How can trusting relationships be identified in international politics? The recent
wave of scholarship on trust in International Relations answers this question by looking for one or the combination of three indicators – the incidence of cooperation; discourses expressing trust; or the calculated acceptance of vulnerability. These methods are inadequate both theoretically and empirically. Distinguishing between the concepts of trust and confidence, we instead propose an approach that focuses on the actors’ hedging strategies. We argue that actors either declining to adopt or removing hedging strategies is a better indicator of a trusting relationship than the alternatives. We demonstrate the strength of our approach by showing how the existing approaches would suggest the US-Soviet relationship to be trusting when it was not so. In contrast, the US-Japanese alliance relationship allows us to show how we can
identify a developing trusting relationship.