Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing From Empires to the Global Era
When do states resort to soft balancing (relying on institutional and economic instruments) rather than hard balancing (relying on formal military alliances and intense arms buildups)? When do they combine both? What are the differences and similarities between the 20th and 21st century cases of soft balancing, one under multipolarity, the other under near-unipolarity?
This seminar is based on Professor T.V. Paul’s book Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing From Empires to the Global Era (Yale University Press, 2018). In the book, Paul examines how states use international institutions, informal alignments and economic instruments such as sanctions to constrain the power and threatening behavior of dominant actors. Much of International Relations scholarship fails to capture the use of these non-military instruments for constraining superior power. The soft balancing debate for over a decade has been used exclusively in the context of responses by second-tier states toward U.S. power. This book expands and tests soft balancing arguments to historical eras (such as the Concert of Europe, and the League of Nations during the interwar period) and the emerging/resurging powers, China and Russia while responding to criticisms aired against the concept and strategy.
T.V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He was President of International Studies Association (ISA) during 2016-17. Paul is the author or editor of 18 books and over 65 scholarly articles/book chapters in the fields of International Relations, International Security, and South Asia.
The seminar will be moderated by Senior Research Fellow and Head of Research Group on Global Order and Diplomacy, Kristin Haugevik.