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About this book

In the years since 9/11, followed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, public attention the world over has been on foreign policy. From the United States to Yemen, from China to Venezuela, the quality of the decisions taken by politicians and diplomats has been under the closest scrutiny. What is more, with the increased personal mobility created by globalization, many individuals and groups now focus as much on international events as on affairs within their own state. Diasporas, company managers, humanitarian volunteers and other non-state actors are aware of the necessity for effective diplomacy to secure the outcomes they hope for. 

This revised and retitled new edition of the author's acclaimed The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy provides the concepts and analysis needed to make sense of contemporary developments in this key site of political action. It provides a clear and engaging synthesis of what foreign policy means in the twenty-first century and shows how it can vary according to regime, level of development and geopolitical position. Stressing the interplay between context and shared dilemmas, it examines how actors – including the many non- and sub-state entities which have developed international strategies – engage, and attempt to manage their differences, within a network of complex multilateral relationships. 

Written by a leading scholar of international renown, this new edition has been updated throughout, with particular attention given to contemporary issues such as soft power, transnational security challenges and the role of regional actors such as the European Union. 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Foreign Policy in International Relations

Abstract
To the average citizen ‘foreign policy’ is a normal, if remote, part of the world of politics. Most people have little difficulty in accept ing that foreign policy consists in what one state does to, or with, other states, involving a mix of conflict and cooperation. To many specialists, however, this conventional wisdom is deeply suspect. The concepts of state sovereignty and independence have been attacked for being both irrelevant in a changing world and undesirable from an ethical point of view. Accordingly, the idea that a government might have a discrete set of actions (let alone strategies) for dealing with the outside world has come to seem anachronistic, even naïve. The very divisions between home and abroad, domestic and for eign, inside and outside, have been questioned from a number of different viewpoints, conceptual and political. In consequence, a seri ous division has opened up, not for the first time, between the vocabulary of democratic politics and the professional discourse of academic commentators. Thus while the media are full of Putin’s policies towards the Ukraine, or Egypt’s relations with its neighbours, a senior political scientist of the author’s acquaintance could ask the question ‘do people still teach foreign policy?’. This book is an attempt to show that serious people do still study and teach foreign policy, and that there are compelling reasons for them to do so. What is more, students want to engage with the problems of foreign policy, whether in relation to dramas such as the war in Iraq, or the slower rhythms of negotiation on climate change.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 2. The Politics of Foreign Policy

Abstract
All external relations are potentially political, but not all get politicized. The same is true of diplomacy, much of which is routine and noncontroversial. But foreign policy is necessarily political. It is a macro-level activity whose fundamental purpose is to enable a community to cope with the outside world, and to manage the sum of the complex relationships which any actor will have with the other denizens of that challenging environment. It thus requires a strategic view of the balance between internally generated goals, values and interests, and external constraints. That view will vary enormously between actors, and over time, but the very striking of the balance, inside a given state or other actor, and at the level of the international system, has to be a matter of political judgement. The politics of foreign policy, or who gets what out of foreign policy actions, and what happens when the needs and values of separate communities collide, is the central concern of this book. Its main themes have been chosen to illustrate the dilemmas faced by actors, and their consequences for the system as a whole. The three themes are: agency, the impact of the international environment and the nature of responsibility.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 3. The Actors: Taking Responsibility

Abstract
Decision-making is the starting point if we wish to understand the dilemmas of acting in the international system. Agency means individ ual human beings taking decisions and implementing them on behalf of entities which possess varying degrees of coherence, organization and power. Any analysis of this activity needs to focus first on the political dimension, then on the associated bureaucracies, which provide so much of the continuity and expertise which make action meaningful, and third on the problem of ration ality - or the capacity to pursue objectives in a logical man ner in the particularly inchoate environment of international relations. Finally, foreign policy actions cannot be understood without an appreciation of the phase of implementation, given that outcomes are so often markedly different from original intentions. This chapter and the three which follow tackle these aspects of agency in sequence, beginning with the most visible level, that of political leadership. At the level of the international system, states or other entities can perfectly well be treated as unified actors.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 4. Agents: Bureaucracy and the Proliferation of External Relations

Abstract
The importance of these cadres in foreign policy-making has long been recognized by scholars, and much literature now exists on the political impact of bureaucrats and the extent to which foreign policy is really in their hands. This chapter examines the hypothesis of bureaucratic control by comparing the Weberian ideal type to practice across different systems of society and government, with the help of the theories of bureaucratic politics developed by political scientists. It will also discuss the way in which the foreign policy bureaucracy is no longer confined to ministries of foreign affairs, but extends horizontally across most governmental departments, provoking new problems of coordination and control. This mix of slow progression leading to abrupt change is hardly limited to politics. The impact of global warming is another example; the sudden onset of the economic crisis is a third. Indeed, we have learned through the exercise of reading and writing the contributions to this volume that the mix of long causality and sudden expression is the greatest common factor at work across European experience. Similar causal mechanisms may work faster in some countries and slower in others, the influence of different factors may vary from one place to the next, and yet no part of Europe is isolated and virtually every experience is shared to some extent.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 5. Rationality in Foreign Policy

Abstract
Rationality is a central problem in social science, and it has figured prominently in the study of politics. Any attempt to understand or prescribe action has to reckon with the concept since it is the ideal type for both individuals and national systems. Indeed, the very idea of making decisions and policies is a modern notion indelibly associated with the attempt to exert rational control over events - as opposed to allowing destiny, Gods will, chance or arbitrary power to determine ones lot. This said, it is a matter of debate as to how far human beings are capable of behaving rationally, how rationality is defined in the first place and whether what we deem rational behaviour is in any case so desirable. These issues have produced standoffs such as that between the profession of economics, where the idea of rationality has been of central importance, and other social scientists. For many of the latter the concept looks like a straitjacket imposed on the rich diversity of human motives and interactions, and one which assumes a greater degree of calculation (often quantitative) in the business of choosing futures than is possible or desirable. This debate is alive within political science, where rational choice approaches have made considerable inroads while encountering stiff resistance.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 6. Implementation: Foreign Policy Practice and the Texture of Power

Abstract
If the problem of agency in international politics is in the first place a matter of identifying the decision-makers who make a difference, the answers partly depend on the dimension of implementation. We must ask whether decisions once taken do get translated into the actions they imply, or whether what actually transpires is the product of delay, distortion and a further round of political con flict. A great deal of literature now exists which suggests the latter is far nearer to the truth than the former, which is, not unreasonably, expected by the public. Implementation has two distinct aspects: first the capacity to do what is intended, given the capabilities and instruments at hand, and second the slippage between political decision and administrative execution. The second aspect is closely related to the problem of bureaucratic politics already discussed, so the current chapter gives more attention to the first. Yet before either can be tackled the relationship between action and implementation needs to be considered.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 7. Foreign Policy in a Multi-Actor World

Abstract
The focus in this book so far has been on the actors, but it is time to look more closely at the international context in which they operate and which shapes both thinking and outcomes. It is made up not only of the actors themselves and their interactions but also of the many economic, political and cultural forces which are out of their hands. In what Hedley Bull (1977) termed the anarchical society, elements of cooperation and conflict coex ist uneasily, with the system looking differently according to an actors location in it. This chapter looks at the interplay between material and human factors, and at the extent to which states are limited by the web of institutions, rules and expectations which they inhabit. Chapter 8 then moves away from the state system to analyse the other sites of agency which have arisen in international relations and the web of transnational relations which they generate.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 8. Transnational Reformulations

Abstract
Yet states monopolize political decision-making, and civil societies tend still to have a strong sense of their own distinctiveness. Accordingly we need a framework of analysis which takes into account both transnational relations and state foreign policies. Figure 8.1 does this in the form of a four-box quadrant. The vertical axis distinguishes between states and peoples, while the horizontal axis separates the internal from the external (for both societies and states). The boxes indicate the actors and the activities characteristic for each conformation, namely: inside the state; the states external activity; everyday life at the local or national level; and popular relations internationally.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 9. The Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy

Abstract
Those responsible for foreign policy have to face many different directions at once: towards the states and transnational actors of the international political system, but also increasingly inwards towards the citizens who pay their salaries. They must accept that policy outcomes are vulnerable to internal events and pressures just as, conversely, foreign policy impacts upon domestic politics. The current chapter discusses the theoretical relationship between the domestic and the foreign, with special reference to the domestic sources of foreign policy, meaning the impact of domestic politics, institutions and types of regime. Chapter 10 moves the argument in a more normative direc tion, by considering how far foreign policy is meaningful to modern citizens, and the extent to which they can participate in debates about foreign policy. If most political action now has an international dimension, then the problems of choice between responsibilities inside and out, or over where to use scarce resources, become even sharper than in the days of autarkic or Keynesian states. Given the challenges posed by globalization to sovereignty, to iden tity and to ethics, foreign policy represents the primary space where a given community encounters the world and can consider its options for action.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 10. Politics, Society and Foreign Policy

Abstract
A democratic decision-maker is always aware of his or her responsibility to the society which lies behind the political process. But responsibility is ambiguous and relational because of the many constituencies which must be borne in mind: at home there are colleagues in government and party, the constituency voters who brought you to power in the first place, sponsors of various kinds and ultimately the electorate as a whole. In the international realm there are the allies, neighbours and colleagues in various cross-cutting networks, together with obligations undertaken to the international community as a whole - to say nothing of any sense of responsibility to future genera tions. Feelings of responsibility do not necessarily coincide with others expectations. In any case both are highly variable according to context, and difficult to identify empirically. This is partly because of the obscure nature of the evidence about the extent to which domestic pop ulations are concerned about foreign policy.
Christopher Hill

Chapter 11. Foreign Policy and the Revival of the State

Abstract
On the face of things foreign policy in the twenty-first century involves a shift from the realism of the great power conflicts of the past into the ideas of liberal interdependence which many policy-makers came to espouse in the 1990s, after two decades of discussion in academic and business circles. Yet the sensational events of 2001 turned this supposition around, leading to an obsession with security concerns in government and a revival of security studies in the academy. This book has attempted to go beyond such pendulum effects by showing that just as it was simplistic in 2000 to relegate the state and foreign policy to history, so it is unjustifiable now to overlook the impact of transnationalism and the challenges to coherent state actions. Apart from anything else, there is no straightforward relationship between changes in the immediate pattern of world politics and the slower-moving forces which shape events. Changes in thinking about international relations should not herefore respond too hysterically to events, however dramatic. The recent return to realism in many quarters, especially in the form of neo classical realism, is an advance on the lofty Waltzian disregard of foreign policy, but it is still not enough. As an explanation of the huge variety of foreign policy behaviours, from crusading nationalism to abstract cosmopolitanism, realism is necessary but insufficient.
Christopher Hill
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