Professor gives lecture on new book

Courtesy of Duquesne University | Mark Haas has been a professor at Duquesne University since 2003, teaching multiple courses.

Why do international ideological enemies sometimes overcome their differences and ally against shared threats? Why do such alliances fail? Duquesne University political science and international relations professor Mark Haas answers these questions in his newest book published by Cornell University Press, “Frenemies: When Ideological Enemies Ally.”

Throughout the book, Haas looks at different historical events, such as World War I, and explains why countries with different ideologies may become allies in big events.

“A lot of my research is on how ideologies shape international relations,” Haas said. “I looked at the main goals leaders were trying to establish in their states, the ideological distance between them and other countries and if the threat could have a major impact.”

On Wednesday, Haas gave a lecture open to students and faculty as a book launch. After giving a bit of background on his book, Haas opened the lecture for questions from fellow professors and then students to elaborate on his new work.

Clifford Bob, chair of the political science department started the lecture.

“It’s Dr. Haas’ night,” Bob said. “I love the title of the book. I helped him come up with one of his previous book titles over 20 years ago.”

Haas has had multiple books published before including “The Clash of Ideologies: Middle Eastern Politics and American Security” which was published in 2012 by Oxford University Press and “The Ideological Origins of Great Power Politics, 1789-1989” which was published in 2005 by Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

“These things aren’t done in a vacuum,” Haas said. “I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had from the department and from Dr. Bob.”

Haas said how he got the idea, which came from looking at how countries allied during certain times of conflict.

“I asked why we have this variation with leaders,” Haas said. “When you look at World War I and World War II, you see that during World War I, many countries allied against the rising power in Germany quickly. However, with World War II, you see that happen slowly.”

Haas then explained that shared material threats push these states together while ideological differences pull them apart. Haas gave the example of France and the Soviet Union, both of which saw Germany during World War II as the shared material threat, putting their ideological differences aside to fight the larger threat.

“Ideologies shouldn’t matter, just like they didn’t matter with Czar Russia. We should hold our nose and form an alliance because our physical security is at risk,” Haas said. “However, the alliance never happened because many in France voted against it.”

Haas emphasized asking questions and made sure students could understand everything he was trying to explain in the short time period.

“That’s one of the things about writing a book, language was everything,” Haas said. “I couldn’t tell you how many times I rewrote this trying to make it easier to understand.”

Haas also explained five different ways an alliance can go. Three of them increase barriers to alliances and two of them increase why ideological enemies may align, according to Haas.

Haas focused on the need the state has for alliances, titled Ideological Betrayals, which Haas’s wife named. Haas gives the example of Italy during the 1930s.

“Italy has an incentive to form an alliance with France because Germany is a title threat,” Haas said. “The problem is that Germany was also a fascist state. Italy and Germany shared a common enemy of communism. So they became allies instead of France and Italy.”

Haas’s book is intended to help others make political decisions when it comes to alliances. For example, George W. Bush assumed that Iraq and Al Qaeda were allies, when in actuality they would not be due to their ideological differences.

“If I had been in the room with Bush, I would have told him that Iraq and Al Qaeda would not form an alliance for many reasons, but mainly because Hussein did not like the Islamists.”

“Frenemies: When Ideological Enemies Ally” can be purchased from Cornell University Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble.