State Level of Analysis Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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According to Chittick & Pingel (as quoted in the text), what is important from the state level perspective is how a countrys political structure and political forces and substantial actors within the country cause its government to decide to adopt one foreign policy or another. This is more so given the fact that policy making must occur within the context of a political structure and states are the most important part of that structure.

Since the variety involved in the process of Foreign Policy making defies a single-study approach when viewed comparatively, it is apt to look at variables that define that process such as Type of Government, Situation and Policy. Making Foreign Policy Type of Government The type of government a state runs, be it extremely authoritarian or unfettered democratic, inevitably affects the policy making process.

The more authoritarian, the narrower the segment of government involved in the process while on the other end of the spectrum, the process in democracies is more open to inputs from a wide array of actors: legislators, media, public opinion, opposition parties and other foreign policy-making agents that influence government policy.

President Olusegun Obasanjo complied with the International Court ruling and ceded the Bakassi Peninsula resorting to resettling those whose native homeland had gone to neighbouring Chad but this has yet to be ratified by the National Assembly. Making Foreign Policy Situation Situation is another variable in this process as it introduces difference to policy making given the situation, whether it is a crisis situation or a noncrisis situation.

Where the noncrisis situation involves the daily run of maintaining cordiality with states in the international arena and is likely to be dominated by the leader and a small group of advisers, the former has the tendency of involving a rally effect which is the propensity of the public and other domestic political actors to support the leader during a crisis spell which occurs when decision makers are surprised by an event, feel militarily threatened and believe there is too short a time to debate but just enough time to react.

Making Foreign Policy Type of Policy Most times, the issue-area involved, the type of policy also injects variety into the entire policy making process. Issues that have little immediate or obvious impact on the citizens termed pure foreign policy issues are left in the hands of a narrow range of decision makers in the executive branch with little or no domestic opposition or even notice. The decision of Nigeria to lead the contingent of African leaders that went negotiate an agreement between opposing parties to the results of the elections held in Cote DIvoire late last year was a purely foreign policy move.

On the other hand, policy that immediately impacts domestically is called intermestic policy and this, the executive leaders cannot simply fashion to their liking. A host of other actors, legislators, interest groups, foreign-policy-interested parties and other activities are involved and often clash due to varying interests. Foreign trade, because of its impact on international relations and the domestic economy, is a classic example of an intermestic issue.

Making Foreign Policy Political Culture A states political culture rubs off on its Foreign Policy. This culture embodies a societys firmly held traditional values and its fundamental practices that are often difficult to change. The leaders share in these political values and thus formulate policies that are compatible with them and in situations where they do not share these values, they would want to avoid the political backlash that may be the fallout of countering the political culture obtainable.

To analyse a states political culture is to answer the questions of how a people feel about themselves and their country, how they view others and what role they think their country should play in the world, and what they see as moral behaviour. The Americans and Chinese for instance are convinced their own cultures are superior and that is projected outwards in their policies.

Though differing in application, this superiority complex is called American exceptionalism (suffused with the zeal to reshape the world in Americas image) or Chinese Sinocentricism (imbued with the Confucian orientation to lead by example than forceful conversion). Making Foreign Policy Actors As much as it is preferred that a rational cerebral process precedes the codification of Foreign Policy, it is not always the case in reality.

Henry Kissingers comment, Washington is like a Roman arena [in which] gladiators do battle, (1982:421) is accentuated by Hans Morgenthaus as Power among power; a clash of ideas and a test of political power and skills to determine which of the many proposals will prevail. Those involved in this power-play are the foreign policy-making actors that include political executives, bureaucracies, legislatures, political opponents, interest groups and the people. Let us see them individually.

Making Foreign Policy Actors (The Executive) For foreign policy, the most important part of the policy-making process is the executive branch of government and the most important part of that brand is the Head of Government (president, prime minister, premier) with his political executives like the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defense. As noted, the type of government, situation and policy impinge on the dynamism of how the Head of Government dominates foreign policy. There still exist other factors such as formal or informal powers and leadership capabilities that are involved.

Formal powers are specific grants of authority that a countrys constitution and laws give to various offices. Most Heads of Government are Commanders-In-Chief of their armed forces giving them broad, often unlimited, power to use the military. Informal powers are a second source of authority for political executives, given by various sectors of the society by virtue of the position the executive occupies affording him or her considerable prestige and political influence not found in the constitution or laws.

In return he or she is expected to lead and provide good governance and direction. Leadership capabilities help to determine how much authority a specific chief executive has. These capabilities include administration skills (how well organised and managed his or her staff and government bureaucracy are), legislative skills (how he or she garners support of the legislature), public persuasion skills (how clearly he or she puts his or her vision of goals to engender public support) and intellectual capacity (the level of intelligence and ability to use it to formulate policy he or she has).

These qualities are not easily measured. Political leaders often engage in a two-level game to navigate the foreign policy that comprise of both international and domestic structures. The strategy of the game involves astute negotiating with representatives of other states at the international level and with legislators, bureaucrats, interest groups and the public at the domestic level.

To be successful, a win-win agreement that is satisfying to both levels of the game is the goal. Making Foreign Policy Actors (Bureaucracies) Bureaucracy heavily influences governments the world over. Bureaucrats are career governmental personnel as different from political appointees and elected officials. Based on their institutional perspectives, they do not always agree with their states foreign policy and by filtering information, bureaucrats attempt to influence policy.

By recommendations too, bureaucrats work to influence policy direction in their favour applying the full weight of their expertise to funnel options available to leaders to their upmost narrowest and thus allowing for only that information favoured by the bureaucracy reaches the leaders and decision-makers. Another bureaucratic tool is implementation; influencing policy by the way it is carried out in practice. Making Foreign Policy Actors (Legislatures)

Legislatures, though not saddled with the executive role in foreign policy decisions, exert significant influence that varies from one country to the next. The role of those in nondemocratic systems is not as significant as democratic legislatures where their role is constrained by several factors: * Chief executives usually have extensive legal powers in the foreign policy arena * Tradition also works in favour of the chief executive when foreign policy is concerned * The importance of a unified voice to the success of foreign policy initiatives, also works to the benefit of the chief executive.

Legislatures tend to focus on domestic policy and this due to re-election concerns on the part of the legislators. Hence, they try to influence intermestic issues, trade for instance rather than pure foreign policy decisions. Making Foreign Policy Actors (Interest Groups) Interest groups are private associations of people with similar policy views who pressure the government to adopt these views as policy. Today, the increasing intermestic nature of policy is allowing interest groups become a more important part of the foreign policy making process.

The varying groups that make up many states especially those with emotional and political ties to other states (be they ethnic, racial, religious or cultural ties) are often active regarding policies that favour areas or issues of such ties. Economic groups are just as prominent; company and staff lobby their government for sympathetic legislation that favour their interests abroad. The signing of free trade treaties and increased importations are issues that such groups monitor. Another category of interest groups is issue-oriented groups.

Such groups are not based on socioeconomic categories like ethnicity or economics but cover a wider spectrum of issues from the very specific to extremely general and from liberal to conservative, all pushing for influence and relevance in policy formulation in their diverse interests. There are also transnational interest groups that are witnesses of the growing interdependence between states in the international community. These groups also lobby for policies kind to their interests across borders.

Making Foreign Policy Actors (The People) The publics role is also of consequence in foreign policy. Though marginal in authoritarian governments, it is a more complex factor in democracies and can be a key determinant in some foreign policy decision-making process even if its role is limited. This limitation is due to the scant attention the majority pay to international issues. Apart from exceptional instances, the publics political interest lies in domestic issues.

Making Foreign Policy Actors (Channels of Public Opinion Influence) Sometimes through a referendum, the public decides a foreign policy issue but the democratic practice of representation has taken over this function and it is now more common for public opinion to have an indirect democratic influence on policy through voted officials and through the sensitivity of these officials to public needs. Research shows that elected and appointed officials in some democracies are concerned with public opinion and that it thus influences policy.

This is especially true when the public is attentive to a particular issue. This is so when democratic decision makers believe that as stakeholders, the public should be considered when determining the policy to be adopted. Leaders also believe that public acceptance is necessary for policy success and then, that there is the possibility of public rejection at the next elections if not carried along. Making Foreign Policy Actors (Dimensions of Foreign Policy Opinion) There are some dimensions from which o look at foreign policy opinions that should be considered because public opinion is not split evenly across all segments of the public.

There is the gender gap an opinion split that reveals differences between male/female opinions. In addition, there is the leader-citizen opinion gap in certain countries reflecting differences of opinions of those who are the leaders of government, business, media and other areas in a society and the general public. This dimension should not be swallowed up by reports of public opinions on issues that do not take cognisance of such dimensions.

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