Explaining Third World Alignment
By Steven R. David
Abstract: Third world countries are more concerned with internal threats since the
state goal is leadership survival. For this reason, omnibalancing is an accurate
theory for developing states. This theory assumes that lesser challenges must be
appeased for states to deal w principle ones.
Alignment: a state brings its policies into close cooperation with another state to
achieve mutual security goals. The goal is to prevent another state from achieving
preponderance – emergence of a hegemonic power will threaten their own survival.
Government of third world’s goal: stay in power. They try to ensure political and
physical survival. States sometimes take decisions at the expensive of the state to
maintain power. Balance of power is inadequate for explaining third world
Third world leaders consider internal and external threats. They seek to appease
secondary threats, in order to counter more immediate and dangerous threats. This
is balancing b/c the accommodation is made to conserve strength for the battle
against a primary threat.
Omnibalancing: leaders appease secondary threats, as well as balance against both
internal and external threats in order to stay in power. In this way, it is less
parsimonious, but increases explanatory and predictive power.
Accepts from realism:
•Int’l system is bound to conflict.
•Int’t politics focuses on power, interests, and rationality
•Hierarchy of issues
oSurivial most important
Departs from realism:
•Internal threats are most important for dev’t countries
•Leader of state rather than the state itself should be used as the level of
•Challenges core assumption that states are unitary actors pursuing national
Generalizing the Third World: