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2016 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

1. Small Powers and the Security Utility of Trade

Author : Michael Intal Magcamit

Published in: Small Powers and Trading Security

Publisher: Springer International Publishing



The strategic behaviour of small powers in the international system can be described in one word: dependence. While a single, universally accepted definition of the term ‘small power’ remains debatable, nonetheless, the extant literature reveals recurring features of their behavioural approaches to world politics.1 First, small powers clearly recognize that it is both futile and reckless to rely exclusively on their own capabilities to obtain security, let alone influence the conduct of world politics to work for their advantage (Toje 2010, 2011). Nevertheless, through concerted actions and efforts, small powers are able to steer the general course of the international politics by manipulating the workings of the system but with limited success. Since small powers do not enjoy a decisive and indispensible role in great powers’ wide range of political and military resources, their policy options are limited to either neutrality or alliance (Mares 1988; Toje 2010, 2011). Under regional hegemony, small powers are bent to pursue a policy of neutrality given the small likelihood of punishment.2 Whereas within an alliance, small powers are compelled to conscientiously follow the directives of the alliance leader and throw all their support to gain favours and avoid upsetting the latter.3 Mares (1988, p. 456) notes that those ‘located in geopolitical regions critical to maintaining a great power’s position in the international system tend to opt for alliance’.
Small Powers and the Security Utility of Trade
Michael Intal Magcamit
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