Realism is a broad school of thought and sub-theories and varies
from the Han’s Morgenthau’s classical realism through to structural/Neo realism
created by Kenneth Waltz which was introduced in 1979 or the more recent school
called neoclassical realism which was coined and created by Gideon Rose, Randal
Schweller and others. Realist theories at its heart have a pragmatic approach
to international relations, describing the world ‘as it is, not as it ought to be’1.
Therefore paradigm wise, realism is empirical rather than normative
(Morgenthau, 1956: 4). Realism is also pessimistic and emphasizes the recurrent
patterns of power politics as demonstrated by a trend of reoccurring conflicts,
rivalries and wars (Jackson and Sorensen, 2007: 60). In this gloomy world,
concepts such as the balance of power and the spiral model become the main
analytical tools used by realist to study the world (Buzan, 1997: 53). Statism
is also a key concept in realism as Realists of all strands also consider the
state as the primary and key actor in international affairs. Special attention
is given to great powers as they have the most leverage on the international
stage (Mearsheimer, 2001: 17-18). Furthermore, it is the national interest that
animates state behavior as they are essentially rational egoists, guided by the
dictates of raison d’état (Brown, 2005: 30). Finally, Realist’s maintain that
the distribution of power or capabilities largely determines international
outcomes (Frankel, 1996: xiv-xv).
The present study aim’s to analyze the “Korean, Australian and
Indian responses towards the Rise of China in the Asia-Pacific” within some
help from the framework of Stephen M. Walt’s Balance of threat theory (1987,
which at its core is a reformulation of balance of power theory to explain
interstate alliances and in his words “how states choose their friends?” (Walt
1987:1). There is an abundant of works on alliance building in the
international relations academic circles, especially the realist thinker with
their belief in the anarchic world system (Waltz 1979:107)4.
the practical equivalence of power and threat is at the core of
both classical realist and neo-realist balance of power theories (Vasquez 1997)5.
On the classical side, Thucydides attributed the true cause of the
Peloponnesian war to the disturbed balance of power between the Athenians and
the Spartans (Thucydides 1972:50)6
and on the more modern side, there is Waltz (Waltz 1981)7
and Morgenthau (1985:185)8
and their descriptions of the Balance of power world.
Contrary to thinkers before him, Walt believes that States form
alliances to balance against threats rather than against power alone, this
notion of threat is what distinguishes him from mainstream realists such as
Morgenthau who believed in a Balance of Power system and ignored the
distinction between power and threat (Morgenthau 1985: 195), so a key question
this research want to answer is that, china is a powerful country, but is its
rise and increased power a source of threat for South Korea, Australia and
India? And if so, what has been done to counter this threat. Although the
distribution of power is an extremely important factor, the level of threat is
also affected by geographic proximity, offensive capability, aggressive
intentions and aggregate power (Walt 1985). The power of other states can
therefore be a liability or an asset, depending on where it is located, what it
can do and how it is used. So as a mean of balancing, an alliance is a formal
agreement for security cooperation between two or more states. By enabling
states to combine their capabilities and coordinate some aspects of their
foreign policies, alliances seek to make each member more secure (Walt
1978-20), but alongside this, the research endeavors to find how each case is
using its military assets to balance China alongside alliance building.
A central question is how
states respond to threats – by balancing (allying with others against the
prevailing threat) or bandwagoning (alignment with the source of danger) and
the author explains and further elaborates on this by using examples from the
Middle East and the cold war era and talks about the importance of intentions
and perceptions behind alliance formation. As mentioned earlier, the level of
threat is effected by four factors, geographic proximity, offensive
capabilities, aggressive intentions, also aggregate power which was mentioned
by people before him and Walt did not deny it too (Gause 2010)9. Also,
since Walt does not mention which of the factors is more important in setting
their threat priorities for countries, “One cannot determine a priori . . .
which sources of threat will be most important in any given case; one can say
only that all of them are likely to play a role.”(Walt 1987:26) as such all of
them will be studied and explained.
It is critical to not that this research will use some of the
aspects that Walt mentions, but since his work is on Alliance building and this
research does not want to investigate that further, it would not be a full
implementation of his theoretical framework, but using some of the components
that Walt introduces.
1 Knud Erik Jorgensen, (2010), International Relations Theory A New
Introduction, London, Palgrave Macmillan p. 78
2 Stephen M.
Walt (1985) Alliance formation and the Balance of World Power, International
Security, Vol.9, No 4, 3-43
3 Stephen M.
Walt (1987) Origins of Alliances, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
4 Kenneth N.
Waltz (1979): Theory of International relations. Addison-Wesley Publishing
Company: Reading, Massachusetts
5 John A.
Vasquez (1997) “The Realist Paradigm and Degenerative versus Progressive
Research Programs: An Appraisal of Neotraditional Research on Waltz’s Balancing
Proposition,” American Political Science Review 91, no. 4
(1972). The Peloponnesian War: New York: Penguin Books
7 Kenneth N.
Waltz (1981), “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better,” Adelphi
Papers, Number 171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies)
8 Hans J.
Morgenthau (1985). Politics Amongst nations, the struggle for Power and Peace:
McGraw Hill Inc. Sixth Edition
9 F. Gregory
Gause III (2003) “balancing what? Threat perception and alliance choice in the
Gulf: Security Studies, 13:2, 273-305