The established wisdom in international relations is that a major state seeking to secure its interests in world affairs has essentially three options to choose from. If it is powerful enough, it can play the geopolitical game of balance of power. If it is large but relatively weak, it can take recourse to rhetoric and lecture the world on universal values like peace and justice. But if the state is in that curious position of being strong but not strong enough, its interests are best served by participating in the processes of building a rule-based institutional global order, in other words, through multilateralism. The three options are associated with realism, idealism and liberalism respectively.
February 2015, volume 39, No 2