Course Hero-Balance of Power Paper

Course Hero-Balance of Power Paper - The Balance of Power...

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The Balance of Power and It's Importance for the Creation of a Prudent Foreign Policy Fundamental Concepts of Politics II Professor Kathleen Bailey March 22, 2007
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The Balance of Power Theory The balance of power theory has its origins in the Realist theory of Hans J. Morgenthau and is an attempt to understand how states conduct foreign policy. Classical Realism holds three basic assumptions that serve to explain why a balance of power exists in world politics. For one, Realists hold that the international system is anarchic; there is no global institution that has the power or authority to tell any state how to conduct its foreign policy. Secondly, Realists believe sovereign states are the principal players in the international system, not international or non-governmental institutions. Lastly, Realists consider that relations between states are based on the comparative level of power derived chiefly from their economic and military might. Given these three circumstances, the only way states can remain sovereign is by actively balancing the power of other states, hence a balance of power theory. The balance of power theory stems from the most central belief of Realism, the belief that all states are concerned first and foremost with the power of their individual nations. These states can choose to pursue a foreign policy that either preserves (status quo state) or increases (anti status quo state) their global power, but all seek to balance against the power of other states. Morgenthau himself defines this balance of power as "the aspiration for power on the part of several nations, each trying either to maintain or overthrow the status quo, that leads of necessity to configuration." 1 Realists believe that the balance of power is an "essential stabilizing factor in a society of sovereign nations" because it prevents any one nation from infringing totally on the rights of another. Because states are constantly balancing against each other, there 1 Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (McGraw-Hill, 1993), 183. 2
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is no fear that one may gain too much power and use this position to impose its will on the other less powerful states. Countries that are content with their position of power will pursue status quo policies and will be prepared to readily respond to the anti status quo behavior of another state if and only if that behavior is a threat to the states power. Countries who seek to gain more power and believe they have a successful chance at gaining it can adopt imperialist policies that seek to balance out or surpass the power of other states. Before beginning to explain how states balance against one another it is important to understand the two assumptions that are at the foundation of any balance 2 . For one, the elements to be balanced must be necessary for society or are entitled to exist. In the case of states, sovereignty gives all states the right to exist and govern in a way that is free from the control of other influences. Secondly, it is assumed that without a balance, one
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Course Hero-Balance of Power Paper - The Balance of Power...

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