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States, power and the future of conflict: What role can soft balancing play?

States, power and the future of conflict: What role can soft balancing play?
Photo: Unsplash
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SIPRI, Signalistgatan 9, Solna

Instead of engaging in active military alliances and arms buildups, states are turning to international institutions, informal alignments and economic sanctions to achieve their goals. However, the familiar military strategies states deploy to balance power often overshadow these other, softer options they could take. By prioritizing non-military instruments, leading powers have been able to restrain threatening powers without war or arms races. What are the hopes and limits of the soft balancing approach to power? Is it sustainable? Can it truly facilitate long-term cooperation? Or, is it just prelude—a staving off of inevitable conflict?

This event will address the key findings of Professor T.V. Paul’s book Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era (Yale University Press). T.V. Paul is a James McGill Professor of International Relations, Department of Political Science, McGill University.

Event contact (SIPRI)