Lecture 2.doc

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30 Mar 2012
Lecture 2: 09/21/10
History of Europe (1648-1945)
Every since 1648 (the Treaty of Westphalia) states recognize that national survival is
the most important objective
100 years later, the idea of the “balance of power” is brought forth:
- To ensure national survival
- To guard against the hegemony of any one state
- And becomes the most important concept in international relations up until
The purpose of the balance of power is not to avoid wars but to guard against the rise
of a hegemon
In fact, war is part of the balance of power
The BOP hasn’t always been effective: some states have always had advantages over
others (nation states vs. empires)
Come the French Revolution, the rise of nationalism ensues
Nationalism and Liberalism (or both) challenge the BOP
- 1805-1807, Napoleon almost destroyed the European state system by
harboring nationalism
Napoleon was the arbiter of Europe; he had the power to destroy states, redefine
borders, etc.
He shook the ideology, statesmen, etc. of Europe to such an extent that thereafter,
they pledged to work together and never let a sole power become as powerful as
In this, there was the will to re-create the world system (one in which no one
power could rule all) however once you know how to destroy a system (the BOP in
this case) it’s very hard to stop it from happening again
- The Congress of Vienna is the international system developed to promise
stability and stop nationalism and liberalism
Militarily, two alliances rose:
a) The Quadruple Alliance: to keep French power in check
b) The Holy Alliance: a religious/ideological alliance involving Russia, Prussia and
Austria, to squash revolution
oThis alliance did however contain an alternative motive: to ensure no
revolution would take place in their own empires – being that each were
tri-cultural nations
With the creation of the BOP, another problem arose: it worked based on ideology and
political power; when Napoleon was defeated the allies granted territories to each
other in order to keep things equal. Austria became very multiethnic and unrest
The first challenges to the BOP came 45 years later when Napoleon III began
the Crimean War
During the period between Napoleon Bonaparte and Napoleon III, Russia did not
modernize the same extent as other nation states (partly because the Tsars feared an
intelligent and liberal people) and thus fell behind. When Russia was invaded by
France, they could not answer and did not stand a chance.
Russia was totally defeated, causing the Quadruple Alliance to fall apart:
because Britain fought Russia; and the Holy Alliance also fell apart: because
Austria/Prussia did not come to Russia’s aid.
France was then defeated by Bismarck Germany
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