A summary of "Alliances: Balancing and Bandwagoning" by Stephen Walt.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What Walt is saying in this article is that states have two possible reactions when some other state becomes a danger.  They can form alliances either to A) balance the power of the "new" state or to B) "bandwagon" -- that is, to become friendly with the new danger so that it will not threaten them.

Walt says states will tend to balance against threats when

  • They themselves are relatively strong
  • When there are allies who might help them
  • During a war, especially, when the war is serious

He says that states will bandwagon when

  • They themselves are weak
  • There are few likely allies to help them against the new power.
  • In peacetime or at the start of a war