What characteristics identify a Liberal foreign policy?
Liberalism, a road considered less travelled, is a theory and ideas in the government that has its foundation in philosophical human nature thoughts. Liberalism theory was formulated by economists, philosophers, and sociologists in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It was first a social policy in England, United States, and Europe (Burchill, 2001). Liberalism emphasizes on opportunity, equality and rights of individuals with a focus on human intellectual capacity. Different policies are proposed by different liberalism forms but they all support the same principles; limitation on government power, freedom of speech and thought, rule of law, transparency of government, exchanging of ideas freely, and a market economy. Liberal foreign policy is a doctrine that includes all states coming together and intervening to attain objectives of liberalism. The main aim is to promote order in a liberal world; liberal systems of politics and economics, free trade, and democracy which result in peaceful relations between states. Liberalism rejected assumptions like hereditary ruling, kings having divine rights, and religion establishment that dominated earlier governments (Doyle, 1983).
Principles of liberalism
Political liberalism believes that law and society has its basis on individuals. Institutions in the society should not favor individuals depending on their social ranks. Political liberalism emphasizes that citizens of a country make their laws and abide to them since they what best suits them. It does not discriminate against race, sex, or economic status. This supports democracy and the rule of law (Farber & Gowa, 1997).
Cultural liberalism entails individual rights concerning lifestyle and conscience. This issues include; cognitive freedom, sexual freedom, private life protection from government intrusion, and religious freedom. Economic liberalism supports rights of individuals on property and contract freedom. It advocates the removal of trade barriers and privileges from the government like monopolies and subsidies. It argues that the value of services and goods should be determined by market forces and accepts inequality only when it arises from different powers in bargaining which is known to bring about competition in the market.
Social liberalism supports a market based economy and free trade where all basic individual needs are met. Progressiveness in social ideas is advocated for by this principle as it benefits the freedom of society members when adapted continuously. All individuals should be able to access basic necessities like opportunities in economies, and education. This is believed to be achievable if political communities found means to regulate the economy for example through universal health care, social security, public education, infrastructure and taxation to equalize the people.
Characteristics of a liberal foreign policy
Foreign policy and domestic policy are not in opposition according to philosophical theory of liberals because they see liberalism as a world concept embracing politics and similar ideas. The goal of both policies is peace creation and attainment between and within nations. Mutual cooperation between nations is achieved in liberalism through recognition of the importance and value of human life.. It views humanity as a whole and not as parts or limited groups. It starts from but does not end at the border of a village, province, nation, or continent. It is ecumenical and cosmopolitan (Polanyi, 1944). In this sense, liberalism is humanism and the liberals are cosmopolites.
With anti-liberal ideas spreading across the world especially England where started, masses suspect cosmopolitanism. It is believed that there is a conflict between personal interests of mankind and those of the nation which is irreconcilable. This is because some patriots are overzealous and cannot forgive some people like poets who are believed to direct their endeavors and aspirations towards humanity welfare disregarding the nations’ welfare. This is a misconception because working towards the betterment of human welfare means the improvement of the nation at large. Worldwide security and peace is a concept that should be present in liberal foreign policy. Liberalism opposes the call for inside the nation peace and unity in order to attack other nations (Rummel, 1983). Liberalism teaches nations to be preservative peace in how they conduct affairs internally just as it is desired in relations with other nations. The division of labor, where liberalism derives its irrefutable and decisive argument against war, has long gone past the boundaries of one nation. Civilized nations depend on each other for satisfaction of their communities in production. They import and export goods from each other and do their best not to sabotage this international exchange as it would damage human civilization and undermine the basis of existence, human well-being. Wars are not advocated for as nations would suffer great damages if one single linkage on production were to be cut. War abolishment is a step to moral growth in humans. Liberal foreign policy comes in handy to make a self-sufficient national economy possible in case of wars and arguments.
Earlier age liberals thought that people in the world were peaceful by nature and only monarchs would cause war to heighten their wealth and power by conquering provinces. To ensure a peace that lasted, they believed the rule of dynastic princes should be replaced with governments that depend on their people. It would be possible to change the state boundaries to the will of inhabitants. Self-determination right means that inhabitants of a territory, be it a village, district, or several districts, have a right to attach them to another state other than that they belong to (Shell, 1980). This prevents the occurrence of civil wars, revolutions, and international wars. Citizens of every territory have a right to decide which state they want to belong but it has been limited to administrative units to avoid disparities between nationalities which would lead to dissolution of states with many nationalities. Liberal foreign policy aims at ensuring a world with no disparities based on profiling.
Liberalism is characterized by peace but some people think it is not enough to hold peace consistently and constantly. There is a universal desire for peace but the conditions top secure it are unknown to many. Peace ensures a world with order where nations are satisfied with conditions of living that they do not have to hate on anything; liberalism promotes the welfare of all. Liberalism does not entail moralizing and preaching to get rid for war but creation of social conditions that do not leave for any cause of war. Peace is achieved through respecting private property even in times of war (Friedrich, 1948).
Political parties seem to promote responsibilities and rights of individuals in the name of liberalism. There is freedom of choice in an openly competitive process, state responsibility to guarantee citizens liberty and protect individuals. Freedom of movement is another issue significant with liberalism (Galston, 1985). Immigration restrictions are being monitored in most countries to allow integration and interactions of communities (security & economy). Trade union policies and national protection policies are incorporated. This allows foreign labor in different countries. This increases labor productivity and conditions of production increasing the wage rates. Immigrations barriers however have to be put in place to migration in great numbers of citizens from one country to another in such of jobs which would lead to overpopulation.
The best form of government is one that exercises liberal democracy according to English utilitarian’s. In the history of political movements, liberalism tops the list in minding the welfare of the population at large without bias. Representatives that have been elected practice the rule of law. Moderation of their power is done by a constitution which puts emphasis on individual freedoms and rights protection and limitation of the majority will. A system of pluralist exists in liberal nations. This means that it allows the existence of differing social and political opinions and views, competition for political power based on democracy where elections that are held periodically give the opportunity to attain these powers. Differences resolution through peaceful means is stressed as long as the process is lawfully and democratically bound. Citizens are encouraged to participate and involve themselves in exercising their democratic rights in this process (Schumpeter, 1950).
Civil rights and the rule of law
Civil rights for all citizens are advocated for by liberalism. This includes personal liberty privileges and protection being given to equally to everyone as the law states. Citizens are treated equally irrespective of gender, race or class. Individuals have the right to shelter, food and education. There are still some states that do not practice equal treatment based on nationalism especially citizenship. Liberal foreign policy is working towards achieving equal rights for everybody everywhere. Rule of law characterizes liberalism. Authority from the government is termed legitimate and ready to be exercised if it is in accordance with the law and has been established through a recognizable procedure (Mintz & Karl, 2010). Rule of law insists on an independent judiciary which is politically independent to avoid arbitrary rulings in cases of individuals. It includes concepts like being presumed innocent, Habeas Corpus, and no double jeopardy. It guards against despotism and enforces limitations on government power. Rule of law is against capital punishment.
Neutral government and equality
States according to pure liberalism are not allowed to dictate personal values. It does not have a right to come up with conceptions of life. For example, in US, the Declaration of Independence expresses this neutrality by offering the right to pursue happiness. Equal rights for homosexuals and women are advocated for (Shell, 1980). Equality is fundamental in liberalism, racism is incompatible. Equal opportunity for all is advocated for but it does not have to bring equal outcomes as different people put different efforts. Racial and gender discrimination is wrong. Favoring employment quotas for ethnic minorities and women is not the way to solve matters as it would be discriminating the majority.
Free trade and market characterize a liberal community on domestic policy or foreign policy basis. Government intervention is limited in foreign trade and domestic economy. Restrictions are however essential in trade because it could lead to growth of corporations that are multinational and wealth and power being concentrated to few individuals (Neack, 2008). Governments are given the responsibility to education, health, and poverty alleviation but call for independent exchange markets. Quality education and health care is made available for all citizens. Special protection for the sick, disabled, handicapped, and aged is given. There is also liberalization and privatization in public sectors. This gives the government a smaller role which restricts it from directly controlling industrial productions.
Environmental and International Relations
In most countries environmentalists share values with liberals. For example,the green movement in England. The values of environmentalism are aimed at minimizing damages to the planet by its human inhabitants and maximizing the regeneration damaged places (get a definition). Conservation and preservation of resources is their mission statement. Environmentalists work together with business enterprises to make an impact on an economic ground while others aim at sustainable development by favoring legislation. In a liberal country guided by foreign policies, internationalism is evident. Every individual has a right to liberty and enjoyment of it. It is important to have free exchange of news, ideas, goods, and services, freedom of movement or travel between countries and within one’s own country. There is existence of international co-operations and international organizations. If companies in the world respected a common set of ecological and social standards that are minimal, a free and fair market would work globally. Markets are allowed to import and export goods and services freely and also interact freely. They could even intermarry. This is another international relations aspect that shows the existence of liberal foreign policy.
The philosophical root to liberalism is morality. A liberal state exhibits beliefs on free enterprise, competitive individualism, civil rights, and limited government. In a political and economic life it disregards the communist’s outlook. Free trade works best for developed countries while putting the economies of the under developed countries out of market. It should therefore be regulated to guard the rights of the underdeveloped and poor. Liberalism might be the near future’s theory.