Foreign Policy in the Emergent Century: The Paradox Facing Middle Powers

Prof. Dr. Tarık OĞUZLU
23 October 2014
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This brief takes issue with challenges confronting the foreign policy decisions of middle powers in the emergent world order, which are supposed to occupy a place somewhere in between great powers on the one hand and small powers on the other in the global power hierarchy.


As the dynamics of international politics have been constantly changing over the last decades, the tasks of formulating foreign policy preferences and implementing them are getting more and more challenging each day. Not only are the lines between domestic and foreign policies getting more fluid, but also the proliferation of actors, technological innovations and compressions of time and space throughout the globalization process, make foreign policy a difficult exercise for state leaders.


In today’s world foreign policy is no longer about the activities concerning solely states’ relations with each other. Foreign policy choices now have a growing impact on internal developments and the way states act abroad speak volumes as to what kind of an international order they would like to see emerge. It is also the case that in today’s world, foreign policy is no longer the domain of those who either take foreign policy decisions through formal mechanisms or get involved in the foreign policy making process through their expertise.


Another difficulty in this regard pertains to the increasing paucity of conventional theoretical approaches in the academic disciplines of International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis. That is to say that, explaining and understanding the foreign policies of states through the prisms of realism and normative liberalism have become more difficult than ever. Compared to the past, analysts and scholars find it extremely difficult to unravel alternative motives and mechanisms lying at the center of foreign policy decisions of many actors. Most of the time, realist and normative liberal impulses exist simultaneously and offering parsimonious explanations of foreign policy determinants are extremely difficult.


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