Реферат: The Balance Of Power Theory Essay Research

The Balance Of Power Theory Essay, Research Paper

The Balance of Power Theory

The most critical and obvious feature of international affairs is its

state of anarchy. The international stage features many indepent actors each

seeking their own best interest and security. With no sovereign body to govern

over these actors it would seem that the system would never be capable of

attaining any control. However this is not the reality of the system, we have

seen in history that it is possible to restrain the players. It is said to be

as a result of the concept of the Balance Of Power, which dictates the actions

of states and provides a basis of control that states use when dealing with each


This essay is aimed at investigating the concept of the balance of power

and will in turn discuss the following points. The use of the B.O.P. concept

to explain the behaviour of states. The ideal behaviour of states in the B.O.P.

system and the problems of B.O.P. analysis.

The concept of the B.O.P. can be a useful tool in explaining the behaviour

of states. Mostly because it is founded on the theory that all states act to

preserve thier own self interest. If they are to do this they must prevent

domination by any other state, which leads to the assumption that they must

build up power and form alliances. Throughout history we can see the B.O.P.

concept in action. The clearest example of the B.O.P. concept can be found in

the Cold War. In the Cold War the two superpowers the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

held a stable world balance between them. Both states sought to deter

domination by the other through a build up of arms and through the creation of

strong alliance systems. Under the B.O.P. theory the logic of the Cold War

stratagies and alliances seems apparent, with the best method of security being


In an ideal system of B.O.P. all states would 1. act in relatively the

same fashion and 2. would make decisions as individual structures. However it

can be seen that in the real world the system is composed of of various types of

states. States can vary in their types of regimes and in their level of

internal stability. States goals vary depending on these factors and hence all

states will not make similar decisions as the B.O.P. theory would suggest. In

assuming that states make decision as individual, rational actors the theory

neglects the fact that though most states are run by an autonomous executive

there are also many other complex bodies involved in a states decision making.

When we veiw the individual members of these decision-making bodies we see many

different motives, hence when a decision is made it may not be the unitary

rational response that the B.O.P. theory suggests. From this we can see that

states are not run as individuals and so cannot be expected to make decisions

that way.

The major flaws of the B.O.P. theory appear to all converge at one point:

the theory itself is oversimplified. It is difficult to suggest alterations to

the theory because its main problem is also its main goal, to give a simplified

model of international relations. It is not then suggested that the theory be

abandonned, because it does offer helpful insight into inter-state relations,

instead it is suggested that it not be used as the sole analytical tool. The

B.O.P. theory because of its nature offers general explanations about

international relations which is very useful. However when studying world

affairs one needs to dig deeper to view the many variations of states.

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