Is It Possible For the Foreign Policy Leaders to Behave As Rational Actors?

Is It Possible For the Foreign Policy Leaders to Behave As Rational Actors?


Realism is the view that every country or state participates in foreign polices with an aim of progressing and protecting its political interests. Therefore, the group’s effect on the nations and states foreign policy administration is often strong. It also becomes quite hard for the administration to behave in a rational way. This kind of perception bases its argument on the fact that every country or state has interests that leaders of foreign policy do not have and must be safeguarded when formulating them.

Realism as a theory of framework also presumes that global politics depend on the competitive self-interest of individual states (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2012). People from the same country for this reason often have same interests and they seek to protect them using their foreign policy administration.

This kind of perception has been in existence over a long haul in global politics in that it is practically impossible to undermine it. Powerful nations in this regard including the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Germany and Russia among others have utilized this strategy in creating their foreign policies. It is also a fact that has made it impossible for foreign leaders to act rationally when designing the policies over the past years.

Therefore, this paper will address the research question that aims at determining whether foreign policy administration can behave in a rational manner or not. The paper will also argue that it is not possible for the leaders to act rationally given the fact that they must protect their state interests and the origin of their nations. By doing so, this paper will begin by evaluating the applicable theoretical framework to discuss and review the argument.

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The two basic theories applicable in this study include the balance of threat theory and the power theory. The power theory holds on to the fact that states and nations protect against the possibility of a state or a nation to acquire absolute power. In this relevance, foreign policy administration tends to act in accordance to guidelines of their states and countries of origin that aim at limiting anarchy possibilities.

This is in relevance to the issues of nations and countries trying to limit the growth of powerful countries or states. In respect to the theory, it is also essential to note that foreign policy administration will try as much as possible to prevent any attempt to accumulate power in a state or a country. This act further relates to the fact that nations or countries may try to utilize foreign policies to achieve absolute powers at the expense of other states or countries (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2012).

Based on this issue, every state or country via its foreign leader’s administration should try as much as possible to protect its interests. Thus, it is hard for foreign policy administration to act rationally. When states or countries face challenges in protecting their interests, they may act as a group or individually. Their policy administrators as a result, should protect their interests which may not be in a position to act rationally bearing in mind that they must unite to protect the same interests.

In regards to the balance of threat theory, countries and states anticipate dangers from other countries and states therefore; they choose their allies with a purpose of averting the possible threats. For this reason, it is quite difficult for foreign policy administration to act rationally because their countries and nations of origin dictate the terms and conditions to be employed in the process of preventing such threats.

Foreign policy administration precisely is therefore the ones to prevent the threats when designing the policies. This means that they can engage in anything to prevent the threats thus, making it hard for them to act in a rational manner most of the time. Geographical proximity in most cases and perceived intentions as well as collective capabilities plays a crucial role in determining the extent of the threat that the countries or nations should avert.

The more nations or states perceive possible threats to them, the more they seek precautionary measures. This means that when designing the policies, the countries and states tend to be more realistic as opposed to being rational thus, they force foreign policy administration to act or behave realistically and not rationally. While this may seem as a contradiction to what many nations and states advocate for, it is essential from a realistic point of view to understand since they must at all times protect their interests.

The balance of theory in essence explains why states and countries create an international relations coalition (Paparella, 2012). The measures employed by the USA after the Second World War was also a good example hat demonstrated that it was indeed hard for leaders designing foreign policy to act rationally. In this relevance, the USA designed external and internal strategies for striking a balance of the perceived threats. The US ambassador to the Soviet Union internally urged the US government to employ measures that would contain Soviet Union powers. The US ambassador therefore argued that the USA faced threats from the Soviet Union even after the Second World War came to an end therefore, there was need to contain Soviet Union powers.

Externally, the government of the US called upon European nations to help in the exercise. This was irrespective of the fact that the western alliance had been overwhelmed already by the Soviet Union from almost all dimensions (Richardson, 2008). The British government’s memorandum is also another case study indicating that it hard for foreign policy administration to act in a rational manner.

Sir Eyre Crowe in his memorandum highlighted threats posed to the British government by Germany. Sir Crowe utilized the power theory as a way of convincing the British government of the threats. He further maintained that the rise of Germany in the area would further pose a threat to the UK’s political interests in the region. He therefore urged the British administration to direct part of its national resources on limiting the powers of German administration (Heath, 2013).

The US foreign policies re-evaluation with European nations in 1970s is another actor confirming that it was hard for foreign policy leaders to act in a rational way. This re-analysis exercise involved the then secretary of state Mr. Kissinger and President Richard Nixon with the former perceiving threats the USA faced from Asia and Europe. The threats were as a result of declining relationships the USA was engaging in with allies from Europe and growth of political enemies from Asia.

Mr. Kissinger being aware of the threats felt the need for change of foreign policies by the USA with European allies and change of strategies of dealing with political enemies in Asia (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2012). The argument was based on the weakening political powers of the USA in the region with the USA only being able to do very little with assistance from European nations.

The USA for this reason also needed to get European allies. This further called for good diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and with China. The result of diplomatic relations would mean that it is still hard for foreign policy administration to act rationally bearing in mind that they had to protect their states or country interests.

The 1900 Russian case study also supports the argument that it is hard for leaders of foreign policy to behave rationally. Prince Kuropatkin in the study was the war minister in Russia and highlighted challenged faced by Russia from other states. Other countries according to the minister considered Russia as a major threat therefore, they were, more than willing to utilize all possible strategies to prevent the threat. This was further irrespective of the fact that Russia was very weak and did not pose any threat to the countries.

It is also unlikely from the above argument that foreign policy administration to act rationally. This is usually the case based on the fact that policy leaders are from different states or countries and in as much as they would like to distance themselves from the mother countries and act rationally; they may not be in a position to achieve their goals. This would only take place is their states or countries of origin force them to act in a realistic manner as opposed to acting sensibly.

The influence of the group in this relevance is usually highly influential that leaders of foreign policy tend to consider the interests of his or her mother countries when addressing foreign issues. It is also unlikely for this reason that policy leaders will evaluate one another without keeping in mind their backgrounds. This also means that every foreign policy administrator will analyze his or her counterparts from what one is already aware of about their mother states or countries.

For instance, it is still unlikely that a foreign policy leader from the USA will not analyze his or her Russian ally without considering what he or she already knows about the country and vice versa (Maitra, 2013). This also means that it is hard for foreign policy administrators to be sensible actors and when they act so, they still change afterwards to mean that their behaviors are not consistent always.

The following are three major reasons supporting the debate that it is hard for foreign policy leaders to act sensibly. First of all, every foreign policy administrator comes from a country or state that is very unique in its own way. This means that they are all from different groups. Additionally, the groups are quite different from each other in regards to views and opinions such that the leaders must always stick to group interests.

By doing so, they protect group interests. In this case, the groups represent mother countries or states for the leaders. It is also not possible for the leaders given this fact to act sensibly even if they should act in a sensible way. Secondly, every foreign policy administrator represents the interests of his or her mother country. The interests are the ones that guide foreign states and countries behaviors.

Therefore, every foreign policy administrator should adhere to them. The foreign administrators based on this fact should also adhere to the interests of their mother countries or states as opposed to acting sensibly (Kerim, 2013). Thirdly, power usually acts as the most significant political feature such that every country or state protects it at all costs. Even so, in some cases, the need to act rationally often denies the states or the countries such powers. When such occurs, the usual thing to do for foreign policy leaders is to behave in a rational way.

It is therefore hard for the leaders to act in a rational manner and hard for the leaders to behave as rational actors since they must at all times protect the interests of their states or countries.


Based on the evidence or facts above, it is not likely for foreign policy administrators will act sensibly in global relations. This is despite the other supporting evidence and facts that suggest otherwise. Seemingly, the reasons behind global relations will never change despite the fact that they progress from one level to the other.

Given this fact, then the evidence suggesting otherwise will always support realism in one way or the other even though they need to explain features that realism does not explain. For instance, the argument explained by constructivism the end of cold war while realism does not do the same and it doesn’t mean that foreign policy leaders will act in a sensible manner.

I do not mean that the leaders will never act sensibly at any given point but I mean that the irrational behaviors of the leaders will in the future change their behaviors given the states or nations’ interests. This has been the case always and certainly, the trend will continue. The research paper in this case, also anticipates that realism trend will continue in global relations despite the fact that available evidence suggest otherwise. The base of the argument is also the most common facts and evidence supporting realism.

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Maitra, S. (2013, January 13). U.S. foreign policy: back to realism. International affair review. Retrieved from

Paparella, G. (2012, March 2). What international relations theory means to policy-maker. Retrieved from

Richardson, B. (2008, February). A new realism: a realistic and principled foreign policy. Retrieved from

Smith, S., Hadfield, A., & Dunne, T. (2012): Foreign policy. Theories, actors, cases. New York: Oxford University Press