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National Preferences, International Structures and Balance-of-Power Politics

Zeev Maoz

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1995, vol. 7, issue 3, 369-394

Abstract: A major problem of system theories of international politics is the tendency to ignore state preferences altogether. Alternatively, system theories tend to impute preferences to states on the basis of assumptions based on tenuous empirical or logical foundations. Such, for example, is the prevalent notion in the realpolitik literature that states are engaged in a blind pursuit of resources because those are the chief ingredient of national power, and hence of survival in an anarchic system. The present study attempts to develop a balance-of-power theory which incorporates state preferences into the more traditional aspects of the theory. Propositions about the dynamics of balance-of-power systems are deduced from a new conception of power that combines preferences and resources. The theory explains which alliances would form and which alliances would not; when, and under what conditions certain states would become extinct; and the general properties of stability and instability in such systems. Some parallels between the propositions of the present theories and other studies addressing similar questions are discussed. Some of the implications of domestic politics for systemic changes are also considered.

Keywords: national preferences; international structure; balance of power; paradoxes of power; international stability; admissible coalitions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:7:y:1995:i:3:p:369-394