The Balance of Power

Authored by: R. William Ayres

Routledge Handbook of American Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  August  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415800884
eBook ISBN: 9780203878637
Adobe ISBN: 9781135967352


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Balance of power is one of the most enduring concepts in international relations theory. Books have been penned on the subject, articles written, debates held. Scholars foundational to the field have argued that the balance of power is the fundamental dynamic of global affairs (Morgenthau 1985). Some have argued for the superiority of a particular balance of power over others (Waltz 1979). Still others have called into question whether there really is a balance of power at all, or whether the concept has any power to help understand world affairs (Nogee 1975; Rosecrance 2003). Despite the ongoing debates about scope conditions and definitions, there is widespread acceptance of the notion that the balance of power in the international system has significant effects on a state’s foreign policy.

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