Tuesday, October 9, 2018

T.V. Paul's "Restraining Great Powers"

T.V. Paul is James McGill professor of international Relations, McGill University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His most recent book, Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era, discusses the different soft balancing and hard balancing strategies that states have used from Concert of Europe to Contemporary Era.

Paul applied the “Page 99 Test” to Restraining Great Powers and reported the following:
From page 99:
American interventionist policies, whether in the Persian Gulf or in Kosovo, act as catalysts to some extent in determining whether soft balancing efforts occur. Whenever the U.S. has engaged in aggressive unilateralism, some of the affected great power states have responded with temporary coalition building at the diplomatic level… The U.S. case exemplifies that the first two decades of the post-Cold War era featured balancing against threat, not against power.
Page 99 of Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era discusses the attempts by secondary states, both allies and adversaries to restrain the U.S. from intervening militarily in theaters of the world, especially it the Middle East. It asks the question why the U.S. was not militarily balanced by other states, despite the cardinal argument inherent in balance of power theory and policy that power will be met with power. The different answers provided by scholars on this puzzle range from the huge capability discrepancy between the U.S. and its rivals, America’s internal democratic order and the liberal characteristic of U.S. hegemony enabling it not posing a fundamental threat to the state system. The page initiates these points, but subsequently the chapter contends that the U.S. was balanced, but not through military buildup or formal alliances. The U.S. interventionist policies produced responses by affected states, first by Russia and China during the US intervention in Serbia to prevent a military backlash on Kosavar Albanians, and later, prior to the Iraq War of 2003. This time around, U.S. allies Germany and France also joined in that endeavor to restraining America using institutional means. Russia and China used their veto power in the UN Security Council to deny a resolution authorizing the US the right to intervene and thereby denied the international legitimacy it sought for military action. This US case is one of the key examples of soft balancing discussed in the book. Previous chapters dealt with soft balancing theory, the ideal conditions that led to this approach, and the use of institutions from Concert of Europe and the League of Nations as well as Nonaligned countries during the Cold War era. Subsequent chapters discuss the soft balancing efforts by and against China and Russia.
Visit T.V. Paul's website.

--Marshal Zeringue