Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy

1476 words (6 pages) Essay in International Relations

23/09/19 International Relations Reference this

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International Relations

The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy

International relations have thrived due to the success of the globalization. Globalization has increased the rate of interactions among the unfamiliar. Rising globalization has increased social relationships which are now supra-territorial. The increased rate of relations with the foreign has made the unknown appear as more familiar and thus reduce the sense of foreign policy. Morality and ethics and the whole displays of international affairs ideals which were once shown by the scholars and peace preachers ought to have taken hearts in the foreign policymakers.

Today, there is a rise of ethics in the foreign policy which has elicited debates even though some of the theorists have not shown support for it. Surprisingly, some argue that international relations are purely diplomatic and do not require ethical interpretations. Applying moral realism to the conduct of the affairs at the international level invoked the argument that countries with immense power should be responsible and at the same time exercise ethical leadership. Dealing with humanitarian interventions was the start of the assertion that ethics is essential even as nations exercise their powers. According to Bulley, politics attuned to ethics in foreign policy trigger an intellectually honest as well as optimistic potential future for interacting with the foreign nations in a responsible manner (p.441).

During wars, countries have engaged one another in fights and at the same time others responding promptly to calls of humanity to victims in such events. All these are forms of interference as well as togetherness among nations which come with good and bad international relations respectively. When looking at such incidences, the inescapable question is whether ethics play a role in international relations. All these incidences have led to the debate that there is a need to have a sense of ethics in foreign policy. Therefore, this paper presents realist argument that morality does not play in role in international relations. It also offers to contradict arguments of Morality of States and Cosmopolitanism theories.

Theoretical approaches

Realism theory

According to George Kennan, morality indeed has no basis for foreign policy. The conducts of a government against another government has no impacts on international relations. However, more limited use of diplomacy must be allowed into such relations. Conduct is not an international relations affair, but it is diplomacy which is the backbone of the international relations remains the responsibility of the states (Gelb and Justine 2). For practical reasons, this is inalterable and cannot be avoided. In this case, the responsibility does not fade due to the purported argument of the governments that in framing foreign policy, may decide to depend on simple opinions. What most people talk about when they relate foreign policy with international relations are the government behaviors which to some level is unchangeable and unalterable.

Also, Gelb and Justine reported that functions and governments’ moral obligations are not similar to those of individual persons (p.2). The government acts as an agent and not as a principle. If anything, it has its primary obligation in protecting the society which it represents at the international levels (Gelb and Justine 2). It must have the interests of the security of its people at heart and represent it to the international community for deliberation. However, it is not obliged in any way to respond to the moral impulses which the international community might demand as well as those which individuals in the society might experience. Realists such as George Kennan have had little patience and no sympathy at all for an interpretation that morality should be part of the international relations. For people like George Kennan, securities of a state, as well as protection of its citizens, are equally important.  Talking about morality without a sense of humane confuses further, it makes no sense at all to talk about the sense of morality for international relations in a world where countries have high affinity to power and security.

Modern Cosmopolitanism theory

 Cosmopolitanism theory explores realists’ alleged discord between international, relations and the political theory in exploding more facial facts of moral realism and revealing assumptions which are more sophisticated nature. Beitz presents an undisputed reason to believe that for sure international theory can exist. Cosmopolitanism theory is praised in that he does not speculate but relies on facts to support the allegation. His stance behavior and intention to prove that international relations must have some elements of morality to prove useful finds ground in universal morality (Beitz 126). Beitz would rely on cosmopolitanism theory to argue that in the absence of evidence of the impossibility of the existence of the international relations, there is a duty to maintain a sustainable inquiry of the moral dialogues (Beitz 59).  Morality must be inflicted to bring back a sense of brotherhood at the international level if at that fails to open become evidenced in the society. Initiation of conversion between seriously argued prudential realism and the cosmopolitan argument moves past the false crusade of cold realism. Finally, ethics and morality are possible on occasions when there is enough reason for the overriding self-interest demands through a take of moral view towards the affairs of human beings. Beitz’s theory, therefore, opposes realism theory because it feels that in the absence of moral evidence at the international levels, morality should be questioned.

The Morality of States Theory

    The morality of the state is beneficial for not only the state but also for the individual persons. The state might be so contented in seek international favor, but at a personal level, it could be inevitable. It is for this highly ignored reason that calls for moral acts of the state. In Morality of States Theory, Walzer was compelled to write about the morality of states theory to oppose the view of the arguments of the international theory. It was the action of the realist which triggered this opposition. Therefore, in reaction to the opinion of realists Kennan and Gelb, Walzer set criteria for the determination of the need for international relations for any state. He argued that the realism theory lack precision and reasoning in the events of harsh political spheres. The government is the one responsible for making policies which guide the interest of the states at an international level (Beitz 326). Without such policies, members of the community with a lot of interests in international affairs might not find it pleasing.

    In a communitarian approach, Walzer assigns the community such immense power and this, for this reason, it is fair enough to argue that experts of a nation, foreign analysis professionals and expatriates are acceptable to decipher in case international relation is in jeopardy or not. Such interventions are due to the rights of the communities. The interest of people at community can go beyond the border and thus moral intervention to grant the community their rights must not be ignored at all. In this regard, the morality of the state must be well-evidenced. 

    In conclusion, morality lacks a basis in the formulation of foreign policy and international politics, more limited or practical action must prevail. A state must have the interests of the security of its citizens at heart and represent it to the international community for deliberation wherever there seems to be a compromise in the same. However, there is no obligation in any way to respond to the moral impulses which the international community might demand as well as those which persons in the society might experience. However, cosmopolitanism theorist opposes realist. According to cosmopolitanism theorist, when there is evidence of the possibility of international relations, it is worth launching a sustainable inquiry of the moral aspects. Also, there is the morality of states theory and more particularly the communitarian approach which opposes the international relation theorist. In this communitarian theory, members of the community equally have right for services beyond their border. Such services call for foreign policy and stable international relations. Since such calls are genuine, it is only fair for the experts of a nation and foreign analysis professionals to accept decipher in case international relation is compromised.

Works Cited

  • Beitz, Charles R. “The moral standing of states revisited.” Ethics & International Affairs 23.4 (2009): 325-347.
  • Beitz, Charles R. Political theory and international relations. Princeton University Press, (1999): 1-185.
  • Bulley, Dan. “The politics of ethical foreign policy: A responsibility to protect whom?” European Journal of International Relations 16.3 (2010): 441-461.
  • Gelb, Leslie H., and Justine A. Rosenthal. “The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy-Reaching a Values Consensus.” Foreign Aff. 82 (2003): 2.
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