Balance of Power and International Relations As a policy, balance of power suggests that states counter any threat to their security by allying with other threatened states and by increasing their own military capabilities. It is further assumed that the only truly effective and reliable antidote to power is power. The stability of a unipolar world. Balance of power theory in the world wars came from the multipolar world. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999. Does the evidence rather suggest that we should expect any states system to culminate in this way? Of course, realists have heard all this before.
Austria, Prussia and Russia agreed to divide Polish territory in such a way that the distribution of power among them would be approximately the same. Paul Kennedy traces the rise and decline of great powers. The weaker the state the more likely it is to bandwagon than to balance as they do little to affect the outcome and thus must choose the winning side. As one would expect of a theory that made its appearance in the mid-16th century, balance of power is not without its critics. World Politics, 51 1 , 144—172.
It simply requires that states, seeking to survive and thrive in a competitive, self-help realm, pursue their short-run interests; that is, states seek power and security, as they must in an anarchic order. Not in our day, but at no distant one, we may shake a rod over the heads of all, which may make the stoutest of them tremble. Power is one of the factors that affects the propensity to balance, although it is not the only one nor always the most important. A potential drawback of the strategy occurs if the buck-catcher fails to check the aggressor, as the buck-passer will be in a much more vulnerable situation. Realism and the Balance of Power: A New Debate. Resistance has in fact appeared and may be growing.
This balance-of-power principle, once formulated, became an of. Upto the first half of twentieth century, Balance of Power was regarded as being the only known modern device of international management of power. Under this system, and with Britain playing a balancer role, peace largely prevailed in Europe during the 19th century. The balance of power theory maintains that when one state or alliance increases its power or applies it more aggressively; threatened states will increase their own power in response, often by forming a counter-balancing coalition. Freedman foresaw that these European and Asian allies would press for a greater post—Cold War role in international affairs and, if Washington accommodated their expectations, all parties would benefit. According to assailant realists the main purpose of states is obtaining power so if balance of power breaks down, the possibility of war will increase. Indeed, it probably was itself responsible for starting more wars than it prevented.
The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848—1918. Alliances are established to create a balance in power or to increase power of those states that would normally not be perceived as a treat. He maintains that such actions will simply provoke counterbalancing behavior. During the past 400 years it was successful, at most of the times, in preserving peace. Most relevant for his theory are Chapters 1 and 4—6. Soft balancing is often based on a limited arms buildup, ad hoc cooperative exercises, or collaboration in regional or international institutions; these policies may be converted to open, hard-balancing strategies if and when security competition becomes intense and the powerful state becomes threatening. The necessary preponderance of power is unlikely to emerge from any international combination other than a permanent alliance of the United States, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the French Republic, with the addition of such Latin American states and such European democracies as may care to join.
In sum, this conclusion has directly implication on strategies available both to the United States and to its main competitors. Regarding the era 1848—1914, English diplomatic historian argued: Europe has known almost as much peace as war; and it has owed these periods of peace to the Balance of Power. The result is that a balance-of-power order, which may be viewed as a default system that arises spontaneously, in the absence or failure of concerted arrangements among all the units of the system to provide for their collective security, eventually emerges but is not accomplished as efficiently as it otherwise would have been. Instead, balancing behavior will work to maintain equilibrium or to restore a disrupted balance as long as the would-be hegemon is prevented from gaining preponderance by the combined strength of countervailing forces arrayed against it. Today the world is characterized by unprecedented unipolarity. Secondly, states reach an equilibrium because of this objective of self-preservation.
National Interest is its Basis: Balance of Power is a policy that can be adopted by any state. So we are brought back to a concept maligned in much of America's intellectual history—the balance of power. States, by trying to avoid the dominance of one particular state, will ally themselves with other states until an equilibrium is reached. How much of Europe what is Europe? The victorious allies imposed serious penalties on Germany who was in position to object. Yet this opposition did not stop the United States from acting, exposing the significant gap in military capability that now exists between the United States and the rest of the world. These Chinese states pursued power through a constantly shifting network of alliances.
Further, states must be more self-interested than group-interested. Others argue that whether or not states balance against threats is not primarily determined by systemic factors but rather by domestic political processes. For a balance-of-power system to operate effectively, alliance formation must be fluid and continuous. Secondary and tertiary states, however, are more likely to join threatening major powers. Balance of Power, theory and policy of international relations that asserts that the most effective check on the power of a state is the power of other states. He made his decisions based on how the traditionalist theory told him to solve them.