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Power in International Politics. State Power/Power Politics Balance of Power International Systems. Key Concepts. Anarchy and self-help. The security dilemma. Security dilemma within a society of states.

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Power in International Politics

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power in international politics

Power in International Politics

State Power/Power Politics

Balance of Power

International Systems

key concepts
Key Concepts
  • Anarchy and self-help.
  • The security dilemma.
  • Security dilemma within a society of states.
  • Power Politics: whereas power is unequally distributed, each state must provide its own security, and whereas one state’s security is another’s threat, states continually vie for power to be secure.
  • PP includes diplomacy, alliance, BoP, War, Peace, even IL and IO. Primacy is Power.
types of state power
Types of State Power
  • The form of PP changes, but the nature of state relations remains the same.
  • Great Powers have five features. (Roman, Napoleonic, British empires, USA/USSR post 1945).
  • Middle Powers: GPs value its resources, strategic position and military value added. (Regional MPs: France, Indonesia).
  • Small Powers: do not affect BoP (Netherlands), are most insecure, can be flashpoints (Israel).
nature of gp power politics
Nature of GP Power Politics
  • Status Quo vs. Revolutionary GP’s.
  • Tools: national power, alliances, diplomacy. (Classical vs. Cold War: Structural Realism {K. Waltz})
  • GPs may seek concert for world domination.
  • GP may seek universal empire.
  • Former GPs may be submerged in power structure of supplanter: Holland-England, A-H Empire-Germany, UK-US, ?USA-China?
balance of power various meanings
Balance of Power: various meanings
  • Historical/descriptive assessment of power.
  • BoP not as conscious state policy but as a function of systems equilibrium.
  • Grotian (Liberal) Balance: enlightened self-interest makes near equilibrium a founding principle of the society of states (eg: Concert of Europe), used to limit conflict, grant compensation, and avert hegemony, eventually overcome war.
  • Machiavellian Balance: BoP is inevitable. States only have permanent interests: maintaining the scales in their favour. BoP is inherently unstable.
  • Immanuel Kant: reject ‘the power trap’, both as practice and as prescription.
realist rules for bop
Realist Rules for BoP
  • Always increase capabilities, but choose diplomacy over war. (Morton Kaplan)
  • War rather than a loss in capabilities.
  • Oppose preponderance by one GP.
  • Avoid uncertainty of eliminating other GPs (Versailles, Gulf 1991) or allowing a new order not based on Power Politics.
preponderance rather than balance
Preponderance rather than Balance
  • Preponderance of Power school of thought. (balances are unstable, benevolent hegemony is better {Cold War}, war is likely when hegemon declines or challenger closes the gap).
  • Hegemonic stability theory: hegemon underwrites rules of trade and diplomacy which creates stability
  • Declining hegemons/stability causes war or systems change
international systems
International Systems
  • The type of configuration of power in a time and geographical framework.
  • Holsti’s five IS aspects: boundary, units, interaction, norms, structure.
  • Structure: number of GPs, nature of their power, alliances.
  • Neo-realism (K. Waltz) makes int’l structure the key explanation of all international politics.
types of structure
Types of Structure
  • Unipolar (tether pole). National or bloc power: Roman Empire.
  • Multipolar (merry-go-round). National power and alliances. (1648-1814 Europe), South Asia today.
  • Bipolar (see-saw). National power and alliance blocs. Triple Alliance {Ge, It, A-H, 1882) and Triple Entente {Eng-Fr-Rus. 1907}, and Cold War.
  • Each has its own type of dominant security problem: challenger/assimilation; shifting alliances; escalation/zero-sum conflict
conflict potential and risk calculation
Conflict Potential and Risk calculation
  • Deutsch and Singer definition of stability (no dominant, all GPs remain, no large-scale war)
  • Multipolar: potentially many conflicts, but also countervailing alliances and BoP holder.
  • Bipolar: potential zero-sum and high risk of escalation, but more political control.(offset by ideology and MAD)
  • Structure of IS is also contextual: rules of war and diplomacy change.
today s international system
Today’s International System
  • Boundaries: global strong points
  • Units: democracies vs. the rest
  • Interaction: eco, pol, mil, cult.
  • Structure: unipolar and multipolar mixed.
complicating factors
Complicating Factors
  • Non-state actors and intrastate wars.
  • Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
  • Trade blocs vs. WTO
  • USA is not a traditional empire. It is a mixture of: primus inter pares, benevolent hegemon, globocop, and traditional GP.
  • ‘Triumph’ of Liberalism and instant communication challenges legitimacy of national interest and possibility of limited war.
  • Does the end of territorial aggrandizement mean the end of GP Power Politics?
  • Does the presence of Nuclear Weapons mean the end of GP Power Politics?
  • Does Globalization?
  • Can regional or global organization (NATO/UN) prevent/overcome GP politics?
  • Each GP has its own power and normative context.
  • Today’s Power Politics: The Role of one Hyper Power.
future system watch
Future System Watch
  • Will a multipolar MAD be as stable as the Cold War MAD?
  • Will missile defence replace deterrence?
  • Will WMD replace Nuclear Weapons?
  • Will rigid trade blocs emerge from globalization?
  • Will the state system weaken from quasi states and global economics?
  • Will civilization/religion clashes replace inter-state war?