Foreign Affairs

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Foreign policy of a country is formulated to safeguard and promote its national interests in the conduct of relations with other countries, bilaterally and multilaterally. It is a direct reflection of a country’s traditional values and overall national policies, her aspirations and self-perception. Thus, Foreign Policies are the strategies, methods, guidelines, agreements that usually national governments use to perform their actions in the international arena. In contemporary times, every state establishes diplomatic, economic, trade, educational, cultural and political relations with other nations and that compels to maintain its relation with each other as well as with international organizations and non-governmental actors in the international relations. Thus, International Relations attempts to explain the behaviours that occur across the boundaries of states and institutions such as private, state, governmental, non-governmental and intergovernmental oversee those interactions. However, this paper try to articulate the theoretical importance of foreign policy in international relations and how it helps in maintaining relations among the countries at the international level.

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In international arena, every nation has always been interdependent. Even after attaining highest level of development every nation has to make some dependency on other nations to fulfill their own interests. No nation can remain isolated. Thus, the framing of foreign policy is a necessary activity of the modern state. It arises from the circumstances; as Lenin made remarked that a state is not an isolated island but a member of a society of states, participation in which is inescapable. Thus, in contemporary times, every state establishes diplomatic, economic, trade, educational, cultural and political relations with other nations and that compels to maintain its relation with each other as well as with international organizations and non-governmental actors in the international relations. Thus, International Relations attempts to explain the behaviours that occur across the boundaries of states and institutions such as private, state, governmental, nongovernmental and inter-governmental oversee those interactions. Hoffmann defined that “The discipline of International Relations is concerned with the factors and activities which affect the external policies and the power of the basic units into which the world is divided.”

The sovereign states conduct their foreign relations and interact with each other through their foreign policies and thus,foreign policies in international politics are like a charter containing national interests showing the areas of agreement and disagreement. It explains the ideas with which the state would exert its influence in a very effective way. Foreign policy of a country is formulated to safeguard and promote its national interests in the conduct of relations with other countries, bilaterally and multilaterally. It is a direct reflection of a country’s traditional values and overall national policies, her aspirations and self-perception.

Moreover, Foreign policy involves both decisions and actions i.e., policies. This decisions and actions comprise to some considerable level relations between one state and others. Foreign policy is basically a matter of saying what a state is going to do. Through it, every state decides what course it will pursue in world affairs within the limits of its strength and the realities of the external environment. Foreign policy, therefore, confers a sense of direction to a state. It provides adequate instruments for the convenient journey towards this direction. It creates a sense of purpose as well as a confidence to achieve that purpose. In that context, it acts as an indispensable equipment of every state in world affairs.


it can be said that foreign policy decision-making involves a series of processes and possesses different actors. It has always played a significant role in the international affairs of a state. Hence, without a properly formulated foreign policy, a state is tended to lose its position and respect in world affairs and will eventually unable to achieve its aims and basic national interest. In this way, foreign policy in general is about the relations of a state with another and this interaction only takes place at the ‘international’ level and it cannot be ignored in analysing the foreign policy of any state.


Determinate of Foreign Policy Decision Making: Foreign policy of every state is influenced by mainly two determinants; one is international or external determinates and another is domestic or internal determinates. These are generally reflected as factors which provide assistance in shaping and moulding foreign policy. However, the link between international and domestic determinants has always been a widely debated topic since long in the field of international relations, specially in Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA). While some debated that domestic politics and foreign policy are two ‘independent’ concern, others are of the view that foreign policy and domestic politics are ‘interdependent’ and could tumble into each other. But there are some grounds of commonalities between them as the range of impact of both determinates of foreign policies are differed from state to state based on the political environment in which these states located. Sometimes external determinates play more influential role and sometimes domestic factors impacted more. External Determinates of Foreign Policy : The main external factors that determines the Foreign Policy of a state are -the international system or power structure, international law, international organizations, alliances, and military strength or arm race. The International System or Power Structure : Since the enforcement of treaty of Westphalia in 1648 the modern state system has come into existence. It holds vast, medium and small powers. As the collaboration between these countries takes place at the global level , it provide huge impact upon the framing of foreign policies of those interacting states . The creation of friendly and cooperative relations between states is the chief goals of a sound foreign policy. The world is everchanging, new happenings and events form new foreign policy problems for all concerned. For example, the effect of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the growth of Communist Power in China in 1949, the emergence of Hitler in Germany, and the emergence of new states in Asia and Africa are some significant events brought about ample changes in the power structure of the world and that has influenced the foreign policy of many nations. Likewise, the bi-polar system during the 1980s and after globalisation the whole structure has changed and accordingly foreign policies are formulated. International Law: The international law denotes a set of rules that control the relations between states. Cali defined it as “a system of rules created deliberately and explicitly by states. Where states have expressly willed to be bound by the rules”. It is constituted by interstate agreements and treaties. It limits a state in one way or another. In this way, international law regulates the foreign policy of states, and has provided a binding purpose in foreign policy as it offers a legal framework through which states can interact. However, there has always been argument among International Relations theorists about the consequences of international law. According to the supporters of Realism debated that international law has little or no independent effect on foreign policy. Henkin in this regard argued that “one of the chief aim of foreign policy is to maintain international order so that states can pursue nationalinterests.” Thus realist view asserted that states have the tendency to give priority to their national interests and then sometimes violate legal norms when fundamental interests are at risk. In contrast , liberal institutionalist viewed that international law can be intensely important. They emphasise that when states sign a treaty or agreements, it supposedly becomes costlier to take actions that the law prohibits and less costly to pursue policies the law condones. The Positivist view believe that, international law is a bind of rules that regulates and constraints state behaviour. Moreover,the Constructivist approach of international law in foreign policy demonstrates the fact that it regulates and provides a path to state’s behaviour, enable them to enter in relationship with each other and thereby limiting their actions; because they are legally bind by customary law and they decide to have legally binding obligations through treaties.

International organizations: International Organisations such as UN, IMF, World Bank have provided a very influential role as a determinates of foreign policy. Proponents of International Relations heavily disagree about the role these organisations play in the framing of foreign policy of states. The realist approach in the international politics has usually had less assurance in the effectiveness of international organizations. Mearsheimer for example , argued that international institutions “are basically a reflection of the distribution of power in the world. They are based on the self-interested calculations of the great powers, and they have no independent effect on state behavior.” They only provide a minimum effect on the foreign policy. This is called ‘bottom-up’ perspective that stress on how the foreign policies of states impact international organizations. However, the Constructivist and liberal institutionalist followed ‘top-down’ perspective and emphasied on how international organizations impact the foreign policies of states. The international organizations helps in modifiers of state.

Alliances: Alliance formulation is considered to be one of the important aspects of international relations. It is regarded as the basis of security policy. Alliance formation is considered as a plan that states use in the formulation and Implementation of their foreign policies. Alliances may constrain the state in some areas while allowing it freedom to act in others. One of the scholars in international relations, Dinesh asserted that, alliances serve as instruments of foreign policies. “The extensive and intensive system of alliances that emerged in the post-1945 period had a big impact on the foreign policies of all the nations. During 1945- 90, both the United States and USSR used alliances as the way for consolidating their respective positions.” However, during the height of the Cold War, neither the members of the ‘Warsaw Pact’ nor those of ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organization’ (NATO) could pursue any independent foreign policy. Military Strategy/Arm Race: In the accomplishment of foreign policy objectives, states adopt various strategies, and military strategy is one of them. When negotiations not work, conflict is inevitable;in this situation the use of military power is measured as the ultimate tool of international relations. Generally, a state possessing sufficient military strength has greater initiative and bargaining power in the international arena. Domestic Determinates of Foreign Policy: Internal environment of a state also influence the nature and course of its foreign policy. Though states varied in terms of socio-economic background, military, economic capabilities, each of their differences directly impact both foreign policy making process and foreign policy decisions. Culture and History: Culture provides people with ways of thinking, seeing and interpreting the things around them. It shapes our ideas and serves an instrument for us in analyzing everything happening around us. The approach of a nation to the external affairs is considered by its traditional values and beliefs that have appeared over the years. Historical experiences, like culture and traditions of a state provide ample influence on its foreign policy. Usually,states with integrated culture and common history finds it more convenient to formulate effective foreign policy. Geography, Size, Population: Geography is a stable, tangible, permanent and natural element. Napoleon Bonaparte rightly remarked that, “Any countries foreign policy is determined by its geography”. Some of the geographical factors are maps, size, climate, topology, Geographic location of the country. In this way, geographical location of a country also determines climate and influences the economic system. Moreover, it has a direct impact on war strategy and also can make a state a land power. Land-locked countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Bolivia cannot become economically and politically very powerful nations. So, the nature and role of geography as an element of natural power has a great influence on International Relations. Economic development and natural resources The level of economic development of a country also influences the foreign policy of that country. Many advance industrialist countries play dominant role in world politics, and formulate their foreign policies to maintain such superiority in the system. Such countries like United States, Russia, Germany and France have large resources at their disposal to build military capabilities on one hand, and disperse monetary benefits on other states in the form of aids and loan, with the sole aim of ‘seeking allies’ with these states. On the other hand, small states like The Gambia pursue a limited and calculated foreign policy due to their insufficient economic power. Therefore, it can be seen that developing and undeveloped countries remain dependent on these advance industrialist countries to a larger extent to get development loans, import of technologies, provision of health care, access to higher education, and even foodgrains to meet their needs. Thus, accordingly it has to adjust its foreign policy in these economic terms. Military capabilities The military strength of a country, also determines the foreign policy strategy of states. The capability of a state to defend its borders against armed aggression plays a profound role in both internal and external policies that states make. Militarily capable states exercise greater independence from external forces in the formulation of their foreign policy. Political system The political organization and institutions in a country, also greatly influences the foreign policy of that country. Generally, under authoritarian or totalitarian forms of government, easier and faster foreign decisions are possible because the decisionmaking power rests with an individual or group of individuals. They are the sole decision makers and as their decisions are made without any constraints or consultations, their foreign policy decisions can be conflictual. It is also lead to a country’s isolation in international politics as happened with the regimes in North Korea and Myanmar. On the other hand, in a state with democratic system, foreign policyimplementation tends to be difficult and slow as compared to that of an authoritarian structure. Citizens in this system can freely express and voice their opinion on the domestic as well as foreign policies of their country, making an impact on the policies their government.

  1. Foreign Policy Analysis:
    • The academic discipline studying International Relation is generally subdivided into two fields - “Systematic” international relations which focus on every aspect of international system as a whole as well as “Sub Systemic” foreign policy analysis(FPA) which give emphasis on actions of state as considered states to be the most prime aspect of the discipline.



  1. How does the UN maintain international peace and security?
    • Preventive Diplomacy and Mediation

The most effective way to diminish human suffering and the massive economic costs of conflicts and their aftermath is to prevent conflicts in the first place. The United Nations plays an important role in conflict prevention, using diplomacy, good offices and mediation. Among the tools the Organization uses to bring peace are special envoys and political missions in the field.

  1. Peacekeeping
    • Peacekeeping has proven to be one of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. Today's multidimensional peacekeeping operations are called upon not only to maintain peace and security, but also to facilitate political processes, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support constitutional processes and the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law and extending legitimate state authority. Peacekeeping operations get their mandates from the UN Security Council; their troops and police are contributed by Members States; and they are managed by the Department of Peace Operations and supported by the Department of Operational Support at the UN Headquarters in New York. There are 14 UN peacekeeping operations currently deployed and there have been a total of 71 deployed since 1948. In 2019, the Secretary-General launched the Action for Peacekeeping Initiative (A4P) to renew mutual political commitment to peacekeeping operations.
  2. Peacebuilding
    • United Nations peacebuilding activities are aimed at assisting countries emerging from conflict, reducing the risk of relapsing into conflict and at laying the foundation for sustainable peace and development. The UN peacebuilding architecture comprises the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office. The Peacebuilding Support Office assists and supports the Peacebuilding Commission with strategic advice and policy guidance, administers the Peacebuilding Fund and serves the Secretary-General in coordinating United Nations agencies in their peacebuilding efforts.
  3. Countering Terrorism
    • The United Nations is being increasingly called upon to coordinate the global fight against terrorism. Eighteen universal instruments against international terrorism have been elaborated within the framework of the United Nations system relating to specific terrorist activities. In September 2006, UN Member States adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. This was the first time that Member States agreed to a common strategic and operational framework against terrorism.
  4. Disarmament
    • The General Assembly and other bodies of the United Nations, supported by the Office for Disarmament Affairs, work to advance international peace and security through the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and the regulation of conventional arms.


Surely the greatest direct impact of the military-industrial complex on American foreign policy, and the greatest direct impact of American foreign policy on the military-industrial complex, has been in the transfer of arms among nations, programs of military assistance, cooperative production programs, arms sales abroad, and the rise of multinational corporations in arms and related industries.

One of the most serious charges leveled against the military-industrial complex is that it campaigns actively and effectively against arms control and disarmament, and exerts a controlling influence on the shaping of foreign policy. Those who traffic in military procurement have a vested interest in an unstable international environment. According to proponents of this view, the profits and power of the complex would decline catastrophically if real progress were made in limiting strategic nuclear weaponry and conventional weapon systems. For this reason, it is claimed, advocates of huge arms expenditures use all available means of shaping public attitudes and governmental behavior to perpetuate an illusion of great international danger emanating particularly from the communist bloc of nations. Modern "merchants of death" are said to pursue their own interests in complete disregard of humanitarian considerations.[1]


Non‐​intervention, sometimes called neutrality or “isolationism,” is the application of Libertarianism to foreign affairs. Since our philosophy calls for the use of force only in self‐​defense against those who violate the rights of individuals to their life, liberty or justly acquired property, Libertarian principles call on the American government to restrict its use of force in international relations to repelling actual attacks on the United States itself.


Human liberty is the foundation of a good and just society. Men and women flourish when they are able to live, work, and play where they desire. People live better, more fulfilling lives when they are free to associate with the people they choose and how they choose. The presumption of liberty and against the use of force to coerce or compel a person to behave in a particular way is the defining feature of libertarianism.

The presumption of individual liberty goes hand in hand with that of nonintervention. Libertarians believe that legitimate governments possess limited and enumerated powers to protect their citizens’ basic rights. They should provide a system for adjudicating disputes and impose sanctions or punishment for those who would willingly transgress the rights of others. The state should otherwise interfere as little as possible with an individual’s ability to earn an honest living and to enjoy the fruits of his or her labor. Libertarians believe, therefore, that in domestic affairs the best governments are small governments.

The same principle of limited and enumerated powers applies when government turns its attention beyond its borders. Libertarians believe that people should be free to buy and sell goods and services, study and travel, and otherwise interact with peoples from other lands and places as well as be generally unencumbered by the intrusions of government. Ideally, a government will pursue policies that allow its citizens maximum freedom.

For example, governments often choose to have formal relationships with other governments and peoples. They engage in diplomacy and exchange ambassadors. These agents, acting on behalf of a government and representing the interests of that government’s constituents, may negotiate treaties of friendship or establish rules governing trade between them. Such activities are wise and just to the extent that they facilitate their citizens’ ability to live freely around the world and not merely in the country of their birth or the place where they reside or work.

Libertarians are skeptical, however, of government actions that depart from a narrow and well-defined mandate to facilitate maximum space for individual liberty. Take, for example, the case of foreign aid. Many libertarians object to the idea that citizens can be compelled by force (i.e., taxed) to pay for the construction of schools, roads, and bridges in their own communities, let alone in a distant state. And yet few would object to nongovernmental entities performing a similar service based on voluntary contributions of time and resources. After all, the ability of individuals to interact freely—from mutually beneficial trade to private charity—is a basic human right. This point reminds us that foreign policy is about much more than what a government does or does not do.

But although the facilitation of trade and other forms of voluntary engagement between individuals is an essential function of government, war remains the state’s single most consequential foreign policy. Providing defense against threats, foreign and domestic, is one of the main reasons why governments came into existence in the first place. So although a country’s foreign policy should not be defined solely by the wars that it does or does not fight, it is obvious that such decisions are the most farreaching and thus deserving of the most scrutiny. And libertarians have traditionally been most skeptical of war because of the unique threat that wars pose to liberty.