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Small States and the Balance of Power.

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Master's thesis,

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The key questions addressed by this study are which of the two structural theories in international relations explains small state policies better and under what international system structure is the significance of small states enhanced so that they have greater freedom of maneuver. Using the two theories, balance of power and hegemonic change, this thesis extracts several hypotheses about the roles and significance of small states under varying conditions. The basic idea of this effort was that small states are affected largely by both global and regional international systems. Thus, the position, and policy, of a small state is determined more by its international context rather than by its own efforts to consolidate internal strength. From the perspectives of small states, in the hegemonic system they are often constrained in the pursuit of their foreign policies, while in the balance of power system they often can play a role as a balancer. To test this developed hypothesis, and others, this thesis surveys the diplomatic history of the great powers, and selected small states, in Europe from 1815 to 1939 the US-Israeli patron client relationship of the Cold War era and the nuclear policies of Ukraine and North Korea. These cases illustrate how a small state is dealt with by stronger powers under varying international system structures, how it may make use of the system and achieve its objectives and what the main factor is that makes a small state important or insignificant to the international equilibrium. In its concluding chapter, this work derives some implications from the process of proving the hypotheses, and suggests some plausible policies for Korea, a quintessential small state in Northeast Asia, as to how she can play an important role as a balancer in the region.

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  • Government and Political Science

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