Cultural dimensions of Foreign Policy

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Culture is everywhere.  Everything is Culture.  The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular person or a society are conglomerated in the word “culture”. The conventional concept of culture is seen as a tool that has a separate and isolated existence of its own having nothing to do with the politics and international relations of a state.  It was viewed with the old paradigms set in the atmosphere of pre and post-cold war eras. 

Being a driving force, intentionally or unintentionally. The value of culture in foreign policy was underestimated for its utility for a long time. Individuals are the end product of a culture. 

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The way they act, behave, and think all are the understood and inferred embodiment of this “Culture”. 

Culture in politics

It is this culture that is causing, conflicts, tension, and rivalries in world politics. Former President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great” (MAGA), Moscow’s belief in “Mother Russia”,  China’s Confucian Nationalism,  German Nazi politician,  Fritz Sauckel,  “Make Germany Great Again. Long live Germany” and lately Britain’s withdrawal from EU all are their firm convictions on their uniqueness, separateness, and cultural superiority, though in one way or the other way.

But cultures are nothing isolated and Martian in nature. They are mixed and crossed by each other at various points.  They have commonalities and contrasts in them.  One thing or point accepted in one culture is disliked or abhorred in another one.  What Professor Ann Swidler calls the “Culture in Action”, changing and diverting each other. Your right side is my left side!

Human history also reveals such heterogeneous cultural existence and world order among the different phases of history and empires.

A determining factor

It would be too naive to ignore their importance in international relations and world politics on the assumption that they have nominal value would be a shallow approach. The well-known saying that politics have no heart in its chest and the main proponents of this, Realists, know it very well.

When studying and elaborating on conflicts cultural and sociological terms are used lavishly by experts giving it a touch of cultural analysis of the conflict between the two contending sides.  They rather ignore that the two contending sides may not necessarily be of the same culture with equal power. 

Commonality in Interests

But the strong belief in the rationality of the human mind they believe that commonality of interests may lead them to success.  This commonality of interests or coordination of problems as is called in the Game Theory may resolve many conflicts and conflicting problems for humanity.

One issue that they may face in their approach to this problem-solving method is the cutting of differing ideas, norms, values, and worldviews defined by Constructivism which took everything in flux defined by new emerging situations.

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But as world politics and inter-state relations change very quickly that one cannot predict or define its nature accurately.  Constructivist behavior in International relations may cause extreme uncertainty as each state may jump on the bandwagon of the new emerging situations it deems suitable for it. 

Balancing on the large scale

The English School of International Relations at this stage provide a balancing mechanism by its pragmatism that all states only follow their national interests, and that interconnectedness of the international system,  international society and finally the world society at large would give birth to a peaceful livable world for all.

One danger that arises from this multiculturalism or cultural diversity in world politics would be a new tense international scenario where cultural differences between states would further strain the already fragile peace order stressing for their cultural uniqueness.

But the only best taught lesson from history for humanity in general is the Unity in Cultural Diversity. A peaceful and livable world where all individuals and nation-states can live amicably.

(published in the Global News Pakistan )

Cultural dimensions of Foreign Policy

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