Realism is a broad school of thought and sub-theories and variesfrom the Han’s Morgenthau’s classical realism through to structural/Neo realismcreated by Kenneth Waltz which was introduced in 1979 or the more recent schoolcalled neoclassical realism which was coined and created by Gideon Rose, RandalSchweller and others.
Realist theories at its heart have a pragmatic approachto international relations, describing the world ‘as it is, not as it ought to be’1.Therefore paradigm wise, realism is empirical rather than normative(Morgenthau, 1956: 4). Realism is also pessimistic and emphasizes the recurrentpatterns of power politics as demonstrated by a trend of reoccurring conflicts,rivalries and wars (Jackson and Sorensen, 2007: 60). In this gloomy world,concepts such as the balance of power and the spiral model become the mainanalytical tools used by realist to study the world (Buzan, 1997: 53). Statismis also a key concept in realism as Realists of all strands also consider thestate as the primary and key actor in international affairs.
Special attentionis given to great powers as they have the most leverage on the internationalstage (Mearsheimer, 2001: 17-18). Furthermore, it is the national interest thatanimates state behavior as they are essentially rational egoists, guided by thedictates of raison d’état (Brown, 2005: 30). Finally, Realist’s maintain thatthe distribution of power or capabilities largely determines internationaloutcomes (Frankel, 1996: xiv-xv). The present study aim’s to analyze the “Korean, Australian andIndian responses towards the Rise of China in the Asia-Pacific” within somehelp from the framework of Stephen M. Walt’s Balance of threat theory (1987,1985)23,which at its core is a reformulation of balance of power theory to explaininterstate alliances and in his words “how states choose their friends?” (Walt1987:1).
There is an abundant of works on alliance building in theinternational relations academic circles, especially the realist thinker withtheir belief in the anarchic world system (Waltz 1979:107)4. the practical equivalence of power and threat is at the core ofboth classical realist and neo-realist balance of power theories (Vasquez 1997)5.On the classical side, Thucydides attributed the true cause of thePeloponnesian war to the disturbed balance of power between the Athenians andthe Spartans (Thucydides 1972:50)6and on the more modern side, there is Waltz (Waltz 1981)7and Morgenthau (1985:185)8and their descriptions of the Balance of power world. Contrary to thinkers before him, Walt believes that States formalliances to balance against threats rather than against power alone, thisnotion of threat is what distinguishes him from mainstream realists such asMorgenthau who believed in a Balance of Power system and ignored thedistinction between power and threat (Morgenthau 1985: 195), so a key questionthis research want to answer is that, china is a powerful country, but is itsrise and increased power a source of threat for South Korea, Australia andIndia? And if so, what has been done to counter this threat. Although thedistribution of power is an extremely important factor, the level of threat isalso affected by geographic proximity, offensive capability, aggressiveintentions and aggregate power (Walt 1985).
The power of other states cantherefore be a liability or an asset, depending on where it is located, what itcan do and how it is used. So as a mean of balancing, an alliance is a formalagreement for security cooperation between two or more states. By enablingstates to combine their capabilities and coordinate some aspects of theirforeign policies, alliances seek to make each member more secure (Walt1978-20), but alongside this, the research endeavors to find how each case isusing its military assets to balance China alongside alliance building.
A central question is howstates respond to threats – by balancing (allying with others against theprevailing threat) or bandwagoning (alignment with the source of danger) andthe author explains and further elaborates on this by using examples from theMiddle East and the cold war era and talks about the importance of intentionsand perceptions behind alliance formation. As mentioned earlier, the level ofthreat is effected by four factors, geographic proximity, offensivecapabilities, aggressive intentions, also aggregate power which was mentionedby people before him and Walt did not deny it too (Gause 2010)9. Also,since Walt does not mention which of the factors is more important in settingtheir threat priorities for countries, “One cannot determine a priori .
. .which sources of threat will be most important in any given case; one can sayonly that all of them are likely to play a role.”(Walt 1987:26) as such all ofthem will be studied and explained.It is critical to not that this research will use some of theaspects that Walt mentions, but since his work is on Alliance building and thisresearch does not want to investigate that further, it would not be a fullimplementation of his theoretical framework, but using some of the componentsthat Walt introduces.1 Knud Erik Jorgensen, (2010), International Relations Theory A NewIntroduction, London, Palgrave Macmillan p. 782 Stephen M.Walt (1985) Alliance formation and the Balance of World Power, InternationalSecurity, Vol.
9, No 4, 3-433 Stephen M.Walt (1987) Origins of Alliances, Ithaca: Cornell University Press4 Kenneth N.Waltz (1979): Theory of International relations. Addison-Wesley PublishingCompany: Reading, Massachusetts5 John A.Vasquez (1997) “The Realist Paradigm and Degenerative versus ProgressiveResearch Programs: An Appraisal of Neotraditional Research on Waltz’s BalancingProposition,” American Political Science Review 91, no. 46 Thucycides(1972). The Peloponnesian War: New York: Penguin Books7 Kenneth N.
Waltz (1981), “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better,” AdelphiPapers, Number 171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies)8 Hans J.Morgenthau (1985). Politics Amongst nations, the struggle for Power and Peace:McGraw Hill Inc. Sixth Edition9 F. GregoryGause III (2003) “balancing what? Threat perception and alliance choice in theGulf: Security Studies, 13:2, 273-305