Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Foreign Policy and Domestic Constraints: A Conceptual Account

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Foreign Policy and Domestic Constraints: A Conceptual Account

Article excerpt


Foreign policy is an endless dialogue between the powers of continuity and the powers of change. It begins at frontiers. One cannot ignore the domestic inputs/actors role towards making foreign policy of any country. It is shaped by the internal needs of the country and projection of internal policies. Differences in states capabilities to act are constrained by the characteristics of states, or national attributes. The domestic constraints and challenges add much more complexity and unpredictability to the foreign policy process. Problems or constraints and challenges come out when a single individual or agency bypass the domestic interests of a state. The task of formulating foreign policy for developing states is more filled with constraints as compared to a developed and sovereign state. A Great number of social, economic, technological and political factors constrain the rate and kind of interaction of one state with another state. As these factors affecting the mobilization and the use of state capabilities. State is constrained not only by its own capabilities, interests, policies and actions but also by those of the state with which it interacts. One country's constraint may be the source of power for an-other country.

Key Words: Foreign Policy, Concept, Objectives, Domestic, Environment, Implementation, Constraint.

Foreign Policy: Conceptual Concerns

To understand the words foreign policy, one needs to break them down into foreign and policy. Policy is a decision or a guide of choosing actions to achieve one's goals. Foreign means anything beyond the state, to areas where state has no authority over territory and people. When combined these words, mean a guide of choosing actions outside the state boundary for achieving goals. Foreign policy means, goals, values and different instruments which the government uses in making relations with different countries. Some things are important to take into account like, environment (international and domestic), available choices and resources before making foreign policy. Foreign policy comes out from the interaction of domestic and international systems. Roscoe Pound explains that "domestic policy is social through law and foreign policy is the use of political influence in order to induce other states to exercise their law-making power in a manner desired by the state concerned"(Northedge, (Ed.),1974: 11) States use political power for converting law making power in favour of them. Foreign policy can never be more than an undertaking to negotiate with other states. Force of unpredictability is there and does not always achieve or moves on direct lines. Effectiveness of policy depends upon changes which occur internally and externally in international relations. Foreign policy debate is generally about the interests whom are to be defended and which are sacrificed if needed in dealing with other states. Foreign policy is independent, meaning that "the relative freedom of a country from interference in what it regards as its internal affairs and some degree of power to express and implement an independent viewpoint on external affairs."(Northedge, (Ed.), 1974 : 19). It is not dependent on other states view point regarding foreign policy but it is possible to change or regulate the behaviour of other states with the view of serving their national interests.

Hugh Gibson has defined foreign policy as "a well rounded, comprehensive plan, based on knowledge and experience, for conducting the business of government with the rest of the world. It is aimed at promoting and protecting the interests of the nation."(Khana,2005: 1)Basically foreign policy is framed for the protection and promotion of the national interest of a state which is based on information, knowledge, experience and planning for making relations with other states of the world.

According to Mahendra Kumar, "foreign policy is a thought out course of action for achieving objectives in foreign relations as dictated by the ideology of national interest. …

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