Foreign policy refers to the way a nation interacts with other nations and set standards of interaction for its organization, corporation and the public. The foreign action of a nation towards the outside world is an issue that is dependent on both internal and external factor s that affects a country’s decision making process. Foreign policy analysis is a political science study that aims to understand the process of policy making and the outcome of the policy both internally and externally. The external factors of a country and the internal factors play major role and they both influence the decision making process of a country. A combination and interaction of both the internal and external factors of a country lead to the comprehensive decision making of a foreign policy. After the September eleven attack by Iraq on America the American foreign policy has noticeably changed since then and has remained the same ever since. Former President George W. Bush who was the current president then (2001) on 20th October 2001 changed the foreign policy and made war on terrorism the focus of the policy. The main agenda of the policy was to prevent any action by Iraq against America in future. Formulation of the foreign process involves five essential steps.
- Assessment of the internal and external political environment- foreign policy is initiated and implemented based on international and domestic political background.
- Goal setting- nations constitute several policy goals and it must decide on which goals to prioritize on which goals are affected by both internal and external political factors.
- Determination of policy option- a state should determine if it is in a position to implement the foreign policy action. It must determine the options available for the implementation of the policy.
- Formal decision making action- formal decision making of the policy is usually done by the top government and includes the head of state, head of government, the legislature or the ministers
- Implementation of the policy- once the options have been studied and agreed upon and the formal decision has been made; the final bit about making a foreign policy is implementing it.
How do the domestic political factors affect a nation and how do the factors influence the making of foreign policy? U.S.A former president bush declared a war on terror against Iraq on a preventive basis against another attack (Cox, 68-2012). The psychological predisposition of the president caused by the 2011 September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, lead to him changing the policy, which was then to create a shield to protect the country against its enemies, to focus mainly on war on terrorism. President Bush felt that the only way to prevent another attack would be to declare war on the country hence prevention. Bush administration erroneously told the public that Saddam Hussein had nuclear material and he also vaguely tied Hussein to the tyrant group Al Qaeda; inaccurately he also declared that Saddam was involved in the production of atomic weapons. The invasion to Iraq was also a way to prevent the nation from supplying the weapons of mass destruction to other countries. The fears of the president for another attack lead him to formulate the foreign policy on war against terrorism. Thus the Iraq invasion was for perceived purpose not actual parts.
Pressures from within a state determine the formulation of a foreign policy. Elections and public opinion polls dictate what the public feel towards a certain policy and how the policy affects their lives. The rate of unemployment and the domestic position of the country’s economy may attribute to a nations decision making process. The liberalism theory is a theory that explains the American foreign policy must reflect and enlarge the liberal character of American polity. This is policy that enshrines all rights of individuals. In the war against terror, the notion according to public opinion was the notion that Americans must live terror harm free and the government would do anything in its power to implement this. So through the declaration of war on terror, the public reason behind it was to protect the life of an American from harm and that anywhere they go they are protected.
Economic determination of the country to maintain its major revenue generating corporations is another internal factor that can be used to explain why the government decided to come up with the foreign policy; so as to protect the nation’s economic interests. The country covert interventions mainly target countries from which it will acquire cheap raw materials such as oil. America decided to invade Iraq with the erroneous target being preventing the spread of terrorism in the nation but the nation had other intentions which include gaining capitalist interest in the oil industry. Like other economies the country faces challenges such as unemployment, lack of raw materials; it therefore targets countries that it can capitalize in with the side idea being intervention. According to Marxist, they argue that military intervention and power in war stricken countries, in our case Iraq, is to provide international stability that investors and capitalist require to invest in those countries and gain maximum profits.
- The other most prominent internal affair that lead to the declaration of the foreign policy by America against war on terror was internal security for the citizens of America. The security environment revolving around America today is different from what was there in the past. The first duty of the American government is provide a secure environment for its people and also protect them from any harm. For this prime principle does the American government use all its power to counter any threats it is anticipating to prevent any damage that would be fatal and catastrophic to the citizens and their interests. To prevent or to stall anticipated attacks by its enemies, America, if necessary, will exercise its right of self defence. The Bush doctrine is a collection of strategies, practical policy decisions and guides for the foreign policy. The two main components of the doctrine are pre-emptive strikes against potential adversaries and promoting democratic regime. According to the doctrine four rules apply:
- Make no distinction between a country that protects terrorist from terrorist themselves, meaning that they are one and the same.
- Take the war overseas before they attack us again at home, meaning that the government should attack any potential foes before they get to the point of doing so in their home ground (Pauly, 59-2005).
- Confront threats before they mature, that any potential threats to national security should be eliminated or controlled before the situation materializes.
- Advance liberty and hope as an alternative the enemy will regress and they will fear to attack. This can be termed as giving the enemy a chance to refrain from any harm intended and hope that they will agree.
External pressure by the external factors on a nation could also lead to the nation formulating policies that will enable it survive from harm. The impact of international society and international law are significant to determining the foreign policy of a nation. International organizations definitely have great influence on the internal factors of a nation but the nation may decide to ignore the international organizations for domestic agendas. Post the 9/11 attacks the government took great step towards stepping up its national security (Jacobson,22-2008). Allies of America decided to declare war against Iraq, through this external motivation the country decided to carry on with its mission to remove terror among the lives of Americans. America declared to use military force to bring down Saddam Hussein. However the United Nations then Kofi Annan was against the decision made by the American president and he tried to prevent it but the American government went ahead with its policy; external attributes may not fully influence the implementation of a foreign policy.
As we have seen earlier, America like any other nation faces several internal challenges that require attention. Being opportunistic, external wars that may not even involve them, they take the chance to gain from intervening. The side agenda of the nation besides bringing down Saddam, the country also had the mission to invest and capitalize on the oil in the Middle East. The country also tries to curb the instability that may lead to halting or may jeopardize the economic growth of its international investments.
The government may also decide to formulate alliances between it and other international bodies. By the declaration of war against terror, the American government was able to make friends with other counties. The country took the opportunity to gain public interest from other nations and hence they were able to create more and more market for their products and also it helped the country make more room for expansion for their investment and capitalization.
Both internal and external factors relate mutually towards the implementation and formulation of a foreign policy. Though the internal factors influence the decision making more than the external they are also interdependent on one another. As we have seen the influence of internal factors reflect on the external factors. The deficiency of employment and job opportunities for the great population in America, the lack of enough raw materials that are used in production are some of the internal factors that affect the nation. Through external opportunities such as war in countries such as Iraq, the country is able to gain cheap raw materials such as oil. The country is able to protect any investments it has made in the nation and still create room for more investment. This in return is able to increases the revenue for the nation as well as provide employment.
Through prevention measure by the government against any country that supports terrorist and accommodates them, the country is able to maintain the internal affair that may be affected that being protecting its citizens form any external harm. The Bush Doctrine states that action should be taken against any nation that plans to attack or pose any form of threat to the members of its country. The country erroneously declared war on Iraq in the idea that Saddam was manufacturing atomic weapons and this was speculated as a threat to the country in future. So as to maintain national security the country had to take control of the external factor that Saddam was producing nuclear weapons.
However mostly the internal factors of the nation are what determine the implementation of the foreign policy. As we can prove this by the step, despite the refusal of the United Nations against declaring war on Iraq, the American government took towards the Iraqis. The country’s internal affairs whether covert or clear, lead to the president making the decision and going against the will of the external body.
Foreign policy has been used by nations to their interest from the 20th century. Nations are coming up with policies that best serve their interest to the expense of other countries. The policies themselves have driven most countries to war hurting both the guilty and innocent in the process. Countries have declared policies that are being used to indirectly control other countries. Some of the policies declared inaccurately have lead to the death of many unjustifiably. The declaration of war against Iraq on March 2003 has lead to the death of many innocent children and adults who probably did not deserve to. Power demanding nations use this actions to maintain and expand their market share and resource material ground.
Internal factors of a country lead to a country coming up with a policy while the external factors act as a source of motivation for the foreign policy to be implemented.
Cox, Michael. US foreign policy. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford university Press, 2012.
Jacobson, Sidney, and Ernie Colón. After 9/11: America’s war on terror (2001- ). New York: Hill and Wang, 2008.
Pauly, Robert J., and Tom Lansford.Strategic preemption: US foreign policy and the second Iraq war. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate Pub., 2005.