Balance Of Power Research Paper

Submitted By Jack-Raeburn
Words: 1280
Pages: 6

What did Woodrow Wilson think was wrong with the idea of a balance of power and what did he try to put in it's place?

Woodrow Wilson believed that a balance of power in Europe was fundamentally wrong. Balance of power can be defined as a scenario where one state does not dominate over another, but that all have an equal military capabilities in order to balance each other out. In this sense no state will seek to exert pressure on others as there would be a real threat from opposition. However Wilson disagreed with this notion and sought to insert collective security which is exemplified with the idea of a League of Nations as part of his renowned fourteen point plan. As well as this Wilson also wanted to instil a sense of self determination within Europe for nations such as Poland. In this essay I will explain Wilson's problems with the balance of power and more about his idea of 'collective security' which he tried to replace it with. The first problem that Wilson had with a balance of power was that it was a fairly aggressive system. Balance of powers we're based on a series of private arrangements made between various countries. There was not an open forum for countries to express their aims and intentions and so countries inevitably became anxious. This point is highlighted in one of his speeches in Cincinnati 1916 where he says “a mutual suspicion, an interchange of conjectures about what this government and that government was going to do.” (Wilson Speech, 1916) It is fair to say that Wilson was one of the first real supporters of the democratic peace theory. The democratic peace theory is the believe that in Western Civilization democracies are hesitant to start conflict with other known democracies. His belief in the democratic peace theory is one of the main factors in his dislike of a balance of powers. Building on this point the idea of balance of powers ties in with the latter version of M.A.D or mutually assured destruction. One of the factors of balance of powers was that a country would not attack the other as they are equal. This can also be known as M.A.D which came about during the Cold War. Wilson believed that the threat of war to avoid war was not a valid ground for peace in Europe and that War would eventually break out. Another problem Wilson saw with the balance of power was that it was based on selfishness. Wilson had always had a strong sense of morality and some feel that this is why he entered America into the war, to help the people who's human rights we're being breached. This can be said to be an idealist view however as many believe that the only reason America entered into the war was for their own economic interests and to make sure none of their main trading partners in Europe we're defeated. However from at face value he entered because the balance of powers that existed in Europe only enhanced the wellbeing of a select few nations often at the expense of others e.g. potential trade pacs and so this was another reason as to why Wilson disagreed with a balance of powers. (Kissinger, 1994) The last problem that Wilson had with the belief of a balance of powers was that he felt they formed alliances. This build on the point earlier about secret or private arrangements. A balance of powers implies that “flexible alliances promote peace by checking the aggression of aspiring preponderants.” (Wilson Speech, 1918)Wilson wholeheartedly disagreed with this notion however saying that nations end up in a “competition of power” rather than a secure continent. In it's place Wilson sought to induce his idea of collective security through his fourteen point plan. At the forefront of these fourteen points was his idea to introduce a league of nations. The league of nations was a collective body which can be compared to an old United Nations. The introduction of a League of nations would be a significant move away from what Europe had at the time being a balance of powers. Instead there