Change and Stability in Foreign Policy

Change and Stability in Foreign Policy: The Problems and Possibilities of Detente

Kjell Goldmann
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 268
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  • Book Info
    Change and Stability in Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    Assume that a nation is pursuing a given foreign policy and that we are concerned with the way in which it will act in the future. We may want to make a forecast--but then to what extent is the present policy of a nation a valid guide to its future behavior? Or we may want to influence the nation to change its course--can we succeed? In other words, will the policy change or persist in the face of new conditions or negative feedback? Kjell Goldmann identifies the factors that may have an impact on whether a specific foreign policy is likely to endure or to change and develops them into a theory of foreign policy stability. He then uses this theory to explore the reasons why West German-Soviet detente during the 1970s proved to be more enduring than the improvement in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Finally, he outlines a hypothetical scenario for a fully successful process of detente stabilization and examines the extent to which this scenario is realistic. The book ends with some thought about how to conduct a policy aimed at stable detente with an adversary.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5972-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    Assume that a nation is pursuing a given foreign policy and that we are concerned with the way in which it will act in the future. We may want to make a forecast—but then, to what extent is the present policy of a nation a valid guide to its future behavior? Or we may want the nation to change its course—but then, would an influence attempt be likely to succeed? In other words, is the policy with which we are concerned stable or unstable, invulnerable or vulnerable?

    A variety of factors may have an impact on whether a...

    • CHAPTER 1 Foreign Policy Stability as a Research Problem
      (pp. 3-25)

      We generally assume that there are patterns in the foreign policy of nations and not just single acts. A knowledge of the pattern—the “policy”—of an actor is assumed to be useful for explaining and predicting actions. If we can show that an action fits into a pattern—that is, that the actor behaves as he usually does, or says that it is his policy to do, we have in one sense explained his action. Similarly, if we know the pattern, we may anticipate what the actor will be likely to do in the future. We know, in other...

    • CHAPTER 2 Foreign Policy Stabilizers: An Inventory
      (pp. 26-69)

      We will now set out to make an inventory of foreign policy stabilizers. The starting point is to assume that given a disturbance—a change in conditions, negative feedback, a residual event—the stability of a policy is a function of (1) the sensitivity to the environment, (2) the availability of alternatives, and (3) the costs of change. If new conditions or negative feedback are to change policy, they must be noticed and found to be critical. If a change in policy is to be considered, there must be alternatives. If an alternative is to be chosen, the costs of...

    • CHAPTER 3 Policy Stabilization as a Process
      (pp. 70-78)

      Although it may be premature, what amounts to a model of the process of foreign policy stabilization will be sketched in this chapter. The order in which the stabilizers emerge and gain strength is unlikely to be random. Some stabilizers—such as normative regulation—are likely to become significant early in the life of a foreign policy. Others—such as “bureaucratic inertia”—are likely to come about only after a considerable time. Moreover, some stabilizers are likely to reinforce others; for example, an increase in economic dependence can conceivably reinforce both political support, cognitive centrality, and administrative fragmentation.

      Almost anything...

    • CHAPTER 4 The 1970s as an Experiment
      (pp. 81-90)

      “Détente” is the label commonly used for the improvement in East-West relations that began in the 1960s and peaked in the early 1970s. It was a contradictory phenomenon. Both sides emphasized the necessity of preventing a nuclear war, and yet one of the chief post-1945 crises occurred at the height of “détente”—the Yom Kippur war of 1973, which is one of the few occasions when U.S. nuclear forces have been placed on a higher state of command readiness during an international crisis (Sagan 1985). Agreements were made about strategic arms control, moreover, and yet the arms race continued, albeit...

    • CHAPTER 5 The International Stabilization of Détente
      (pp. 91-116)

      The east and the west pursued policies of détente toward each other for a time. This fact by definition implies that there occurred a minimum degree of regulation in the form of customary norms. The extent to which détente was also regulated by explicit agreement is striking, however. The several agreements can be regarded as deliberate attempts at détente stabilization. The objective of this section is to assess how far the attempts went.

      We will consider first the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and then some of the bilateral Soviet-American and Soviet-West German agreements. Our concern is with the legal...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Cognitive Stabilization of Détente
      (pp. 117-133)

      When considering the cognitive stabilization of détente, or any foreign policy, we are not concerned with the beliefs of specific individuals, not even a Richard Nixon or a Henry Kissinger. Our concern is with those beliefs about a policy that are widely shared within the policymaking system. According to the theoretical sketch, a policy is more likely to be stable if those beliefs are consistent rather than inconsistent, if the policy is cognitively central rather than peripheral, and if the beliefs about the policy are untestable rather than testable.

      The examination of officially adopted beliefs may be as close as...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Political Stabilization of Détente
      (pp. 134-172)

      The salience of an issue, or, roughly, its significance in the domestic power struggle, has been defined in this study as the extent to which the pattern of domestic coalitions and cleavages would be affected by an actor’s changing his position on it (section 2.3). Salience is presumed to be a stabilizer of policies by reinforcing the stabilizing impact of institutionalization and support (see Figure 2.3). Two principal methods for assessing the salience of an issue have been suggested: the measurement of attention it receives, and the examination of changes in coalitions and cleavages that have occurred or of debates...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Administrative Stabilization of Détente
      (pp. 173-186)

      The administrative stabilization of East-West détente must have remained limited. Generally, the administrative stabilization of a foreign policy would seem apt to take a considerable time and to be contingent on previous international, political, and cognitive stabilization, as suggested previously (chapter 3). In the case of détente between Great Powers, moreover, there is special reason to expect administrative stabilization to occur at a late stage, if at all. Both parties to such a process have incentives to maintain their sensitivity to the environment as well as the availability of alternatives.

      As explained previously (section 2.4), a distinction can be made...

    • CHAPTER 9 Evaluation of the Détente Experiment
      (pp. 187-196)

      An evaluation of the experiment with detente of the kind called skeptical in chapter 4 assumes, among other things, that the detente construction put to the test in the 1970s was maximally advanced. On this assumption, the 1970s proved that the best that can be obtained is not good enough and that stable detente is impossible.

      We set out in previous chapters to examine what the détente construction was like. The theoretical sketch of foreign policy stability introduced in Part One was used as a guide. The results are summarized in Table 9.1.

      In the table, it is first suggested...

    • CHAPTER 10 Détente in Anarchy
      (pp. 199-222)

      Anarchy is a basic feature of the international system, according to traditional international politics theory. This system lacks a central authority with a monopoly on the use of force, and therefore, in this common view, international politics is characterized by war and conflict rather than by peaceful cooperation. The lack of a machinery for enforcing collective decisions renders conflict resolution difficult, especially since conflicts are apt to touch on the power of the parties and ultimately on their supremely important interest in security and survival. Moreover, since anarchy necessitates military preparedness, it is difficult for states to avoid threatening one...

  11. APPENDIX: A Note on the Utility of Weak Theory and Weak Tests
    (pp. 223-228)
    (pp. 229-242)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 243-252)