1, ‘Balance of Power’ is a concept introduced to IR studies by Hans Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations in 1948. It refers to the idea that power is distributed with approximate equality among several states. This means that hegemonic powers will always be counterbalanced.
2. Although the concept of ‘Balance of Power’ is widely associated with realist and neo-realist approaches, both theories explain it differently. Classical Realism sees the Balance of Power as something natural that happens every time the equilibrium of the system is distorted in order to restore the status quo. Neo-realism explains the Balance of Power as structurally enforced by the anarchical system. States have the need to counterbalance other states in order to survive.
3. States balance their power in order to secure their survival and protect their sovereignty. They can do this by either increasing their own national capabilities or by forming alliances with other states.
4. Power among states is measured in material capabilities, such as military capacity or economic growth. Additionally, it has been considered that power can also be measured in the ability of states to have control over certain outcomes.
5. The concept of Balance of Power became particularly relevant after the Second World War and it was very evident during the bipolar system of the Cold War. In the 21st century, scholars have focused on the rise of China as a counterbalance to the United States and the rise of other states such as India and Brazil as a counterbalance to China.
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Victoria Dittmar is co-editing products of Bisconia and is studying International Relations at University of Sussex. Victoria’s main IR interest lies in private Security.