Foreign Policy Strategies
Foreign Policy does not move in vacuum. There is always the presence of rationale behind the conduct of foreign policy. Its raison d’être remains substantial. There exists phenomenal trend in guiding the foreign policy of any independent and sovereign country with tangible political content at its work.
Recently, Nepal’s foreign policy is moving in its flip-flop way because it is being conducted by inexperienced, immature and amateurish hands with much less empirical knowledge. Long and hard experience has eluded not only at the political level, but even at the bureaucratic level of the diplomatic dimension. On several occasions in the past, strategic formulations have been made, but those never came to the reality.
Currently, the media has it that a group comprising of well-known personalities has been formed to chalk out policies for the efficient conduct of the foreign policy of Nepal to match the frequently changing regional and international environment. However, the media representing various aspects and hues of political spectrums has expressed doubt whether the formulation will be completed and presented to the government of the day. In the decades gone by, frequency of government change has been common, and still the trend continues. Every sort of government is transient and so short- lived that the government that issued decrees for the formulation of a new foreign policy remains no more at the helm soon after the group tasked for the formulation presents its report to the government. Consequently, such reports only gather dust in the shelves of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Such occurrences cost the government and its exchequer money with a lot of loss of time and work.
For the purpose of not letting the proposed formulation go wasted, the group charged with doing the job needs to take note of important factors that guide the trajectory of foreign policy. The formulation will not carry any weight if the interests of the party or parties in power and their lobbying group are only given special weight without paying any attention to the interests of society and the country.
The world has grown immensely multi-dimensional and a multi-polar world is emerging as the years and decades have passed by with no single or duo or even trio powers capable enough to manage the evolving international scenario which is highly characterised by multiplicity and plurality. No acceptable principle or set of principles would come up as a basis for institutionalising the foreign policy track. For the weaker countries like Nepal, new strategic thinking and new pragmatic ideas need to be embraced as a beacon to the smooth sailing of foreign policy.
When we throw our glances at the global arena, we do feel the need of some ethical standards. The world is experiencing sufferings and troubles, especially the weaker and underdeveloped countries. For a peaceful and stable world to evolve, dispensation of justice is highly needed to let multi-pluralistic global societies maintain human dignity and individual honour. The existing inequality between the rich and poor countries needs to be reduced as much as possible. The fear of insecurity has to be driven away as far as practical. These ideas may seem merely philosophic and idealistic leading to the way of non-functioning.
Heterogeneity and multi-colourism are the distinguished features of globalism and globality today. They are the specific characteristics of the world. Common thinking and collective approach are beyond the reach of the world and global human society. Therefore, there is the compelling need for formulating and implementing foreign policy on the basis as discussed below.
First, the formulation of foreign policy should be based on the country- specific, whether be that neighbour or distant one. Various countries have their own specific political and cultural dimensions with their own assumed and proven interests in the economic and security arenas. As a consequence, it is better and much advisable to frame policies in the specific way to conduct foreign policy vis-à-vis neighbours -- India and China, as well as distant countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and host of other friendly and cooperating countries across the world. Specific or individualistic way of maintaining relationships with particular country or countries is not only recommendable, but also preferable particularly in the present context.
Second, issue-based policies are far more preferable to be adopted in view of the emerging mega trends haunting the world and global societies. These mega trends are the real and formidable challenges facing the humanity today. Global threat and challenges like terrorism, climate change, rapid population growth, and food and water scarcity are just a few issues to mention here. A number of other challenges are also in the list, which cannot be ignored. Global threats and challenges facing the world beckon global attention. Common approach to maintain common policy with like-minded and like-problem facing countries could be adopted as part of formulating of foreign policy to meet threats and challenges of such mega-trends of the global scale.
Third, the world today is not just witnessing but experiencing the rise of narrow nationalism in the developed countries. This is pushing the regional grouping to the sideline to the detriment of the interdependence and interconnectedness among the countries of various regions. The trend is not favourable to the weaker and less and least developed countries in achieving economic growth and socio-cultural development. Viewed from Nepal’s situation, it should profess and strive hard to safeguard regional organisations like SAARC and BIMSTEC with greater emphasis and energy.
The policy of supporting and maintaining regional organisations should be one of the fundamental premises of Nepal’s foreign policy. No pressure or instigation to disrupt this policy from any quarter, however, powerful that may be needs be tolerated under any circumstance. Sticking to such firm stance should never deviate from the adopted policy.
No doubt, foreign policy of any nation is closely connected with the globalisation process. Nepal is no exception to it. Noticeably, the much hyped- globalisation process sprouted by the policy initiative and exhort of the developed West is now in the reverse gear. The West especially President Trump of the United States has felt that most advantage of globalisation has gone to the developing world at the cost of the United States and, therefore, wanted to retard the engine of globalisation. To some extent, Nepal has experienced the effect of globalisation in the areas of labour migration, culture, education and to a little bigger perceptible extent in the information technology and its spread in various region of the country. But in essence, Nepal could not receive benefits in the banking and financial sector which is the main hub of globalisation.
It is understandable Nepal has lacked the bedrock of political stability, hence no congenial environment for the much desired financial benefits rolling into Nepal during the heydays of globalisation. Of course, globalisation has no global governance, as a consequence deprivation from its windfalls. Nepal sorely lacked the policy of attracting and welcoming good advantages from globalisation. Nepal missed the prime opportunity that emerged from global phenomenon in the recent past. A close look at what has gone awry is necessary to see into what may come in the future to harvest benefits for Nepal.
Formulation of foreign policy is meant for its implementation which involves the decision-making of various strategies. Pertinent to it will be to quote a much familiar dictum of Aristotle, which should necessarily draw the attention of all people concerned with formulation as well as decision-making to “look for precision in each class of thing just so far as the nature of the thing admits”.
Deeper knowledge of foreign policy affairs enriched by comprehensive experience would be of great help for the formulation of foreign policy that can be implemented properly Attention is drawn towards the much needed quality and ability considered essential for foreign policy formulation. There is a great need to eliminate inconsistency, incoherence and incertitude to truly contribute to this process.