This book traces discussions about international relations from the middle ages up to the present times. It presents central concepts in historical context and shows how ancient ideas still affect the way we perceive world politics. It discusses medieval theologians like Augustine and Aquinas whose rules of war are still in use. It presents Renaissance humanists like Machiavelli and Bodin who developed our understanding of state sovereignty. It argues that Enlightenment philosophers like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau laid the basis for the modern analyses of International Relations (IR). Later thinkers followed up with balance-of-power models, perpetual-peace projects and theories of exploitation as well as peaceful interdependence. Classic IR theories have then been steadily refined by later thinkers – from Marx, Mackinder and Morgenthau to Waltz, Wallerstein and Wendt. The book shows that core ideas of IR have been shaped by major events in the past and that they have often reflected the concerns of the great powers. It also shows that the most basic ideas in the field have remained remarkably constant over the centuries.
The classic balanceofpower, 1648–1814
Power politics and small state survival:
the classic balanceofpower, 1648–1814
Elle [la politique] maintient l’Europe indépendante et libre.
[Frederic the Great]1
How safe was the largely unbridled balanceofpower of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries for the small state? This chapter will show that
the balance-of-power system was in fact rather accommodating and
allowed small states to survive in historically large numbers. Moreover,
small state death was measured and gradual only. In short, the loose and
Small states are survival artists. Understanding the story of small state survival requires a clear focus on the international states system. This book finds that different variations of the Westphalian states system had very different effects on small state survival. The most hostile environment for the small state was the late nineteenth-century concert system; the most supportive environment was the bipolar world of the later twentieth century. The book investigates the era of the classic balance of power which began after the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648 and ended during the French Revolutionary Wars and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Surprisingly, the crude balance-of-power system of the eighteenth century proved fairly accommodating of small state survival. Looking to the future, a modest rise in the number of small states can be predicted. The book views international relations since at least the mid seventeenth century to be driven by concerns over state power. Consequently, it deals with power, weakness, and power politics. To do so properly, a theoretical framework was needed that puts power and power balancing front and center. Power and power politics are important concepts in the academic discipline of International Relations theory, and particularly in Realist thinking.
An Interview with Celso Amorim, Former Brazilian Foreign Minister
approached human rights – to do
with our good relations with Iran, for example. There was a tension, but I don’t think
there was an ontological contradiction. I think it is possible to work for a more democratic
order – diffusing power, creating a more stable balanceofpower – while
strengthening and democratising certain value systems. Doing so in a cooperative way, too. People
might say it was just Brazil trying to extend its power and join the [UN] Security Council. But,
in projecting soft power, I believe we were also promoting positive things: South
small state survival and proliferation are detectable in the
accumulated numbers of small state death, survival, and proliferation
over more than three-and-a-half centuries.
Small state survival, understood as the larger trend of the annual total
numbers of small states, correlates with different levels of support and
protection generated by large historical eras and their unique states
system. The changes from the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century
laissez-faire balanceofpower to the nineteenth-century concert system
and to the twentieth-century hybrid system of
international states system. This study finds that different variations of the Westphalian states system had very different effects on small
state survival. The most hostile environment for the small state was
the late nineteenth-century concert system; the most supportive was
the bipolar world of the later twentieth century. Surprisingly, the crude
balance-of-power system of the eighteenth century proved fairly accommodating of small state survival. Looking to the future, a modest rise in
the number of small states can be predicted.
Why study the small state’s struggle to
This book and the study of the Middle East
This study takes the Middle East to be constituted around an Arab core, with a shared identity but fragmented into multiple territorial states; the core is flanked by a periphery of non-Arab states – Turkey, Iran and Israel – which are an intimate part of the region’s conflicts and an integral part of its balanceofpower (Cantori and Spiegel 1970; Ismael 1986: 5–13). Because the Middle East’s unique features defy analyses based on any one conceptual approach to international
off the curse of foreign intervention which is threatening to grind the country to pieces.
Some commentators see a modern reasoning in this argument. They argue that, when Machiavelli proposed to unify the city-states of Italy against strong enemies, he invoked a balance-of-power theory. Machiavelli, however, never used the term ‘balanceofpower’. 8 The chapter is significant, but for other reasons than this. First, it amounts to a plea, not to a benevolent God, but to a prince who possesses the secular virtues that Machiavelli has introduced in previous
(Friedrich II and Kant). During the course of the century, they increasingly portrayed social relations in terms of reason and natural harmony. One of its manifestations was the notion of a self-equilibrating market economy. Another was the idea of a self-adjusting balance among sovereign states. Modern balance-of-power theories emerged in France and Britain during the second half of the eighteenth century. At first, these theories were simple and mechanical. But soon thinkers like Hume and Robertson developed more complex theories of the balanceofpower, which they saw
The United States under Donald Trump has been charting a radically new course in Asia, a region that has long relied on America for stability and maintaining the balanceofpower. In the first half of his presidential term of 2017–21, the forty-fifth president reversed or sought to reverse many of the long-standing policies and initiatives pursued by Barack Obama and his predecessors, with potential long-term implications. A multilateral and multifaceted engagement strategy in the region is being replaced by a transactional approach to security