PhotoT.V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the department of Political Science at McGill University. Paul specializes and teaches courses in international relations, especially international security, regional security and South Asia. He is the author or editor of 18 books (all published through major university presses) and nearly 60 journal articles or book chapters. In September 2018, Paul became a Fellow (Elected) of the Royal Society of Canada.

T.V. Paul was elected as the 56th President of International Studies Association and on March 17, 2016 he took charge as ISA President for 2016-17. He delivered the presidential address on the theme: “Recasting Statecraft: International Relations and the Strategies of Peaceful Change.”  In the presentation, he called for the International Relations discipline and its theoretical paradigms to devote more attention to strategies for achieving enduring peace among states. For the full text of the speech, see: ISA Presidential Address . For the Power point see: ISA Presidential Address PowerPoint .

Watch T.V. Paul’s ISA Presidential Address, Atlanta, March 17, 2016

As ISA president, he spearheaded the Global South Task Force whose report and recommendations were adopted by the ISA Governing Council in San Francisco in March 2018.



New Book


Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era (Yale University Press, September 2018)

At the end of the Cold War, the United States emerged as the world’s most powerful state, and then used that power to initiate wars against smaller countries in the Middle East and South Asia. According to balance-of-power theory—the bedrock of realism in international relations—other states should have joined together militarily to counterbalance the U.S.’s rising power. Yet they did not. Nor have they united to oppose Chinese aggression in the South China Sea or Russian offensives along its Western border.

This does not mean balance-of-power politics is dead, argues renowned international relations scholar T.V. Paul, but that it has taken a different form. Rather than employ familiar strategies such as active military alliances and arms buildups, leading powers have engaged in “soft balancing,” which seeks to restrain threatening powers through the use of international institutions, informal alignments, and economic sanctions. Paul places the evolution of balancing behavior in historical perspective from the post-Napoleonic era to today’s globalized world.



“Both critics and proponents of the role of the balance of power in international politics treat it as depending on military instruments. The signal accomplishment of T. V. Paul’s book is to show that there is a much larger set of tools that states can employ to restrain troublemakers.” – Robert Jervis, Columbia University, author of How Statesmen Think

“In this sophisticated and sweeping historical survey, T.V. Paul shows how modern states have pursued various types of balancing behavior—short of war—to constrain potential hegemonic powers. Restraining Great Powers is a tour de force that should be carefully read and reflected on by scholars and practitioners alike.” – David Shambaugh, George Washington University



UC Berkeley: Restraining Great Powers

Here Professor Paul presents on his book, Restraining Great Powers,  on the use of international institutions, informal alignments and economic instruments such as sanctions — to constrain the power and threatening behavior of dominant actors.

University of Oregon PS Speaker Series: Professor T.V. Paul

At the University of Oregon, Professor Paul holds an informal discussion with students on the topic of restraining great powers.

LSE: Restraining Great Powers

Professor Paul discusses his book, Restraining Great Powers at the London School of Economics.


Canada and the World, Ep. 18: Great power politics

For an interesting podcast discussion on changing great power relations, listen to my conversation with Professors Patricia Goff and David Welch at Balsillie School of International Affairs.


CIPS presents: A Conversation with Professor T.V. Paul

I conduct an interview with Professor Peter Jones from the University of Ottawa, discussing my latest book, Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era.

Professor Paul looks to “soft balancing” for the future of international politics

An  Q&A with McGill’s Arts Student ambassador Amy Hauer, in anticipation of my new book, Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era.

Book Promotional Videos

Carnegie Book Discussion on Restraining Great Powers October 18, 2018.

Montreal Launch of Restraining Great Powers, September 27, 2018.

CIPS Welcomes Professor T.V. Paul


Book Promotion Articles

China-US Rivalry: Sleepwalking into War?Madras  Courier, October 29, 2018.

If confidence building measures and the adoption of an arms control regime in the South China Sea, China and the US risk stumbling into a catastrophic war.

Future of International Institutions and Soft BalancingYale University Press Blog, October 18, 2018.

Institutions have long been used as a means for soft balancing, including by the US. However, the US and its allies cannot ignore the norms of the rules based international order, for to do so risks undermining the shared norms soft balancing depends on.

The Power of Non-AlignmentThe Hindu, October 11, 2018.

Finding themselves caught between the giants of the United States and China, small states of the Asia-Pacific are not destined to become pawns in the midst of great power competition; instead they can resurrect the ‘Bandung spirit’ and adopt a policy of non’alignment through the use of soft-balancing.

Soft Balancing vs. Hard Clashes: The Risks of War Over the South China Sea, Global Asia, September 21, 2018.

To minimize the risk of conflict in the South China Sea, all parties should consider measures to alleviate the dangers that arise from time pressures.

How India Will React to the Rise of China: the Soft-Balancing Strategy Reconsidered, War on the Rocks, September 17, 2018.

To restrain China India is likely to form both a soft-balancing coalition and limited hard balancing coalition, but the formation of a traditional hard-balancing coalition with the United States is very unlikely.



“In his book, Professor Paul analyzes power-balance theories by applying them to the real world. This is one of the best features of the book in that it builds bridges between theory and policy. Professor Paul, it was clear, is not naïve about the current fragile state of affairs and simply asked us to wait and see because we seem to be in a flux.” –Canadian International Council

Page 99 blog reports on my new book 

Member states of Asean have been pursuing a strategy based largely on soft balancing and diplomatic engagement towards China for over three decades.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Today or tomorrow, China will likely turn against India. New Delhi must be ready for when the time comes.
To restrain Donald Trump’s actions, “soft balancing” ? countering through international institutions, diplomacy and economic sanctions ? holds promise.