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Foreign Policy Analysis

In: Historical Events

Submitted By gekmin
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In what ways is foreign policy a problem of identity and alterity?

Foreign policy is in every way a problem of identity and alterity because identification of the “foreign” exists at the very core of every decision making process in foreign policy. Foreign policy is defined as the strategy or approach chosen by the national government to achieve its goals in its relations with external entities (Hudson, 2008). It should not be understood as a bridge between preexisting states with secure identities. Rather, foreign policy is concerned about the establishment of the boundaries that constitute the state and the international system. There is a dichotomy here between the Self (the state) and the Other (the international system) (Campbell, 1998). In this context, the concepts of identity and alterity are inextricably tied together because defining oneself necessarily entails an “othering” process where one’s identity is built on what it is not, rather than what it is. In essence, identity is built on alterity.

Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that the identity of a state is more than just something that is derived from a process of contradistinction. It is not a stable, single unitary “I”. It is a condition that has depth, is multilayered, possesses texture and comprises many dimensions. (Campbell, 1998) The identity of the state is also constantly in flux, being shaped constantly by both external and internal forces. With the process of globalization, the divide between the state and the international system is sometimes blurred and complicates the task of separating the two. As such, the borders are not just narrow topographical lines, but instead, are shifting horizons marked by flux and ambiguity. (Campbell, 1998)

1) Realism

According to the realist perspective, a state’s foreign policy is a consequence of pressures emanating from the distribution of...

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