Foreign Policy Analysis: Clear Explanation One Click Away

foreign-policy-analysisSearching for information on foreign policy analysis on the web, you probably came across title pages of scholarly journals with limited access or fifty page guides full of overcomplicated theories and terms. The only thing that is clear after looking through them is that nothing is clear. Certainly, nobody expects international affairs to be easy. Still… why on earth can’t they use simple language? Before you become a bag of nerves because of those dark matters, check this clear explanation of foreign policy analysis, which is now at your disposal.

Foreign Policy Analysis in Really Simple Terms

Have you noticed that scholars who promise to define something in the simplest terms do not actually keep this promise? After reading the sentence beginning with the phrase “in the simplest terms”, you may still have more questions than answers. No more confusion! Here is the definition in really simple terms:
What is foreign policy? Foreign policy is the set of decisions of a country to interact or not to interact with other countries and supranational organizations and if yes, to what extent.
Foreign policy analysis is a branch of political science which tells you why, how and to what effects a country interacts with other countries. That’s it.

Foreign Policy Analysis: How

In the modern world, countries cannot be isolated from the rest of the world, but have to deal with other countries. There are also numerous intergovernmental organizations (composed of governments from different countries), including the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and others, which a country may join or not. Every country has to decide which countries to trade with and what international organizations to join (though some organizations are not that easy to join and question whether a country meets their standards). If a country joins certain international organizations, it will have to comply with those organizations’ policies.
You can compare these processes to your Facebook account – you decide whom to add as friends and which groups to join. There are also some private groups which you can join only after a moderator approves your request.


Foreign Policy Analysis: Main Fields

Certainly, foreign policy decision making is not as easy as Facebook. Whereas you can always click the ‘cancel’ button and edit your Facebook profile, similar cancellation would be much more difficult for a country. Countries need to be really careful when making decisions regarding:

  • trade with other countries (import and export);
  • giving or receiving humanitarian aid;
  • defense (starting or ending war).

Those responsible for such decisions are presidents (or other heads of states) and ministers. These decisions can heavily influence the economy and well-being of the whole country. Citizens are frequently dissatisfied and criticize government’s decisions. Really, what are they thinking of when they decide what they decide?

Foreign Policy Analysis: Why

To understand what the government is thinking of, you can use the rational actor model. It is the most popular theory used in foreign policy reviews. This model assumes that the state is a rational actor making rational decisions. ‘Rational’ means that the state wants good rather than bad. In other words, all governments want to achieve the best possible profit. Such rational decision making process consists of the following steps:

  • choice of the most important goals for improving the situation in the country;
  • discussion of the best decisions for achieving these goals;
  • assessment of possible consequences of each decision;
  • choice of the most profitable decision.

Today, the rational actor model is frequently criticized by proponents of the game theory, who say that not all people act rationally and not all rational decisions turn out to be the best ones.
So, now you see that there is no need to use all those overcomplicated terms and mile-long articles. Though politics is full of dirty tricks, after reading this article, you clearly understand what is meant by an analysis of foreign policy.

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