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The state’s foreign policy Case Study

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Updated: May 16th, 2019

Abstract

Past research does not explain exactly what influences the pursuit of various foreign policies by states. Divergent views by researchers have tended to propose a variety of variables as influences in formulating foreign policies. This research was conducted to determine the role of various variables in influencing formulation of foreign policies. The researcher reviewed research by other researchers in the field of study. The case study design was used to research and test the validity of the hypotheses that were formulated.

The research questions to be answered sought to determine relationships among a variety of variables and the formulation of foreign policies. These variables included governmental level variables such as; democracy, public opinion, and political parties. International policies variables such as polarity, anarchy and leadership were also examined and tested. Answers to these questions assisted in confirming the stated hypothesis.

Data for the study was collected through review of secondary sources of information. These included; books, journal articles and other material available on the internet. A longitudinal analysis was conducted on the data to come to conclusive results. The Iraq war was selected as a case study for the research. The research was based on neoconservative realism as a theoretical framework. This framework was useful in explaining America’s involvement in the Iraq war.

The researcher found that neoconservative realism was a significant influence in America’s foreign policy towards Iraq. it was also found that governmental variables such as democracy, public opinion and political parties have exceeding influence on a state’s foreign policy formulation process. International policy variables such as anarchy and polarity also have significant influence on the process. Military spending in a state is influenced by both public opinion and political parties’ ideologies.

Introduction

In the formulation foreign policies, states are usually guided by national interests. National interests are understood in different ways by various theorists. The interests of a given state could lie in economic, political or military gains. In establishing relationships with other states in the international arena, states are most often influenced by what they stand to gain.

Gains could be in terms of military power, increased influence in decision-making, economic gains or improved security. Various variables, however, come into play when these policies are made. By carrying out this research, the researcher intends to answer the following questions;

  1. Does governmental politics affect foreign policy making given that political parties and pressure groups have a stake in the formulation process.
  2. Does regime type matter in foreign policy formulation? Does the behavior of leaders affect the quality of decisions made at the international level?
  3. Does military spending affect the GDP of a state? Is it factual that military spending drains resource that would be channeled to economic development?
  4. Does the public approve military spending that intends to achieve greatness for the state but does not fulfill national interests?
  5. Did the two major world ideologies affect the military industry after 1945?
  6. How do other variables such as the geography affect the military ideology in a particular state?
  7. What could be the role of democracy in military proliferation? Why do major democratic states such as Britain, France and Russia produce weapons of mass destruction?
  8. Why do the political parties support increased military spending yet the Cold War is no more?
  9. Do party ideology and manifesto affect the quality of decision making in any state?

In answering the above questions, this research seeks to confirm the hypothesis stated below;

  1. Governmental level variables such as democracy, public opinion, political parties and the type of government affect the foreign policy making process and ideology.
  2. There is no relationship between governmental level variables and the nature and quality of foreign policy decisions.
  3. Systemic variables such as polarity, anarchy, international law, level of integration and supranational organizations affect the foreign policy formulation strategies in any state.
  4. There is no correlation between the variables existing at the global level and the ideological perspectives of states.

There exist divergent views on the variables that affect the process of formulating a state’s foreign policy. Researchers have not come to an agreed position on what guides states in foreign policy formulation. This research seeks to fill this gap, by finding out exactly what guide states in these decisions.

The first part of this paper reviews research findings by other researchers in the area of study. The theoretical framework of the paper is then examined. The methods used to collect data are discussed after this, followed by the case study. The paper ends with a conclusion that summarizes the results of the research, based on the information gathered.

Literature review

Earlier researchers suggested that foreign policies and the media are not related in any way. Recent studies have revealed a different set of facts. Soroka (2) carried out a study in the UK and concluded that the media is responsible for variations in public policy. The researcher argues that the media is the link between public opinion and the views of policy makers.

This gives it power to influence the policy making process in any state. Cohen (180) shares this view and adds that policies concerning military spending are of great public interest. The media plays a significant role in making the public comment on pressing issues.

Fordham (560) opines that during the cold war, political parties had great influence in the formulating foreign policies touching on military spending. Supporting increased military spending was seen as crucial in the quest to reposition states internationally. Political ideologies significantly influence foreign policies of different governments. Abell (192) and Cothren (123) state that socialist and liberal governments oppose increased military spending. Socialist governments, on the other hand, support military proliferation.

Imbeau (34) examines two different schools of thoughts on the role of political parties and ideologies on foreign policies of states. According to the convergence school of thought, developed countries tend to come up with similar solutions for similar problems.

The conclusion reached is that educational, institutional and other internal variables such as political ideologies do not influence the policy-making process (Lebovic, 120). The “politics matter” school of thought claims that economic issues and political ideologies are of immense significance in formulation of foreign policies. The subscribers to this school of thought are mostly foreign policy makers.

The behavior of states is significantly influenced systemic variables such as polarity. Brown, Dell and Newman (420) state that super powers use such variables to influence other states’ policies. Though polarity was not an important variable during the cold war, it is significantly influential in modern international relations.

Ellis, Barf and Markusen (401) opine that this shift is due to changes in international systems, developments in international law and diplomacy. Trajitenberg (25) scrutinizes the factors affecting US military spending in the war against terrorism. He concludes that national interests and public opinion are significant drivers of the US foreign policy.

Theoretical Framework/Hypothesis

The theoretical framework used in the paper assists the researcher to answer the research questions. It also assists in analyzing the information collected, to prove or disprove the stated hypothesis. The following are the research questions answers to which the researcher seeks.

Does governmental politics affect foreign policy making given that political parties and pressure groups have a stake in the formulation process? Does regime type matter in foreign policy formulation? Does the behavior of leaders affect the quality of decisions made at the international level? Does military spending affect the GDP of a state? Is it factual that military spending drains resource that would be channeled to economic development?

Does the public approve military spending that intends to achieve greatness for the state but does not fulfill national interests? Did the two major world ideologies affect the military industry after 1945? How do other variables such as the geography affect the military ideology in a particular state?

What could be the role of democracy in military proliferation? Why do major democratic states such as Britain, France and Russia produce weapons of mass destruction? Why do the political parties support increased military spending yet the Cold War is no more? Do party ideology and manifesto affect the quality of decision making in any state?

The theoretical framework will also be used to confirm the following hypotheses;

Governmental level variables such as democracy, public opinion, political parties and the type of government affect the foreign policy making process and ideology. There is no relationship between governmental level variables and the nature and quality of foreign policy decisions.

Systemic variables such as polarity, anarchy, international law, level of integration and supranational organizations affect the foreign policy formulation strategies in any state. There is no correlation between the variables existing at the global level and the ideological perspectives of states.

The researcher will apply the neo-conservative realism theory to examine the issue of foreign policy formulation and military spending. This theory is more flexible than the existing realist theories in explaining foreign policies. The theory explains most states’ national security strategies, and the development of anti-terrorism foreign policies. Neo conservative realism explains the goals and agenda of America’s and other Western powers’ involvement in the Iraq war.

The researcher uses this framework to draw on various dependent and independent variables to explain the war Iraq war. The variables that are applied to explain the Iraq war include; democracy, public opinion, political parties, leadership of the United States towards the war in Iraq, foreign policy towards Iraq, and ideology of the United States towards Iraq, and ideology of Iraq towards the United States.

International policies such as polarity, anarchy, international law, foreign policy, leadership (congress/presidential) levels of integration, supranational organizations, policy formation and strategies are also examined. The key concepts of the analysis include; foreign policy, international relations, Iraq war, ideology, military proliferation and security strategy.

The researcher draws from conclusions made by Nuruzzaman (242). He applied the neo-conservative realism theory to study the US invasion of Iraq. He found that neo-realist policy makers significantly influenced the decision to invade Iraq. He also found that variables such as anarchy, national interests, economic factors and national vengeance were significant influences on US policy towards Iraq.

Methodology/Data Collection

The researcher uses a case study research design for this research. The study of international policy formulation is studied from the Iraq war perspective. The researcher studies and examines the Iraq war to test the hypothesis made. The study of the Iraq war will also assist in testing whether the neo-conservative realism theory applies to formulation of international policies on military spending. Longitudinal analysis of data will be used to examine the Iraq war from the beginning to the end.

Secondary sources of information are used to collect information for the study. Research conducted by others in the area of study was consulted. The researcher searched journals, books, and other information found on the internet to get information relevant for the study. The key search phrases used by the researcher included: foreign policy formulation, US policy towards Iraq, Iraq ideologies towards US, strategies of policy formation, International relations, and the Iraq war.

Only sources that showed a relationship between the desired variables and formulation of foreign policy were considered for the study. Also considered as relevant were sources that showed a link between the Iraq war and theoretical concepts explaining the events. Of particular interest was the neoconservative realism theoretical framework.

Case Study

If there was any doubt as to the hostility that the US and most of the West faced from Islamic fundamentalists, these doubts were laid to rest after 9/11. This marked the spark of an aggressive, militant, foreign policy by the US to “stamp out” terrorism wherever it existed. The public was in favor of a move to pursue the terrorists involved. What was not clear, though, is whether there was overwhelming support for the imperialist invasion of a sovereign state-Iraq.

At the beginning of the war, public opinion supported the foreign policies of the Bush administration. As the war progressed, the media was used as a platform for public discussions on the issue. Public opinion started shifting as bodies of American soldiers were brought home. The relevance of a militant foreign policy was unstable. Hard economic times back home made Americans to question increased military spending.

Nuruzzaman (249) claims that neo-conservative realists worked themselves around the Bush administration in the run up to the Iraq war. These are characters that were well known to harbor hostile stances against any regimes antagonistic to American values and interests.

Their role was to nurture the ideology of expanding American values and military power in the world. In furtherance of this goal, PNAC was formed. Its aims were; to foster increased military spending in the US, encourage efforts to challenge hostile regimes, foster global leadership by America and worldwide economic and political freedom. America’s principles, security and prosperity would be supported by the establishment of an American-friendly world order.

Neoconservative realism approaches the concept of national interests in a broader sense than classical realist theories. Two components comprise its version of national interests. These are; the spread of a state’s institutions and values, and increasing its military capabilities. Neoconservatives believe that it is necessary to fight “peace wars” in order to spread democracy, political and economic liberties and freedoms. This is what the neoconservatives in the Bush administration sought to achieve.

When anarchic conditions typify the international arrangement, realist theories are relevant. They explain the Iraq war in terms of power contests among states. Neoconservatives on the other hand, think of anarchy in terms of fortifying the US global leadership and military power. The Middle East is an area where America has strategic interests. It is seen as the home of the world’s terror networks. The invasion of Iraq by America was in pursuance of its foreign policy to pursue terrorists beyond its borders.

In addition to this, democracy and anarchy played a role in this decision. America used the platform to democratize Iraq and spread its values. Polarity is seen at play here. Gaining significant influence in the Middle East region would fortify America’s global leadership position. It would also advance its national interests. These, according to neoconservative realists include the spread of its democratic institutions and values.

The Iraq war has come to an end and the two states pursue friendly foreign policies towards each other. The successful dislodging of Saddam Hussein’s regime is a clear illustration of neoconservative realism pursuits of the war. The regime was perceived to be hostile to American interests and values.

It also resisted the spread of America’s values in the region. Worst of all, the regime was perceived as being sympathetic to terror groups. American resources were used to equip and train the new Iraqi military. It now relies on its own security machinery.

Conclusion

The hypothesis that governmental level variables such as democracy, public opinion, political parties and the type of government affect the foreign policy making process and ideology is true. The research undertaken supports this assumption. It is also supported by the theoretical framework applied by the researcher to analyze the data. This hypothesis works well with the area of study and the answers some of the research questions.

Neoconservative realism has been found to have significantly influenced the decision to invade Iraq. This influence was mainly from political machineries and the need to foster America’s national interests. Neoconservative realists understand national interests in a broad sense. To them, invading Iraq to spread democratic values and institutions was pursuit of national interests.

A relationship has been established between governmental level variables and foreign policies pursued by states. The hypothesis that there is no relationship between governmental level variables and the nature and quality of foreign policy decisions, therefore, fails. Democracy and political parties have been found to be significant drivers of the US foreign policy.

Spreading and strengthening democracy is viewed to be part of US national interests by neoconservative realists. These are variables that have significantly influenced the US foreign policy towards Iraq. These arguments lead to only one conclusion. This hypothesis fails and does not work with the research objectives.

The research findings confirm the last two hypotheses. These are that; systemic variables such as polarity, anarchy, international law, level of integration and supranational organizations affect the foreign policy formulation strategies in any state, and, there is no correlation between the variables existing at the global level and the ideological perspectives of states.

Anarchy is one of the variables that influenced America’s policy towards Iraq. It encouraged the policy makers to support increased military spending. This was for the purpose of strengthening the US militarily to enable expansion of American ideologies in the Middle East.

Works Cited

Abell, John. “Military Spending and Income Inequality.” Journal of Peace Research. 31.1 (1994): 35-43. Print.

Brown, Gerald, Robert Dell and Alexandra Newman. “Optimizing Military Capital Planning.” Interfaces 34.6 (2004): 415-425. Print.

Cohen, Bernard. “The Press and Foreign Policy.” Political Research Quarterly. 3.1 (1963): 176-187. Print.

Cothren, Richard. “A Model of Military Spending and Economic Growth.” Public Choice. 110.1 (2002): 121-142. Print.

Ellis, Mark, Richard Barff and Ann Markusen. “Defense Spending and Interregional Labor Migration.” Economic Geography. 69.2 (1993): 1-22. Print.

Fordham, Benjamin. “The Political and Economic Sources of Inflation in the American Military Budget.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution. 47.5 (2003): 574-593. Print.

Imbeau, Louis. “Left-Right Party Ideology and Governmental Policies.” European Journal of Political Research. 40.1 (2001): Print.

Lebovic, James. “Spending priorities and Democratic rule in Latin America.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution. 45.4 (2001): 427-452. Print.

Nuruzzaman, Mohammed. “Beyond the Realist Theories: Neo-Conservative Realism and the American Invasion of Iraq.” International Studies Perspectives. 7.1 (2006): 239–253. Print.

Soroka, Stuart. “Media, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy.” Press/Politics. 8.1 (2003): 1-32. Print.

Trajtenberg, Manuel. “Crafting defense R&D policy in the anti-terrorist era.” Innovation Policy and the Economy. 4.1 (2004): 1 – 34. Print.

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