Friday, November 25, 2011

States fake their foreign policies are moral

Domestic developments in a number of Middle Eastern countries now a subject of discussion among foreign ministers, international platforms and foreign affairs forums. It is an extraordinary period in which domestic ideologies and policies affect foreign dealings of states. It is very rare in history, if any, and to my knowledge, I remember no single event when states harmed their relations with other countries based on domestic policies.

Today, the Arab Spring taught us that states improve or kill their relations with nations based on degree of human rights records. Turkey lost its friends such as Syria and Libya as their cruel leaders started killing their own people. France and the U.S. were also forced to severe their ties with old friends like Tunisia and Egypt after feeling pressure from their citizens. These developments have challenged an orthodox view that states behave based on their national security interests, not morality, or principles. Even a claim that “instability elsewhere affects us” does not ring true. It is certain that unrest in Syria or Libya does not necessarily detrimental to U.S. or Saudi interests but both states heavily invested to replace hardliner decrepit leaders that killed their own people daily to maintain their seats.

It is always easy to sell hawkish foreign policy to people if values of an adversary stand in contrast to your country’s principles. Both Soviet and American leaders harangued to their people for decades how evil the adversary was – the most effective way to uninterruptedly sustain bellicose rhetoric in foreign policy. But conduct of both Soviets and Americans in foreign affairs purely rested in their national interests: the U.S. supported any type of government that was anti-government during the Cold War. Even U.S. President Richard Nixon and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger embraced Chinese mass killer Mao Zedong in the heyday of Cold War, who was ruling his country with communist iron fist.

The Middle East is an important region for Russia, China, Europe, Turkey and the U.S. because the region is a primary source of energy to world’s most advanced industrial spots. Independent variable here is energy, dependent variable is who is securing the flow of energy. For other nations, it is not important who is providing them strategic goods such as oil and gas – it is important that they make sure the oil and gas is flowing uninterruptedly.

But isn’t it immoral foreign policy practice if nations stand by any type of government that is a source of stability in the region? It is indeed. And the reason why states lash out against regimes that are brutally massacring their own people is to avoid being seen as calculating pragmatist states.

Many challenged realists in the face of the Arab Spring that states, as a matter of fact, do care about morality. For reasons mentioned above, to save their ties with other dictators, nations are forced to abandon and forsake leaders that have gone astray.
Lucky those states whose national interests also go hand in hand with moral principles.

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