The balance of power is one of the most influential ideas in the theory and practice of international relations and it plays a central role in both scholarly debates about international politics and policy debates about the current dominance of the United States at the start of the twenty-first century. Although it is often treated as a universal concept, theorizing about the balance of power is almost entirely based on the experience of modern European history. The theory has never been systemically and comprehensively examined in pre-modern or non-European contexts. This book aims to redress this shortcoming. It presents eight new case studies of balancing and balancing failure in pre-modern and non-European international systems. The inescapable conclusion emerging from this collective, multidisciplinary and international research is that much of the conventional wisdom about the balance of power cannot survive contact with non-European evidence.

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