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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751

Resumo

EKSTEEN, Riaan. The effect of domestic affairs on foreign policy, with specific reference to current events in the United States of America. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.3, pp.398-412. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2019/v59n3a6.

The impact of domestic affairs on foreign policy is becoming increasingly more crucial. The former affects the latter. Indeed, domestic policy substantially influences foreign policy, to the extent that foreign policy depends upon domestic policy. It can therefore be argued that foreign policy is the reflection of domestic policy. Kissinger, for example, held the opinion that foreign policy starts where domestic policy ends. The inter-connections between domestic and foreign affairs are undeniable. Foreign policy can never be detached from the domestic context from which it springs. Moreover, it seldom succeeds if it is not acceptable at home, since without domestic influence there could hardly be a foreign policy. Domestic pressures may take several different forms and the relationship between foreign-policy decision makers and domestic constituencies is shaped in part by the institutions of the society. Foreign policy is formulated neither in a vacuum nor in isolation. It is embedded in national interests and its parameters are always shaped by those interests. With its core rooted in domestic affairs foreign policy is justifiably regarded as an extension of domestic policy, in that it expands from domestic interests. The linkages between the international and national environments are considered crucial in the decision-making process of foreign policy. Consequently, foreign policy decision-makers must have a comprehensive understanding of domestic affairs and policy before formulating and adopting a suitable foreign policy. No country has a foreign policy without any connection to its domestic policy. It is therefore essential that domestic affairs are included in the analysis of foreign policy decision-making and that the influence and consequential impact of domestic affairs on foreign policies be properly assessed. Domestic political calculations undoubtedly influence foreign policy choices - the symbiotic relationship between foreign affairs and domestic issues is a reality. Foreign policies are designed with the aim of achieving complex domestic and international agendas. They usually involve an elaborate series of steps in which domestic politics play an important part. Foreign policies are in most cases designed and finalised through coalitions of domestic and international actors and groups. The domestic political environment to a large extent shapes the entire framework of decision-making, also in an international context. That environment includes all laws enacted and their legislative decisions, and government agencies and lobby groups that influence or restrict individuals or organisations in the society. In the recent past, Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) has been criticised for being one-dimensional. This resulted in other actors being recognised and together they fit into a new structure which now takes due cognisance of the dimension of domestic policy. FPA has adjusted to the changed circumstances brought about by foreign and domestic events. Globalisation continues to present its own demands, while simultaneously the impact of domestic affairs on foreign policy is becoming increasingly more crucial. Once the domestic factor was included in FPA the influence of the judiciary became ipso facto an actor no longer to be ignored. Domestically, the judiciary has placed its stamp on practically every aspect of human endeavour. This all-important realisation of the inter-relationship of domestic and foreign policy and the resultant relevance of domestic developments for foreign policy decisions, have, inter alia, been addressed by Marijke Breuning, a pre-eminent authority on FPA.1 The author expands on the domestic constraints within which foreign policy decisions are made, given the fact that domestic constituencies have been shown to influence foreign affairs. At the same time, she focuses on the role and impact of the public, as part of the domestic scene, on the formation of foreign policy options. Other analysts of foreign policy are equally seriously considering the two-way flows which arise from the relationship between the foreign and the domestic. There is consensus that foreign policy has its domestic sources and domestic policy has its foreign influences. It follows that one of the most pressing concerns in the study of international relations today is that of developing a systematic account of the impact of domestic politics on foreign policy. Until this is accomplished, not only will explanations of foreign policy decisions be incomplete, but theories may often be less helpful to policymakers. In this regard the United States of America (USA) may serve as an example. Since taking office President Trump has resolutely coupled foreign policy to domestic politics. The prism through which he sees and develops his foreign policy is his Make America Great Again slogan and his rallying call of America First. To him his foreign policy only matters if it is compatible with national interests and the promotion of those interests. From his perspective he is approaching international affairs in the most realistic manner by demanding that America is placed first. Two internal aspects that have to be taken into account when the current foreign policy of the USA is analysed, are fear and climate changes and how these are manifested in foreign policy matters. Firstly, domestic politics do play an important role when strategic foreign policy decisions are considered because of the threats anticipated or already realised in connection with national security issues. Secondly, and conversely, in the digital era the distinction between domestic and foreign is becoming even more blurred as citizens' migration to digital platforms on the one hand creates new opportunities for diplomats to rally domestic public support for foreign policy achievements, while on the other hand threats to traditional foreign policy approaches are exposed when global issues, such as climate change, that are of growing importance to domestic audiences, are advanced. It should be clear that the linkages between the international and national environments are considered crucial in the decision-making process of foreign policy. The symbiotic relationship between foreign affairs and domestic issues is a reality. Without domestic influence there could hardly be a foreign policy.

Palavras-chave : climate change; Congress; digital era; domestic affairs; environmental aspects; fear; Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA); foreign policy; home front; home-grown foreign policy; judiciary; MAGA slogan; President Trump; symbiotic relationship; 9/11.

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