Rowman and Littlefield International

Middle Powers and Regional Influence

Critical Foreign Policy Junctures for Poland, South Korea, and Bolivia

By Joshua B. Spero

6 Reviews

This book builds on prominent middle power literature and aims to advance our theoretical understanding for why crucial foreign policies were made by the “pivotal middle” powers this book examines—Poland, South Korea, and Bolivia.

Hardback ISBN: 9781786609885 Release date: Nov 2018
£92.00 €112.00 $120.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781786609892 Release date: Nov 2018
£24.95 €34.95 $38.99

Pages: 186


In the growing literature on middle powers, this book contributes by expanding case study analysis and extending international relations theory in its application to foreign policy decisions. Thus, this book builds on prominent middle power literature and aims to advance our theoretical understanding for why crucial foreign policies were made by the “pivotal middle” powers this book examines—Poland, South Korea, and Bolivia.

For this book’s three case studies and their first-term leadership’s critical junctures—from first term post-communist Poland, post-authoritarian/post-ruling party South Korea, and post-colonial Bolivia—we have the antecedents for contemporary middle powers essential for realizing the regional evolution for cooperative change with greater powers systemically; we may then grasp today why those historical foreign policies, albeit not so long ago, give us crucial antecedents for adapting and trying, yet again, to resolve seemingly perennial power dilemmas regionally, peacefully.

Here are why middle power impact matters, not only regionally for stronger, dominant greater power neighbours, but also for transformative middle power leaderships which proved pivotal geopolitically for their region’s challenges and changes.

Introduction: Setting the Scene for Three Pivotal Middle Powers

Chapter One: Bridging Europe’s Divide: Post-Communist Poland (1989-1991)

Chapter Two: Bridging Asia’s Divide: Post-Authoritarian, Post-Ruling Party South Korea (1998-2003)

Chapter Three: Bridging South America’s Divide: Post-Colonial Indigenous Ruling Bolivia (2006-2009)

Conclusion: Middle Powers do Matter Regionally


Dr. Joshua B. Spero, Professor of International Politics/Political Science at Fitchburg State University (Fitchburg, MA, USA) since 2003, coordinates the International Studies Minor Program and Political Science, Washington Center Internship Programs. From 1988-2000, Dr. Spero served in the U.S. Government, his last public service position as Joint Chiefs of Staff/Senior Civilian Strategic/Scenario Planner, 1994-2000).

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6 Reviews

Joshua Spero’s illuminating study takes a fresh look at international power’s complexities with distinctly different nations from different continents, convincingly explaining how each became key players regionally. Where attention increasingly fixates on reemerging "Great Power" competition, this excellent, well-written book reminds us that seemingly less powerful countries in every region geo-politically "punch above their weight," always remaining key during foreign policy formulation.

Peter Zwack, International Security Expert, US Army Brigadier-General (Ret.) and former Defense Attaché to the Russian Federation (2012-2014)

It’s hard to find a more-timely study given emerging challenges to the post-WWII liberal international order. Spero’s analysis provides especially important power models to consider for strategic bridging roles by medium-size states, offering readers not only deep scholarship, but many years of senior-level governmental experience as national security policy expert. This book is a must read for foreign policy and national security practitioners, scholars, and students alike.

Sean Kay, Robson Professor of Politics and Government, Ohio Wesleyan University

Professor Spero’s controversial text discusses Evo Morales’s foreign policy impact to evaluate the tense, difficult feedback for conjunctural politics – based on a leader’s personal, historic, substantive influence for middle power Bolivia’s national interest.

Gustavo Fernández, Former Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Consultant

This book develops analytic tools to work through how most nations can function and succeed. His gripping case studies shed light on impressive achievements by intelligent, moderate middle power leaderships, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles by their larger neighbors.

James Colbert, Professor Emeritus, Fitchburg State University

This formidable account offers some astutely selected countries' rise to middle powers status. Josh Spero’s treatment of ‘policy junctures’ and ‘other-help bridging’ as crucial explanatory devices in regional geopolitics is highly imaginative and illustrative. These case studies make for a fascinating read on regional players usually not in the limelight of global attention.

Alexander Brand, Professor of Political Science/International Relations, Rhine-Waal University

Spero’s insightful analysis demonstrates securing relations with Russia, Ukraine, united Germany, and Visegrad cooperation allowed Poland to lead Central Europe into NATO and the EU. His lessons learned remain very relevant for present geopolitical crises.

Krzysztof Zielke, Political Advisor, European Parliament

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