Universal Monarchy

It is also important to note that alliances are not meant to be permanent. Once the threat of world domination and hegemony – or “universal monarchy” – has diminished or has gone away, an alliance is to be dismantled in large part so that a country can retain its freedom of action and its independence. Thus, there was essentially no need for NATO once the former Soviet Union collapsed, but it was then turned into a hegemonic force aimed at “universal monarchy” which led to the banding together of Eastern countries and in turn brought an end to the American unipolar moment. As Hans Morgenthau wrote: “A nation will shun alliances if it believes that it is strong enough to hold its own unaided or that the burden of the commitments resulting from the alliance is likely to outweigh the advantages to be expected.” 

Moreover, both the constant pursuit of hostilities and constant opposition to other countries as well as the insistence and obsession with “allies” is antithetical to the American tradition. As George Washington said in his famous “Farewell Address”: “The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.” It is only by virtue of “necessity” when an alliance is to be formed, and that necessity is to bring an end to hegemonic war and to bring about a peace settlement in order to secure the basic interests for which the war was fought.

Morgenthau argued that these interests and the nature of the alliances which are brought about as a result of the varying interests that are brought together through an alliance have to be distinguished in five different ways:

  1. Their intrinsic nature and relationship
  2. The distribution of benefits and power
  3. Their coverage in relation to the total interests of the nations concerned
  4. Their coverage in terms of time
  5. Their effectiveness in terms of common policies and actions

Smaller countries, therefore, have to be wary of enduring alliances with bigger powers, given that the stronger country in an alliance will steer the benefits and policies of the alliance towards itself at the expense of the smaller country over the long run. Morgenthau used the case of the United States and South Korea as an example of this kind of situation. 

In sum: “The opposition of two alliances, one or both pursuing imperialistic goals and defending the independence of their members against the imperialistic aspirations of the other coalition, is the most frequent configuration within a balance-of-power system.” It has been said that domination and hegemony and thus aggression is “rewarded” given that there will be a certain number of countries who will bandwagon with the dominant and hegemonic power. But as mentioned before, the balance of power principle arises in this very kind of situation of domination and hegemony and bandwagoning, and as a result, there will always be another set of countries who will oppose the domination and the hegemony and the bandwagoning through balancing, given that this is what the balance of power principle exactly dictates. And coincidentally, this is exactly the kind of situation we find ourselves in at the moment. 

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