Balance of Power as main instrument of equilibrium in contemporary international relations
Hard power, for many centuries, was the main way for states to influence each other. This is noted by the fact that force has always been the most effective tool for achieving certain goals. Until now, the force has not lost its significance, and continues to serve not only as the main tool for states to achieve goals, but also as an instrument of world regulation and domination.
Thinkers of different countries and generations, supporters of various theoretical schools and directions offered their own concepts of the security of international relations. The first such concept is considered to be the concept of balance of power, developed within the traditional direction of the theory of international relations.
The concept of the balance of power is the oldest in international relations, the elements of which can be observed already in the era of antiquity (goes back to the writings of Thucydides), but the emergence of the concept of “balance of power” is associated with the name of the Italian thinker Francesco Guicciardini, who wrote the history of Italy from 1490-1534.
The use of the balance of power in international practice was recorded in the Treaty of Utrecht. The author of the Utrecht Peace Treaty is the English political philosopher, statesman and writer Henry St. John Bolingbroke. In his work “Letters on the Study and Benefits of History” he gave the first in political philosophy a detailed substantiation of the concept of “balance of power” in the example of European history.
The balance of power is one of the basic concepts in the theory of political realism and neo-realism. Representatives of these theories believe that the balance of power is the main way to stabilize the international system, the basis of international order and security.
The balance of power in international relations is the distribution of world influence between individual centers of power – poles. It can take various configurations: bipolar, three-pole, multipolar (or multipolar), and other configurations.
Proceeding from the above, it can be concluded that the balance of power is connected with the world order. According to the theory of balance of power, the world order can have three types:
Unipolarity is when the power is concentrated in one center, called the hegemon.
Bipolarity is the division of the world into spheres of influence between the two states, the creation of military-political blocs. In history, the most famous example of a bipolar world order is the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States of America (1945-1991). The second half of the 20th century was the only period when the whole world was divided into two camps. In Aron’s opinion, the bipolar system has a direction for instability, because it is based on fear, and also calls the two warring parties to cruelty against each other.
Multipolarity is a type of world order in which a large number of states have approximately equal economic and military capabilities. In theory, it is considered the least stable of all. With the development of history, multipolarity implied military action rather than peaceful co-existence of roughly equal states. But nevertheless, this system is the most stable one.
Comparing the world devices mentioned above, one can conclude that sooner or later one side will be the winner in a bipolar system, and a unipolar system will come to degradation and failure in the course of time, and the last multipolar system is the most stable of all existing ones and there can be unlimited time interval.
The “balance of power” system differs from other international systems in the following characteristics. This was interpreted by the American professor of political science, a specialist in international relations, geopolitician M. Kaplan. The “balance of power” system is characterized by the following basic rules:
1. Act to expand their capabilities, but better by negotiation than by war.
2. It is better to fight than to miss the opportunity of expanding opportunities.
3. It is better to stop the war than completely destroy one of the main national actors.
4. Act against any coalition or single actor that seeks to acquire a dominant position vis-à-vis the rest of the system.
5. Act against actors who support supranational organizational principles.
The first rule indicates that each major national actor seeks to strengthen its influence. However, this should be achieved, if possible, without war, without those equilibrium-destroying consequences that the war may have for the “balance of power” system.
According to the second rule, the duty of every national actor is to protect his own interests. This means that if the main actor cannot protect its own interests, then these interests, as a rule, will not prevail. Thus, opportunities must expand even at the cost of war.
The third rule meets the classical standards. Major national actors should not expand so much as to exceed the optimal size of a just and legitimate community. This rule is observed both in relations between legitimate dynastic regimes, and between modern national territorial states. Going beyond this rule is an explicit exception or incompatible with national identity.
The fourth and fifth rules are simply rational requirements necessary for the preservation of the international system. The formation of a dominant coalition or the desire of the main national actor to dominate the system or subordinate the other main actors poses a threat to the interests of national actors that do not belong to this coalition. In addition, if the coalition succeeds in establishing subordination relations in the international system, the dominant member (or members) of the coalition will be able to exert political pressure also on the less significant members of the same coalition. Therefore, coalitions, as a rule, receive a counterbalance – opposing coalitions are formed. They arise when the first coalitions begin to threaten states that are not participating in them, and therefore become vulnerable, and when they begin to threaten the interests of their own members. At the same time, states that are under pressure from the dominant members of the coalition may find it more advantageous to take a neutral position towards the coalition or join the opposing coalition. These rules overlap with the third rule. It is necessary to limit some aspirations of states and not to destroy other main national actors; then in the future they can, if necessary, enter into any coalition.
1) the policy of the country or several countries, which aims to achieve a certain state of the system;
2) the very state of the system, characterized by a certain correlation of forces
between the leading powers;
3) the mechanism operating in the international system, regardless of the will of its
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the current world geopolitical order was destroyed. And of course, after the collapse of the USSR, the US took a key place in the international arena. But now the world is in a transitional state. Some political scientists believe that the modern balance of power exists within the framework of “unsettled multipolarity”. The second part of the political scientists believes that the alignment of forces is unilaterally militarily: US domination, the tripolar economically – the United States, Japan and Germany, and the five-polar in organizational and political – the United States, Russia, China, England and France.
In a new alignment of forces, each country seeks to secure its own interests. Which model of the geopolitical structure of the world is more suitable for the interests of Kazakhstan. In theory, three models of the balance of forces are possible: unipolar, bipolar and multipolar.
A unipolar model of the device implies a global American hegemony. The US is trying to control and establish hegemony through the approval of military presence in all geopolitical significant regions. NATO is a powerful military-political bloc, created by US imperialism to achieve the goals of the established world single-pole order. Kazakhstan does not like such a model, it contradicts the principles and norms of international law. Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is based on national interests based on law and justice.
The second model of the balance of power is the balance of forces within the bipolar world order. There are those who consider this model to be suitable for maintaining stability in the world, here one can agree. This point of view in the 70’s. American political scientist K. Waltz put forward. In Theory of International Politics, the importance of bipolarity lies in the fact that it minimizes uncertainty, since the number of participants in confrontation in such a model is limited.
To maintain international stability, the bipolar model of the world order is the most suitable, but for Kazakhstan this model does not fit, because Kazakhstan has no potential and the opportunity to become the second pole.
The latest model of a new balance of power – multi-polar – the organization of an international political system on the basis of polycentricity. The formation of such a model is more likely. The main role in structuring the international system of the largest states forming its upper level is evident. For the right to join the core of the international political system, 10 … 15 states are competing with each other. Of course, Kazakhstan cannot enter this state, but nevertheless, it has a key position in Central Asia. It is this model of the world order that fits the interests of Kazakhstan to a greater degree.
President of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev 9 years ago in March 2009 in his speech at the 11th Congress of the Association of Eurasian Universities in Astana said that one of the most important consequences of the global economic crisis is the onset of a multipolar system of international relations. At this time, the multipolar system has come and is in the process. Multipolarity should determine the policy and strategy of Kazakhstan. The best policy for Kazakhstan is the desire for balance between the main centers of world power (Russia and China). Kazakhstan is interested in the politically stable, economically sustainable and secure development of Central Asia, and not only, today Kazakhstan is a factor of stability in the global world. Our multi-vector policy means the development of friendly, predictable and balanced relations with all countries of the world. The Republic of Kazakhstan has repeatedly managed to seat the conflicting parties at the negotiating table, then achieve mutually acceptable solutions and with honor to emerge from crisis situations.
Thus, we understand that the balance of power is an irreplaceable part of the contemporary international relations, it is the regulator of international politics. The balance of power affects all processes in this world. And so it is very important that the multipolar balance of power maintains stability on the planet.
At the present time, mankind lives in an era when constant changes are taking place in the balance of power. Between the West and the East there is a struggle for influence and domination. That is why a multipolar world order is necessary in order to maintain the balance of power, and to prevent the strengthening of the influence of any one state. The main task of the balance of power and Kazakhstan is to prevent a violation of the strategic balance of forces to maintain security in Central Asia and, of course, the whole world.
That balance of power, which developed after the Second World War, ensured the absence of global conflicts. Unfortunately, the number of regional and local conflicts has only recently increased. However, the existing balance of power avoids global conflicts. Therefore, it is so important to maintain this balance of power. The universal balance of power depends on the decision by all the states of the world to one of the main problems that has been created in the world in recent decades – the prevention of nuclear war.
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