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Globalization and the continued growth in the relationships between countries has led to an expansion and development of foreign policy. At the Centre of all forms of interactions between sovereign states is the set of rules and guidelines that each of these countries apply in helping attain their individual goals of national interests in matters of political, social and economic welfare of its citizens. As such foreign policy is continually gaining dominance and importance in determining how a state grows as a player international affairs. In recent times, the social and economic progress of any state is heavily dependent on the foreign policies it adopts in matters of trade, industry, finance, political ideology or technology. In fact foreign policy has grown to the level that it is now a key campaign issues that democracies consider as ‘very important’ when choosing a leader in their presidential campaigns
Foreign Policy is an important set of adopted of principles, activities and key elements developed by communities to help them adapt and survive the evolution of behavior of fellow states. The discipline is crucial for a state’s guidance’s it engages in its activities in international community. Foreign policy outlines how decisions are made, the steps and approaches that a nation follows to securing individual self-national interest in matters that pertain international matters. Foreign Policy outlines its goals and objectives that are of national interest to her and sets the strategies aimed at securing them through the exercising of their sovereign power. In theoretical terms, it translates the goals that a nation conceives, the interests that she has and a clear course of action that the state takes to achieve these predetermined objectives and further still preserve her interests in the occurrence of competitive behavior by other countries. In lay terms, foreign policy is a nation’s shield in protecting her interests in all matters and aspects that fabricates the prosperity of a sovereign state. Usually should be well thought out by the players to ensure that it helps them achieve a nations goals (Dr. Mohinder Kumar)
Foreign policy is aimed driving goals, actualizing strategies or implementing measures that a state takes in its relations with international partners. It defines the approach that a state takes on various matters of international relations. In particular foreign policy is the discipline that helps a country’s diplomatic envoys and contributions with the partners. It should begin with an in depth understanding of the international and domestic political context.
The domestic environment has a huge influence on a state’s foreign policy (Foreign policy and democratic politics, Kenneth Waltz) and most especially the political ideologies and government systems of a country. He compares the American Presidential system and the British Parliamentary system in which he argues, the former is superior to the latter. This thesis statement has been widely covered by Waltz all through the text through which he has strongly used as an instrument of justifying the books underlying statement of America’s system being more superior to the British system. Use of party discipline in the British system to control the prime minister minimizes his space to independently and effectively approach foreign policy. He is faced with the challenge of being overly cautious with such matters that may threaten party cohesion which is the tool he uses to achieve power to drive foreign policy to implementation. The American system of A presidential system holds a certain degree of fluidity that accords a President an opportunity handle foreign policy with a better placed response that involve Congress objectively. He concludes that the Government is praised when the nations are great.
In comparison of the Soviet Union and American system, the book Political Power: USA/USSR explores foreign policy using the capitalist and communist perspective. Zbigniew Bren ski and Samuel Huntington closely compares and contrasts the two different political ideologies of these two countries and how they influence foreign policy. Other internal factors such as civil rights, consumer demands, governance structure and industrial policies have a huge role in the direction a state’s foreign policy takes. These two countries are used as the case study in this document and the authors look in detail the significance of domestic affairs in shaping a countries foreign policy.
Foreign policy presents various options to a state in the various directions or approaches that a country may follow. In following these options, it applies some stages that begins with initiation. A state assesses both the local and international environment in a context that ensures that it has an in depth understanding. It gives the state the option’s that they have in a specific matter for example trade policy, international hostility or industrial policy.
Theoretically and in practice, Foreign policy covers in broad all the matters that relate to how the state as a player in international matters goes about its business in line with the multiple goals a state set and plans to implement during a given period associated with a certain political system. Given the nature of foreign policy, goals may conflict and the state may be forced to implement in reference to their priority. The interests of a country directly relate to their social, economic and political welfare. Of importance is that a state must determine and review the options it has and make an evaluation of the impact each outcome has on their national interests. The capacity to implement a decision effectively to attain the desired results is a goal that is carefully assessed and in the phase when a state looks into whether or not it should adopt a given approach.
The state hold powers to implement these decisions at various levels of government either individually or through IGO’s, Transnational Organizations, The third sector. Mainly, most democracies and system of government push their foreign policy agendas through the executive arm of their government structures. These actors are the central parts of international policy because they are the ones actively involved up until the execution stages. They are responsible of communicating the decisions, engaging diplomatic means through which foreign policy is attained. The institution’s act independently but may involve legislative arms or Congress in sensitive matters. The role to execute, is exclusively the responsibility of the ministry usually in charge of foreign affairs or state matters in partnership with the departments with which the foreign policy affects. The implementer’s of foreign policy once, a decision is made on the path that a state should take determine whether or not it will be successful
The complexity of states as political organizations present a web of sub-national actors in the arena of foreign policy and usually many times these internal players possess a controlling stake of influence over their international behavior. Many democracies, exercise their sovereignty through elected representatives in leadership, legislative councils, interest groups and the public.
Collectively they manufacture the ideals that underlie their engagement in global matters. All these are packaged in instances where a state is strongly independent and their internal affairs is uncompromised. Recently, trade deficits in America and China formed part of the contextual issues at the presidential debates. In pursuit of the state’s national interests, foreign policy is the device that serves to accomplish ideals set out to help a nation realize its obligations and as such must maintain a clear reflection of values and principles that a state holds. As a national policy, it helps those responsible for Foreign policy Understand goals and formulation of images attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that a state aims at demonstrate to their international actors.. There are diverse factors which affect the choice of policy goals and objectives. Richard C. Sneider, H.W. Bruck and Burton Sapinn (1962), spells out the range of factors that affect the choice using a concept they called “definition of the situation”.
Despite the wide range of elements that mould foreign policy, it can be argued that the traditional factors are slowly losing their influence in the emerging contemporary foreign relations that are intensifying due to widespread globalization highly possible in wave of high levels of communication technology. The personality and character of leaders in charge of formulating policies, the general state of the international environment, the types of government systems and capacity to implement these policies are some of the traditional factors that shape these policies.
Globalization is slowly shifting the role that the general structure of international systems. In recent times, there is a tendency of a state’s foreign policy to be crafted majorly influenced by international players or climate. In a way, the degree of sovereignty is being taken away from states to be replaced by intergovernmental organizations which act as groups bonded by treaties and agreements of allegiance. Ideology is the new powerful force that is at the middle of this international influence on foreign policy. The cold war period divided the rightwing and leftwing ideologists that although traditionally the capitalists and communist were ideologies that emanated from individual states they grew to be worldwide forces that influenced a new class of foreign policy. The countries that were loyal to capitalists adopted an approach that was fabricated in the replica version of the capitalist nation while the same applied to those attracted to the communist side. The new class of foreign policy that emerged out of this era revolutionalised how the international players shaped foreign policy of a state. Through persuasion, aid and incentives the USAUSSR influenced internal systems especially of third world countries. Intense alliances lobbying has exposed the undisputed influences that the international community has on how even domestic matter respond to foreign policy. This is a dangerous route because the sovereignty is compromised in favours of economically powerful states. They have an upper hand to actualize their interests. The sovereignty leads to weak states being victims of collisions by conflicts of giant economies. The Vietnam is an example where the conflicting interest may lead to countries having to tear apart due to conflict that rose to violent civil war. This has in some cases led to intervention by international players that has helped restore peace and prosperity of communities like the case in South Sudan
However in economies such as India and China, their economic progress is helping the domestic influence to grow the more. The emergence of a new breed of leaders in these countries who advocate for a much more independence and homegrown foreign policy is helping return this sovereignty to them. However, this new found independence gives them a chance to analyze more independently an approach that favours them more in terms of securing their national interests as opposed to previously serving the interests that benefit more others actors than themselves. In short, they are able to come with more of approaches that reap or safeguard their interest better than before. In this new outfit it is tailored in a more responsive and purposeful model that serves the interests of India.
The factor of International systems has been a major influence especially in the post-cold war era. From issues on trade, security, human rights, democracy to government systems the globalization of culture, free markets and rise of terrorism has turned even sovereign states in a model of a global village model that the degree of sovereignty is minimal. The level of connectedness by these states is so high that they can only maintain independence but maintain huge consultations with their partners and other actors. Globalization, even though it has not been out rightly declared has taken away the independence of individual state in their decisions, initiative and execution of foreign policy. The European Union is an example of the inevitable need of economies to harmonize some of their decision making organs of foreign policy. This led to an approach where even though made of individual states they unified their foreign policy making organs to maintain a body that could assist in making their foreign policy that was similar in matters of trade, security, response to crisis and international matters. The security threat of terrorism has in huge part played the new class of internationalism that further threatens sovereignty of state foreign policy. Now the countries are lumped into alliances such as NATO, which although is dominated by strong powers still remains an organization whose power of coercion is high among its members. The identity of these Intergovernmental organizations proves just how much the international environment is slowly replacing the domestic influence on foreign matters.
Foreign policy as a phenomena that is prepared domestically within states is slowly evolving to a new breed of foreign policy as an inter-nations phenomena. It can be argued the major sectors that are affected or help shape foreign policy are slowly dissolving into a global atmosphere that in addition to slowly shifting the focus from national interests to regional interests in relation to geographical positions, political ideology, treaties and agreements or free market.
The domestic influence maybe quickly losing to international systems as the key players but also they are in other regional bloc giants they are rise. Key to note is the fact that leadership personality is at the forefront of these changes ISOLATED CASES. International systems as an influence of foreign policy is on the rise. The world has become a global village and the discipline of foreign policy is quickly adapting to these new changes. Sovereign states are intertwined in matters that even decision making bodies of foreign policy are thinking outwardly guided not only by their own unique interest but by their close international partners overlooking of this fact will mean that some of the decisions even in matters that regard international matters will regard or consult local mechanisms but also the international systems will play a big role. Recent presidential elections, foreign policy was a major issue that the American people subjected hopeful candidates to address.
International relations has been addressed by nation states using the platform of foreign policy. The norm has been that it is foreign policy that has always been controlled from the domestic influence. However contemporary trend has not only seen the growth and development of an international foreign policy where the set of principle and guidelines emanate from international systems or intergovernmental organizations and associations. Nation states then subjects a critical review of the best foreign policy approaches to adopt that will enhance individual benefits in matters that they feel are of great importance like security.
In conclusion the rise of global issues like global warming, terrorism, global culture are having a huge effect on individual states decisions and this shall shift more the role that international factors influence foreign policy than internal or domestic factors do. However a new class of personality leaders are emerging in fast growing economies of Asia like China and India whose domestic structures and regimes hold a huge control of foreign policy that they adopt. The underlying facts that can’t be overlooked is that international environments is now a dominant factor in matters of foreign policy of individual states.
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