Soft Balancing in the Age of U.S. Primacy

T.V. Paul
  • International Security, July 2005, The MIT Press
  • DOI: 10.1162/0162288054894652

Soft Balancing in the Age of U.S. Primacy

Why is it important?

Analysts have argued that balance of power theory has become irrelevant to understanding state behavior in the post-Cold War international system dominated by the United States. Second-tier major powers (such as China, France, and Russia) and emerging powers (such as Germany and India) have refrained from undertaking traditional hard balancing through the formation of alliances or arms buildups. None of these states fears a loss of its sovereign existence as a result of increasing U.S. power. Nevertheless, some of these same states have engaged in soft-balancing strategies, including the formation of temporary coalitions and institutional bargaining, mainly within the United Nations, to constrain the power as well as the threatening behavior of the United States. Actions taken by others in response to U.S. military intervention in the Kosovo confiict of 1999 and the Iraq war of 2003 offer examples of soft balancing against the United States.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/0162288054894652

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