What Does it Mean for Power to be “Out of Balance”?


Among the most sought after topic by scholars within the international relation field has been looking for solution which can end the wars which exist and continue to erupt each day that passes. Peace and stability among states has been a matter of great concern as most of the state’s conflict have proved that they are inevitable but they can be minimized through other strategies, for instance, through diplomacy. The modern world is on a verge of nuclear weapons terror within the international relation field thus the security concept has shifted drastically but the balancing of terror strategy has still remained relevant in maintain peace and security among the nuclear rival states. In most cases, states have developed strategies which ensure that a balanced position is reached between the rivals and the only time war can erupt is when the power is out of balance (Wight & Hedley, 2004).  

However, to understand the concept that power is out of balance it is important to look at the meaning of the power balance. This will help in having precise understanding and appreciation of the opposite idea of power balance. It is difficult to give to concise definition to the balance of power concept as indicated by many scholars. One of such scholars connotes that the notion of the balance of power is full of confusions (Wight, 2004). However, the best of the suggestions among the many “confused” is that through the alliances shift as well as the pressure countervail, no states or any combination of state can be allowed to have power that will be a threat to the international peace and security. In a nutshell, the concept is a based on the assumption that excessive power in the system anywhere around the globe can be a threat to other existing units thus prescribe the antidote for power to be power itself. In another instance, the balance of power concept has been used to refer a scenario where one state’s or more power is used to balance the power of another state or a group of states (Bedford, David & Workman, 2001). For instance, during the cold war times, Pakistan opted to join pact with the United States as a way of balancing the Indo-USSR created strategic alliance. Again, throughout history, the U.S and the USSR (now Russia) have been keeping a balance of power in tabs among themselves. The formation of NATO in 1949 by the United States prompted the USSR to form the WARAW in 1955 as way of counter striking the influence which NATO could have commanded (Kaufman, Richard & William, 2007).

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When one connotes that the state power is out of balance what is essentially meant is that the balance of power has been put under threat. In cases that certain states dominates in terms of power leaving other states vulnerable to their help and mercy, then power is said to be out of balance (Ayoob, 2002). Therefore, it is evident that in balance of power must have been foreseen in order for it to be shaken, disrupted and some states benefits from this by dominating over others in every aspect. For instance, the during the re-establishment of the European balance of power, Stalin was right to indicate that European was not under any danger as a result of being engulfed by Germany. In fact, they are considered to have be acting with power which was out of balance by simple reason of oppressing the super Germany as well as the Soviet Union. 

Balance of power can either be technical or in non-technical with the latter being important in the maintenance of international peace security. However, there are instances where achieving this is very rare. When power is out of balance, states no longer live in hegemon among themselves thus peace keeping among states becomes impossible. What happens is that no side keep watch of the other or some of the states are too weak to keep watch of stronger states which results to some of them becoming too strong and able to threaten others. In the technical way, the balance of power creates the out of power balance. The relative amount of power which each of the state holds is shaken when either of them acquire extra powers. Thus, the two states can go for a war if they fear that the other states will upset its balance of power (Little, 1989). 

To be out of power balance does not only connotes that a states lacks military power but in essence it also means the financial muscle as well as political environment within s state. In most cases, when power is out of balance, the resultant is a one sided business, decisions made within the military which may include practices such as military incursions as well as anti-dumping duties among others. In terms of political clout and financial, an example is given of the carbon dioxide emission cut commitment made by the U.S under the Kyoto Protocol. In cases where power is out of balance, the poor and weaker nation have nothing at all to say in terms of finance as well as military affairs. As a result of these, most nations especially those which regards themselves as super powers such as the U.S, they have started interfering with the nation’s sovereignty. Consider Russia for instance, with their power they now sought to reclaim back Ukraine as being part of their country’s border (Fortmann, Paul & James, 2004).  

In another for power to be out of balance, it means that the initial balance of power has been overturned (Chan, 2012). Balance of power is mostly subjected to an equilibrium aspect and which in most cases ceaseless and constant. However, the opposite is where the states have been subjected to a disequilibrium. 

After the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States was left as the solitary global super power. In this case, a balance of power between the U.S and other nations was under great threat. As the dominant world powerful state, the relationship between the USA and other nations such as China as well as other European nations become a matter of great concern. As a result countries such as France, Germany, Russia, China among others becomes stricter and all opposed the U.S during the Iraq invasion of 2003 in the UN conferences and other diplomatic arenas. However, the opposition did not act as barrier for U.S to refrain from acting. This explains why the United States has established a considerable military gap between itself and the rest of the global nations. In this effect nations which are regarded as small are not able to join any coalition for counterbalancing as a means of protecting their own security. In contrast to this, most of these nations are working hard to establish great military capabilities (Saltzman, 2012). For instance, in 2003 the North Korean stated declared that it was developing some nuclear weapons as a way of balancing it power against that of the United States of America. 

Another cause of the power imbalance is the changing nature of power in which the contemporary society has been subjected and which has created a complication in the in operating the global power of balance. Due to globalization, the use of internet, innovation of weapons of mass destruction as well as other technological advancement, it has become possible for nations which are weak and small as well as other non-state groups to amass a lot of power (Welch, 2003). These has created a dilution in the military power thus states have are becoming more cautious in developing new strategies that will help them dominate and control other states. However, when this expectation is not meet, then power imbalance is created. For instance, after the United States was attacked during the September 11, 2001 using the military power it assembled a broad coalition in vengeance towards the Taliban government to end their support towards the Al-Qaeda terrorists group. Fortunately or unfortunately, this strategy was not effective in provoking the power balance among other states.  In most instances, the power imbalance in the international relations are associated with insecurity and does not bring peace at all. In fact power imbalance has led to various past wars. Most of them emanating from the assumption that states need to preserve their balance of power (Gill, 2008). 

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In conclusion, the concept of balance of power has become central in most of the international relations topics over a long period of time. This also been the biggest contributor to of the international wrangles as each state want to dominate the other. Ensuring that there is a balanced power has caused many states to engage in international conflicts. For instance, the nuclear weapons wrangles between the North Korea and the U.S and the international community at large has persisted overtime. Power to be out of balance must be understood from the point of power balance. 

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