Which balance of power system is more stable: Unipolarity, Bipolarity or Multipolarity?

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Essay 2                        

                                                                                       Global Politics 1                                                      

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Global politics 1 -Essay 2 (60%)

Which balance of power system is more stable: Unipolarity, Bipolarity or Multipolarity?

“As a system, the balance of power refers to a condition in which no one state predominates over others, tending to create general equilibrium and curb the hegemonic ambitions of all states.”(Heywood 2011, p.256). Throughout history we have seen many balance of power systems evolve, as states continue to change and grow, and rivalries and alliances disappear or develop, new power struggles come in to play. The international system is constantly changing and in this essay I will evaluate which balance of power system is the most stable, in what seems when studying this idea of the balance of power, an unstable world. The balance of power has been a very important idea in international relations. It has played a key role in realist theory and been a main debate area between the mainstream international relations theories.

One of the main balance of power systems is known as Unipolarity. Unipolarity is when there is one dominant state which has the most influence when exercising military, economic and cultural power.  In a unipolar world the dominant power faces no opponents, because if it did the international system would no longer be unipolar. Unipolarity can be said to promote stability as the global hegemon can keep all other states in check. “However, this depends on the willingness of the only superpower to police the international system, together with the willingness of other states and non state actors to accept the superpower as global policeman” (Watters et al. 2008.ch.6). The main example of where we have seen the international system as unipolar was after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which led to the unipolar system in which the USA became the global hegemon.  The dominance of the USA back toward the end of the Cold War has continued to grow and is still holds the most power now; even due to the economic crisis that has hit the USA, and the world. The USA, although it is very powerful militarily, also has big economic and cultural influence in the world; this is iterated by some who find it hard to distinguish between globalisation and Americanisation as we may be seeing the rise of a monoculture.  However, the US is may not be the world’s only superpower this century, many other countries’ economies  are growing rapidly and are catching up with the US. And if china continues to grow at an economic rate of 10% GDP per annum as it is doing, then a second pole will develop, and a bipolar international system will be in effect.

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 Unipolarity is said to be a stable international system if the global hegemon is not a rogue or pariah state. Rogue and pariah states are states which are considered unstable and violent, “whose actions in international relations are considered so unprincipled that they are described as rogue and pariah states” (Watters et al. 2008.ch.10).  If a rogue or pariah state became the global superpower then the international system would become unstable. However, the unipolar world we see today is seen as stable, as the global hegemon (USA) is said to be a benign hegemon. A benign hegemon is a state which ...

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