Pushing Back: The Balance and Balancing of Power

Aharon Klieman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Summarily dismissed in the second half of the twentieth century by scholars and analysts of world affairs as deeply flawed conceptually and no longer relevant politically, it must now be acknowledged that the balance-of-power paradigm retains its robust explanatory power in today’s transformative international relations. “Back to balancing” is a twenty-first-century expression of the unbroken historical process of offsetting power, prestige, influence and leverage among an indeterminate number of competitive actors. Thus understood, balance-of-power theory continues to offer theorists and statesmen alike a serviceable—not foolproof—mechanism for maintaining tolerable levels of global order and stability in the very midst of accelerated change. A world in which the United States is less prominent is a rebalancing world. Acknowledging the re-emergence of multipolarity, this essay offers six refinements of the classic Balance of Power concept. It then proceeds to address the current geopolitics and geometrics of recalibrating power as the contemporary international system “pushes back” after successive eras of Soviet-American Cold War bipolarity and post-Cold War American hegemony.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Power Shift
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameGlobal Power Shift
ISSN (Print)2198-7343
ISSN (Electronic)2198-7351


  • Foreign Policy
  • Global Governance
  • International Relation
  • Multipolar Moment
  • World Politics


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