Foreign Policy Matters


The Foreign Policy Matters series is a new initiative by the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) to highlight areas of challenge in the practice of foreign policy and place them in historical context. Each paper in the series is intended as a conversation starter highlighting a single issue of importance today. We will provide some basic knowledge, context, and thoughts in each paper. We will also highlight ongoing and recent work on the issues by scholars at FPI and the SAIS community. For those readers seeking to dig deeper into the issues, we will provide recommended readings.

Technological breakthroughs are inextricably tied to the evolution of societies. Advancements in weapons, agriculture, medicine, and many other fields, have profoundly impacted the course of history. How foreign policy is practiced has also been changed by innovations in technology. Policymakers and practitioners have utilized new technologies to their advantage — and fallen prey to more savvy users and adopters of advanced technology.

Image: Gerard ter Borch, The Ratification of the Treaty of Münster, 15 May 1648, image retrieved through Wikimedia, PD-1923.

This paper is part of a continuing series on foreign policy. Read the first installment here.

Foreign policy is the interplay between states and their leaders within the bounds of an international system. Over time both the actors and stage have changed. States have taken different forms and have risen and fallen from power, mechanisms for global trade and conflict have evolved, and systems of international relations have oscillated between uni- and multipolarity. Foreign policy is not conducted in a vacuum. Domestic issues and politics, the agency of other nations, and the context of global systems inform and affect the practice of foreign policy. Throughout its evolution, foreign policy has been critical to managing areas of mutual interest and mitigating conflict between states.

Presently, new pressures are being exerted on the international system and the world...

Image: Author

The Foreign Policy Matters series is a new initiative by the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) to highlight areas of challenge in the practice of foreign policy and place them in historical context. Each paper in the series is intended as a conversation starter highlighting a single issue of importance today. We will provide some basic knowledge, context, and thoughts in each paper. We will also highlight ongoing and recent work on the issues by scholars at FPI and the SAIS community. For those readers seeking to dig deeper into the issues, we will provide recommended readings.

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Since the end of the Cold War, the nations of the world have conducted their foreign policies within the framework of a liberal world order. This order, underpinned by American power, is now straining under increasing structural and ideological pressure. It is unclear whether the still dominant United States will be willing, or able, to shoulder the burdens of systemic leadership indefinitely. New po...

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The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
The Johns Hopkins University

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