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Is Soft Balancing the Driving Force Behind Sino-Russian Cooperation in Central Asia? - An Empirical Test of the Soft Balancing Theory

Bergfeldt, Henrik (2008)
Department of Political Science
Abstract
In an age of American unipolarity it is not surprising that questions regarding the perseverance of the current international structure constantly recur in contemporary international relations debates. As the discussion about whether the balance of power theory vanished with the Cold War continues, soft balancing has become a popular way to describe second-tier states' use of non-military tools to delay, frustrate, and undermine aggressive unilateral U.S. military policies. Problematic, however, is to define what differentiates soft balancing from typical diplomatic friction. Furthermore, if other states' actions are not responses to American power, then it does not make sense to invoke either traditional balance of power theory or the... (More)
In an age of American unipolarity it is not surprising that questions regarding the perseverance of the current international structure constantly recur in contemporary international relations debates. As the discussion about whether the balance of power theory vanished with the Cold War continues, soft balancing has become a popular way to describe second-tier states' use of non-military tools to delay, frustrate, and undermine aggressive unilateral U.S. military policies. Problematic, however, is to define what differentiates soft balancing from typical diplomatic friction. Furthermore, if other states' actions are not responses to American power, then it does not make sense to invoke either traditional balance of power theory or the soft balancing argument. These concerns have been raised by critics of the theory, yet no one seems to have conducted a rigorous empirical evaluation of the soft balancing theory by putting it side by side with alternative explanations. In this article I remove this bias by discussing four alternative explanations to the theory in one case typically framed as soft balancing: Sino-Russian cooperation in Central Asia. I conclude that the simplicity of the balance of power theory and its soft balancing addendum makes them easy to adopt, but also easy to overuse. (Less)
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author
Bergfeldt, Henrik
supervisor
organization
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Balance of Power, Soft Balancing, Hegemony, United States, Russia, China, Central Asia, Unipolarity, Waltz, Neo-realism, Political and administrative sciences, Statsvetenskap, förvaltningskunskap
language
English
id
1317375
date added to LUP
2008-06-16
date last changed
2008-06-16
@misc{1317375,
  abstract     = {In an age of American unipolarity it is not surprising that questions regarding the perseverance of the current international structure constantly recur in contemporary international relations debates. As the discussion about whether the balance of power theory vanished with the Cold War continues, soft balancing has become a popular way to describe second-tier states' use of non-military tools to delay, frustrate, and undermine aggressive unilateral U.S. military policies. Problematic, however, is to define what differentiates soft balancing from typical diplomatic friction. Furthermore, if other states' actions are not responses to American power, then it does not make sense to invoke either traditional balance of power theory or the soft balancing argument. These concerns have been raised by critics of the theory, yet no one seems to have conducted a rigorous empirical evaluation of the soft balancing theory by putting it side by side with alternative explanations. In this article I remove this bias by discussing four alternative explanations to the theory in one case typically framed as soft balancing: Sino-Russian cooperation in Central Asia. I conclude that the simplicity of the balance of power theory and its soft balancing addendum makes them easy to adopt, but also easy to overuse.},
  author       = {Bergfeldt, Henrik},
  keyword      = {Balance of Power,Soft Balancing,Hegemony,United States,Russia,China,Central Asia,Unipolarity,Waltz,Neo-realism,Political and administrative sciences,Statsvetenskap, förvaltningskunskap},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Is Soft Balancing the Driving Force Behind Sino-Russian Cooperation in Central Asia? - An Empirical Test of the Soft Balancing Theory},
  year         = {2008},
}