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Balancing, Stability, and War: The Mysterious Case of the Napoleonic International System

Richard Rosecrance and Chih-Cheng Lo
International Studies Quarterly
Vol. 40, No. 4 (Dec., 1996), pp. 479-500
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
DOI: 10.2307/2600888
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2600888
Page Count: 22
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Balancing, Stability, and War: The Mysterious Case of the Napoleonic International System
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Abstract

We seek to validate four assertions in this article: (1) The threat to the stability of the international system was surely as great during the Napoleonic imperium as it was during the period of Soviet threat, 1945-1989. (2) While actors balanced against the USSR, they did not balance against Napoleonic France, at least until the end (1813-1815). (3) The difference between the two periods cannot be accounted for in the typical manner, by regarding the post-World War II system as "bipolar" and the Napoleonic system as "multipolar"; neither system was "bipolar" in power terms; both, however, were "bipolar" in terms of threat. (4) Therefore, a new explanation is required for the presence or absence of balancing in international relations.

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