Introduction and Background
            Through out history, kings, nobles, statement, politicians, scholars and military strategists have concerned themselves with various methods aimed at managing relationships between one another in order to actualize their individual and group interests. the old language of war, violence and military conquest cannot always be relied upon to provide solutions to human conflict.

            The balance of power principle is one of the oldest concepts in the international system especially among the European powers. The post-Westphalia Europe saw the emergence of a number of powerful nation states some of them strong enough to threaten the sovereignty of their neighbours. The weakening of papal authority at this time also created an anarchic international environment where representations could no longer be made to a defactoimpire.
            Relations between states are often characterized by rivalry, tension and conflict. One of more states often seek to dominate others and to upset the existing order of things in favour of some new arrangement which they consider more consonant to their concepts and perceptions of the world.
            Balance of power is as old as warfare itself. In the early and middle ages kings enter into alliances with friendly kingdom, either to counter the threats of a more powerful neighbour or to balance the might of  other uncomfortable alliances. Alignments based on power develop as states with common interests co-opeate with one another in order to counter the threats posed to them by aggressive and unfriendly neighbours.
            From a historical perspective balance of power has been a conscious goal of international relations since the ancient world. in post-medieval Europe, the Italian city states pursued the balance of power policy with vigour.
            The balance of power theory was formulated as fundamental principle of diplomacy is the beginning if the 17th century with the works of Hugo Grotius and his successors who provided it the desired momentum. This was the period when the science of international law was being developed to assume fundamental structure and discipline. In accordance with the nero discipline, the European states formed a sort o Federal community whose fundamental condition was the preservation of a balance of power or a disposition of things in such a manner that no one state  should be in position to dominate the other s or dictate terms to the others without question. This condition provided a reasonable settlement which was generally accepted and held to be a matter of interest to all aides. It was further understood that if this right was infringed upon by any side acting milaterally to change  the status quo, every power has a duty to interfere even through the use of force, to seek redress.
            The balance of power principle has become a basic ingredient. of political science and international relations. most of the was experienced in Europe between the treaty of Westphalia (1648) and the congress of Vienna (1814) was in one form or the other an excuse or a process to maintain the sanctity of the balance of power. The hundred years of peace which Eumpe enjoyed between the congress of Vienna and the finish World war 91914) could also be credited as a successful outcome of the balance of power process.
            In interventional politics, balance of power has been seen as a means of curbing absolute power and tyranny. David Hume stated emphatically that.
… no state or ruler should ever be allowed to become so great as to incapacitate the neighbouring states form defending their rights against it…
Similarly, Machiavelli argued that “whoever contributes towards the advancement of another power ruins his own”.
            In international relations, balance of power exist to create parity and, as a follow up, stability between contending forces. as a term in international law, balance of power exists to create a just equilibrium” between the members of the family of nations. According to Michael Sheehan, balance of power exists to presses a doctrine whose sole aim is to present one nation or group of nations form becoming sufficiently strong so as to enable it enforce its will upon the  rest members of the international system or to wield undue influence over the rest.
            Balance of power is a process of creating peace and order, at lines, through the use of military power so as to check and balance out the possible abuse of power and order in the global environment. Balance of power checks the preponderance of power on one side and guards the system against dictatorship and usurpation.
            The balance of power this an outrace of the destine to either maintain an existing status quo or over throw it and create an entirely new one.  It is, in so many words, the result of the struggle for power between states at the international level. it is not safe for a state to rely on the goodwill of powerful neighbours because such goodwill could be as shifting as other delicate interests of states. Adequate protection would be better quarantined by matching power, and an endless quest for power is the exclusive motive behind the foreign polices of almost all state.
            In the 18th century, balance of power existed to create relative military parity and order between European powers. Britain at this time. Largely played the role of power broken or balance. British position at this time was to provide military support to a weaker nation or help form an alliance against a more  powerful and aggressive one. the aim was to ensure that no European nation places itself in position to command the monopoly of power.
            Britain, like many great power of Europe see balance of power as a traditional imprint of foreign policy Balance of power is determined by “equality of power” so that the power of one is equal to that of the other. The theory of balance of power has certain key aspects which scholars and other political thinkers commonly agree upon. Balance of power is an aspect of political realism. One of the main objectives of balance of power is to guarantee the security of the state and ensure deliberate self-preservation, states may also be willing to accept convict or even war in order to prevent the opponent from drastically altering the balance of power especially when issues of vital interest are concerned. The US was prepared to go to war with the Soviet Union in 1992 in order to prevent the soviets form installing long-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. the success of such bold soviet scheme would have fundamentally altered the balance of power between the two powers. Security is achieved through conscious efforts to avoid the dominance of one particular state or group of states. Thus, states may continue of align themselves with one another until equilibrium is reached.

Balance of Power Equilibrium/Tools
            Equilibrium describes a situation in which power relationship between countries are balanced through a deliberate and conscious policy creation. According to L. Oppenheim, an equilibrium between the various powers which form the family of nations is infact essential to the very existence of international law. His view is that in the absence of any central authority with the ability to regulate the behaviour and conduct of States. the only means through which states can check and sanction each other through a code of rules and customs” is the capacity of the powers to hold each other in check” ref. He argued that if this system fails, nothing can prevent a state sufficiently powerful form ignoring basic precepts of international law and acting solely according to its own interest and objectives.
            in international politics, each country strive to protect its territorial integrity. However, situations occasionally arise where a country may develop aggressive or expansionist tendencies to control another or others.
            This may create a member of varying scenario. a country may resort to aments either to create a disequilibrium in the relationship with its neighbour or to achieve same. another sceneries is for a country to enter into an alliance with another  so us to offset the preponderance of power at the other end.
            In the first instance, country a many embark on the procurement of military handwork and build up to other forms of military to prevent country from B from attacking it. Country B may also embark on a similar crusade to keep A in check. This process of agreement would ultimately tilt the scale in favour of A or B.
 Equilibrium                                                          Disequilibrium

In the above scenario, state A has gained comprehensive advantage over state B by the sheer force of military capability. State B may then move to the next stage. In this scenario, state B will approach State C and demand an alliance to offset the threat presented by the prepare durance of power in favour of state A.

State C may accept D’s proposal and essence her of support when the need arises. The power of B & C will then balance the power of A and yet create an equilibrium.
The power of B and C may yet create disequilibrium of it spaces the power of A. countries B and C may not have the intent to attack a despite the advantage they have since the goal of the alliance is to balance. As threat and deter her intentions. The two scenarios here is that either B builds up her power (armament) to balance A’s threat or it enters into an alliance with C in order to achieve the same purpose armaments and alliance formation we the two major tools of balance of power.
            The balance of power theory have on occasions proved to be tickle. Balance of power have not often been reasonably successful in preventing the outbreak of war. War may break our when a country perceivers that the opponents alliance is not in good faith. Such miscalculation my lead to an attack on the enemy only for the aggressor to discover, perhaps. Too late, that the alliance and the commitments behind it are still very much intact. The intended victim of aggression may turn out to be the aggressor either because of the effectiveness of its alliance or the superiority of its armaments stock.
            In, balance of power flexibility remain a part of the process. A country may in one swoop enter into a nee alliance automatically turning against its former allies if it foresees a greater benefit by such shift. Alignments aimed at maintaining balance of power are not rigid. states one often prepared to shift alignments if circumstances change or when new and greater threats appear on the horizon.
            There may also exist a counter-alliance situation when a greater number of countries are involved. An alliance between countries B and C would compel country. A to seek further alliance with country D while both alliances may seek the hands of countries E, D, F etc, in friendship. The aim is to maximize the potentials and capability of each side.
            If war breaks out in a balance of power setting, it is bound to involve more than two countries since the allies are bound, by the demands of the alliance, to join the war.
            Balance of power may exist between two countries or groups. This was the case between the Soviet Union and the US and their allies throughout the period of the cold war. Balance of power may also exit between many sovereign governments each controlling its separate away, but bring together when need arises to confront an aggressor or check their excesses. This was the case in the 18th and 19th century Europe when the great powers aligned with each other to balance the configuration of power, for instance, France, Prussia, Saxony and Bavaria VS Austria and England, or However and Saxony versus Germany, Italy and Japan. In the middle Earth, the United States pursues a policy that supports a balance of power titled in favour of the state of Israel.

            The phrase “balance of terror” is usually applied in reference to the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war. Emerging from the ruins of World War II, the two countries became dominant, militarily and economically in global affairs. Power was concentrated at the two poles and every issue of global significance was unearned along the mordant lenses of east – west divide. The phrase, “balance of terror” was coined in 1955 by Lester Pearson during the 10th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter. It describes the fragile peak that existed between the two side would be catastrophic for all of humanity. The development, acquisition and stockpiling of highly sophisticated and devastating nuclear arsenals here made the prospects of nuclear now simply unthinkable.
            The reality of the revolutionary impact of the atomic bomb on warfare automatically altered the traditional relevance of balance of power. For scholars and political scientists, the balance of terror has created a new world situation form what it now up till 1939 and what it because after 1945.
            Before 1939, the empires and  great powers had prevented wars between each other by maintaining a relative balance of their ability to wage war against each other at all levels-economically, militarily and diplomatically.
            The atomic bomb was first used in 1945 by the US to decimate two Japanese cities, and though it has not been used in warfare even since, it sent a clear, unmistakable message to politicians, generals and policy makers on all sides about the new reality. This new reality is a situation that placed the entire humanity in peril at the hands of two super powers. These two, he US and the USSR, have acquired at their fingerings, the ability to destroy human civilization. The capability level attained by both sides have a burnt realization that the nuclear have brought home a burnt realization that the nuclear arsenals of both sides were large enough, sophisticated enough and dangerous enough toe wreak such havoc that the issue of who non or who lost would no longer be a condition.
            In its own counter-intuitive way, the were existence of these powerful and highly destructive weapons, have become in its own unique way, a condition for peace. Since 1945, many wars have been fought. Several skirmishes and military actions have also taken place when diplomacy fails to create the requisite condition for peace. Yet, the super powers never fought each other directly. When they engage in proxy wars behind their friends and allies, care is taken to restrict their assistance to conventional weapons only. That the “balance of terror” has preserved would peace since 1945 is not were rhetories. It has become a fact of life that the perfection of nuclear weapons delivery system on land, aim and sea by the US and Russia in the last several deceases have preserved world peace for more than half a century. It has also radically altered the traditional balance of power.

            The balance of threat, another variant of the balance of power concept came form the neo-realist school of international relations. it was proposed by Stephen Walt, in 1985 in an attempt to modify the balance of power theory. the balance of threat concept holds that individuals, states or other alliances is determined by the threat they perceive from other states, alliances or actors within their operational environment. Walt contends that States would generally equate a balance by aligning with each other against a perceived threat. Weaker states with less beggaring  potentials should join forces with stronger ones in order to ensure their own security. He pointed to the alliance patterns of European states between 1905 and 1939 when alliance were aimed at rebuffing the recognized threat of German expansion intentions.
            Walt further identifies some criteria which states use to evaluate the threat posed by another state.
1.         Its aggregate strength vis a vis size, population, and economic capabilities.
2.         Its geographical proximity,
3.         Its offensive capabilities, and
4.         Its offensive intentions.
Walt argues that the more other states view a rising state as possessing these qualities, the more likely such state is perceived as a threat. The others would therefore seek to maintain a balance against it.
            Balance of power theory modified realism by separating power from threat. In balance of power, states balance against others whose military powers were perceived to be on the increase. In the balance of power setting, rising power connotes offensive intentions and such intentions may lead to aggressive behaviour, Walt’s submission is that states may rise in power without necessarily constituting itself to a threat to others.  He gave an instance of the size in power of the US during the Gold war yet it maintained god relations with her NATO allies because its threat level to those states did not rise. The NATO countries worked together against the Warsaw pact but did not balance each other. This, according to Walt, is because the western members of the NATO alliance did not perceive one another as threats. They see each other as partners in the same boat working towards a similar goals. That goal is the security of the western hemisphere, and to a reasonable extent, the rest of the world.

1.         The major criticism of balance of power is that it leads to an arms race between countries and between alliances. Traditionally, a country aims to acquire greater military potential in order guarantee its own security and determined be aggressors. The other side also takes conscious steps to expand its military capability in relationship with the other side. As both sides engage each other in competition, it becomes a race to see who acquires more than the other. The arms race reached alarming levels during the cold man in the struggle between the East and the West to keep up with the military  preparedness of the other side.  
2.         Critics have also argued that gal of power encourage wars by creating a general feeling of uncertainty and insecurity. when the atmosphere is hazy  at the but level, states may misinterpreted the intentions of others and their actions based on such miscalculations may lead to conflict.
3.         Political realists argue that balance of power may negate national interest when a state needs to cut decisively and aggressively to protect her interests. Such interests could be economic, expansionist or pure irredentism.
4.         Alliances could lead to unnecessary was because when states are forced to take sides the will to make peace becomes secondary as such efforts would be seen more as weakness than a genuine desire for peace. In 1914, the German Kaiser felt better obliged to allow Austria take punitive measures against Serbia rather than play a more honourable role of mediator between the two sides. Similarly, Britain quickly lost the appetite for mediation in the face of Mazi Rampage in the late 1930s and quickly sought alliances with other “live minded” nations.
5.         Political idealists have criticized balance of power as setting the stage for war. Woodrow Wilson described balance of power as an immoral concept.
            Despite these criticisms however, same scholar still believe that balance of power have served the interests of global peace in very significant ways. They urge that balance of power has not only cases  present only discouraged wars but in some cases prevented it altogether. they argue further that it has preserved the independence of small states which, standing on their own, would have fallen easy prey to expansionist neigbours, other advantage attributed to the balance of power regime include encouraging inter-state co-operation and acting as checks on the activities of predator states.
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