My latest at the Diplomat evaluates some friction with offshore balancing:
Last week, James Holmes described the ongoing difficulties involved with establishing forward U.S. bases in the Philippines. Despite the evident threat that the PLAN poses to Philippine territory in the South China Sea, the process of balancing has moved slowly, largely because of domestic concerns in Manila about a military U.S. presence.
The lesson Dr. Holmes describes is that international threat, especially at incipient levels, does not automatically transform into the sort of domestic flexibility that offshore balancing demands. Friction, whether generated by organizational dynamics, concerns about sovereignty, or historical grievance, can slow the balancing machinery. It’s difficult to solve the problem of friction in alliance politics, especially if key procedures haven’t been worked out in advance. Yet, eliminating friction requires building relationships over the long term, usually involving the kind of commitments (at least implicit) that Offshore Balancers tend to resist.