Main Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era
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Restraining Great Powers This page intentionally left blank Restraining Great Powers Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era T. V. PAUL Published with assistance from the foundation established in memory of Amasa Stone Mather of the Class of 1907, Yale College. Copyright © 2018 by T.V. Paul. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Yale University Press books may be purchased in quantity for educational, business, or promotional use. For information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (U.S. office) or email@example.com (U.K. office). Set in Minion type by IDS Infotech Ltd. Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Control Number: 2018934742 ISBN 978-0-300-22848-9 (hardcover : alk. paper) A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper). 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Contents Preface vii Acknowledgments xiii one Balance of Power Today, 1 t wo Restraint by Other Means, 20 t h re e Soft Balancing from Concert to the Cold War, 46 four Balancing during the Cold War, 74 five The Post–Cold War Era: Restraining the United States, 97 si x Rising China and Soft Balancing, 119 seven Balancing Resurgent Russia, 146 eig ht The Future of Balance of Power, 164 Notes 193 Index 227 This page intentionally left blank Preface B alance of power is one of the most enduring themes in international politics. Its antecedents go back to antiquity, to the classical era of warring Greek city-states, and it has been considered the bedrock of great-power stability since the seventeenth century. Yet it is also arguably the most contested concept and strategy in world politics. The pivotal question of whether it promotes peace or war has yet to be fully answer; ed. In this book, I argue that balance of power is not an immutable strategy, as some scholars and policy makers believe, but a concept shaped by the international politics of the day. Countries have used different techniques in different epochs to balance and restrain powerful or threatening states. It is often assumed that during much of the European imperial age, great powers balanced one another with formal alliances and arms buildups. But they also used international institutions and economic sanctions as means of soft balancing to restrain the power and threatening behavior of other states. The Concert System among European powers in the nineteenth century is a prominent example. Soft balancing continued into the twentieth century. The League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, became arenas of great-power contestation and balancing. During the Cold War, lesser powers under the rubric of the Non-Aligned Movement also engaged in vii viii preface a weak form of soft balancing against superpower dominance. Economic sanctions, often with the approval of an international institution, were used as a soft-balancing instrument to restrain or punish a threatening power. With the end of the Cold War, the traditional instruments of balancing, such as arms buildups and formal alliances, became less salient. For about two decades—approximately from 1991 until 2010— the United States as the preponderant power faced a surprising absence of balancing efforts against it. The U.S. outshone others not only in its aggregate power but also in using that power to initiate wars against secondary states in restive regions such as the Middle East. Similarly, China became the world’s second most powerful economy with rapidly growing military might and began a program of territorial expansion in the Pacific, especially in the South China Sea. But it has faced only limited balancing by the affected states. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has received limited hard-balancing responses, especially from the U.S. and its NATO allies, to its aggressive actions toward Ukraine and Baltic states. All of these cases remain anomalies for balance-of-power theory. Why is this so? Is it because traditional instruments of power have become less effective than they used to be? My contention in this book is that states have increasingly relied on international institutions, limited ententes, and economic instruments to balance power and restrain threatening behavior. Military capabilities remain important, but they are not the only feasible instruments of balancing in the contemporary world. The availability of less threatening instruments allows states to resort to nonmilitary means more often than before because these instruments change the cost-benefit calculations about balancing. This trend toward using less coercive instruments of balancing can continue only if globalization advances and states become more interconnected through economic links and improving technologies. A massive failure of globalization to bring sustained growth and prosperity, or the resurgence of expansionist or nativist nationalism in key countries, could alter this pattern and make military power once again the balancing instrument of choice. Globalization has brought greater prosperity to almost all nations, making zero-sum competition for resources less bitter than in previous eras, when European great powers fought massive wars in an effort to add to their material wealth and power. If preface ix globalization and resulting economic interdependence fail to foster sustained cooperation, competitive international politics could reemerge with a vengeance. The inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president in 2017 and the possibility of other right-wing leaders coming to power in Europe have brought a return of hard balancing as a topic of discussion. However, restraining the forces seeking the comeback of geopolitical competition and isolation may require greater use of soft balancing. After the Cold War, the twin forces of globalization and global norms against aggressive territorial expansion restrained but did not prevent the U.S. from intervening in Iraq and Afghanistan. To some extent, these same forces simultaneously encouraged rising powers such as China and Russia to mellow their behavior. Since 2009 or so, however, China has actively expanded into contested waters such as the South China Sea and, increasingly, the Indian Ocean, and in most cases the responses of affected states have been less assertive than expected. India, a third rising power, is globalizing in every key dimension, especially economically, and is being quickly integrated into the global order. It has formed limited strategic ententes with the U.S., Japan, and some Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam. We should not assume that the United States or rising powers will never use military power or asymmetric strategies to achieve their goals. Since 2010, Russia and China have both employed military means to assert dominance in their immediate neighborhoods. The affected states have responded with limited hard balancing in addition to soft-balancing efforts. A massive economic decline or the imposition of protectionist trade barriers in key countries could reignite the competition for resources and wealth. Prudent statecraft grows ever more important in preventing the world from sliding into intense rivalries and potential military conflicts. Balance-of-power strategies relying on traditional military means alone cannot guarantee long-term peace and stability in an interconnected world. A hybrid approach that includes both hard and soft balancing, relying on adequate defensive military capabilities to provide a deterrent, is necessary to preserve peace in the coming decades. The success of these approaches will depend heavily on how great powers, both established and rising, view the legitimacy of the international order x preface and of our era’s dominant institutions. If these institutions remain robust, with strong normative bases, peaceful power transitions can take place. Established powers can accommodate rising powers without violence through a mixture of soft- and limited hard-balancing techniques along with deep economic and diplomatic engagement. This book was inspired by the attention soft-balancing literature has received in scholarly debates on state behavior during the first decade of the twenty-first century. An original proponent of the softbalancing approach, I was also impressed by the comments of its critics. As I began to read historical records, it became clear that the strategy of soft balancing among great powers is nothing new, meaning that the United States in the post–Cold War era was not the sole case of a softbalancing target. The records show that soft balancing became prevalent in the early nineteenth century when international institutions began to develop. Now, it seems, it is being used increasingly by China and Russia as well as by others affected by those countries’ aggressive policies. None of this implies that soft balancing always works. But then, hard balancing has not always worked either. The historical record tells us that both hard and soft balancing sometimes failed to restrain aggressors and may even have encouraged them to become more belligerent. Yet countries employ both methods in the face of a threatening state because they are better than doing nothing. The book explores the use of soft balancing by great powers and their allies in the contemporary world starting with nineteenth-century Europe. My goal is to bring out key episodes from the rich diplomatic history of the past two hundred years and explore whether great powers pursued soft balancing even in times when hard balancing remained the most dominant approach. If so, under what conditions has soft balancing been employed? What lessons do these cases hold for diplomacy and the peaceful conduct of great-power politics in a more globalized and interdependent world? Under what conditions can we expect intense traditional hard balancing to reemerge? In answering these questions, this book concludes that in the complex international system of the twenty-first-century world, when economic globalization and resultant interdependence have increased among rising and established powers, soft balancing remains a key preface xi strategic approach to restrain the threatening behaviors of both categories of states. This does not mean soft balancing always succeeds or will inevitably lead to peace, but it is a better strategy under many circumstances than relying purely on costly arms buildups, alignments, and escalation to wars. Even if the targets ignore these “balancing lite” strategies, affected states may not have much else to rely on and they may have to use soft balancing as a hedge while awaiting opportune moments to apply different strategies, including hard balancing. This page intentionally left blank Acknowledgments T he research for this book has been greatly facilitated by several research assistants and graduate students working with me over the past six years: Fritz Lionel Adimi, Jean-François Bélanger, Noor Bhandal, Matthew Castle, Alice Chessé, Colin Chia, Yilang Feng, Erik Underwood, and Han Zhen. Bélanger, Castle, and Underwood provided able editorial service and valuable suggestions for improvements to the text. Funding came through research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council Canada (SSHRC), Fonds de recherche du Québec—Société et culture (FRQSC), and the James McGill chair. I have conducted field research in several countries, including Australia, Austria, China, India, Japan, Russia, and Singapore. Seminar presentations at various institutions in these countries and in the U.S. helped to sharpen the arguments. These include: the University of Adelaide; the Aoyoma Gakuin University, Tokyo; University of Arizona, Tucson; Australian National University, Canberra; Beijing Foreign Affairs University; Bilkent University, Ankara; Brunei Diplomatic Academy; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China Institute of International Studies, Beijing; Diplomatic Academy, Vienna; FLASCO Ecuador; Fudan University, Shanghai; Griffith University, Brisbane; Higher School of Economics, Moscow; Institut Barcelona d’estudis internacionals (IBEI); Japan Foundation, Tokyo; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Jinan xiii xiv ack n ow l e d g m e n ts University, Guangzhou; Kerala International Center; Kerala University, Trivandrum; Koç University, Istanbul; Kyoto University; Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam; Universiti Malaysia, Sabah; Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Murdoch University, Perth; Nagoya University; Nanjing University; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; National University of Malaysia; Naval War College, Goa; University of New South Wales, Sydney; Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi; University of Chicago; Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto; University of Salzburg; Sasakawa Foundation/International House of Japan; Shanghai Institute of International Studies; Society for Policy Studies/India International Center, New Delhi; State University, St. Petersburg; Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou; Sydney University; Tongi University, Shanghai; Tsinghua University, Beijing; UN University, Tokyo; University of Western Australia, Perth; and Yokohama University. A book workshop organized by McGill’s Center for International Peace and Security Studies (CIPSS) in November 2015 provided critical analysis from my colleagues and graduate students. Comments by Megan Bradley, Mark Brawley, John A. Hall, Michael Lipson, Vincent Pouliot, Norrin Ripsman, and Anatassio Tasso were very useful. I thank John Ciorciari, Kai He, Steven Lobell, Mahesh Shankar, and Jeffrey Taliaferro for offering excellent suggestions on various chapters of the manuscript. A workshop at the University of Chicago yielded many critical comments by Alexandra Chinchilla, Charles Lipson, and others. At the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, where I spent time as a distinguished visiting scholar in 2014 and 2016, I benefited from seminars and a book workshop organized by Rajesh Basrur, Barry Desker, Anit Mukherjee, Evan Resnick, and Pascal Venesson. In Japan, Kenki Adachi, Kumiko Haba, and Hiro Katsumata enabled my interaction with Japanese scholars. Others who offered valuable comments are Husaini Alauddin, Richard Harknett, Markus Kornprobst, Vendulka Kubalkova, Cheng-Chwee Kuik, Lawrence Prabhakar, Rajesh Rajagoplan, K. M. Seethi, David Shambaugh, Raju Thadikkaran, Anders Wivel, and Lai YewMeng. I was also helped in one way or another by Amitav Acharya, Navnita Behera, C. Uday Bhaskar, Nick Bisely, Roberto Dominguez, Rajat Ganguly, Ian Hall, Andrej Krickovich, Antonia Maioni, Hudson Meadwell, CMA Nayar, Venu Rajamony, Maria Rublee, ack n ow l e d g m e n ts xv T. P. Sreenivasan, Ashok Swain, and Joseph Liow Chin Yong. The keynote addresses I gave at regional meetings as president of the International Studies Association (2016–17), especially the Mexican International Studies Association convention in Huatulco in October 2017, also sparked many useful conversations on the arguments presented here. Sections of chapter 2 are drawn from my article “Soft Balancing in the Age of U.S. Primacy,” International Security 30, no. 1 (Summer 2005); 46–71 (with permission from MIT Press). I am grateful to Yale University Press for showing interest in this book and to my editors, William Frucht and Robin DuBlanc, who did much to improve the text. Don Fehr at Trident Media Group worked sincerely on my behalf for this to materialize. I am also much appreciative of my family: my wife Rachel, my daughters Kavya and Leah, my son-in-law Daniel, and my brothers Varkey and Mathew for their constant support. This page intentionally left blank o•n•e Balance of Power Today F or more than three centuries, balance of power has been the primary instrument of stability among great powers. Yet since 1991 the world has witnessed a great imbalance in power. After the end of the Cold War, the United States emerged as the unquestioned hegemon and has not been directly challenged by a major balancing coalition. China has risen to global power status within just three decades, approaching the U.S. in gross national wealth and engaging in threatening behavior toward some of its neighbors. Yet Beijing also has not been the subject of serious balancing activity during these decades. Only since 2010 have the U.S. and affected regional powers resorted to limited military balancing toward China. The dominant theories of international relations cannot explain this lack of intense balancing behavior against contemporary great powers. The anomaly is especially pronounced for realists, many of whom seem to give balancing almost the force of law. Hard balancing—involving formal military alliances and matching military buildups—appears to have been sidelined by most states as a foreign-policy tool, at least for now. At most, contemporary balancing has largely consisted of limited arms buildups and informal alignments. Until 2016, despite its provocative behavior against Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltic countries, even Vladimir Putin’s Russia had attracted only limited hard balancing. What accounts for this lack of intense balancing? 1 2 ba l ance of p ower to day Will this state of affairs continue? The Trump administration’s maverick foreign-policy positions have raised questions about many of the assumptions underlying international relations theories. In the system now emerging, will we see more reliance on arms buildups and formal alliances as states revise their perceptions about who their friends and enemies are? This book argues that in the first two decades of the post–Cold War era, countries engaged more often in soft balancing, relying on informal alignments, international institutions, and economic sanctions to restrain threatening powers. The capabilities of established and rising powers appeared to be perceived by other states as giving less cause for concern than in the past because they could no longer easily be used to conquer territory. Hard balancing did not disappear, but in many circumstances, it became a less attractive option. This progression from hard to soft balancing needs an explanation. I propose that from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries, when European great powers dominated the international system, the continental states had cause to worry about one another’s increasing power capabilities, since such power was being actively used for conquest. Balancing was an essential strategy by which a state avoided conquest and retained its sovereign independence. An exception was the Concert era (1815–53), when the European great powers relied on an institutional mechanism to prevent one another’s aggressive behavior. Hard balancing reemerged during the late nineteenth century, when almost all European powers viewed territorial conquest and mercantilist policies as necessary for their economic prosperity and security. Economic interdependence among some of the great powers could not prevent them from sliding into competitive outbidding and hard balancing, and ultimately into two major wars. In the interwar period, the victors of World War I attempted soft balancing through the League of Nations, but they generated resentment and nationalism in Germany, Italy, and Japan. Hard balancing reached its apogee in the Cold War, with the two superpower-led blocs competing with each other through formal alliances and arms buildups augmented by nuclear weapons. The post– Cold War era, however, brought deepened globalization and a perception bal ance of p ower to day 3 that outright military conquest has few payoffs. Economic interdependence, generated through globalization, has required states to adopt less threatening economic strategies, since economic prosperity demands access to the markets, technology, and the goodwill of others, especially the dominant economic powers. Active military balancing against these states might lead them to shut off market access, with significant security and welfare implications for the balancing state. More important, for reasons I will discuss, powerful states are unlikely to conquer others directly. Excessive efforts at balancing can lead to economic decline and loss of power. For the same reasons that second-ranking states are hesitant to balance against major powers, countries are also reluctant to form alliances with a threatening power. The alternative, therefore, has been to focus on soft balancing or limited hard balancing as and when threats emerge. Such behavior is sometimes born more out of “making virtue of necessity” than by choice alone. The case studies in this book suggest that other options may not be seen as viable when the target state is too powerful or the balancing state is too reliant on the other’s markets and protection. Today, increases in the power capabilities of states do not automatically entail threats to other states’ sovereignty or territory, the twin fears that led to intense hard balancing in the past. While increasing economic interdependence has been the most important reason for this transformation, other normative and material changes have also made hard-balancing behavior more costly. These changes include a territorial integrity norm that forbids altering national boundaries by force; increased sovereignty and nationalistic aspirations; the asymmetric capabilities of weaker states; the availability of weapons that allow deterrence and defense rather than offense; and the absence of a territorially expansionist ideology among the contemporary great powers. It is possible that a reversal of these factors could bring a return of intense hard balancing. President Trump’s statements, if followed through, could generate conditions favorable for hard balancing, especially by China. My point here is that balancing is a human-created activity and the instruments states choose determine their outcomes more often than structural theories suggest. 4 ba l ance of p ower to day The Need for Balancing In the twentieth century, wars were the number one cause of death after natural causes such as diseases and old age. Great powers participated either directly or indirectly in most of these wars. Since the European great-power system emerged around AD 1600, there have been nine major wars in which almost all great powers of the time participated.1 World War I reportedly resulted in some 37 million casualties, and World War II caused 72 million.2 Thus the two wars together generated 109 million casualties. During the Cold War era, the proxy wars fought by the two superpowers also killed millions: according to one estimate, U.S. interventions caused 20 to 30 million deaths in the developing world.3 The post–Cold War conflict in Iraq has generated over a quarter of a million casualties so far.4 Great-power interventions and proxy wars have other consequences for regional order and peace. The ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, for instance, result to a great extent from failed great-power interventions that produced extraordinarily violent consequences for those three countries. Largely because of these failures, groups with extreme religious ideologies such as ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram have taken control of many poorly governed spaces in the most violent fashion imaginable. In the past, great powers regularly fought major wars, but with the exception of the Korean War, there have been none since 1945. But the great powers have been more prone to engaging in intense rivalries and generating instability by starting proxy wars in volatile regions. Surprisingly, however, our understanding of how these wars are generated and how they might be restrained is rather limited. The international community takes it for granted that great powers have an inherent responsibility and capacity to maintain order, even though they are the main causes of the violence. Advanced countries invest a great deal in medical research programs to cure and prevent diseases. But there is no analogous effort to prevent wars that can kill millions of people. And, to reiterate, great-power politics and reckless policies account for many of these wars in the first place. Great powers have managed to legitimize their aggressive behavior through propaganda and sheer dominance accrued over half a millen- bal ance of p ower to day 5 nium of European-, Russian- and American-led world systems. It is astonishing that even in the most democratic nations, decisions for war among great powers are made by small groups of powerful individuals. These elites’ decisions have not often been met with widespread social opposition except when casualties began to mount. The U.S. wars in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s and in Iraq beginning in 2003 testify to the illogical—and highly politicized—nature of war decisions in democratic great powers. The Soviet Union, which of course was not a democracy, invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and also found itself trapped in a disastrous, unwinnable war. Even worse were the choices made by leaders of great powers in 1914, which historian Barbara Tuchman called an example of “the march of folly.”5 Many leaders in great-power states showed terrible judgment, but they had the power to command their citizens to make the supreme sacrifice on behalf of the nation-state.6 As Jack Snyder powerfully argues, great powers have often engaged in counterproductive aggressive policies that generated insecurity for themselves and other states. Snyder attributes these self-inflicted disasters to the logrolling coalitions that form among domestic interest groups and bureaucratic elites that “justify their self-serving policies in terms of broader public interests in national survival.”7 The social contract that binds the citizen to the state has worked to the advantage of decision-making elites. Although many economic and technological factors contribute to the rise and decline of great powers, the elite-crafted grand strategy of the state has always been a major cause for aggression and warfare.8 Great powers can also be the makers and reformers of international and regional orders, of course.9 The question is whether they accomplish these goals through peaceful means, such as the creation of institutions and norms. Great powers have certainly shaped or built international and regional orders through economic openness, market access, and protection of smaller actors. They have often helped to create international law and legal norms, even though they sometimes violate the same laws and norms. They try to obtain regional peace and order while creating conditions for regional rivalries to persist. They have attempted to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons but have looked the other way when a few smaller allies acquired them. This is one of the paradoxes of great-power behavior. 6 ba l ance of p ower to day The rise of China and the resurgence of Russia in the second decade of the twenty-first century have generated many worries about these two powers’ growing material capabilities and behavioral patterns. Will China’s rise be followed by intense wars like those fought between European great powers during the past five centuries, or can the key contenders be restrained through military and nonmilitary instruments? Will the declining powers peacefully accommodate the rising powers?10 These general questions could be rephrased in more specific terms: will Russia attempt to reconquer its former empire, including Ukraine and the Baltic states? Will China’s foray into the American-dominated Indian and Pacific Oceans—now considered global commons— generate military responses? Will the U.S. retreat or face its challengers violently? In international relations scholarship, power-transition and powercycle theories generally predict that as leading states approach parity, they will most likely go to war.11 But many now believe that great-power wars are obsolete.12 Some think that international norms, reinforced by economic interdependence, are strong enough to prevent great-power wars. To others, the mutual assured destruction (MAD) generated by nuclear weapons makes it impossible for one great power to wage war against another. But this restraint is limited to big wars. Great powers can still fight smaller wars, especially in peripheral regions, and these smaller conflicts could escalate into larger ones. As we advance toward the third decade of the twenty-first century, deterrence may be weakening in greatpower relationships, especially in the territories adjacent to China and Russia. Intensified globalization and increased economic interdependence since the 1990s should give us some hope for sustained peace among great and aspiring powers. Rising powers such as China and India have both benefited from greater international trade and investment. Historically, great powers fought over territory, ideology, wealth, status, and prestige. While many observers see the post–Cold War period as characterized by a lack of military balancing, I argue that this is because states have been using different tools—soft balancing—to accomplish the same objective of restraining threatening powers. I further argue that after two decades of soft balancing, great powers today have also increasingly en- bal ance of p ower to day 7 gaged in limited hard balancing, relying on asymmetrical arms buildups and quasi-balancing coalitions. Whether intense balance-of-power competition returns or states continue to use soft balancing or mixed strategies will depend on the threat environment, the dominance of offensive over defensive and deterrent weapons, the presence or absence of intense nationalist and expansionist ideologies, the existence or absence of norms against territorial expansion, and whether territorial expansion once again becomes necessary for maintaining or acquiring great-power status. More important, perhaps, is how much value great powers accord to the norms and principles of international institutions and the legitimacy of nonmilitary mechanisms for maintaining their power positions. What Is Balance of Power? For the past four centuries, balance of power has been the bedrock of international politics and of realist international relations theory. The traditional instruments for restraining great powers are the acquisition of military capabilities (internal balancing) and the building of formal military alliances (external balancing) to prevent a great power from threatening other powers. Other realist approaches to peace include deterrence and containment of a rival or threatening power to prevent aggression. Deterrence is achieved through the threat of retaliation or denial of victory, while containment is intended to limit a threatening state’s power by isolating it. The security policies of major powers have relied more heavily on balance of power than on deterrence or containment. Observers trace balance of power’s antecedents to antiquity. Before it had a name or theoretical explication, balancing was employed by the Greek, Chinese, and Indian civilizations as well as by various empires and kingdoms.13 The Greeks practiced it in forming a league against Athens before the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC). The Delian League of Greek city-states formed in 478 BC to fight Persians was another example of a balancing coalition. Balance of power in the Roman era was scant: as Raymond Aron writes, “Rome was able to conquer her adversaries one after another, for they were unable to conclude in time the alliances which would have saved them.”14 8 ba l ance of p ower to day References to balance of power appear in the diplomatic history of Christendom against the Ottoman Turks. The medieval writers Dubois (1306), Marsilus of Padua (1326), and the king of Bohemia (1458) all proposed to go beyond “a single preponderant papal power against the Turks,” instead forming “a confederation, or something similar, of several powers united by alliances.”15 The Italian city-states practiced balance of power during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries along with their fine arts of diplomacy. The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) gave birth to the modern nation-state and the beginnings of the contemporary international order by developing the principle of sovereignty, by which states had the independent right to existence within an agreed-upon international order characterized by rules that limited the use of power.16 The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713–14, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), mentioned balance of power explicitly, noting that it would “secure and stabilize the peace and tranquility of the Christian world by a just equilibrium of power (which is the best and most solid basis of mutual friendship and durable harmony).”17 In many respects, the Treaty of Utrecht “was the diplomatic watershed between the mediation for a mythical unity by divine law and preponderance of power, and the mediation of estranged states by international law and balance of power.”18 The concept of balance of power was also underscored in correspondence between the French and British monarchs. In a letter of patent sent to Queen Anne of England along with the Utrecht treaty, King Louis XIV stated that Spain’s renunciation of rights over the French throne was driven by a hope of “obtaining a general Peace and securing the Tranquility of Europe by a Ballance of Power.”19 According to the French monarch, the Spanish crown had acknowledged “the Maxim of securing forever the universal Good and Quiet of Europe, by an equal Weight of Power, so that many being united in one, the Ballance of the Equality desired, might not turn to the Advantage of one, and the Danger and Hazard of the rest.”20 Jean-Jacques Rousseau was among the first to appreciate what had changed. Previously, he wrote shortly after Utrecht, balance of power in Europe had been “more the work of nature than of art. It maintains itself without effort, in such a manner that if it sinks on one side, it re- bal ance of p ower to day 9 establishes itself very soon on the other.”21 This perspective had led European observers to conclude that “the greatness of one Prince is . . . the ruin or the diminution of the greatness of his neighbor.”22 Now balancing became “art”: something to be deliberately created and maintained by great powers. The trajectory of balance of power has changed with the contours of European politics. From the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia to the 1792 French Revolution, the concept of a balance of power found expression in monarchs’ foreign policies, but the stakes for competition among them were relatively limited as the monarchs did not envision conquest on a Napoleonic scale.23 Following the Napoleonic Wars, conceptions about alliances, and thus the application of balance of power, came to reflect conservative states’ fear of resurgent French imperialism and the onset of revolutions. Later, the Concert of Europe and the League of Nations strengthened the notion of the nation-state. The League of Nations gave currency to the idea of national self-determination, which would be embraced all over the world following the world wars.24 As the dynastic era—based on close links between individual monarchs—gave way to the nationalist phase, the “policies of a collectivity such as the nation” came to the fore.25 Balance-of-power politics underwent three critical phases in the nineteenth century, beginning with the Concert System created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. During the first phase, pursuant to the Concert rules, territorial changes could be made only with the consent of great powers. This phase also generates questions about strict definitions of balance of power that rely on techniques such as alliances and arms buildups. In 1870, the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck began the second phase by attempting a different balance-of-power strategy relying on crafty alliance relationships. Bismarck had maintained a close alliance with Russia but kept open the possibility of a conflict between Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Balkans. When Russia expressed unhappiness over his acting as an honest broker, Bismarck formed a secret alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879. For the next decade, this treaty would lead both Russia and Italy to seek a closer alliance with Germany, preventing both a Franco-Russian alliance and the emergence of hard balancing.26 A third phase followed in the 1890s, after 10 ba l ance of p ower to day Bismarck’s dismissal from office. Germany abandoned its alliance with Russia, forcing St. Petersburg to ally with France. German policies would further alienate Britain, which would join the Franco-Russian alliance, leaving Germany in a tight alliance with Austria-Hungary. Thus a bipolar alliance system emerged. What was missing was the flexibility and intra-alliance interactions that Bismarck had cultivated.27 Of these three phases, Gordon Craig and Alexander George note in their book Force and Statecraft, “In terms of effectiveness, the first came closest to fulfilling the purposes for which it was formed. The second embodied all the ingenuity of its creator but was too complicated to have much inherent stability; and the third was little more than an exercise in desperation.”28 Germany’s rise as a continental and maritime power toward the end of the nineteenth century had the most transformative effect on the politics of Europe. Balance-of-power alliances among European powers drew the fault lines that led to the First World War: the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France in 1904, the Anglo-Russian agreement establishing the Triple Entente among France, Russia, and the United Kingdom in 1907, and the Triple Alliance among Germany, AustriaHungary, and Italy, in existence since 1882 but now invigorated. From 1919 until the end of World War II, when nationalism became global, Europe was the focal point of intense balance-of-power politics.29 The critical point was the failure to prevent a second cataclysmic war, as revisionist Germany, Japan, and Italy, despite their aggregate material weaknesses, attempted to break the balance of power in their favor. They succeeded at first, and it took the intervention of the United States and a determined Soviet Union under Stalin to eventually reverse the revisionist states’ victories. With the onset of the Cold War in 1949, balance of power took on global and regional dimensions. At the global level, the heyday of balance of power was during the Cold War era, when nuclear deterrence and containment became the dominant strategies of the two superpowers. The nuclear revolution added a new dimension to balance of power as the unprecedented buildup of destructive weapons helped maintain the system’s stability.30 The superpowers kept building new weapon systems in an arms race that was very much devoted to maintaining the balance of power. Deterrence was obviously the objective, but balancing was required for deterrence, and the two concepts bal ance of p ower to day 11 became intimately linked. For the Soviets, survival depended on catching up with the United States, first by acquiring a robust nuclear force and then by building a second-strike capability involving ICBMs and hydrogen bombs. Thus, an unending race to acquire balancing capabilities was a key characteristic of the Cold War.31 The newly emerging states in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) engaged in soft balancing against both superpowers, although with limited impact. The end of the Cold War in 1989–91 heralded a period of dramatic change in world affairs generally as well as in balance-of-power politics. The twin features of the post–Cold War era have been the rise of American power and the intensity of economic globalization. Both these features have helped to shape and refine balance-of-power approaches. In a near-unipolar world, restraining the most powerful states needed subtler instruments than arms buildups and formal alliances. Since 2010, however, balance-of-power politics has once again entered a transition, with a mixture of hard and soft instruments emerging as crucial for restraining the aggressive behavior and increasing capabilities of rising and resurgent powers. Russia and China have also used asymmetric strategies, including cyber warfare, to achieve their balance-of-power objectives. Nevertheless, a full-fledged balance-of-power competition comparable to previous eras has yet to emerge. Balance of power, then, has not remained static, but the realist treatment of it has not changed much. According to realists, states maintain security and stability at the international level largely through military balancing. Great powers invariably engage in balancing against other great powers, because if they didn’t, one such power could gain the ability to dominate the others and thereby jeopardize their security. From this perspective, the key strategy for achieving great powers’ security goals has hardly changed.32 Realist scholars such as Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer have described the persistence of balance of power as perhaps the most important recurring phenomenon in world politics.33 As understood by realists, balance of power has at least two key dimensions that should be distinguished from one another: balance as an outcome and balancing as a strategy. Balance-of-power diplomacy and balance-of-power politics are strategies aimed at achieving outcomes 12 ba l ance of p ower to day based on an equilibrium of power. Both the strategy and the outcome rest on the following premises. First, the international system is anarchic, with no central governing authority to protect individual states. Second, a state’s paramount goal is to survive as an independent entity, since without survival it cannot pursue any other goal. Third, no state can truly know another state’s intentions—and even if it thinks it knows those intentions today, they could change at any time. Fourth, these three inescapable facts mean that power competition is a perpetual condition of international politics. To ensure their survival, states must have sufficient power to at least deter others whose intentions they cannot know. Differential growth rates and technological innovations endow states with ever-changing military and economic advantages. States seek to increase their capabilities in order to widen their interests and thereby seek more power as a way to protect their increasing assets and thus their survival itself. Fifth, when a powerful state attempts to become dominant, affected states will form defensive coalitions and/or acquire appropriate military wherewithal through internal or external sources so as to oppose the power of the rising or hegemonic state. If the rising power is not restrained, it will inevitably engage in aggressive behavior and cost others their independence and sovereign existence.34 When confronted with the prospect of domination or elimination by a hegemonic power, weaker actors band together to form balancing coalitions.35 As former British prime minister Viscount Palmerston said: “Balance of Power means only this—that a number of weaker states may unite to prevent a stronger one from acquiring a power which should be dangerous to them, and which should overthrow their independence, their liberty and their freedom of action. It is the doctrine of self-preservation.”36 Under a balance-of-power system, no state is allowed to obtain preponderant status over others; equal distribution of power is necessary for an equilibrium that preserves peace. With proper balancing, this equilibrium will restrain a rising power or a hegemonic state from challenging the status quo, as it is unlikely to win a war or succeed in its coercive policy. This traditional balancing, whose key mechanisms are formal alliances and matching or superior weapons systems, can be termed hard balancing. In general, two conditions must be present for states to actively pursue traditional hard balancing. First, they must perceive the exis- bal ance of p ower to day 13 tence of a rising or hegemonic power that, if not opposed, will threaten their sovereign existence and territorial integrity; and second, they must find allies with which to match the power of the rising or hegemonic state if they cannot accomplish this by their own internal efforts. A great power with rapidly growing power capabilities could eventually make other great powers relatively weak, jeopardizing both their physical existence and their status as independent centers of power. For international stability, according to the proponents of balance-of-power theory, the rise of a hegemonic power has therefore to be prevented through coalition building, arms buildup, or preventive war. The fundamental reasons a state pursues balance-of-power politics are to maintain its survival and sovereign independence as well as to preserve the state system and ensure that no single state predominates.37 For a great power, the strategy may also serve other goals, such as maintaining the independence of other great powers or smaller allies, but these are always secondary. As Jack Levy puts it, “Maintaining the independence of one’s own state is an irreducible national value, whereas maintaining the independence of other great powers is a means to that end, not an end in itself.”38 Even during the heyday of balance of power, great powers were occasionally willing to sacrifice the independence of smaller states (like Poland) to advance their own interests. The ultimate aim of balance of power for a great power remains protecting its own and its closest allies’ sovereignty and physical security. When strategically vital smaller powers are occupied by a threatening great power, other great powers can perceive that the threatening power’s eventual goal is domination over all states. This is why the European great powers feared expansionist France (under Napoleon) and Germany (under Wilhelm II and Hitler) so much that they formed defensive coalitions. Scholars disagree about whether balance of power is deliberately managed as a conscious strategy, or whether it happens automatically through a law of political behavior.39 Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the pioneers who believed that balance of war was “more the work of nature than of art.”40 On the other side are scholars such as Nicholas Spykman, who contended that “a political equilibrium is neither a gift of the gods nor an inherently stable condition. It results from the active intervention of man, from the operation of political forces. States cannot 14 ba l ance of p ower to day afford to wait passively for the happy time when a miraculously achieved balance of power will bring peace and security.”41 Spykman pointed out that the balance of power has a subjective dimension: countries tend to prefer a military balance in their favor over an equilibrium of power. Moreover, the test of relative strength is war, whose outbreak means that the balance of power has failed.42 In the years before 1848, three monarchical continental powers of Europe—Prussia, Russia, and Austria— thought a preponderance of power on their side was needed to prevent France from reemerging as a threat. During the 1880s and 1890s, many continental statesmen viewed the preponderant power of a German empire as necessary for peace. They thought the British affinity for balance of power was designed to uphold its naval dominance.43 Scholars also debate whether balancing occurs against a rising power or a threatening power, which assumes that not all rising powers are threatening.44 Why were a rising United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and a rising China in the twenty-first century not adequately balanced militarily? Is it possible the other great powers did not view the rising power as sufficiently threatening? Moreover, not all balancing is rational: leaders could shift their policies and begin a rapid arms buildup if they perceive that the balance of power is shifting against them, even though it may not be.45 And some scholars argue that it seems to occur more readily against continental powers such as Germany and Russia than against maritime powers like Britain and the U.S., which tend to favor offshore balancing of their continental adversaries.46 Between the two techniques (internal and external) of hard balancing, the more prominent is the latter: the alignment of like-minded countries to oppose a powerful state.47 States, including great powers, flock together to form coalitions to achieve defensive as well as deterrent strength so as to dissuade the hegemonic power from becoming too strong or threatening. If they do not form such coalitions to check the rise of a hegemon, they may eventually lose their sovereign existence. Weaker states also band together to prevent bullying by stronger powers. From the structural realist perspective, since self-preservation is the primary objective of states, balancing recurs in international politics as an automatic, natural law-like phenomenon.48 bal ance of p ower to day 15 The Recent Lack of Intense Hard Balancing Despite realist claims that balancing is almost a natural law-like phenomenon, there have been times when states were reluctant to play the game. One such era was the period between 1991 and approximately 2010, the aftermath of the Cold War. For at least two decades, despite the massively increasing power capabilities and warlike behavior of the United States, no credible balancing coalition emerged against it. U.S. power capabilities rapidly improved relative to other great powers, giving it the wherewithal to become overwhelmingly dominant. According to traditional balance-of-power theory, the American power position should have been balanced by other states out of fear that their security and status would be curtailed if the U.S. power were not contained before it became overwhelmingly superior.49 But no such balancing occurred. The solution to this mystery may lie in the changes that have taken place in world politics since World War II, and more importantly since 1991. These created the necessary and facilitating conditions for soft balancing as a dominant security strategy. The intensified globalization that emerged after the Cold War brought the economies of all rising and established powers to an unprecedented level of interconnectedness. In terms of trade and investment, these economies are linked, and developing an autarkic economy has become very difficult for any rising power. One school of thought, belonging to the economic interdependence theory, tells us that such deeply interconnected economies would be reluctant to escalate rivalries to the military level by pursuing intense hard-balancing strategies. Granted, this is a contested argument, since there was conflict among interdependent economies in the early nineteenth century. Great Britain fiercely defended the gold standard because it facilitated free trade, which favored Britain because it was able to import raw materials and profitably export manufactured goods.50 Although some scholars, such as Dani Rodrik, have argued that the global economy was also highly integrated before World War I, others—such as Michael Bordo, Barry Eichengreen, and Douglas Irwin—have pointed out that trade in the pre-1914 world was largely between imperial centers and their colonies, and that trade between empires was relatively slight. 16 ba l ance of p ower to day Today’s integration is “deeper” and “broader” than a century ago.51 More important, as Stephen Brooks argues, the biggest difference today to the pre–World War I era is that multinational corporations (MNCs) manufacture goods across the world. The unprecedented geographical dispersion of complex supply chains makes interdependence much deeper while making conquest a much less viable means of economic advancement.52 For instance, the 2017 World Investment Report stated that there were approximately 100,000 multinational enterprises, which also owned some 860,000 foreign affiliates, including many state-owned enterprises.53 Globalization of production and international subcontracting make contemporary interdependence much thicker than in previous eras.54 The fact that all rising powers benefit from deepened globalization is a positive feature of the current system. As early as the 1970s, Richard Rosecrance and Arthur Stein wrote that although foreign investment as a percentage of national income had decreased since 1913, the type of investment gave MNCs a larger stake in the foreign sector. Foreign investment was no longer simple credit but partial ownership and transfer of technology. These make it difficult for the country receiving the investment to threaten closure. And even as the costs of breaking off trade and investment relationships have increased, governments have become more responsive to foreign investment than they were in the nineteenth century. Moreover, “under the gold standard of 1880–1913, short-term capital movements were neither as extensive nor as disruptive” as they have become in recent times.55 These factors have only increased in magnitude since the end of the Cold War. Scholars now argue that the level of interdependence makes intense military balancing very costly in economic terms. Steve Chan, for instance, contends that “balancing policies would entail forfeiting possible gains that could accrue from cooperation, gains that states are wary of foregoing in the absence of demonstrable hostility from a stronger neighbor.”56 Economic interdependence alone may not be sufficient to produce the rise of soft balancing. Other factors have been just as crucial. The technological innovations of warfare are yet another development that restrains direct conquest. Nuclear weapons come to mind first, of course, but a whole array of weaponry today supports defense and deterrence as opposed to offense, leading to a more secure international bal ance of p ower to day 17 environment.57 Leaders’ perceptions of the balance between defensive and offensive capabilities are an important aspect of this, and so psychological factors also play a role—the “cult of the offensive” (in which all major European powers believed in the value of offensive military doctrines that extolled striking first) shares some blame for the start of World War I.58 Such technological factors are important in constraining rising powers, since expansion is more difficult when offensive capabilities are at a disadvantage. Of course, asymmetric strategies can also be used offensively, as evident in Russia’s and China’s use of cyber weaponry today. Moreover, there is no guarantee that future revolutions in military affairs will not produce new weapons that might favor offensive over defensive strategies. A further critical condition is the widespread availability of international institutions that allow great powers and other states to engage and constrain one another as an alternative to hard balancing. Institutions furnish a field for soft balancing and engagement, and their proliferation at the global and regional levels provides many arenas for a rising power to assert itself and acquire status. China, for instance, is a member of key multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization as well as financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, where it is increasingly demanding and being granted a greater voice. The rising powers themselves have been creating new institutions such as the BRICS Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Bank and have also had some success in modifying institutional structures like the G-20. The third factor explaining the absence of intense hard balancing is the norms of territorial integrity that grew out of the Cold War era and were strengthened by decolonization.59 These offer a level of assurance against blatant territorial expansion. It remains to be seen whether they will extend their disapproval in the next few decades to indirect control of foreign states, or will continue to prohibit only direct acquisition of territories. China may not be following the norms fully when it challenges the territorial orders in the South and East China Seas and along its border with India. Its pursuit of land acquisition and control of oil and natural gas fields in Africa, Central Asia, and Latin America may also generate problems if norms of territorial integrity are understood to 18 ba l ance of p ower to day prevent indirect control of other states’ territories. Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014 and its reannexation of Crimea in March 2014 also pose significant challenges to the territorial integrity norm—as did U.S. interventions in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Still, there is little chance the outside world will recognize Chinese and Russian territorial claims even if there is no direct military response. The territorial integrity norm, despite some key violations, has been functional for much of the post–Cold War era. Finally, the absence of expansionist ideologies such as Fascism, Nazism, and Marxism-Leninism offers some comfort that rising powers may not succumb, as their earlier counterparts did, to the temptation to become highly revisionist.60 Expansionist ideologies generate uncertainty for nonadherents and neighboring states, both of which may become targets of predation. Germany and Japan succumbed to Fascism in the 1930s even though they had recently been quasi-democracies. Militaristic elites found the international climate so intolerable that they took control of their states and began occupying other countries and territories, and their populations appear to have supported this idea. The established powers’ attitudes did not help. For instance, the racist immigration policies of the United States might have aggravated the Japanese public’s hostility toward it. The established powers’ grand strategies held little room for the peaceful accommodation of the revisionist powers. These variables, taken together, are crucial for understanding the modern turn toward soft balancing and limited hard-balancing strategies, especially among great powers. Three decades before World War I, economic interdependence was high, but the other conditions were absent. Weapons technologies such as the Maxim machine gun favored offense over defense, great powers embraced an expansionist ideology in the form of imperialism, and norms of territorial integrity and international institutions were both absent. The threat environment is heavily determined by the combination or predominance of these key elements of international order. The absence of intense bipolar or multipolar rivalry also encourages soft balancing. When rivalry is intense, states tend to resort to hard balancing. They may occasionally augment these efforts with soft balancing and paint their opponents’ military or security strategies as illegiti- bal ance of p ower to day 19 mate, but intense bipolar or multipolar systems are not conducive to soft balancing. A near unipolar system such as existed in the post–Cold War era offers favorable conditions for soft balancing to be applied more regularly, especially when the hegemonic power is perceived, as the United States was at least briefly, as benign and legitimate. This perception was rattled by the policies of the Bush and Trump administrations and to some extent by Obama-era interventions and drone attacks as well. In most parts of the world, America’s actions as a unipolar power reassured small and large countries alike that their sovereign existence and territorial integrity were reasonably secure. A counterfactual exercise might be useful here. If these conditions had been present during the early part of the twentieth century, could Europe have avoided the intense balance-of-power competition that led to the First World War? Although economic interdependence was high among some key states, other factors were not favorable. Today, countries seem less prone to hard balancing against power and are more often using nontraditional instruments.61 Traditional balancing has given way to complex patterns and strategies among great powers and others. I argue that in this transition era, states are increasingly resorting to soft balancing along with diplomatic engagement, supplemented with limited hard balancing. These instruments reflect an overarching hedging strategy in a period of uncertainty. In this new era, balancing is a complex art that can no longer be seen as an automatic consequence of the distribution of material power in the international system. Instead it a manual outcome, a policy consciously implemented by leaders. This does not mean that soft balancing has no relevance in eras when hard balancing dominates. Great powers in such times can use soft balancing as a secondary instrument. It can be employed even in periods of intense rivalry in order to delegitimize an opponent’s aggressive moves or as a first step toward tougher hard-balancing strategies. The two are often used in conjunction. t•w•o Restraint by Other Means T raditional balance-of-power politics does not fully capture great-power behavior in our era. Since the end of the Cold War, second-tier states have balanced the threatening behavior of the United States, and to some extent that of China, with limited, tacit, or indirect balancing strategies, largely through coalition building and diplomatic bargaining within international institutions. They have not formed formal bilateral and multilateral military alliances but have resorted largely to soft-balancing strategies. I define soft balancing as restraining the power or aggressive policies of a state through international institutions, concerted diplomacy via limited, informal ententes, and economic sanctions in order to make its aggressive actions less legitimate in the eyes of the world and hence its strategic goals more difficult to obtain.1 I should clarify the differences between soft and hard balancing. Hard-balancing alliances are formal arrangements, often with combined command structures, operational plans, bureaucratic frameworks, and military forces permanently stationed and ready to fight. NATO and the Warsaw Pact are prominent examples.2 As Henry Kissinger describes it, an alliance “creates a formal obligation to act in a precise way in defined contingencies. It brings about a strategic obligation fulfillable in an agreed manner. It arises out of a consciousness of shared interests, and the more parallel those interests are, the more cohesive the alliance will 20 rest r aint by other means 21 be.”3 Another scholar defines an alliance as a “formal agreement that pledges states to cooperate in using their military resources against a specific state or states and usually obligates one or more of the signatories to use force, or to consider (unilaterally or in consultation with allies) the use of force, in specified circumstances.”4 By their nature, formal alliances obligate members to commit to using force to defend their partners or to advance their offensive goals. This reciprocity makes formal alliances different from other forms of security cooperation. Soft-balancing coalitions tend to lack these elements. Second-tier states pursuing soft-balancing strategies often develop limited diplomatic coalitions, or ententes, to balance a powerful, rising, or threatening state. An entente is an informal or friendly understanding between two or more states on security matters without a formal commitment to military action.5 These coalitions do not have official structures, permanent institutions, or coordinated military planning beyond a minimal level.6 Consultation can be intense during crises, but otherwise it may remain limited and episodic. International institutions offer themselves as venues where contestation for legitimacy, a key tool of soft balancing, takes place. Hard balancing presupposes intense rivalry or expected rivalry—sometimes of a zero-sum nature—among the balancing states, whereas soft-balancing coalitions tend to be ad hoc. The intentions of the parties engaged in soft balancing are also important: the purpose of their tacit strategies should be directly related to reducing the effects of the target state’s threatening behavior. Soft-balancing strategies are usually directed against specific threats, whereas hard balancing can be developed against both specific threats or the fact of power alone, on the assumption that a powerful state will eventually threaten the security of the weaker side.7 An in-between category is limited hard balancing, which relies on limited arms buildup and semiformal alliances such as strategic partnerships. In the past few years, some of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, such as Vietnam and India, have formed limited hard-balancing coalitions with the U.S. in response to threatening behavior from China. These arrangements allow joint efforts and sharing of resources but not offensive warfare or operational coordination. They include the agreements Washington makes with many 22 rest r aint by other means countries, with no formal alliance, to allow the use of base facilities for the U.S. Navy. India’s limited hard balancing involves such a coordination with Washington as well as targeted spending meant to offset China’s military capabilities, without any intention of putting India’s military on an equal footing with China’s. In recent years, China and Russia have also formed a limited hard-balancing coalition in which both states have engaged in limited arms buildup aimed at balancing U.S. power, again without the intent of reaching parity soon. The strategic goal of these efforts is to make a potential attack costly and frustrate efforts at coercion. Table 1 shows the different types of balancing behavior. Hard balancing generally occurs among rivals or potential rivals. Rivals compete in multiple areas, including territory, ideology, and spheres of influence, Table 1 Types of balancing Type Mechanisms Objectives Examples Hard balancing Formal alliances Matching arms buildups Confront/balance powerful/ threatening state Triple Alliance vs. Triple Entente Allied vs. Axis Powers NATO vs. Warsaw Pact Limited hard balancing Coordinated military Restrain power/ activity, short of threatening formal alliances behavior Limited, asymmetrical arms buildups China vs. U.S. India and U.S. vs. China (2010–) Soft balancing Limited institutional alignments Informal ententes Concert of Europe (1815–53) Russia and China vs. U.S. (1996–) Restrain power/ threatening behavior India and Japan vs. China (2014–) rest r aint by other means 23 and they may have a history of militarized conflicts.8 The security dilemma among rivals is a large problem. Limited hard balancing also assumes limited or partial rivalry. It may occur during a pre-rivalry phase when states expect a rivalry to emerge in the near term, as a form of hedging against anticipated threats. Semiformal alignments and arms buildups not matching the strength of the powerful actor are characteristic of this form of balancing. Unlike hard balancing, soft balancing can occur among allies and adversaries alike. Soft-balancing strategies are limited, institution-based, noncooperative attempts to make the powerful threatening state relent in its behavior and return to normal friendly attitudes and postures. I should clarify that both soft balancing and hard balancing are coercive strategies intended to alter the target state’s cost-benefit calculations. Whereas hard balancing seeks to aggregate material capabilities in an effort to diminish, deter, or if necessary defeat a powerful or aggressive opponent, soft balancing seeks to accomplish one or more of the following: • To impede the target’s ability to profit from bad behavior (for example, through the imposition of economic sanctions); • To increase the marginal cost to the target state of carrying out its plans (for example, access denial via institutional frameworks); • To delegitimate the target’s behavior in the eyes of third parties; • To signal that continued noncompliance by the target may trigger hard balancing. In adopting these approaches, states make a number of cost-benefit calculations. First, the target state is more likely to alter its policies in a benign manner in response to this approach, whereas it could react with heavy reprisal if the states attempted military balancing. Second, the powerful actor is prone to reform its policies if they make its leaders suffer a loss of legitimacy. In some instances, the targeted state may be a key contributor of public goods, including an export market that it is 24 rest r aint by other means likely to continue to provide. The states in a soft-balancing coalition are calculating that the costs of their actions are tolerable and can be shared among the participants if the target engages in punitive actions.9 The aim of a soft-balancing strategy is to deny legitimacy to actions that challenge the international or regional order. The expectation is that the target will return to cooperation and that the parties can reach an equitable bargain.10 Through soft balancing, states are also attempting to influence domestic opinion within the target state, perhaps anticipating that powerful coalitions within that state will seek to stop behavior that is adversely affecting its reputation and legitimacy. Why would a great power use soft balancing as opposed to limited hard balancing or full-fledged hard balancing? The key determinant is the threat level posed by the target state. If a rising state is revolutionary and has proclaimed its intention to fundamentally alter international or regional order, especially territorial order, that could trigger hard balancing. But if the balancing state perceives that the threatening state has only limited aims and can be persuaded to alter its policies through institutional or limited coercive mechanisms, soft balancing or limited hard balancing may be the most cost-effective option. The strategy may be to give the target an opportunity to alter its policies. A revisionist state that fundamentally challenges the sovereignty of several states requires largescale hard balancing. Sometimes the status quo states do not grasp the revisionist states’ goals at an early enough stage to prevent war, as happened with the intentions of Germany, Italy, and Japan during the 1930s. International Institutions and Balancing International institutions have been a key component in restraining great powers since the nineteenth century and have been particularly important in the post–Cold War era. Yet the role of institutions in discouraging great powers from pursuing aggressive policies has received relatively little attention from scholars. The dominant realist discourse downplays the importance of international institutions, while liberal and constructivist scholars often pay little attention to the power dynamics inherent in international institutions. The literature on international institutions generally concentrates on their role in international rest r aint by other means 25 cooperation, especially economic cooperation. Liberal institutionalist theorists have demonstrated how institutions facilitate transactions and cooperation between states, help overcome coordination dilemmas, and act as vehicles of transnational participation and as catalysts for coalitions among states.11 But these functionalist discussions seldom explore how great and non-great powers use institutions to reduce the aggressive behavior of others while avoiding the necessity of military balancing. Soft balancing is an effort to limit the utility of military strength. States resort to it when they face constraints in balancing a power by military means, for instance, if they are smaller states vulnerable to military counteractions by a powerful target. Liberal scholars such as John Ikenberry have explored the use of institutions by the U.S. after victory in major wars to bind secondary states.12 The converse, however—how secondary states use institutions to bind the U.S. or other great powers—has yet to draw much scholarly attention. Moreover, it remains a weakness of liberal theories of institutions that we do not know when and how institutions promote changes in policies, and when they instead generate intense nationalism and confrontational responses in the targeted power. This oversight is somewhat surprising given that the use of international institutions as a component of soft balancing, which today is a prominent feature of international politics, is not an especially recent one. Great powers have been using institutions to curtail each other’s aggressive behavior for a long time. In some historical eras, such as the first decade of the Concert of Europe or the two decades since the end of the Cold War, soft balancing was an important complement to the hard-balancing instruments of arms buildups and formal alliances. The Congress of Vienna, which inaugurated the Concert of Europe, largely depended on an institutional mechanism to restrain great powers, and institutional means have been a key part of the European powers’ overall balancing strategy ever since. In the aftermath of World War I, the Allied powers attempted to blunt the aggressive behavior of Germany and Italy as well as Japan through the League of Nations. They were simultaneously building their military capabilities, although initially at a slower pace. During the Cold War, the U.S. and USSR used 26 rest r aint by other means the UN system—especially their veto power in the Security Council— to restrain one another, although hard-balancing approaches dominated the Cold War era. Today, the U.S., its European allies, and smaller states in Asia use institutions and sanctions to constrain the aggressive behavior of Russia and China while also employing hard balancing and limited hard-balancing strategies. For instance, the main vehicle of hard balancing by the West against Russia—NATO and its military buildup—is supplemented by economic sanctions against Russian banks and individuals involved in activities of which the West does not approve. Limited Alignments and Informal Ententes A second technique of soft balancing is the use of informal alliances or ententes, sometimes called “strategic partnerships.” Through these mechanisms, countries engage in periodic meetings, joint exercises, and other limited activities without entering a formal military alliance. They need not make a mutual pledge to come to each other’s rescue or participate in one another’s conflicts. Often these partial alignments are signaling devices and means of reassurance. The U.S., for instance, has many states as strategic partners, including India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and New Zealand. These are not strictly military alliances and entail a lesser commitment than that enjoyed by a NATO ally or a “Major Non-NATO Ally,” a formal classification the U.S. gives to countries like Israel. These looser alliances are meant to coordinate diplomatic positions on security issues and allow a certain amount of cooperation, especially in weapon and technology transfers.13 The level of commitment varies. India has agreements with many countries that are little more than rhetorical statements.14 I include strategic partnership as a soft-balancing tool only if it has a security component and is explicitly aimed at balancing the power or threatening behavior of another state but is below the level of a formal alliance. Limited joint military exercises can be a soft-balancing signaling device, but if the relationship develops into anything more significant, such as allowing the use of base facilities, then such an alignment counts as limited hard balancing. rest r aint by other means 27 Economic Sanctions A third key mechanism of soft balancing has been economic sanctions on target states. Such an action is an alternative to doing nothing, and it registers displeasure through economic punishment—and, should the behavior be modified, through rewards. Historically, sanctions have been used for containment and coercion of weaker states. Woodrow Wilson called them the “economic, peaceful, silent, deadly remedy”; he considered them a substitute for war in dealing with any state that broke its promises to the League of Nations.15 Sanctions can be unilateral, multilateral, or sector specific. Multilateral sanctions imposed through international and regional institutions appear to have more legitimacy and higher chances of success than unilateral sanctions, unless the target is fully dependent on the sanctioning state for the sanctioned products or services. Over the years, the major powers have found sanctions increasingly attractive as the costs of military intervention—in money, lives, and public opinion—have risen.16 One important objective of economic sanctions has been to signal to national and international audiences one’s displeasure at the target state’s behavior or policy choices. But they require international support if they are to work.17 Whether sanctions are more likely to be used, or are more effective, in an era of globalization is a contentious question. Some argue that globalization has increased interdependence, and sanctions could end up hurting both the states imposing them and the target state. But military conflict would be worse. Short of war, antagonistic alliances formed through hard balancing could also hurt interdependent economies. Although sanctions have limitations, they may be more effective if they follow international institutional or treaty guidelines such as those of the World Trade Organization. Their impact can quickly fade away if the target finds alternate sources for the goods being denied.18 This is why the backing of international institutions and near unanimity among great powers have been critical for sanctions to work. The recent sanctions against Iran, for instance, were effective because the U.S., Europe, Russia, and China all joined in opposing Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. 28 rest r aint by other means As part of a soft-balancing strategy, sanctions can be a way to send a strong signal to a threatening state without engaging in violence or a costly arms buildup. Economic sanctions and denial were very much part of the U.S. and Western containment efforts during the Cold War era. Containment is often a strategy of the powerful against a threatening state or coalition, sometimes alongside an overall hard-balancing strategy. Economic sanctions under soft balancing may be episodic and issue specific, and weaker actors can also attempt to apply them against stronger targets. It should be noted that some of these same instruments can be used for other strategic objectives. Sanctions are good ways to signal disapproval in response to behavior that is not necessarily threatening but is still seen as unacceptable. More important, they can be used to weaken the target’s military power or its leadership’s legitimacy, both of which reduce its hard-balancing capabilities. American economic containment during the Cold War era, for example, relied on a strategic embargo to weaken the Soviet Bloc’s ability to build weapons, and thus to reduce the national strength that Moscow could have used against the West.19 Legitimacy Denial A common thread runs through all of these soft-balancing mechanisms: the denial of legitimacy to the threatening power. Great powers have used institutions to legitimate their policies or to delegitimize those of their opponents for two centuries. As a key tool of soft balancing, economic sanctions have often performed the same functions. Legitimacy rises for the sanctioning state if sanctions are multilateral and have the authority of an international institution such as the United Nations. Denying the aggressor international legitimacy, the thinking goes, makes aggressive behavior costlier. In the past, even when great powers did not succeed in curtailing an aggressor’s behavior militarily, they periodically used economic sanctions to constrain threatening behavior. They believed legitimacy could be an instrument of persuasion. Implicit in this is the acknowledgment that a state’s durability as a great power is based on the authority and respect it is accorded within the international system, in particular by its great-power peers. Weaker states, if rest r aint by other means 29 they are united, can also use institutions to diminish the legitimacy of great powers. According to Robert Jackman, legitimacy is a foundational idea for power relations in the political realm “because it reflects the degree to which those who seek to rule (i.e. to exercise power) are accepted by the ruled.”20 Martha Finnemore defines legitimacy as the “tacit acceptance of social structure in which power is exercised.”21 It is conferred by others, even though one can debate its source. According to some scholars, legitimacy in modern times has been determined largely by a great power’s actions, especially the degree to which they are consistent with international legal norms. To Ian Hurd, legitimacy is “the normative belief by an actor that a rule or institution ought to be obeyed.”22 It implies “lawfulness by virtue of being authorized or in accordance with law.”23 Legitimate power involves not just the “capacity but also a right to act, with both capacity and right being seen to rest on the consent of those over whom the power is exercised.”24 There are relational, ideational, and intersubjective elements to legitimate power: actors gain it only “within relationships,” it is “constituted in social institutions,” and it exists within the “shared communicative realm between individual actors.”25 For English School scholars, legitimacy is a foundational idea in international relations. Adam Watson defines it as “the acceptance of authority, the right of a rule or a ruler to be obeyed, as distinguished from the power to coerce.” Martin Wight puts it more broadly: legitimacy is “the collective judgment of international society about the rightful membership of the family of nations; how sovereignty may be transferred; and how state succession is to be regulated, when large states break up into smaller, or several states combine into one.”26 For both large and small states, legitimacy lowers the cost of exerting power, and states make considerable efforts to obtain, maintain, and prolong their power position through legitimacy. International institutions as well as legal instruments such as treaties are key arenas where legitimacy is achieved and maintained. The quest for legitimacy has both rational and emotive aspects: it is a fact of international politics that people wish, often fervently, for their nations to have the world’s respect. This gives leverage to institutions that can confer legitimacy. Hegemonic powers especially need legitimacy to acquire and maintain supremacy. The goal of soft balancing for second-ranking powers is to deprive the powerful actor of the legitimacy it needs to 30 rest r aint by other means maintain its authority, especially in the institutions it uses to justify coercive military actions.27 A great power whose legitimacy is challenged can engage in a counter-legitimacy push or else change the rules of the legitimacy game. Christian Reus-Smit argues that in 2003, when the UN Security Council would not approve the Bush administration’s offensive on Iraq, Washington attempted to argue that compliance with its position was a test of the UN’s legitimacy, not of the American decision to wage war. But this self-legitimation effort failed.28 Classical balance of power has been partly based on this legitimacy principle, as alliances themselves cannot be sustained if the leading power lacks authority. But the neorealist conception of balancing, as attributed to Kenneth Waltz, does not include legitimacy as a key aspect of balancing. The theory relies solely on material capabilities, operating in a somewhat mechanistic fashion. Maintaining and sustaining one’s alliance leadership and obtaining new allies require legitimacy, and while crude military power is useful, coalitions based only on that do not necessarily last. The assumption of neorealists is that legitimacy itself is determined by material power. But second-ranking states always try to create normative boundaries for great-power behavior, and transgressing these boundaries can be costly. Much international relations scholarship of the realist variety assumes that great powers are largely restrained through military power and alliances. Nonmilitary instruments for balancing power are seen as ineffective or epiphenomenal to power, and efforts to use them are even taken as signs of weakness.29 An exception is Christopher Layne, who found soft balancing using diplomatic methods a valuable “component of counterbalancing strategies,” arguing also that it lays the groundwork for hard balancing in the future.30 The realist position arises from a selective reading of history. In the modern world, great powers have resorted as often to softer diplomatic instruments as to military ones to restrain their opponents. Great powers use these instruments particularly in response to the aggressive behavior of rising powers when it threatens their interests. Moreover, while nonmilitary instruments are sometimes dismissed as ineffective, military instruments have also failed, and the resulting breakdowns in the balance of power have led to disastrous wars. rest r aint by other means 31 Facilitating Conditions Scholars who ask whether soft balancing works—whether it actually modifies any state’s behavior—are implicitly comparing it to hard balancing through military instruments. The assumption is that military balancing works more effectively. But this should not be assumed away; it requires careful analysis. The debate over soft balancing resembles the one over economic sanctions, to which some scholars and practitioners assign little value as a tool of statecraft. But as Jonathan Kirshner reminds us, military force has often failed to produce positive results, and all techniques of statecraft must be weighed in terms of their political costs and benefits. No strategy offers a guarantee of success. All one can do is to develop an optimal policy that takes costs and benefits into account.31 This being said, I can suggest some general insights about the ideal conditions for favorable soft-balancing outcomes. These conditions have normative, material, and technological dimensions. A number of facilitating conditions should exist for soft balancing to succeed or even to be seriously attempted. First is the threat environment: it should not be existential or even severe, and rivalry among the target and balancing states should be limited. The rise of a powerful actor with the perceived intent and capabilities to alter states’ independent existence could encourage them to resort to hard balancing, even though they could gain more legitimacy for their efforts by combining it with soft balancing. Second, the success of soft balancing depends on how much importance the great powers assign to international legitimacy as a basis of their power. The more important it is that their power be seen as legitimate, the higher the chances that soft-balancing efforts will be effective. The legitimacy of the international order is also important, as power and legitimacy are certainly related. States, especially powerful states, use institutions to reinforce what they perceive as legitimate behavior. This affects the success of soft balancing because if targeted great powers perceive the international order as illegitimate, they may disregard the norms inherent in its institutions. If institutions are seen as illegitimate, their use as part of soft balancing may even trigger nationalism and aggressive behavior by the targeted power. When great powers are driven 32 rest r aint by other means by ultra-nationalism or perceived grievance against dominant powers, soft balancing is unlikely to work. Third, the immediate aftermath of a major conflict is more conducive to soft balancing than two or more decades later. Great powers conspicuously turn to institutions following a large war or a major conflict like the Cold War. We saw short-lived “golden periods” of institutions immediately after the Napoleonic Wars, after World War I and World War II, and again at the end of the Cold War. The creation of institutions in immediate postwar settlement periods may be the result of war fatigue among the great powers. It seems, however, that war fatigue has a limited life span, and postwar institutions become weaker or extinct as the institutions prove increasingly unable to address major issues. The importance accorded to institutions by major powers after a conflict temporarily facilitates soft balancing. Fourth, broad participation by all key states in institutions is a factor in the success of soft balancing. After a war, the winning and losing sides should both have a significant role to play in international affairs. The success of the Concert System is attributable in part to its continued incorporation of victors and defeated powers. The same has been true of the post–World War II multilateral system. The post–World War I institutional system was less representative and less permanent. John Ikenberry has argued that the U.S. designed and developed institutions in the post–World War II era to constrain the behavior of its allies.32 Yet not only the U.S. but all great powers have on occasion used the post– World War II multilateral institutions to further their strategic goals and to constrain their opponents. Only when great powers were excluded from the dominant institutions have they failed to play a role. Broad participation in international institutions especially facilitates soft balancing if it enables states to benefit from economic integration and growth. The immediate post–Cold War era, when economic globalization encouraged leading powers to support welfare-enhancing institutions, was one such opportunity. Fifth, soft balancing works better when defensive and deterrent systems dominate the day’s military weapons. Offensive weaponry can be correlated with offensive doctrines, aggressive warfare, and a rising power’s desire to use force to alter the status quo. Soft balancing has also rest r aint by other means 33 failed when technology and ideology led states to see an advantage in conquest. When aggressive states could (or thought they could) achieve their goals easily through offensive military means, institutions were often perceived as perpetuating an unjust order. Sixth, the success of soft-balancing techniques could depend on the target state’s relative dependence on limited sources for its economic well-being and the absence of alternate trading partners or sources of national income. This is one reason economic globalization and high levels of interdependence favor soft balancing, but this variable alone may not be sufficient to prevent hard-balancing coalitions from emerging. The effectiveness of soft balancing may also depend on the degree of international support for the sanction regimes. If other sources are available, the target state could ignore the sanctions and continue its aggressive behavior. Finally, the success of a soft-balancing strategy will depend on how much domestic support the state resorting to it has to sustain the strategy, and how much its actions can influence domestic political opinion in the target state. A state may attempt soft balancing if dominant coalitions within the ruling structure demand and support it. While this may explain one side of the story, the target state’s public opinion matters too if the strategy is to succeed. If soft balancing by other states makes the target’s public more nationalistic, then the strategy could backfire, as happened with Italy and Japan prior to World War II. The target state must contain powerful factions that can push it to modify its behavior toward a nonthreatening posture. These conditions are ideals, and not all of them need to be present for soft balancing to succeed. Critics of Soft Balancing During the past decade, the soft-balancing literature has drawn much criticism, chiefly from realist scholars. The main criticisms can be summarized as follows. First, these scholars contend that there is little empirical support for the phenomenon of soft balancing, and that the limited number of cases makes it difficult to produce a valid theory. Second, soft balancing is more like simple “diplomatic friction” than a 34 rest r aint by other means concerted policy, and therefore it lacks coherence. Third, it is best understood as a rhetorical device rather than an active policy instrument. Fourth, as a policy instrument, its value is questionable because success is not guaranteed. Finally, soft balancing is relevant only under conditions of unipolarity and hence has limited value for situations where power is not concentrated in one state.33 I will take up these criticisms in order. First, soft balancing makes many appearances in the historical record, going back well beyond the post–Cold War era. States have relied on it as a complement to hard balancing since at least the Concert of Europe. A number of scholars have noticed its regional operation in places ranging from Africa to Latin America to Central Asia.34 Others have examined its validity in different historical eras and international systems.35 Second, soft balancing is more than diplomatic friction. It implies active use of institutions, limited coalitions, and coordinated actions for an extended period, all employing specific strategies aimed at restraining a threatening power and changing its behavior. States that engage in soft balancing are intentionally targeting a powerful actor. The definition of soft balancing I use focuses on three key strategies. Not every diplomatic activity meant to frustrate a great power’s threatening behavior qualifies as soft balancing. The actions need to be consistent and applied systematically for a period of time. As the case studies in subsequent chapters demonstrate, great powers have used institutions on a coordinated and consistent basis to restrain the power and aggressive policies of targeted states. Non-great-power states have also consistently used these mechanisms as conscious policy instruments. Third, soft balancing is a rational and calculated response to threatening behavior, employed when other options, such as alliances and arms buildups, are not easily available. It is not a mere rhetorical device but a consistent strategic approach relying on mechanisms such as institutions and economic sanctions. It differs from routine diplomacy and may be more a matter of necessity than choice. The case studies suggest that other options may not be seen as viable when the target state is too powerful or the balancing state is too reliant on the other’s markets and protection. This seems particularly important when small and medium powers opt for soft-balancing strategies. They can be at- rest r aint by other means 35 tractive because hard balancing, almost by definition, is directed at adversaries, while soft balancing can also be directed at friends when a specific policy is found to be objectionable. Moreover, hard balancing is more rigid and thus more difficult to embed in a hedging strategy, whereas soft balancing fits easily within a hedging strategy and permits flexibility in state policies. Fourth, there is no dispute that soft balancing does not always work, just as there is no guarantee that hard balancing can create permanent or even temporary peace. A balance in material power is seldom permanent but always subject to changes in technology and in economic fortunes. Revisionist powers feel a strong temptation to break the military balance and may use asymmetric strategies to gain an advantage over militarily superior opponents. Often defeating such a determined adversary requires overwhelming preponderance in capabilities, not just equilibrium. Finally, soft balancing is not irrelevant outside a unipolar era. As I show in the next chapter, it was practiced by European great powers during multipolar eras as well. Soft balancing appears to be a viable strategy under all systems in world politics, be they multipolar, bipolar, or unipolar. It may be used along with hard balancing, although its application may be limited, and could well become a key approach in the emerging international order, given the constraints on hard balancing imposed by intensified globalization and nuclear deterrence. The discipline of international relations can learn much about softer approaches from other disciplines. For instance, soft law is a well-established, powerful branch of international law that supplements hard laws— those that create precise obligations and have proper authority to interpret and implement them. Soft laws have weaker arrangements, obligations, and implementation as well as more fluid interpretations. Many countries prefer soft laws because they are less threatening to sovereignty and because soft law is more flexible and adaptable to compromise among different actors.36 Soft balancing has some of the same advantages. It can also avoid the entrapment problem inherent in hard-balancing alliances: that allies are obliged by treaty obligations to fight unwanted wars. Similarly, soft power has in recent years been recognized as an important component of national power. As defined by its leading theorist, 36 rest r aint by other means Joseph Nye, soft power is “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.”37 Scholars of international relations now accept the existence of soft law and soft power—although they are uncertain how to measure their effects. Nothing should prevent us, therefore, from recognizing and theorizing softer approaches to balancing power. The instruments of soft balancing can be observed and measured through careful empirical work. These three approaches—soft law, soft power, and soft balancing—are united by their focus on loose conceptual definitions and an absence of hard instruments or mechanisms. Skeptics of institutional means to restraining power often argue that institutions do not bring lasting peace. John Mearsheimer contends that their impact on world politics is minimal. They simply reflect the preferences of powerful actors, and their creation and maintenance depend on those actors’ influence. Cooperation is difficult, as states have a powerful incentive to take advantage of each other and to cheat if an opportunity arises. War prevention comes largely through hard balancing, not through institutions.38 This criticism of institutions reflects an apolitical understanding of their value. If they are worthless enterprises, why do great powers participate in so many of them and sometimes allow themselves to adhere to institutional norms? Why would great powers agree to be bound by them? These critical perspectives also ignore the classical realist attention to diplomacy, international law, and the legitimacy of power. As Robert Keohane points out, classical realists such as E. H. Carr and Hans Morgenthau, as well as some contemporary realists like Joseph Grieco, recognized the importance of international institutions in the context of power-based bargaining between states.39 Morgenthau, in his later writings, even saw supranational institutions as a means of controlling nuclear weapons. He felt that broad membership in institutions and concession by all members of some amount of national sovereignty were very much in every nation’s interest.40 Great powers often have had little choice but to use institutions when war and military balancing were not readily available options. The objection that institutional balancing is fleeting might also be applied to balancing through weaponry and alliances. These can also be fleeting, if they work at all. The cost of arms races is often justified by the rest r aint by other means 37 argument that if a state does not balance, it will face even higher costs in the future. But these costs can sometimes be reduced through soft balancing. For instance, if the U.S. gets into a severe balance of power competition with China, it will generate a costly arms race. China’s participation in international institutions and the globalized world economy offers an opportunity to restrain it while facilitating a peaceful and legitimate rise to power. Though the dynamics of military competition remains implicit, interdependent economies can use institutions to restrain each other. Against China, this form of restraint may be more effective than a military strategy alone, as China is likely to respond militarily, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of costly arms buildups and potential crises. This does not mean that limited hard balancing is not a feasible means to restrain a rising power— but it may often work better alongside soft-balancing techniques. Similarly, China could use its membership in international institutions—or create new ones, as it has been attempting to do—to attain its goals as a rising power while maintaining its legitimacy. Its practice of escalating territorial disputes will simply alienate neighboring states that could otherwise give C