The Concept Of Balance Of Power Politics Essay

When one state or alliance increases its power or apply it more aggressively, the balance of power theory is maintained. By forming a counter-balancing coalition, threatened states will increase their own power in response. The central concept in neorealist theory is Balance of power. Since Martin Wright said, the notion is notoriously full of chaos and confusion, it is difficult to provide exact definition to balance of power. The main difficulty prevails with the balance of power is that there are too many meanings associated with it. Nevertheless, the indispensable idea is very simple but when the principle is applied to the international relations, the concept of power means that with the help of shifting alliances and countervailing pressures, not a single power or mixture of powers will be allowed to become strong enough to threaten the security of the rest of the world according to Perkins and Palmer. In order to be more effective, identification and sensing of threats from the neighboring countries and rebels is an essential need for applying the balance of power effectively.

A balance of power can be formed by multiple states when alliances are fluid, for instance when they are formed easily or broken on the basis of practicality by not taking into consideration form of government, history, religion or values. Shifting its support to oppose whichever alliance or state is strongest, a single state occasionally plays the role of a balancer. In the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically in its relations with Germany, Russia and France, this role was played by Britain in Europe (Williams, Andrew 2004). By matching their increases in military capability, two states can balance against each other. Both the United States and the Soviet Union expanded their nuclear arsenals to balance against each other in the cold war. The complexity of measuring power is one weak point of the balance of power. From the size of its land mass, level of technology and population, the state’s power ultimately derives its power. Nevertheless, this potential power translates into military capability in a flawed manner. There is a dependence on such elements of luck, geography, morale and leadership with the effective use of military force. Throughout history in various regions of the world, there are found some historical examples of power balancing. For instance, through a constantly shifting network of alliances, these Chinese states pursued power (“China Superpower”, 2010).

(2) Evaluate how effective power balancing is, in practice, toward preserving peace.

Without the Soviet threat, the United States, as the dominant world power, would face difficulties in its relations with such states as the European powers and china and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world’s sole superpower (“The Globalist”: June 2, 2010). The ever changing nature of power, in the present-day international system further complicated the operation of the global balance of power. For the smaller states, the internet, Globalization, weapons of mass destruction and other developments of technology have made them acquire power in a significant manner. Even though, the balance of power is less applicable to conflicts involving other non state groups and terrorists, the balance of power may continue to operate among other states which are engaged in prolonged disputes in the future.

In the present study of international relations for the past five hundred years, the balance of power played a prime role in achieving power and peace and for the past five hundred years, the balance of power has been a central concept and practice of international relations. Liberalism also plays an important part here and it carries a legacy of international imprudence (Hume, David. 1752). The purpose of the balance of power is to put in place to explain the situation where states will ally themselves to prevent the domination of one state upon others and peace will obviously be preserved by effective balancing of power and by matching their increase in military capability, two states can balance against each other. (Shubhya pandey, 16th March, 2009). Early intervention will often be more cheaper and effective than late intervention, if security is now better procured than defended. Before they have the time to gain momentum and focus, the threats to security should be addressed.

References:

1. Williams, Andrew (2004). D-Day to Berlin. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0340833971

2. . “China Superpower” (PDF). http://www.casaasia.es/pdf/9200595422AM1127202862621.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-27

3. The Globalist – June 2, 2010 cite: “An Insecure Foothold for the United States; Russia is certainly still a superpower comparable only to the United States”

4. Hume, David. 1752/1963. “Of the Balance of Power,” Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 346-347.

5.Shubhya pandey (16th March, 2009) Balance of Power in International Relations, article Student Semester IV, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur

7. List and describe some of the major multilateral attempts at arms control and disarmament. How effective have these attempts been in the past? How effective are they likely to be in the future? Do you believe that agreements of this kind will play a significant role in stemming nuclear proliferation to rogue states and terrorists? Why or why not?

Arms control and disarmament are not the same. The objective of arms control is to limit weapons in certain selective and agreed methods with regard to certain aspects like transparency, lethality, range and quantity while the latter aims at the destruction of certain types of weapons capable of wreaking mass destruction. The entire globe sought to eliminate all types of weapons of mass destruction which are chemical arms, biological and nuclear and the use of multiple types of conventional weapons apart from their production and sale are sought to be controlled by the world after their bitter experience post the two world wars (“Conventional weapons,” 2004, p.36). The term general and complete disarmament means the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction or WMD along with the balanced reduction of conventional armaments and balanced reduction of armed forces which is based on the principle of undiminished security of the parties along with a purpose of promoting or improving stability at a lower military level after taking into account the requirement of all States to protect their security and achieve peace and stability (“Speech,” 2002). Besides being supported by an implementing institution, a regime is a multilateral arrangement governing either the elimination or control of certain weapons. On the prohibition of bacteriological weapons and poisonous gas to which Canada became a signatory on 6th May 1930, the inter-war period was also witness to the Geneva Protocol, 1925 (“Canadian Reference Guide to the United Nations. Ottawa,” 1994). Until April 1975, the protocol introduced by the United States was not endorsed by the Senate of United States. The General assembly of the United Nations called for the total elimination of atomic weapons and use the atomic energy for peaceful purposes and it was the foremost resolution passed by the General assembly of the United nations (“World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers” 1996).

But all these attempts were not full effective as some countries of the world are still continuing to produce weapons of mass destruction under the pretext of security reasons and have not been fully cooperative in destroying weapons of mass destruction completely. Treaties were signed seeking to eliminate and prevent the production of weapons of mass destruction which include the treaty of Non-proliferation of Nuclear weapons and the Biological weapons convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. In order to promote their WMD non proliferation goals which include the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Zangger committee, Wassenaar Arrangement (for dual-use goods and conventional arms), the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Hague Code of Conduct (for missiles) and the Australia Group (for chemical and biological weapons), some countries of the world have decided to establish various non-binding suppliers regimes.

How effective are they likely to be in the future?

In the future, these measures are not going to be effective unless universal application of multilateral disarmament treaties are promoted and its awareness is created for both the Government and its citizens, improving compliance with the commitments of treaty, improving transparency (Some countries fear that reporting of possessions of WMD might compromise on their diplomatic goals or security, strengthening verification by effectively implementing intrusive inspections, vigorous accounting methods and physical security and at the same time not compromising legitimate defence secrets. The development of a politically binding code of conduct was proposed by Netherlands in 2002 when it chaired the Missile Technology control Regime. For this purpose, several international meetings were organized by the European Union (“The Netherlands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,”ICOC – Background information, 2002). In spite of all these attempts, the lack of public understanding of the contribution of treaties to international security makes non-proliferation education and disarmament a compelling priority. There is a concentration of specialized knowledge only in a very few ministries or in some governments lack the knowledge altogether. Preoccupations with other pressing issues and conflicting priorities faced by many developing countries in areas like internal conflicts, environmental challenges, economic development, health needs and poverty have reduced the effectiveness of these treaties and control and still a long way is to go in order to implement the measures effectively.

Do you believe that agreements of this kind will play a significant role in stemming nuclear proliferation to rogue states and terrorists? Why or why not?

I do believe that Agreements and treaties arms control and disarmament will play a significant role in stemming nuclear proliferation to rogue states and terrorists only if cooperation prevails among the nations of the world and by maintaining good relations and key contributions are made by the parliaments which has the prime major responsibilities for enacting implementing legislation under the relevant disarmament and arms control treaties apart from the effective role played by the United Nations as they face multiple challenges with regard to the promotion of is armament .

Unless collective efforts are put forth by all the nations of the world, any treaty or measures of arms control will not work and remain a challenge and problem forever to be faced by all the countries over the globe.

References:

1. Conventional weapons” are weapons that are not WMD; see UNIDIR 2004, p. 36.

2. The Netherlands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “ICOC – Background information,” http://www.minbuza.nl, 2002.

3. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Canadian Reference Guide to the United Nations. Ottawa, 1994.

4. U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1996. Washington, 1997.

8. International relations theorists disagree about the propensity for states to balance versus bandwagon. On the one hand, some theorists claim that states form counter-alliances against the powerful to prevent any one state from achieving hegemony over everyone else. On the other hand, a second group of theorists claim that states tend to gravitate toward the powerful, joining the strongest rather than participating in a blocking coalition. Which claim do you believe is best supported by the historical evidence? Explain your answer.

Striking an alliance with powerful nations to fulfill the concerns of security was followed by many countries since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO which is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4th April 1949((“The official Emblem of NATO,”2008). A system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence to an attack by any external party is constituted by the organization.

Even though some theorists claim that states form counter alliances against the powerful to prevent any one state from achieving control over everyone else, the story has always been on the other side. The countries of the world normal strike alliances with the powerful countries for their own security reasons. For example, Israel always lean on the United States for its support instead of maintaining cordial relations with its neighbours.

Even during the gulf war many European nations like the United Kingdom, France and Italy joined hands with the United states in waging war in the Persian gulf against Iraq which did not get any support even from its own neighboring countries.

The second group of theorists who claim that states have a tendency to gravitate towards the powerful joining the stronger rather than participating in a blocking coalition and this claim is valid as a lot of historical data is available to support this kind of theory. For instance even during the post world war time, in 1954, South Korea formed an alliance with the United States of America and South Korea signed the ROK/U.S Mutual Security Agreement in which they agreed to defend each other in the event of aggression by outside nations (Manwoo Lee,1988,pp. 35-36).

Even during the war waged in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks on United States, Pakistan supported United States because of security concerns. The major reason why most of the nations of the world depend on the United States is that in recent years it has been the most formidable military power in recent years and its spending levels is the principle determinant of world military spending and recent increases are connected to the so-called war on Terror and the Afghanistan and the Iraq invasions. Japan struck an alliance with the United States of America because it feels that its presence in the western pacific is very much important to the region’s peace and stability (Jusuf Wanandi, 1997).

Rather than adopting leniency and initiating collective efforts to prevent the disaster of war in the gulf, numerous countries were on the side of the United States in its war against Iraq including Saudi Arabia. Many countries like the United Kingdom and France even went to the extent of spending huge sums of money for the military operations in the gulf. Many countries in the Southeast Asia feel that the transformation of Southeast Asia as a region of stability could not have been achieved in such a quick manner without the help of the United States (“Straits Times,”1997).

Therefore the second claim of the theorists who stated that the states tend to gravitate toward the powerful, joining the strongest rather than participating in a blocking coalition were right in their perspective.

Reference:

1. The official Emblem of NATO”. NATO. http://www.nato.int/multi/natologo.htm. Retrieved 20 February 2008

2. Manwoo Lee, et.al. Alliance under Tension: the Evolution of South Korean-U.S. Relations (Boulder, Co.: West view Press, 1988), pp. 35-36.

3. Jusuf Wanandi, “Time for Japan to rethink its regional and global role,” Straits Times, 27 August 1997

4. Straits Times, 20 November 1997.

9. Assess the concepts of direct opposition and competition as described in the textbook. Do you believe that instances of either competition (which seems to approximate the situation leading up to both World Wars I and II) or direct opposition (which the textbook applies to the Cold War) are more preferable in terms of ensuring international stability? Are they equally useful (or useless) toward achieving this end? Do you believe that the future of world politics will be characterized more by competition of some kind (as suggested in the textbook) or by a renewed form of direct opposition (potentially between the United States and China)? Given your earlier arguments, what ramifications might this have for international stability? Support your arguments with evidence.

Assess the concepts of direct opposition and competition as described in the textbook. Do you believe that instances of either competition (which seems to approximate the situation leading up to both World Wars I and II) or direct opposition (which the textbook applies to the Cold War) are more preferable in terms of ensuring international stability?

The relationship that developed first and foremost between the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet socialist Republic (USSR) was given the name cold war because the two was always at loggerheads with regard to the domination of international affairs (“The origins of the Cold War,” 2004). The term was used to describe their relationship from 1945 to 1980. They fought for their beliefs using client states who were fighting for their beliefs on their behalf because these two superpowers did not trust each other.

Since times immemorial, the competitive rivalry among nations is largely attributed to the uneven distribution of resources across the world to a great extent. Nations have been working hard to control resources and not merely to develop their geographical extent of colonialism from the age of exploration to the two world wars and from the Middle East to the west. For the purpose of determining a nation’s strategic direction apart from helping the nation outperform its rival through gaining the competitive, geopolitics highlights about the spatial analysis in terms of social sciences, politics and geography. Due to healthy competition among the nations of the world, the importance of world resources have been highlighted by Mackinder’s Heartland Theory in the year 1904 (“The Geographical Journal,” 2004). Huge concentration is made on the co-existence of nations through their mutual economic interdependence by the modern geopolitics even though it does not necessarily talk about power shifts. Healthy competitions therefore make the nations to realize their potential and awareness about their resources and this in one way can be utilized to maintain cordial relationship with other countries by helping the other countries by mutual exchange of resources.

Are they equally useful (or useless) toward achieving this end?

The outcomes or effects of competition of some kind will be favorable for international stability. This is supported by the fact that a favorable environment has been created for export diversification and competitiveness in sub-Saharan Africa and many African countries concentrated on getting the essentials economic management in the right way (Borner, S., Brunetti, A. and Weder, B., 1995). In order to reduce their debt and controlling inflation and putting in place sustainable fiscal policies, they worked together. All these happened due to the healthy competition which prevailed among these nations and fostered a good relationship between them (Sachs, J. and Warner, A., 1996).

Do you believe that the future of world politics will be characterized more by competition of some kind (as suggested in the textbook) or by a renewed form of direct opposition (potentially between the United States and China)?

I do therefore believe that the world of future politics will be characterized more by competition of some kind in comparison to a renewed form of direct opposition because in a direct opposition healthy competition can never take place. For instance when it comes to China and the United States of America, China always opposed the United States power politics, hegemonism and unipolar strategy and vice versa even though both of them have relatively mature ideas, tactics, policies and strategies on the global configuration of international order and power (Peter Grier and James N. Thurnman, 1999). On the other hand, if these two countries nurture a healthy competition and foster good relationship, it will be beneficial for them apart from the rest of the world. Majority of the other countries of the world also favour this.

Given your earlier arguments, what ramifications might this have for international stability? Support your arguments with evidence.

Right from the historical periods, economic inequalities have existed in a wide range of societies and the negative phenomenon arising out of economic inequality can be removed only with a healthy competition between the nations of the world. Healthy competition may also pave the way for the trade liberalization which will shift economic inequality from a global to a domestic scale where low skilled workers in poorer countries will see higher wages. Therefore international stability can be achieved globally by healthy competitions among the nations. International trade is promoted and significant benefits arise out of this. In concurrence with comparative advantage, it allows numerous countries to specialize. Considerable gains of efficiency may arise out of this. Severe competition takes place only out of trade which breaks down institutional impediments to change and promotes innovation. The advantages of the utilization of increased returns to scale is further provided by trade. All these facts were realized by many countries of the world after the post war era. Under the sponsorship of the GATT (General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade), numerous tariffs relating to international trade was introduced after several rounds of negotiations and it lead to successful trade liberalization in the developed nations (Jacob Kol and L.B.M. Mennes, 1990).