The Balance of Power

  • Evan Luard


Whenever a state enters into alliance with another state it is concerned, in a crude sense, with a balancing of power: with establishing a concentration of power which will withstand, or overcome, that of likely opponents. Often the state that pursues that policy is concerned only with its immediate, short-term interest; and will see advantage, therefore, in an alliance with the stronger of two neighbours in order to prevail over a third. But it has often been recognised that this could lead, over the long term, to an undue accretion in the power of the new ally. A true “balance of power” policy comes about only when a state looks beyond its short-term advantage to its long-term interest in a stable international environment, and therefore in preventing any particular state acquiring such power as to dominate the system. In this situation, it may be seen as wiser to undertake an alliance, not with the stronger of the two possible partners but with the weaker. Where such a judgement is made a true “balance of power” policy results.


International Relation International System Sixteenth Century Basic Text Italian Situation 
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© the estate of Evan Luard 1992

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  • Evan Luard

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