"National Interest’ Is the Most Important Factor in the Formation of Any Foreign Policy. Evaluate This Claim".

3864 Words Apr 4th, 2012 16 Pages
"National interest’ is the most important factor in the formation of any foreign policy. Evaluate this claim".


It would seem a self-evident claim that national interest must play a significant part, if not a central one, in the formation of any state's foreign policy. This claim could be made because it would appear natural that the role of the state, in any situation, is primarily to further the interests of the society and people that it represents. This is the basis of its legitimacy and the reason of its very existence. This paper will explore the extent to which it can be said that states pursue national interests in their foreign policy formation, regardless of
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There are also many theorists who subscribe to the idea that states are constantly involved in an apparent game of power politics. Power politics is a perspective whereby international politics 'inevitably entails perceptions of insecurity (…); struggles for power; the use of Machiavellian stratagems; the presence of coercion; attempts to balance power; and the use of war to settle disputes' (Vasquez, 1998, p.168). The guiding assumption of this particular theory is that states have little to no choice but to engage in this type of politics, and that failing to do so would have dire consequences in so far that they would be '[placing] their fate in the hands of international institutions or the good will of others' (Shimko, 2005, p.122). There is thus an underlying principle in this theory that suggests states act not only to further their interests because they are inherently prone to act in this way, but that to not do so would endanger their chances of survival. Strange (1983) is also strongly in favour of the theory that it is essentially interest and power relationships that mediate behaviour in the international system, in her critique of the impact of international regimes (which she believes play a somewhat more negligible role). Unless a truly fundamental
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