« The Balance of Power » in international relations is a condition of equilibrium among competing states designed to preserve peace by ensuring that no nation or group of nations achieve military supremacy over another. Such a balance curbs major acts of aggression and deters any would-be potential aggressor who has expansionist policies since he knows that any act of aggression on his part might cost him very dearly, especially in the context of a nuclear war which can inflict high levels of destruction on the two protagonists.
The Balance of Power has always played a material role for the maintenance of peace among nations. After the Second World War during the cold war era, the balance of power was an element of stabilizer for world peace. The super powers had not wanted a repetition of the German Scenario which placed Hitler in a position of superior strike force. Conscious that no country could stand against Germany militarily, Hitler launched the Second World War. It is true that the Balance of Power tipped heavily in Germany’s favour at the start of the war. No nation could have stood against it individually. After all it was that superiority in power which prompted Hitler to attack Poland on the 1st September, 1939. If there were a Balance of Power to deter Hitler, the Second World War could have been avoided.
The Emergence of Two Military Blocs
After the Second World War, there was the emergence of two military blocs, namely the Warsaw Pact, grouping all the Eastern countries which became the satellites of the Soviet Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) grouping all the western countries which sheltered themselves under the American nuclear umbrella. The birth of the two military blocs would witness the cold war era between the two super powers which glared at each other without daring to take up arms because of the Balance of Power which was being scrupulously observed and each bloc was fully alive to the strike force of the other.
The Second World War has taught man a lesson. Any country which has a superior strike force along with a ruler with a Hitlerian disposition can be a threat to world peace. The new emerging powers after the war thought that a third world war could be avoided with a rigid Balance of Power among the nations. With the new arms race which gained currency after the war, it was absolutely imperative to have a strict control on the proliferation of massive destructive weapons to avoid our planet being obliterated in a worldwide conflict. And with the fabrication of nuclear weapons which are highly destructive, it became more than imperative to maintain a rigid control over the arms race, and the Balance of Power turns out to be a reliable watchdog for peace.
Peace Can Be Maintained By Mutual Threat
That famous adage which has marked history was uttered by none other than the brilliant British statesman, Sir Winston Churchill. A saying coming from the mouth of a genius is strikingly forceful and reliable. Man is a social animal, and as such he is instinct with a dose of aggressiveness and overbearing like any other animal. When two dogs of equal strength cross each other, no one will dare to attack the other. They will just glare at each other, baring their teeth menacingly but they will not fight. Therefore a fight between the two dogs has been averted because of a balance of force between them. But what happens when a dog meets a weaker one, it immediately attacks it and gives it the chase, and even invades its territory. Man has that animal instinct in him and is prone to behave likewise.
The development of nuclear weapons and their instantaneous delivery systems which can inflict massive destruction have called for a Balance of Terror to deter aggression. Consequently, Nuclear Deterrents along with a rigid Balance of Power « sont deux éléments incontournables pour une paix durable ».
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