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The sentence in question:

In short, the so-called “balance of power” is nothing but a policy that masks beneath a desire to preserve a favorable nuclear status quo designed to keep an entire region in awe.

While I want to place emphasis on "an entire region" by having it come immediately before the full stop, the lack of separation between "to keep" and "in awe," by removing the object "an entire region" from the in-between position, sounds off to me.

[ . . . ] a favorable nuclear status quo to keep in awe an entire region*.

Any thoughts?

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How about to maintain the awe over an entire region? – Damkerng T. Jan 2 '14 at 7:42
I thought of it, but I felt it may imply that "maintaining the awe" is rightful or expedient. I want to leave no room for doubt over what I mean, and I mean that "the awe" is unjust. – asef Jan 2 '14 at 8:02
@ Damkerng T. And thank you for the comment! – asef Jan 2 '14 at 8:03
status quo should be italicized. – virmaior Jan 2 '14 at 8:11

If it were me, I would reword the sentence as follows:

The so-called "balance of power" merely masks a status quo which favors [whom?] and subdues an entire region.

My reasons for the changes are as follows:

(1) in short is largely superfluous -- and especially unsuited to a long sentence. (Obviously, there could be reasons to include it in the source document).

(2) I am having a little trouble grasping what you mean by in awe here. Awe normally means a sense of wonder mixed with fear or respect, but this rubs against so-called, nothing but a policy, and status quo which to me imply the situation lacks any sense of wonder. Thus, I'm suggesting "subdued." This might not capture fully what you want to say.

(3) I would take out nothing but a policy. The scare-quoting of "balance of power" and the so-calling of it already express that you don't accept its validity.

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your comments are helpful. Thanks! – asef Jan 2 '14 at 8:34
@ virmaior: what does this work-around sound to you: "The so-called “balance of power” is a policy that masks beneath a desire to preserve a favorable nuclear status quo, one designed to enable a sole state to subdue an entire region." – asef Jan 2 '14 at 9:40
@asef, you don't need the word 'beneath' since already implicit in the verb to mask is the notion of something beneath or behind the mask. – Shoe Jan 2 '14 at 11:12
I believe it captures what you want to say (incorporating @Shoe's suggestion of dropping the "beneath"). It's a little wordy, but I would need context to know whether further paring is necessary or merely stylistic. – virmaior Jan 2 '14 at 14:12

The sentence sounds 'off' because in most cases the object directly follows the verb. However, interposing an adjunct, as in your sentence, is an accepted rhetorical device in formal writing. A search on the phrase "keep in awe" brings up the following examples:

The free white men may keep arms to protect the public liberty, to keep in awe those who are in power, and to maintain the supremacy of the laws and the constitution.

The castle of Braemar was built as a seat of the ancient earls of Mar, but was subsequently used as a garrison to keep in awe the lawless chieftains.

... God would not fail to testify His displeasure against sin, and keep in awe the workers of iniquity.

Your construction pushes "an entire region" to the end of the sentence and thereby follows the principle of End-Weight. This principle is also employed in the sentences above.

Note: The interposition of an adjunct between verb and direct object increases the cognitive load on the reader. And the greater the separation of verb and direct object, the greater this load.

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