enemies?

7. What are the chances that we will be engaged in a war to help them out?

If one is successfully able to answer these questions, then one should be able to determine whether or not it is to one's alliance's benefit to sign the MDP. Gauging the cost/benefit of each answer depends on the value system that one's alliance has in place. However, it is important to take into consideration all of these points when evaluating a potential alliance partner.

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