Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century / Edition 1

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Since the 16th century, balance of power politics have profoundly influenced international relations. But in recent years—with the sudden disappearance of the Soviet Union, growing power of the United States, and increasing prominence of international institutions—many scholars have argued that balance of power theory is losing its relevance. This book examines the current position and future of balance of power dynamics in international politics.

In this book, prominent scholars pay special attention to the theoretical and historical criticisms of balance of power theory while empirically assessing its validity at both global and regional levels. The volume also looks at systemic factors favoring or hindering a return to balance of power politics. It evaluates the challenges posed by subnational actors, such as terrorist groups, and weapons of mass destruction to international order. Further, it examines the relevance of balance of power axioms in selected regions: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This volume is an insightful revision of balance of power politics and poses challenging questions for researchers in international relations."—Journal of Peace Research

"This collection of studies written by leading experts in the field offers a careful, thorough, and very wide -anging assessment of balance-of-power theory in today's international politics. The caliber of the research is outstanding. It will be required reading for specialists and students alike."—Patrick Morgan, University of California, Irvine

"The book offers a wealth of analytical gems and fruitful avenues for future international relations scholarship....a valuable addition to the lliterature and worth examining for advanced international relations courses..."—Perspectives on Politics

Foreign Affairs
The balance of power is one of the oldest and most enduring concepts of international relations. In a world of powerful and threatening states, it is often the only dependable strategy. It is surprising, therefore, that since the end of the Cold War, the dynamics of power balancing have been all but absent: the great powers have not formed counterbalancing coalitions to guard against U.S. predominance and are unlikely to anytime soon. This book, which brings together leading international security experts to assess the current status of balance-of-power theory, confirms the peculiarity of today's international system. The authors do not settle the debate about why this is so-whether the cause is nuclear weapons, economic interdependence, democratic peace, or the relatively benign character of U.S. hegemony. Jack Levy argues that balance-of-power theory emerged to explain European dynamics but never claimed universal validity. Robert Ross argues that China is pursuing an indirect form of balancing through internal mobilization but may never be in a position to build a true anti-U.S. coalition. The editors conclude that states are pursuing an array of security strategies, including "soft balancing," in today's unipolar world. But the logic and stability of this new situation remain unclear.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804750172
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

T. V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations at McGill University. James J. Wirtz is Professor and Chairman of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. Michel Fortmann is Professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : the enduring axioms of balance of power theory and their contemporary relevance 1
1 What do great powers balance against and when? 29
2 Great powers in the post-cold war world : a power transition perspective 52
3 The political economy of balance of power theory 76
4 The war on terrorism and the balance of power : the paradoxes of American hegemony 103
5 The balance of power paradox 127
6 A world not in the balance : war, politics, and weapons of mass destruction 150
7 Europe hedges its security bets 179
8 Revisiting balance of power theory in Central Eurasia 214
9 The international system and regional balance in the Middle East 239
10 Bipolarity and balancing in East Asia 267
11 The South Asian security balance in a western dominant world 305
12 Regime type and regional security in Latin America : toward a "balance of identity" theory 334
Conclusions : balance of power at the turn of the new century 360
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