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.
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