From Balance of Power to Balancing Behavior: The Long and Winding Road

  • Susan B. Martin

Abstract

The relation between structural realist theory and the study of foreign policy has long been problematic and controversial. Kenneth Waltz has clearly argued that structural realism is a theory of international outcomes, not a theory of foreign policy, and that indeed it cannot be a theory of foreign policy. At the same time, Waltz clearly thinks that structural realism can help us to understand state behavior, and when exploring the economic and military effects of structural causes in Theory of International Politics, he uses the behavior of particular states as illustrations.1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: Random House, 1979).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Recent work on, and challenges to, balance of power theory includes Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder, “Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity,” International Organization 44, no. 2 (Spring 1990), 137–68; Robert G. Kaufman, “‘To Balance or to Bandwagon?’ Alignment Decisions in 1930s Europe,” Security Studies 1, no. 3 (Spring 1992), 417–47; Robert Jervis and Jack Snyder, eds., Dominoes and Bandwagons (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); Eric J. Labs, “Do Weak States Bandwagon?” Security Studies 1, no. 3 (Spring 1992), 383–416; Emerson M. S. Niou, Peter C. Ordeshook and Gregory F. Rose, The Balance of Power: Stability in International Systems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Paul W. Schroeder, “The Nineteenth Century System: Balance of Power or Political Equilibrium?” Review of International Studies 15 (1989), 135–53; Paul W. Schroeder, “Historical Reality versus Neo-Realist Theory,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994), 108–48; Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763–1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, [1994] 1996); Randall Schweller, “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994), 72–107; John A. Vasquez, “The Realist Paradigm and Degenerative versus Progressive Research Programs: An Appraisal of Neotraditional Research on Waltz’s Balancing Proposition,” American Political Science Review 91, no. 4 (December 1997), 899–912; Stephen M. Walt, “Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power,” International Security 9, no. 4 (Spring 1985), 3–43; Stephen M. Walt, “Testing Theories of Alliance Formation: The Case of Southeast Asia,” International Organization 42, no. 2 (Spring 1988), 275–316; Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987). The classic analysis of the meaning of balance of power is found in Ernst B. Haas, “The Balance of Power: Prescription, Concept, or Propaganda?” World Politics 5, no. 3 (July 1953), 442–77; see also Inis L. Claude Jr., Power and International Relations (New York: Random House, 1967).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War trans. Richard Crawley, rev. T. E. Wick (New York: The Modern Library, 1982), [I 23], 14; Ludwig Dehio, The Precarious Balance: Four Centuries of the European Power Struggle, trans. Charles Fulman (New York: Basic Books, 1962); and the discussion of Rousseau in Edward Vose Gulick, Europes Classic Balance of Power (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1955), ix, 84–85. See also Claude, Power and International Relations, 43–47, 93; Arnold Wolfers, “The Balance of Power in Theory and Practice” in Discord and Collaboration: Essays on International Politics, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962), 117–31.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    See also Paul W. Schroeder, “The Nineteenth Century System: Balance of Power or Political Equilibrium?” e.g. 136, 141, in which he traces changes in policy makers’ and theorists’ understanding of “balance of power” in the nineteenth century.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Examples include Walt, Origins; Christensen and Snyder, “Chain Gangs” Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    J. David Singer, “The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations,” World Politics XIV, no. 1 (October 1961), 77–92.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Kenneth N. Waltz, Man, the State, and War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959).Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    See Stephan Haggard, “Structuralism and Its Critics,” in Progress in Postwar International Relations, ed. Emmanuel Adler and Beverly Crawford (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 407; Christensen and Snyder, “Chain Gangs,” 140–43.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Colin Elman, “Why Not a Neorealist Theory of Foreign Policy?” Security Studies 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1996), 10.Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    Kenneth N. Waltz, “International Politics is Not Foreign Policy,” Security Studies 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1996), 54 and 55; Colin Elman, “A Response to Waltz,” Security Studies 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1996), 56. In Man the State and War, Waltz clearly argues that when explaining a particular event—the occurrence of a particular war or in this case, the decision of a state to balance or not to balance against a threat, factors from all three levels of analysis are needed.Google Scholar
  11. 36.
    See, e.g., Eric J. Labs, “Beyond Victory: Offensive Realism and the Expansion of War Aims,” Security Studies 6, no. 4 (Summer 1997), 1–49; Randall L. Schweller, “Neorealism’s Status-Quo Bias: What Security Dilemma?” Security Studies 5, no. 3 (Spring 1996), 90–121.Google Scholar
  12. 37.
    Vasquez, “The Realist Paradigm,” 902; see also Richard Ned Lebow, “The Long Peace, the End of the Cold War, and the Failure of Realism,” International Organization 48, no. 2 (Spring 1994), 249–77.Google Scholar
  13. 43.
    Jack S. Levy, “The Theoretical Foundations of Paul W. Schroeder’s International System,” The International History Review XVI, no. 4 (November 1994), 723; Schroeder, Transformation, 6–11. It is important to note that Schroeder would not necessarily classify these as balancing techniques; he argues, e.g., that while arrangements made in the Vienna settlement may have served balance of power purposes, they were not intended as such. Paul W. Schroeder, “The 19th Century International System: Changes in Structure,” World Politics 39, no. 1 (October 1986), 17.Google Scholar
  14. 44.
    Deborah Welch Larson, “Bandwagon Images in American Foreign Policy: Myth or Reality?” in Dominoes and Bandwagons, ed. Robert Jervis and Jack Snyder (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 85–111; Paul W. Schroeder, “Alliances, 1815–1945: Weapons of Power and Tools of Management” in Historical Dimensions of National Security, ed. Klaus Knorr (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1976), esp. 255; Schweller, “Neorealism’s Status-Quo Bias,” 90–121. See also George Liska, Nations in Alliance: The Limits of Interdependence (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968), 26–41.Google Scholar
  15. 57.
    Larson, “Bandwagon Images,” e.g. 89; Haggard, “Structuralism and Its Critics,” 421–22.Google Scholar
  16. 60.
    See, e.g., Susan Blair Martin, Economic Threats, Balancing, and the Pattern of International Conflict and Cooperation. Ph.D. Dissertation, Political Science Department, University of California Berkeley, Fall 1997.Google Scholar
  17. 61.
    See, e.g., Jessica Tuchman Mathews, “Redefining Security,” Foreign Affairs 68, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 162–78.Google Scholar

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© Andrew K. Hanami 2003

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  • Susan B. Martin

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