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Realists argue that balancing occurs in response to changes to the balance of power. Recent informational approaches have focused primarily on informational asymmetries or commitment problems. The paper combines these two approaches and builds on them by incorporating characteristics of the revisionist state and the potential balancer, as well as the specific challenge to the balance of power. The model confirms that informational asymmetries often lead to commitment problems and that they are a necessary condition for balancing. However, whether or not informational asymmetries create commitment problems depends on both the nature of the challenger’s move and the relative power of the challenger and respondent. Finally, the paper shows under what conditions balancing is likely to occur and, counter-intuitively, that less revisionist challengers are often more willing to risk being balanced against than are more aggressive challengers.


This article appeared in the Journal of Theoretical Politics 21(4).


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