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Values in Foreign Policy: Investigating Ideals and Interests covers all aspects of the tension between values and national priorities, with specific reference to the leading countries of today. The volume explores the effect of the enlightenment, colonialism, modernity and post-modernity in determining contemporary value systems which are often uncomfortable in their interface with each other. This book, written in accessible, non-technical language, will be of interest and benefit to policy-makers and practitioners of foreign policy, as well as the academic community. It will be equally valuable to anyone interested in international relations. Written by specialists in the field of foreign relations, this is the closest examination ever made of the impulses which drive the foreign policies of the world’s most important countries, touching on the legacies of religion, civilization, culture and history.
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786607508
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 02/14/2019
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 6.04(w) x 8.75(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Krishnan Srinivasan is a former Indian Foreign Secretary.

James Mayall is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Cambridge University and fellow of the British Academy.

Sanjay Pulipaka is Senior Fellow at the Nehru Museum and Library and adviser to ICRIER, New Delhi.

Read an Excerpt


Values in European Foreign Policies

Defending the Enlightenment in Troubled Times

James Mayall

The two questions I seek to answer in this chapter are, first, whether European foreign policies are grounded in values as well as interests, and second, whether as most European governments would claim, their values are universal rather than an expression of a particular, and as viewed from other parts of the world, parochial civilization. At first sight, these questions might seem distinctly odd to anyone not versed in the arcane debates of international political and legal theory and diplomatic practice. After all, no one would consider it worth asking if a country's education or health or pensions policy reflected its values. These values might be contested between political parties, but the fact that they are expressions of a government's fundamental beliefs about how the country should be governed would normally be regarded as self-evident. Why then should it be any different with foreign policy?

The answer is that foreign policy immediately comes up against the sovereignty of other states. In this respect, it is quite unlike education, health or any other domestic policy. In these areas the government has both legal authority and, in theory at least, the power to implement whatever policy it chooses. By contrast, in foreign policy while most governments could probably agree that their objective should be to provide both security and prosperity for the people, they have no legal authority to pursue these goals in other countries without the consent of those governments, established either by custom or in accordance with bilateral and/or multilateral treaties and agreements. In addition, if political or coercive pressure is employed in their pursuit, it runs the risk of being counter-productive, since it may well be interpreted as a blatant violation of the non-interference principle, a key entailment of sovereignty. This is a particular problem for Western states (i.e., European countries and those of European settlement in the Americas and elsewhere) because having dominated international society since the mid-seventeenth century until very recently, they tend to regard the twenty-first century iteration of their values – a belief in democracy, the rule of law, the protection of individual human rights and the maintenance of an open economy except when national security is deemed to require protection – as providing the standard to which all countries should aspire. Since the world is very diverse and involvement in global international relations necessarily involves them in doing business with countries that may not share these values, the assumption of universality immediately opens them to charges of hypocrisy and double standards.


Not only is the issue of foreign policy values unavoidable; it is also a peculiarly modern problem with its origins in the period in which the great powers have competed not merely militarily – as great powers have done throughout history – but ideologically, to establish a universal blueprint for modernity itself. When the world was largely run by dynastic or military empires plus a few oligarchic city states, everyone pursued his or her interests unashamedly and it has to be said often brutally, especially where the pursuit of power was closely allied with religious domination or economic exploitation. This did not prevent the Europeans eventually developing an international order based on sovereignty, the rule of law, diplomatic recognition and privilege, and the management of the central balance by the great powers. In a sense this earlier version of European foreign policy values – it is, after all, the one that most obviously underpins the United Nations (UN) Charter and most contemporary international organizations – causes less of a problem to the rest of the world than the more recent liberal internationalist version, which reaches far deeper inside the social and cultural organization of different societies.

This more recent iteration has dominated European and European Union (EU) foreign policy debate since the end of the Cold War, although it too has a more venerable genealogy, and one which, as a result of its paradoxical links with European imperialism, is regarded with considerable suspicion in much of the former colonial world. Nonetheless, because its roots are sociological as much as political, it will be difficult to dislodge. Until well after the French and American Revolutions, only the political élite was seriously involved in politics, at home let alone abroad, so that while personal and even state honour may on occasions have been an important issue, ethics in an abstract sense was not. Once the consent of the governed is formally recognized as the source of political legitimacy, foreign policy has to be attached to the ethical foundations on which that consent has been built. This requirement is even less discretionary in the case of the EU than its member states, since the organization is a hybrid entity, neither a state nor a conventional inter-governmental organization, constructed on the basis of treaties and identifying itself through legal cooperation among a group of democratic states.

Three other issues complicate the relationship of values to European foreign policies, although none is obviously merely a European problem. The first issue again revolves around the EU. To what extent are the values that European governments insist underlie their foreign policies those of the European great powers – France, Germany, Italy and Britain plus a group of smaller northern European countries with a similar political culture – rather than those of the member states that have joined more recently from the east and south?

The EU is the only multilateral organization with pretensions to a foreign policy and a diplomatic service of its own. It also insists that certain common standards should be met before membership can be negotiated. These include regular democratic elections, respect for individual human rights and the rule of law. Greece was kept out until the military government fell in 1974, and it took until 1981 for the government to negotiate entry. Similarly, after the collapse of communism, the Eastern European and Baltic states had to prove their democratic credentials before being allowed in. This was easier said than done. In the Baltic states, for example, where the population still tended to regard their Russian residents as representatives of an occupying power, it was difficult to persuade the people that they were nonetheless citizens and that discrimination against them was illegitimate. The determination of states that had escaped from the Soviet sphere of influence to join the affluent alliance of the EU was so strong that a way around these problems was found. But it did mean that for a time their foreign policy energies were almost totally exhausted by the effort required to meet the requirements of EU membership. Consequently, the question of whether the national values of these countries had any influence on their foreign policy did not seriously arise.

The second complicating issue is nationalism itself. More precisely it is the relationship of nationalism to the wider civilization out of which it grows and in which it is embedded. Nationalist ideology – broadly the proposition that each culture should have its own state – was a European invention, although it was quickly spread around the world, first in the saddle bags of Napoleon's armies and then by the worldwide spread of European imperialism. Values – in the sense of ethical principles – are arguably more often associated with a civilization than with its component nations, but their influence on international relations is more likely to be filtered through a particular national culture. Since the separation of national cultures, rather than what they have in common, establishes their claim to statehood, national identities and national styles inevitably permeate approaches to foreign policy.

The final complicating factor is the contested basis of the nation. Within Europe there are two main contenders, which have very different implications for how values are projected on to foreign policy. Political nationalism in Europe starts with the French Revolution, when the nation was first defined as a community of citizens. While the British opposed the revolution, throughout the nineteenth century they too nationalized their constitution by progressively widening the franchise. In both cases – as also in the other centralized states of the North Atlantic seaboard – the form of nationalism was civic: what mattered was citizenship not ancestry. Civic nationalism did not mean that culture was unimportant – indeed in both Britain and France waves of immigrants were absorbed into and assimilated the respective national identities of the two countries – but the test of citizenship was a matter of territorial residence (ius soli), not a bloodline. Starting with Germany, which began to abandon providing automatic German citizenship to anyone of German ethnic descent only after the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, many east and south European countries also viewed the world through the prism of ius sanguinis and struggled with the rival concept of ius soli, a modified version of which is favoured by European liberals. Indeed to the extent that ethnic nationalism is a stronger driving force for foreign policy in eastern and southern than in western Europe, the principal impact of the post–Cold War enlargement of the EU has been to weaken the liberal democratic value consensus on which its engagement with the rest of the world was based.

In the context of both the refugee crisis of recent years, which has been greatly intensified by the mass displacement of Syrians as a result of the civil war but has been building up since the early 1990s, and the upsurge of populist policies to which immigration pressures have contributed, the distinction between the two forms of European nationalism has blurred, and both have become more inward-looking and suspicious of the outside world. Nonetheless the legacy of the distinction between civic and ethnic nationalism inevitably introduces an element of incoherence and inconsistency into the values through which European states seek to engage the world beyond Europe. To those approaching the continent from outside it often seems a fortress, more concerned with self-preservation and cultural superiority than with the cosmopolitan and universal values to which their governments pay lip service. Across Europe, liberal internationalists, who had assumed they had a monopoly of official foreign policy pronouncements, are now on the back foot. This is not an old-fashioned debate between realists and idealists – all governments these days are determined to protect what they deem to be their core interests – but between liberal realists and exclusive nationalists.

Against this background what more can be said about the role of values in European foreign policies? Let us consider this question first in relation to the EU and then to the two major European imperial powers, Britain and France, whose projection of power beyond Europe has left the deepest negative and positive legacies. An additional justification for singling out these two countries is that while their versions of liberal democracy were originally quite different, both were – even at the height of their nineteenth-century imperial expansion – democratic states, and it is arguably a hybrid fusion of their two liberal traditions which has dominated European debate on the nexus between foreign policy and values. The fact that both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council and remain the leading European military powers also reinforces their role.


The EU began to develop a foreign policy of its own only after the Cold War under a series of treaties starting with the Maastricht Treaty of 1993 creating the single market and ending with the Lisbon Treaty which came into force in 2009 and formally created the office of a Permanent High Representative for Foreign and Security policy. Nonetheless, the prehistory of the EU starting with the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was then consolidated under the Treaty of Rome in 1957 into the European Economic Community (EEC), had already established the value base of the future Union. The founding fathers of the EEC were determined to use the positive values of the European enlightenment – scientific and legal rationality, humanitarianism and democratic freedom – to build a lasting peace in the continent and to prevent any retreat into the ferocious competition which had led the world into the two disastrous world wars of the twentieth century.

From this point of view, the technical aspects of the European project – the creation of a common framework for German and French industrial and energy resources – and the establishment of a Customs Union with a Common Commercial Policy as its centrepiece were the instruments but not the fundamental objectives of European integration. There has always been controversy about whether the functionalist (and neo-functionalist) approach to the building of Europe was a deliberate choice in an effort to break with the traditional pattern of power politics that had dominated European interstate relations for centuries, or was forced on the founding fathers by necessity following the collapse of the proposal for a Franco-German Defence Agreement in 1954 and the earlier establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949. Either way, it established the platform for the subsequent development of the EU's foreign policy as that of a civilian power, a new kind of political actor whose international interests would be protected by commercial agreements and whose world role would rest on its reputational example. Since underpinning the commercial approach was the liberal belief that commerce is essentially peaceful – a proposition that has wide, if not universal, appeal – it is perhaps not surprising that Europeans seldom questioned the idea that their foreign policy values were universal rather than parochial. The tendency to regard functional integration as a universally applicable method of conflict resolution, regardless of the local political context and values, is less obviously a diplomatic asset, although, to be fair, as the enlarged EU has faced increasing centrifugal pressures of its own, it has become less strident in its attempts to export the European model.

The tension between the view that many non-Europeans have of the EU – of a fortress Europe excessively concerned with protecting its own standard of living, if necessary at the expense of third countries – and the view that the EU holds of itself – as an outward-looking political union built on universal liberal norms – was greatly reinforced first by the events surrounding the financial crisis of 2008 and second by the ongoing refugee crisis, primarily emanating from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. But its origins lie further back than these events and have been constantly refreshed by changes in the international landscape. Three sources of the tension may help to explain why it has proved so difficult to resolve, particularly perhaps so far as Asia is concerned.


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Table of Contents

Robert D. Kaplan
Introduction: Values and Foreign Policy
Krishnan Srinivasan, James Mayall, Sanjay Pulipaka
1. Values in European Foreign Policy: Defending the Enlightenment in Troubled Times
James Mayall
2. Values and European Foreign Economic Policy: Ideas, Institutions and Interests
Fredrik Erixon
3. Values in German Foreign Policy: How Changes of Course Created Lasting Values
Amit Das Gupta
4. Values in US Foreign Policy: ‘America First’ Meets the Pro-Democracy State
William J. Antholis
5. Overview: Reflections on Values in Western Foreign Policy: From the Liberal World Order to Antithetical Values
Bruno Maçães
6. Values in Russian Foreign Policy: Soviet Values, Revisionism and President Putin
Hari Vasudevan and Tatiana Shaumyan
7. Islamic Values in Foreign Policy: Perspectives on ‘Secular’ Turkey and ‘Islamic’ Iran
Mehmet Ozkan and Kingshuk Chatterjee
8. Values in Indian Foreign Policy: Lofty Ideals Give Way to Parochial Pragmatism
Krishnan Srinivasan
9. Values in Myanmar's Foreign Policy: Neutralism, Isolationism and Multi-Engagement
Sanjay Pulipaka and Chaw Chaw Sein
10. Values in Indonesian Foreign Policy: Independent and Active Doctrine
Dewi Fortuna Anwar
11. Values in Chinese Foreign Policy: Culture, Leadership and Diplomacy
Zhang Lihua
12. Values in South Korean Foreign Policy: Search of New Identity as a ‘Middle Power’
Lee Seong-hyon
13. Values in Japanese Foreign Policy: Between ‘Universal Values’ and the Search for Cultural Pluralism
Tadashi Anno
14. Overview: Reflections on Values in Asian Foreign Policy: ASEAN’s Three Principles
Ravi Velloor
List of Contributors

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