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Why Self Confidence Matters (Even In International Relations)

635 words - 3 pages

According to neoclassical realism the scope and ambition of states' foreign policy is derived from three domains: relative power, internal factors and the nature of the given international system. The first factor which has its roots in the classical realism assumes that because of uncertainty and mutual distrust states endeavour to assemble maximum power. The former imposes constraints on the policy which a state may adopt, whereas internal factors that shape states' policy may include political system, moment of the political cycle and peculiarities of the decision-making process. As Gideon Rose puts it "Foreign policy choices are made by actual political leaders and elites, and so it is their perceptions of relative power that matter, not simply relative quantities of physical resources or forces in being." So in the short-run at least a state's foreign policy may often deviate from its long-term objectives and the state may act regardless of its real material power capabilities, though, it frequently means walking on the brink of failure.
There is sufficient historical evidence of the situation when the country's real power was misperceived by other states because of the country's conduct, international ambitions and the way it positioned itself. One example is France before World War II which was considered one of the great forces on the European continent and was expected to oppose Germany as it occupied French Eastern allies. Nevertheless, France failed to handle the challenge and surrendered to Germany after less than two months of Germany's offensive in 1940.
Another graphic example of a country's internal rhetoric impact on its foreign policy, though, of another kind is the US initial nonparticipation in the first World War. Woodrow Wilson's decision to stay uninvolved in the beginning of the war sprung from the public opinion dominant at the time. What's more, under the rule...

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