Many foreign policy analysts assume that elite policymakers in
liberal democracies consistently ignore humanitarian norms when
these norms interfere with commercial and strategic interests.
Today's endorsement by Western governments of repressive regimes in
countries from Kazakhstan to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the name
of fighting terror only reinforces this opinion. In Just
Politics, C. William Walldorf Jr. challenges this conventional
wisdom, arguing that human rights concerns have often led
democratic great powers to sever vital strategic partnerships even
when it has not been in their interest to do so.
Walldorf sets out his case in detailed studies of British
alliance relationships with the Ottoman Empire and Portugal in the
nineteenth century and of U.S. partnerships with numerous
countries-ranging from South Africa, Turkey, Greece and El Salvador
to Nicaragua, Chile, and Argentina-during the Cold War. He finds
that illiberal behavior by partner states, varying degrees of
pressure by nonstate actors, and legislative activism account for
the decisions by democracies to terminate strategic partnerships
for human rights reasons.
To demonstrate the central influence of humanitarian
considerations and domestic politics in the most vital of strategic
moments of great-power foreign policy, Walldorf argues that Western
governments can and must integrate human rights into their foreign
policies. Failure to take humanitarian concerns into account, he
contends, will only damage their long-term strategic
Subjects: Political Science
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