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The Balance-of-Power. Methodologies, preconditions, analytical values and weaknesses, case-studies, potentials for development. I. Metatheoretical assumptions. No direct access to „objective reality“ Access to reality with the help of mental constructions Epistemological pre-decision

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the balance of power

The Balance-of-Power

Methodologies, preconditions, analytical values and weaknesses, case-studies, potentials for development

i metatheoretical assumptions
I. Metatheoretical assumptions
  • No direct access to „objective reality“
  • Access to reality with the help of mental constructions
  • Epistemological pre-decision
  • Assumption of potential perceptibility of objective reality
  • Ultimate and proximate causes of state behavior

Dr. Christoph Rohde

i metatheoretical assumptions 2
I. Metatheoretical assumptions (2)
  • Principled assumption of state-centric international system
  • Intended selective view on „real“ structures
  • Constellation dependency (global, regional, local) – horizontal bop
  • Multilevel or area operationalization – vertical bop

Dr. Christoph Rohde

i metatheoretical assumptions 3
I. Metatheoretical assumptions (3)
  • How can the overall theoretical approach be proven or disproven?
  • How do I generate empirically useful hypotheses?

Dr. Christoph Rohde

ii different kinds of bops
II. Different Kinds of BoPs

(Problems of logical consistency)

  • static understanding – equal distribution of power between different parties
  • Uni-, bi-, tri- or multipolar system structure
  • Quantitative relations of power dyads between actors in different issue areas
  • Quantitative relations of vulnerability coefficients in different issue areas

Dr. Christoph Rohde

ii different kinds of bops 2
II. Different Kinds of BoPs (2)

(Problems of logical consistency)

  • process understanding of bop
  • Social bop
  • Institutional bop – checks and balances
  • Process of equilibrization is assumed as actors interpret a specific state of affairs in the system and react to it – socialization and adaptation
  • Perception of bop, not „real“ bop

Dr. Christoph Rohde

ii different kinds of bops 3
II. Different Kinds of BoPs (3)

(Problems of logical consistency)

  • Automatic bop
  • Isolated interactions of individual actors
  • Bop as unintended result of interactions
  • Strategies of individual actors: internal and external balancing

Dr. Christoph Rohde

iv axioms of bop theory
IV. Axioms of Bop Theory

(minimum conditions)

  • The distribution of power in the system is such that „no state shall be in a position to have absolute mastery and dominance over the others“ (static – multistate system).
  • National behavior: In a bop system, nations act to prevent the emergence of dominant actors with hegemonic ambitions.
  • BoP as „just equilibrium“ in power among the members of the family of nations as will prevent any one of them from becoming sufficiently strong to enforce ist will upon the others.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

v specific state strategies under bop conditions
V. Specific state strategies under bop conditions

(agent-centric perspective)

  • Alliance strategies
  • Hegemonic stability strategy
  • Anti-alliance strategies
  • Buckpassing
  • Chain-Ganging
  • Hiding
  • Strategy mix: path-dependent variations in strategies
  • Timing of Balancing: Prewar b., intrawar b., postwar restructuring of the system

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vi alternatives to bop policy
VI. Alternatives to bop policy

(practical steps)

  • Policies of institutionalization
  • Collective Hegemony
  • System of Collective Security
  • Global Governance
  • Weltinnenpolitik
  • Rule of international law (International Criminal Court...)
  • Global resource agency (Pogge)

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vi history of the bop westphalian system 1
VI. History of the bop (Westphalian System) (1)

The period from 1715-1789 was one of transition between the religious wars of the 1500's and early 1600's and the wars of nationalism and democracy starting with the French Revolution.  This was also the era of balance of power politics where Europe operated as an integrated system, so that one state's actions would trigger reactions from all the other states.  As a result, it was hard for one state to gain an overwhelming position in Europe without everyone else, in particular Britain, ganging up to restore the balance.  Finally, it was a period of intense competition between European states, a competition that would launch Europe into the two bloodiest centuries in all human history.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vi history of the bop westphalian system 2
VI. History of the bop (Westphalian System) (2)

Diplomatic contests (1715-1740).  The death of Louis XIV in 1715 led to the end of one of the bloodiest and most exhausting periods of warfare in European history to this point.  The intensity of bloodshed was so high that it would take several years before Europe would be ready for another major war.  However, mutual distrust kept the various powers in a state of suspicion and war preparation against each other.  Spain and Austria conspired to take Gibraltar from England, causing Britain and France to ally to stop this plot.  Britain, Austria, and Holland signed the Barrier Treaty in 1718, by which Austria got the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) in return for manning the barrier fortresses against French aggression.  Because of this maneuvering (or maybe in spite of it) peace ruled over most of Europe for nearly two decades.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vi history of the bop westphalian system 3
VI. History of the bop (Westphalian System) (3)

The rise of Prussia.  Since the late 1600's, Prussia had been quietly but steadily gaining strength.  Under Frederick William the Great Elector (1640-88) and his grandson, Frederick William I (1713-40), Prussia evolved from a small war ravaged principality to a highly centralized independent kingdom.  The two pillars of Prussian strength were a highly disciplined and efficient army and bureaucracy.

The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48).  Frederick's eyes were turned toward the rich province of Silesia, then under Hapsburg rule.  The timing could not have been better for Prussia.  Austria was in pitiful shape to fight a war, having just lost a disastrous struggle with the Ottoman Turks.  Its generals and ministers were old men past their prime, while the administration was full of corruption and confusion.  And to make matters worse, the old emperor, Charles VI had just died, leaving only a young woman, Maria Theresa, to succeed him. During this time Prussia invaded Silesia.

France, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony all joined Prussia, hoping to pick Austria clean.  Austria's ally, Russia, was neutralized when Sweden joined the other side against it and Austria.  That left Britain, who was already involved in a war with Spain over control of the West Indies trade.  Britain, which generally tried to maintain the balance of power and its trade, backed Austria.  Unfortunately for Austria, Britain had a small army and was mainly concerned with defending George II's principality of Hanover from neighboring Prussia.  As if Frederick William I had been a prophet, a simple move into Silesia had triggered what amounted to a global conflict, with fighting in India and the American colonies as well as Europe.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vi history of the bop westphalian system 4
VI. History of the bop (Westphalian System) (4)

The Seven Years War (1756-63) was actually two conflicts combined into one giant war.  In addition to the continental war of Prussia against Austria, Russia, and France, there was also the struggle for colonial empire between Britain and France.  The war assumed global dimensions, extending from Europe to North America, the West Indies, Africa, India, and the Philippines.

            Prussia's struggle was especially desperate.  Frederick, faced with a three front war, was forced to race from one frontier to the next in order to prevent his enemies from combining in overwhelming force.  Even then, he still was always outnumbered.  Frederick's oblique formation, where he stacked one flank to crush the opposing enemy flank and roll it up, worked time and again to save the day for Prussia.   After two brilliant Prussian victories in 1757, Britain came to the rescue with troops to guard Hanover and money to pay for the Prussian army, thus neutralizing the French war effort on the continent. 

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vi history of the bop westphalian system 5
VI. History of the bop (Westphalian System) (5)

By the end of 1762, both sides were ready for peace.  The resulting Treaty of Paris in 1763 was a victory for Prussia and Britain.  Prussia, while getting no new lands, kept Silesia and confirmed its position as a major power.  Britain stripped France of Canada and most of its Indian possessions, and emerged as the dominant colonial power in the world.  Although Russia gained no new lands, it emerged as an even greater European power.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vii possible understandings in the 21st ct 1
VII. Possible understandings in the 21st ct. (1)
  • Global Bop – Anti-hegemonialism against US
  • (hard balancing, soft balancing, asymmetric warfare, institutional strategies, economic bloc building.
  • Regional Balancing as Strategy Sui Generis – different players try to stabilize a military balance a region (e.g., Southeast Asia)
  • Regional Balancing as A Strategy to stabilize the global unipolar system (US strategy)
  • Local Balancing Processes (military and geostrategic bop)

Dr. Christoph Rohde

vii possible understandings in the 21st ct 2
VII. Possible understandings in the 21st ct. (2)

An issue-oriented bop matrix system

Dr. Christoph Rohde

viii bop as normative construction
VIII. BoP as normative construction
  • BoP as rationalistic social construction (Hobbes, Rousseau)
  • Morgenthau: Bop as resultat of external normative consensus (concert)
  • Bull: Bop as prerequisite for a society of nations

Dr. Christoph Rohde

ix didactic purposes
IX. Didactic Purposes
  • To tell a historical narrativ with some elements of consistency
  • To induce some instrumental rationality into the acts of international players
  • To teach students the interdependency of historical acts
  • The gaps in bop explanations allows the introduction of additional variables.
  • BoP case studies can be used as isolated elements of an overall field study that also introduces postpositivist elements.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

x literature
X. Literature

Frank Althoff: Untersuchungen zum Gleichgewicht der Mächte in der Außenpolitik Friedrichs des Großen nach dem Siebenjährigen Krieg /1763-1786). Duncker & Humblot. Berlin 1995.

Roslyn Sinowitz: The Logical Consistency and Soundness of the Balance of Power Theory. Monograph Series in World Affairs. University of Denver 1982.

Christel Gade: Gleichgewichtspolitik oder Bündnispflege? Maximen britischer Außenpolitik 1909-1914. V&R, Göttingen 1997.

Vasquez, Elman: The Balancing of Power. Prentice Hall 2003.

William C. Wohlforth: U.S. Strategy in A Unipolar World. In: In: G. John Ikenberry (ed.): America Unrivaled. The Future of the Balance of Power. Ithaca 2002. Cornell University Press

Michael Sheehan: The Balance of Power. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Books Ltd. 1995.

Hans Morgenthau: Macht und Frieden. Gütersloh 1963.

Dr. Christoph Rohde

xi attachments maps
XI. Attachments (Maps)

Dr. Christoph Rohde

xi attachments maps23
XI. Attachments (Maps)

Dr. Christoph Rohde

xi attachments maps24
XI. Attachments (Maps)

Dr. Christoph Rohde