Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

The Importance of Foreign Policy

In modern times no state can avoid involvement in the international sphere. This involvement must be systematic and based on some well-defined principles. The principle and the purpose of a state is reflected in its foreign policy. The importance of foreign policy is accepted widely and it basically defines a state’s approach towards the other states.
A foreign policy should protect the territorial integrity of the country and protect the interests of its citizens, both within and outside the country. Generally for this purpose the states prefer to follow policy of status quo. If a state pursues a policy which seeks to upset the status quo it is branded as revisionist and arouses the suspicion of other members of the international community. It has to protect the interests of its citizens both inside and outside the state, for the maintenance of its prestige.
Secondly, the objective of foreign policy should be the maintenance of links with other members of international community and adoption of policy of conflict or cooperation towards them with a view to promote its own interests. Moreover, the foreign policy of a country should seek to promote and further its national interests of the country. The primary interests of each state is preservation, security and well-being of its citizens. Often, the interests of various states come in clash and the states have their interests bearing in mind this factor.
At the same time, the foreign policy should aim at promotion of economic interests of the country. As the status of a state is largely determined by its economic status, the states try to pursue a foreign policy which can contribute to their economic prosperity and enable it in turn to play a more effective role in international politics. Most of the treaties and agreements concluded by the state with other members of international community are essentially designed to protect and promote the economic interests of these states. Ultimately, the foreign policy aims at enhancement of the influence of the state either by expanding its area of influence or reducing the other state to the position of dependency.
It is important to see whether Afghanistan’s foreign policy is able to pursue these objectives in their true spirit. Unfortunately, because of certain factors like years of instability and economic and political fragility have made the country dependent on others to a large extent and, therefore, the true objectives of the foreign policy could never be achieved. Moreover, the country could not define and pursue properly its national interests and, resultantly, remained weaker in international arena.
There are different factors that influence the foreign policy of a country. In the first place the size of a state’s territory and its population greatly influences its foreign policy. Generally, the leaders and people of a country with small territory and population do not expect their country to carry great weight in international affairs. On the other hand, the leaders and people of large countries are ready to assume special responsibilities. However, sometime even small states which have rich resources also leave a deep impact on world politics.
The geography of a country, including its fertility, climate, location in relation to other land masses and water-ways etc. also influence the country’s foreign policy. It is a major factor in determining self-sufficiency of a country. Generally land-locked countries, nations in the tropics and those bordering a superpower are less self-sufficient in comparison to the countries which have access to warm-water ports or are located in the temperate zones and far removed from superpowers.
The cultural and historical traditions of a country also deeply influence the foreign policy. Generally, people possessing a unified common culture and historical experience can pursue an effective foreign policy because of the support of all sections of society who share the same values and memories. On the other hand, a country which is culturally and historically fragmented cannot pursue an equally effective foreign policy.
Apart from these internal factors there are certain external factors as well that influence the foreign policy of a country. The contemporary international organizations greatly influence the foreign policy of a country. While formulating its foreign policy the country has to take note of the international law, treaties and contracts. No country can ignore these factors without jeopardizing its own interests. Apart from the structure at the global level, the structures at the regional and sub-regional levels also greatly influence the foreign policy of a country.

In case of Afghanistan, the international influence is on a large scale. As the country has been dependent on international organizations and other powerful and some neighboring countries, its foreign policy has always been under pressure. As far as the internal factors are concerned, Afghanistan’s geography, though gifted with mineral resources, has been the battle ground for great games. This has influenced the country to a great extent. On the other hand, the country’s cultural heterogeneity has always hindered creation of a homogenous national sentiments.