International relations – variables

Idiosyncratic     Variables:

    These variables are concerned with the personal characteristics of decision makers: cautiousness versus rashness, anger versus prudence, pride versus expediency, superiority versus inferiority, creativeness versus destructiveness, paranoia versus overconfidence, and so on .Undeniably, the psychological  characteristics of leaders and other makers and implementers of policy have a certain bearing on policy outcomes. However, that are related to these characteristics are nearly impossible to measure. For instance, do variables such as the marital status, type and quality of education, social origin of parents, financial status, and influential friends affect the decision that a leader make charismatic leaders such as Joseph Stalin, John F. Kennedy, Marshall Tito, Francisco Franco, Haile Selassie, the Shah of Iran, Juan Peron, Archbishop Makarios, Jomo Kenyata, Golda Meir, and Charles de Gaullr offer us fascinating opportunity to study the impact of a single of a personality  on domestic politics and foreign  policies.

Role variables:

    Role variables are somewhat more difficult to pinpoint. They are usually defined as job descriptions or as expected rules of behaviour for president, cabinet officers, high- level bureaucrats, congressmen and senators, journalist, educators, labour-union and other pressure-group leaders, and other elites who affect, formulate and implement foreign policies. Regardless of a person’s psychological profile, when he taken on a specific role his behaviour is modified considerably by the public’s expectations of that role.

The definition of a role affects larger political and societal variables, to which we shall be turning shortly. For instance, the definition of the role of Shah of Iran in making of foreign policy is different from the definition of the role of British prime minister. Whereas the Shah has a near monopoly in the conceptualization, definition, and handing of important foreign –policy issue, that British prime minister is hampered by a great number of obstacles, such as the views of important of his own cabinet and party, the views of the oppositions parties, the attitude of the press, public opinion, and the constraints of having to act in harmony with European, NATO, and Commonwealth colleagues. It is safe, therefore, to hypothesize that given the less constrained role of the Shah, his personality characteristics are much more likely to significantly affect his country’s policy than are personality characteristics of the British prime ministers allows definition between the role of the Shah and the role of the prime minister allows us to visualize clearly the impact of role as a variables.

Bureaucratic Variables:

    These variables are concerned with the structure and processes of a government and their effects upon foreign policies. Interesting studies by Graham Allison and Morton Halperin have detailed the complexities and nuances of bureaucratic politics. These authors suggest that bureaucratic complexity is the normal characteristic in most countries, including those that are least developed. Allison and Halperin, and other authors as well, argue with considerable merit that to view foreign policies as rationally derived plans designed to maximize the best interest of abstract and monolithic units called nation-states is to simplify if not openly distort reality. Instead, they argue, most policies reflect the conflicting interest of various government bureaus, military their narrow bureaucratic survival and growth and to maximize their involvement and influence in the policy –making process.

For example the student of the bureaucratic politics, rather than studying “American” policies toward Europe or the soviet union should think in terms of army, navy ,air force , CIA, and state department views competing to influence the decision of President Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter on various issues. This picture of decisional non rationality is further complicated when one realize that each of the major government agencies is subdivided into administrative, factional, and even personal domains. Moreover, between decision at home and their implementation abroad there is a lot of room for misperceptions, disagreement, calculated of order from above, an even outright disobedience to them.

Bureaucratic variables include the structure of governmental organization, the standard operating procedure of major bureaucratic agencies, the decision making process at various levels of policy formation, techniques for implementation policy decision, and the attitudes of official regarding the impact of foreign policies on domestic policies and the general welfare of the country.

National Variables:

    This category envelops a vast number of national attributes that influence foreign-policy outcomes. National variables include environmental variable, such as the size, geographic location, type of terrain, climate, and resources of nation-states. To illustrate, one would expect a continental nation-state with variable boundaries and strategic location either to develop offensive strategy(such as seeking more secure boundaries or acquiring buffer zones) or to gain the protection of a more powerful and mobile nation-state. On the other hand, an insular nation-state or one boundary by nearly impermeable nature frontiers in more likely to develop a defensive strategy and avoid entangling alliances, which might limit its sovereignty. We can also list under national variables population attributes, such as the size and density of population of a country, and the vital statics of a population, such as age distribution, literacy, physical health and political, economic and social systems of a nation-state are other attributes that seriously affect foreign policy making.  

Let us consider political variables first. For example, One could argue that dictatorship are so concerned with maintaining internal order in the fact of hostile domestic population that they are more likely to pursue caution an compromising foreign policies and thereby avoid adding an external conflict to their internal one. And dictatorships have been accused of seeking foreign adventures in order to endow an oppressed domestic population with the type so solidarity that only wars can produce. Both arguments sound logical and convincing, but a lot of empirical research over time would be called for before we could side with one or the other.

In the case of economic variable that communist countries, by virtue of their central control of their economies are more effective in orchestrating their foreign economic policies I such a way as to advance their political objectives. The opposite would allegedly be true in capital countries, where powerful private economic actors, independent of government control can shape the line of foreign policy on the basis of corporate rather than national interests.

In regard to social variables, we would be interested in identifying the effects of class structure, distribution of income and status, and racial, linguistic, cultural, and religious similarity upon different nation-states foreign policies. We argued that a nation – state with serious racial or ethnic cleavages will have to control these cleavages before embarking on offensive policies. These variables are numerous and one should be conscious of their existence. In doing so, however one should not try to reduce foreign policy phenomena to simple cause and effect relationships.

Systemic variables:

    Under this heading we can group the large number of variables that are external to the country under study. For instance, we can include in this category the structure and function of the whole international system. Systemic variables also include the policies and behaviours of other nation-states, which can stimulate policy responses by the nation-state selected for study. In fact, the assumption of most traditionally as well as scientifically oriented theorists of international relation has been that foreign policy is a set of responses to external and opportunities. These theorists view foreign policies as rationally defined objectives are to defend existing possessions or accomplishment to maximize opportunities, which prudent limits, for new possessions and related accomplishment.

For example, the attack on South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese was viewed by U.S. policy makers as the attempt of a country supported by the Russians and Chinese to disturb the existing balance of power in South East Asia. In a more narrow setting, the South Vietnamese government, prior to its collapse in 1975, was considered “useful and friendly” by the U.S. government and therefore worthy of American support in its struggle with internal and external opponent. This support lacking, these opponent were expected to overthrow the South Vietnamese government and to adversely affect American interest in Southeast Asia. The analysis of this situation was generally horizontal. That is, nation-states were viewed as cohesive and unified actors, and quarrels among states over territory or resources were considered to be the result of conflicting nation interests in a turbulent international system. The careful student might point out that systematic variables affect a state’s foreign policy formation both objectively and subjectively. The objective effect is that systemic variables provide constraints and opportunities that outline the general directions of foreign policies.