Foreign Policy and National Interests

Topics: International relations, International relations theory, Foreign policy Pages: 6 (3526 words) Published: November 2, 2014

Foreign Policy Module Summative Assessment
Question 1: Foreign policy must be formulated in accordance with the national interest’. Evaluate this claim which is attributable to realist thinking on foreign policy. According to realist thinking on foreign policy, international relations and politics are formulated in accordance with national interest. This presupposes that the key actors in International Relations are sovereign states that behave similarly regardless of their type of government. As well, a state of anarchy is at the fundamental core of this argument and national interests of egoistic states as the main outward presence in international realm. Classic Realism, originally emerged from the European concert of aristocratic diplomacy. By evaluating this claim, this essay will reassert the position and importance of Offensive and Defensive Realism in our contemporary post 9/11 world. These are respectively neoclassical realism and neorealism. Firstly, a detailed account of realism will be produced highlighting the emergence of national interest as the fundamental feature or goal of sovereign states. This is done either through the maintenance of a status quo or aspiration of accumulating influence. It will be concluded that Defensive Realism or neorealism is the principal theoretical sub-school in according this claim any legitimacy. Secondly, a general evaluation of neorealism in post 9/11 world will be provided; and a comparison, and ultimately an association of anarchy and interdependence (emerging from neoliberalism) will be enunciated. Finally, resulting from the discoveries of the evaluation of realist foreign policy, principally on national interest, from neoliberal critiques; a subsequent new theoretical school will be expressed; Liberal Realism. This is demonstrated by Christopher Hill. To evaluate the claim that foreign policy must be formulated in accordance with national interest, it is necessary to clearly define what realism is exactly and its theoretical sub-schools. Realism is a school of thought based on three core assumptions: groupism, for humankind to survive above subsistence level humans need cohesion to be provided by group solidarity; egoism, a political behavior driven by self-interest essentially rooted in human nature that can be applied to any social setting where groups interact; and power centrism, a fundamental feature of politics where human affairs are marked by great inequalities of power. Under the assumption of Groupism, nation-states are the most important human groups within which nationalism is an important source of in-group cohesion. It carries no assumption concerning the nature of politics. The consequences of realism’s core assumptions are that humankind will unlikely ever wholly transcend power politics through the progressive power of reason. Additionally, necessity as the group interest or national interest defines it will trump any putatively universal morality and ethics. It can be deduced from these assumptions and their consequences, that groupism is essentially the states’ national interests and international politics are regarded as wildly anarchic unless central authority exists. This leads onto the development of Realist Theories and their following sub-schools. There are many theoretical schools of realism. For the purpose of this essay, Offensive Realists and Defensive Realists theoretical schools will be considered and examined in relation to the question. Offensive Realists or neoclassical realists are more concerned by conflict-generating foreign policy and the structural potential of anarchy itself. On the other hand, Defensive Realists or neoliberalists concern themselves with the security dilemma and its impact on the means of states’ survival in international politics. However, both emanate from the classical theoretical argument that anarchy renders states security problematic, potentially conflictual (key underlying cause of war) Since in the...

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