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Balance of Power

By: Indira Agustin/071012006

            Balance of power is getting obsolete as the globalization brings values of democracy shifts the traditional ones. The aim of balance of power traditionally is to prevent the war. According to Paul, balancing is how to adjusting and also preventing the existence hegemonic of one of the state. While balance of power itself is the relative equals of power between states. And then balancing was divided into three, they are hard balancing, soft balancing, and asymmetric balancing. Hard balancing is when states develop their military capability for self-maintaining and of course made their power balanced to their rivals. Soft balancing is when states are developing cooperative ways, minimizing the military and arm races to interact and being coherent to international institutions.  While asymmetric balancing is if there are interactions between sides who want offending or defending, ultimately between nation and sub nation. For example is the terrorist challenge a weaken state (T. V. Paul, 2000). It could be said that the interactions is between states versus non-states.

            Traditionally, in balance of power condition, states should be survive to be independent and recognized. There are three major points that advantaging the state if it has a power. They could have the survivality, keeping their security and welfare, and not be subservient to others sovereign entities. The consequence is most all of states attempt to get the power as strong as they can, in order to not be treated arbitrarily by other states.

            Dimensions of balance of power are divided into two parts. The first one is balance of power at the systemic level. Forming power is identically by building up the arms and looking for the alliances in military capabilities. States make alliances is to avoid and to opponent the hegemonic one. And if the balance of power is conceived, there will be peace because there is equilibrium and stability. But actually a sovereign state has the legitimate right to exist, regardless their size and power capabilities, and that the equilibrium in power is essential to prevent a lawless situation from emerging (George Liska, 1999). The second one is balance of power at the subsystemic level. While systemic level is in global level, subsystemic level is in regional level. If an actor in regional level has a military power that might threat its neighbor, the other actors might make an alliances towards it. So the balance of power in the regional level is undertaken by the states in that region.

            To liberals, anarchy is malleable and the structural condition of conflict is not so determinative as realist would have us believe (T. V. Paul, 2000). Liberals criticize this balance of power concept. They thought that global anarchy is effecting depends on state’s political system. And interdependent in economy create more balance than the military capabilities. It means peace will emerge by cooperation in collective security by institutions.




Paul, T. V. 2000. Introduction: The Enduring Axioms of Balance of Power Theory and their Contemporary Relevance

George Liska. 1999. Resurrecting a Discipline Enduring Scholarship for Envolving World Politics. Lanham, Md: Lexington. Pp 17

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