Power plays an important role in politics among nations. Power includes the ability to influence the behavior of others. Power in international politics means the extent to which one nation can influence and control the spectrum of activities of other nations. The power possessed by a nation can be determined by the number of nations over which the power is exercised. Like there is an unequal distribution of material goods and services among nations, even the political power is unevenly distributed. This uneven distribution of political power forms the basis of the power relationship. Power is behavioral as it consists of inter-relationship between nations. The manifest behavior of one nation affects the manifest behavior of the other. Power exercised by one nation over the other is always limited because unlimited power leads to anarchy.


Hans Morgenthau state that power is the ability to control the thinking ability, mind, and actions of others.

Tawney stated that power is a capacity of a single individual or group to modify or change the conduct of another individual or group of individuals in a manner which he desires or wants.

Mao-Tse-Tung defines power as Power comes from the barrel of a gun

Bertrand Russel defined Power as a kind of potential to bring an anticipated change in the behavior of others.


Following are the elements of power in international politics-

  • Geography– The territory of a nation is a very important factor in determining its power. The importance of geography can be determined from the fact that a map of a nation is geographical. The larger the nation the more it can accommodate the population. A large or small size, inaccessible mountains, forests, climate, and topography determine the defence power of a nation. Climate controls the culture, food production of a nation thereby affecting a nation’s economy.
  • Natural Resources– A nation that is rich in natural resources is considered to be a powerful nation. If a nation has abundant natural resources then it becomes less dependent on other nations as it does not have to import all essential commodities and thus can easily fulfill the needs of its people. The shortage of natural resources makes a nation vulnerable and weak. Natural resources like minerals and industrial raw materials help a nation in becoming an industrially developed nation thereby encouraging international trade. Having abundant oil reserves helps in industrial production as oil is an important source of energy. Surplus food production and abundant stocks of food grains help a nation to become a self-sufficient and major power. Food shortage makes a nation vulnerable and dependent on other nations.
  • Population- A nation’s population can become its weakness or strength. Having more population has its advantages and disadvantages. More population may provide more defence and military strength but having more population is a burden on the nation as well. A nation having more knowledgeable and skilled people such as technical experts, doctors, teachers, researchers makes it strong. The manpower of a nation decides its industrial and military capabilities. On one hand, manpower helps in exploiting the resources of a nation on the other overpopulation results in poverty, unemployment, illiteracy.
  • Economical development and technological advancement– Having good economic status help a nation in establishing and maintaining the best defence system, strong military power, technological dynamism. A financially strong nation can spend more money on its development thereby maintaining a high standard of living for its people. A nation’s economic power can be determined by its growth rate, economic development rate, development, and research expenditure. Industrialization, technological development, scientific inventions make a nation economically powerful. Information technology, nuclear weapon technology, space technology, scientific and communication technology make a nation strong in terms of international politics.
  • Range of power– It is the difference between the highest reward and worst punishment a nation can give to other nations. For example, the U.S. has a great range of power from generous aid to nuclear destruction. Economically developed nations give loans, aids, grants, rewards, and even punishments thereby establishing their supremacy in international relations.
  • Military strength- A nation having good quantity and quality of armed forces, nuclear weapons, trained staff, and modern technology is more powerful than other nations having less military strength. The number of weapons possessed by a nation determines its power status in the international sphere. Developments in science and technology and methods of warfare have increased the arms race. A strong military helps a nation in protecting its national interest and achieving the objects of the nation’s foreign policy. Military planning and advanced war technology form the basis of modern technological warfare. A large number of skilled, well-trained soldiers along with modern military weapons and machines helps in establishing military supremacy in international politics.
  • Diplomatic leadership– Skill full diplomatic leaders of a nation can enhance the national influence on other nations. Every nation fears the power of other nations and thus wants to acquire more power leading to an arms race and insecurity among weaker nations. This type of situation has to be handled by smart diplomacy. Making and implementing foreign policy, controlling material resources, commanding military forces, and running the government needs a strong diplomatic leader. The leadership of a nation should be dedicated, efficient, strong, mature, and not impulsive, insecure.


Balance of power helps in establishing the equilibrium of power thereby stopping powerful nations from dictating their will on other nations and protecting the interests of other nations as well.

The traditional relations among independent nations are often described in terms of Balance of power. There is a rough equilibrium existing among various Nations regarding their power. Balance of power in the international sphere helps in maintaining peace in the world and suppress aggression. We know that more powerful nations dominate over the less powerful nations. There is continuous competition among all nations to gain more and more power. The more powerful nations try to dictate their terms to the weaker nations and control their activities. To maintain the balance of power the weaker nations enter into an alliance with other groups of nations to protect themselves from the attack by powerful nations. Such alliances give rise to counter-alliances. The power of one group of nations has to be balanced by the power of other groups of nations. As long as this balance is maintained, peace is established. This is called Balance of Power.

Balance of power is an actual state of affairs in which appropriate power is distributed among various nations to prevent threatening superpowers to launch an attack on any nation. In the context of international politics, a statesman makes foreign policy while taking into consideration its power position among other nations. Thus, a balance of power is a kind of arrangement for the conduct of international relations.


Nations all over the world should follow the policy of giving and take, compromise and adjust to establish the balance of power. No nation should be strong enough to launch a war against any other nations and also be assured of its victory. Every nation has to follow International law to regulate international relations, to establish and maintain international peace and security. United  Nations Organization provides a global platform for peaceful settlement of international disputes. Nations have to act as per the guidelines set up by the United Nations Charter to achieve collective security.

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