I hadn’t look for a while into Stephen M. Waltz’ blog at Foreign Policy. I had a look today, and found some interesting stuff.
This post, for example. Waltz makes a case for regional cooperation between countries surrounding China and that should be ready to cooperate more in front of a big, increasingly assertive neighbor. Good point, but the example he takes (Great-Britain and the Entente Cordiale policy with France and Russia) does not seem to me the best possible analogy. The best would be, to me, the Nordic Countries in the 1930s. With not one, but two big predatory powers in the region, these countries were unable to give concrete meaning and content to their common declarations and obvious friendly relations. The situations are different, of course, but as analogies go I think it is a better one than comparing Japan with turn-of-the-century England. It is also a profoundly depressing comparison in terms of what one can wait from cooperation between countries on the fringes of China.
Second post that caught my eye was this one. This is a new way to package old literature on perceptions and misperceptions, and Waltz himself says he does not invent anything here. One thing I would emphasize, and that Waltz does not engage with in his post, is the role of information (what info you have would obviously play a role in your decision-making) and the role of representations (values, norms, etc) in shaping perceptions and misperceptions. Deciding in foreign policy is a lot of shuffling desperately in the dark, with precious little information (or on the contrary way too much), and way too many preconceptions on what lies around you.