Literature Review on the Factors Affecting Foreign Policy Formulation

Introduction

Literature review pertains to cross-examining what other scholars have done in the field of study. This is based on the idea that knowledge is cumulative. Revisiting other people’s ideas and thoughts help in formulating both theoretical and conceptual frameworks. In this study, the researcher employs some theories, which are part of theoretical literature. Conceptual literature are usually revisited by scrutinizing what other researchers have concluded in their studies.

Literature review is important because it offers a foundation to any study. Generally, literature review is related to determining how much is known. It is important because it keeps away unnecessary duplication of data and gives more knowledge to the researcher. The researcher can only avoid mistakes committed by other researchers if he/she reviews literature. Therefore, review of literature helps a researcher to formulate a study that stands the taste of time

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The national interests usually guide foreign policies of many states. It is established that the current international system exists according to the Hobbestian state of nature, where life is anarchic, short-lived and brutal. States usually play a zero-sum game where the main agenda is to gain from a particular relationship.

A state would therefore formulate a foreign policy with an intention of fulfilling its national interests. It is also established that the existence of states in the international system is affected by systemic variables, such as polarity and the development of international law. In this study, the researcher would revisit what other researchers have done and determine research questions and hypotheses as regards to the relationship between foreign policies and various variables in the international system.

Research Questions

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? In Israel for instance, the government spends many resources protecting the borders. This is due to the size of the state and the geographical position. Israel is situated in the region that is prone to aggression. Gambia, which is a small state just like Israel, does not have a military force.
What could be the role of democracy in military proliferation? According to the liberalist scholars, democracies do not go to war with each other. How comes major democratic states such as Britain, France and Russia produces 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?

Hypothesis

The research set out to answer the above raised questions in simple straightforward statements. The researcher developed the hypotheses below. This research sets to confirm the following hypotheses.

H1. Governmental level variables such as democracy, public opinion, political parties and the type of government affect the foreign policy making process and ideology.

H0. There is no relationship between governmental level variables and the nature and quality of foreign policy decisions.

H2. Systemic variables such as polarity, anarchy, international law, level of integration and supranational organizations affect the foreign policy formulation strategies in any state.

H0. There is no correlation between the variables existing at the global level and the ideological perspectives of states.

Literature Review

Media, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: Stuart Soroka

Various scholars have conducted both quantitative and qualitative studies regarding the relationship between the media and foreign policies in the United Kingdom. Early researches suggested that there was no substantial relationship between foreign policy and the media. However, current studies prove that the media and foreign policy are closely related variables. Before the development of the mass media, public opinion was impulsive and rambling.

Currently, the public opinion is constant, sagaciously structured and coherent, mainly because of the mass media. Scholars of foreign policy studies have a clear understanding of the nature of public opinion but they do not have enough data as regards to the sources of public opinion. Soroka scrutinizes the role of partisanship, the role of ideology and demographics in foreign policy making process. According to the scholar, the above variables affect foreign policies of states in varied magnitudes.

However, the variables do not explain the variations. Specifically, the scholar singles out the content of the mass media to be responsible for variations in foreign policy making. The mass media plays a critical role since it is the link between the sources of public opinion and the foreign policy makers in any state.

The policy makers scrutinize the views of the public by reading the reports in the mass media while the public receives the opinions of the policy makers through the same media. In other words, it is only through the mass media that the public can be informed about the foreign policy decisions. Therefore, it is important to study the nature and the relationship between the two variables, especially when the public responds to the actions of foreign policy makers.

In democratic states, such as Italy, France and Britain, the role of the public is well captured as regards to foreign policy making. In France for example, the government was held hostage by the French farmers since farmers did not want to join the common European agricultural society. French farmers suspected that they would lose out to other farmers in the region. Britain, the government could not join the Euro because British investors could lose out to their French and German counterparts.

This is the same case with the military ideology. The Japanese public voted for the resolution that aimed at restricting the government from engaging in military proliferation. The Japanese public had suffered a lot due to the government’s engagement in military aggression.

Media Content and Issue Salience: Bernard Cohen (1963)

Cohen formulated a paper referred to as The Press and Foreign Policy. The paper is very important in understanding the foreign policymaking.

The scholar observed that it could not be possible for the media to instruct people to think but the media is successful in offering people ideas related to foreign policies. From Cohen’s analysis, it is eminent that the media influences people to think about a certain course of action. In other words, it sets the agenda for the public. For instance, the media may carry out a study by asking people to give their views about the pressing issues.

Again, the media has various freedoms in developed countries as compared to the third world where the media is always restricted from commenting on the foreign issues. Foreign policies involving the military are considered high politics hence the media is not allowed to discuss the behavior of the state.

Military Spending and Public Opinion

Major political parties usually support increased military budgets. Conservative political parties are perceived to be advocators of increased military spending while liberal and moderate parties tend to oppose such moves. During the C old War, the states had to rearm themselves due to the nature of the international system.

Tensions, struggles and varying ideological perspectives characterized the system. It was therefore the role of the political parties to determine how the military could be structured (Fordham, 2003). Approving military spending was viewed to be the only solution in repositioning the state in the international system. It can be deduced that political ideologies and manifestos affect the foreign policy making processes.

Socialist and liberal parties are always against military spending while conservative parties tend to support military proliferation (Abell, 1994). Socialist parties fear that the state can use weapons of mass destruction to terrorize innocent people while the fear of liberals is related to economics (Cothren, 2002).

Systemic Variables such as Polarity: Sumit Ganguly

Polarity means the distribution of power in the international system. It usually affects the behavior of states in many ways. For instance, the superpower may demand that a certain policy be followed by other states in the international system. The superpower does not force other states to pursue its policies but it uses other variables to instill compliance (Brown, Dell, & Newman, 2004).

In the current international system, the superpower uses economic variables to ensure that other states follow its ideologies. Before the Cold War, polarity was never an important variable as it is in the modern international system. The case of India would provide a deeper insight to the effects of polarity to the behavior of states in the international system.

Pakistan was involved in a conflict with India for a long time. The two states were fighting over the Kashmir region believed to be endowed with natural resources. The Pakistani acquisition of nuclear energy forced the Indian foreign policy makers to change their strategy. The US had supported Pakistan because of the Afghanistan conflict. The US needed Pakistan in order to advance its interests in the Middle East.

Therefore, the US had to fulfill the desires and wishes of Pakistan. India decided to engage the US in order to develop nuclear program (Sonmez, 2004). Foreign relations analysts in India observed that the nuclear program was not an effort of a political party or a regime. It was influenced by the changes in the international system.

In 1995, the NPT program had been extended by the superpower. The US president had threatened to ban any nuclear tests hence India had to move with speed and agility to conclude the program. India’s nuclear program was condemned by world powers such as Britain, France, China and Russia.

However, the pressures from the actors in the international system could not stop India since it had the backing of the world’s hegemony. The US and India enjoyed close diplomatic and economic ties since they had signed a bilateral trade agreement. World leaders and actors in the international system feared that the two states could utilize their military capabilities to cause a disaster but nothing has happened to date.

An attempt by Pakistan to revive the Kashmir conflict was neglected by India. In the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, foreign policy makers did not decide to wage war on the suspected states. India chose to handle the two issues diplomatically by reporting to the UN Security Council. This was mainly because of the developments in the international system (Ellis, Barff, & Markusen, 1993).

In 2001 to 2002, the superpower urged the two states to stop being aggressive and embark on negotiations to end tensions. Even though the results were not optimistic, the two states promised to keep off from the Kashmir conflict. In 2008, the state of affairs between the two states was shocking but the superpower once more intervened to calm the situation. The Indian authorities and American experts accused Pakistan of sponsoring a terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul (Atkinson, 1993).

Sumit concluded that the changing events in the international system have offered an opportunity to Indian foreign policy makers. Currently, the relations between Pakistan and India are still in doubt but India has established strong relations with the US. This gives it an advantage over Pakistan concerning major decisions such as the Kashmir issue.

The Role of Political parties and Ideology in Foreign Policy Formulation: Louis Imbeau

Scholars of foreign policy have always questioned the role of political parties and their ideologies in foreign policy making process. The internal actors, which include political parties and pressure groups, question the credibility of foreign policies as regards to socio-economic and political benefits.

Due to this debate, scholars have come up with various theories to explain the behavior of states concerning foreign policy making in relation to political parties. For instance, the convergence school of thought believes that developed states behave in the same way and tend to come up with similar solutions that are utilized in solving similar problems. Due to these arguments, the scholars observe that political, institutional and educational variations do not affect policy-making process (Lebovic, 2001).

In responding to the above claims, foreign policy makers claim that political activities matter so much in foreign policy formulation. This school of thought underscore the fact that economic issues are important in understanding the nature of policy formulation but they add that politics is equally important. From the analysis, two schools of thoughts emerge. One of it is the politics matter school while the other is the convergence school, which does not believe in political variables such political parties and ideologies.

Effects of Anarchy: Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill posits that scholars have attempted to relate the intrinsic tribulations of agency and political decision making to the meticulous milieus of foreign policy. By focusing on the actors in the international system, the nature of the environment that actors operate in is not demarcated from the actors. The scholar therefore notes that this discrepancy should be checked.

In his view, the international system is made up of states, as well as other units comprising political, and cultural forces. He analyzes how states relate in the external environment and utilizes the works of Hedley Bull to explain some relationships in the international system. In this regard, the international system is anarchical meaning that it does not have a central authority that can dictate policies.

The scholar reviews how human behavior relates to other factors in the international system, which jointly influences the state’s foreign policy. He states that both elements of cooperation and conflict exist in the international system. At times, states find themselves being influenced by rules, norms and expectations. These aspects shape the behavior of states in the international system.

The scholar assumes that the international system has some distinctive aspects including economics, politics and the logic of knowledge. In the economic front, the system contains structures of trade, manufacture and assets.

Politically, the scholar posits that the system is concerned about competition in the global politics. It pertains to the distribution of resources in the international system. In the system, ideas cannot be confined meaning that the most powerful states monopolize technology, which is the most important aspect of production in the global system (Morgan, & Palmer, 2003).

In the system still, economics interact with politics to come up with something different. Therefore, economics will always affect the position of the state in the international system. Powerful states, with powerful economies will always be at the top while states with poor economies will always occupy low positions. Military spending in the developed states is strong implying that the most developed states are usually powerful in terms of military capability (Fordham, 2004).

Conclusion

From the above literature, it is true that many scholars have their own views as regards to what affect policy formulation. Therefore, there is a gap in literature as to what exactly affect the foreign policy making process and the quality of policies. Some scholars observe that domestic variables affect the quality of decisions.

These variables include governmental politics, regime types and the type of government. Each type of government has its own system of forging foreign policies. For instance, coalition governments behave differently from presidential and parliamentary governments.

For instance, in Germany, the main party wins elections and invites the minority party to form the government. The minority party may sometimes force the main party to adopt unpopular policy. In Iran, the foreign decisions are made by the Ayatollah. Scholars holding this view are perceived to be embracing bureaucratic politics model. Furthermore, scholars with view are viewed as liberalists in their orientation.

In the above literature, some scholars focus on the systemic variables. Such scholars do not open the black box that is found within the state. They emphasize that states do not formulate policies based on the domestic variables. States form policies based on the events in the international system.

Such scholars believe that the modern international system is anarchic and states must respect the current order in case they are to coexist peacefully. Due to this fact, only systemic variables influence the formation of foreign policies. Since the scholars with this view the state to be a rational actor, they employ rational actor model in explaining the process of policy formulation. Furthermore, they are realists in their orientation.

References

Abell, J. (1994). Military spending and income inequality. Journal of Peace Research, 31(1).

Atkinson, R. (1993). Defense spending cuts and Regional Economic Impact: An overview. Economic Geography, 69(2)

Brown, G., Dell, R, & Newman, A. (2004). Optimizing military capital planning. Interfaces, 34(6).

Cohen, B. (1963). The Press and Foreign Policy. Political Research Quarterly, 3(1).

Cothren, R. (2002). A model of military spending and economic growth. Public Choice, 110(1).

Ellis, M., Barff, A., & Markusen, R. (1993). Defense spending and interregional labor migration. Economic Georgraphy, 69(2).

Fordham, B. (2003). The political and economic sources of inflation in the American military budget. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 47(5).

Fordham, B. (2004). A very sharp sword: The influence of military capabilities on American decisions to use force. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 48(5).

Hill, C. (2003). The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Imbeau, L. (2001). Left-Right party ideology and governmental policies. European Journal of Political Research, 40(1).

Lebovic, J. (2001). Spending priorities and Democratic rule in Latin America. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 45(4).

Morgan, C., & Palmer, G. (2003). To protect and to Serve: Alliances and foreign policy portfolios. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 47(2).

Sonmez, A. (2004). Defense spending and investment in the United States. Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, 27(1).

Soroka, S. (2003). Media, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. Press/Politics, 8(1).

Sumit, G. (1999). India’s Pathway to Pokhran II: The Sources and Prospects of India’s Nuclear Weapons Program. International Security, 23(4).

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