Foreign Policy Goals and Actions

K.J. Holst in International Politics defines foreign policy as ideas or actions designed by policy makers to solve problems or promote some change in the policies, attitudes, or actions of another state or states, in non-states actors (e.g. terrorist groups), in the international economy, or in the physical environment of the world. In a rational view of what governments do, governments identify their purposes and then organize the means to achieve them. Foreign Policy is extension of Domestic Policy.

All contemporary states have at least certain common purposes: (1) security  (2) autonomy (3)Economic prosperity and employment (4) welfare and (5) status and prestige.


Governments can enhance security by decreasing vulnerabilities and/ or diminishing the perceived threat from one or more perceived adversaries. Some common securities that emphasize threat reduction include: (1) isolation - remaining uninvolved in the affairs of others and avoiding commitments to others or excluding foreign presence in one's country; (2) self-reliance - build up military capabilities to keep all adversaries at bay; (3) neutrality and non-alignment - securing formal recognition of a states desire to remain uninvolved in the conflicts of their neighbour. Non alignment refers to a very loose coalition of states that agree in principle if not in fact, that they should avoid making commitments to serve the interest s of the great powers, and that share many of the attributes of underdevelopment and have common concerns on international economic dimensions.  Most non-aligned states are self-reliant in either military or economic dimensions; (4) alliance strategies.


Autonomy is the ability to formulate and carry out domestic and external policies in terms of a government 's own priorities, whatever those might.  It is the capacity to withstand influence, coercion, or rule by others.  Autonomy does not preclude obligations  and various forms of self-limitation, provide they are voluntary. The doctrine of sovereignty provides the legal basis for autonomy.  However sovereignty does not prevent coercion or reduce constraints that operate through various forms of dependencies or asymmetrical vulnerabilities. One of the charges made by developing countries is that although they have sovereignty they enjoy little autonomy - The international economic system is structured in such a manner that they have little latitude or choice ( international market place, various forms of economic pressure and loans from the world bank). But virtually all states in our interdependent world are faced with the problem of erosion of autonomy.  In order to secure or maximize other purposes such as security, welfare and status, they are compelled to limit their choice and action.

Economic Prosperity

Every contemporary state attempts to manage its economy, encouraging international Trade and Commerce in such a way to maximize its countries economic prosperity.


A widespread expectation in most states is that governments must provide their citizens with social services and promote economic  growth and efficiency; these tasks generally enhance or sustain public welfare. This may be broken down into Economic Prosperity, Employment, International Trade and Commerce and then a number of other topics that ensure the same such as education social welfare support and the provision of food, shelter and essentials of life.

Status and Prestige

Traditionally prestige and status were earned primarily through military prowess and might.  In modern times leadership in science and technology has replaced the arts and letters as an important basis of national status and prestige.

Other Purposes

Protection of ethnic, ideological, or religious colleagues

Dreams of World reorganization (e.g. Communism, Nazism, Islamic "revolution")
Foreign Policies and Initiatives Template
Values/Purposes Policies/Actions
Autonomy/Protection of Sovereignity  
Economic Prosperity, Trade and Commerce  

Value/Purpose Policies/Actions

Canada's Security Issues are shaped by its location beside the United States and its loyalty to its heritage roots and the British Commonwealth. In latter years it position among the francophonie has increased in importance. Traditionally it has played a middle power role - at times being of use to its Super powers, as a more neutral voice and at times a minor irritant - as in its relationship with Cuba.


Canada's greatest Autonomy challenge is how to balance the benefits of a powerful economic neighbour to its south with Canadian Sovereignty and control.Border issues and territorial sovereignty include its sovereignty over waters and Ice in the Arctic (Hudson Bay, the North West Passage, Hans Island (Issuer with Denmark).

Other Autonomy issues involve,

(1) the extra- territorial application of laws of other Countries notably United States,

(2) The enforcing of Canadian Law on what Canada regards either its territorial sea or economic zones e.g.. Size of fishing nets

A more recent issue is the control of Canadian Companies by State owned Corporations from China and other foreign states


The role of the state in Canada is much greater than its neighbour to the South, United States but not as extensive as some of its European trading partners.

The Canadian population has extensively accepted Universal Medical Care.

Economic Prosperity, International Trade and Commerce Canada has gained a lot of its economic prosperity by a combination of its Natural Resources and International Trade. It has in general attempted to negotaite free trade at GATT but has protected Health and Social Services and Cultural Industries
Prestige/Status Canadian are generally proud of their international reputation as a peace loving Country. Canada made a significant contribution to World War II but has continually declined as a contributor thereafter. Its role as a contributor of forces to such international disputes such as Korsovo, Afghanistan are perhaps more valuable in proving an element of international legitimacy than military superiority.
Support ethnic/ideological kin Canada has a significant English and French population and has especially in latter years since 1967 attempted to re balance its English French relationship. However in the opposite direction its Multicultural policy has attempted to balance its dominant cultural groups with new players particularly chinese and Indian


Foreign Policy and Action in US

Value/Purpose Policies/ Action

United States has since 1989 been the sole International Super power and has been a dominant player in every major international Dispute including the Situation in the Balkans, The Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel).

Since 1989 the US has not been as interested in Nuclear Disarmament

Autonomy United States is an important international economic power and lacks problems of Autonomy.
Welfare United States has depended on the benefits of capitalism to assist the poor. It is not seen as one of the more active state involved in welfare support
  Prestige and Status is an important variable in the US psyche.


Foreign Policy and Action in Jamaica
Value/Purpose Policies/Actions
Security Jamaica gained full independence when it withdrew from the Federation Federation of the West 1962. Nonetheless, many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.
Autonomy Deteriorating economic conditions during the 1970s led to recurrent violence as rival gangs affiliated with the major political parties evolved into powerful organized crime networks involved in international drug smuggling and money laundering.
International Trade

Exports: (1999) 1,238 billion $ (Natural resources: 55.7%, Food 19.1%, Bananas 4%, Chemicals 3.6%, Machinery 2.2%). The main export countries: USA 33.4% , United Kingdom 13.4%, France 5%, Germany 4%, Canada 14.1%, Netherlands 10.2%, Norway 5.8%, Japan 2.3%. Imports: (1999) 2,89 billion $ (Energy 50.5%, Machinery and Equipment 7.6%, Consumer goods 33.2%). The main import countries: USA 48.1%, Trinidad and Tobago 7.8%, Japan 6.9%, United Kingdom 3.7%, France 5%, Canada 3%. Exports and Imports (January 2007) Exports : (January 2007) Total Goods Exports 166,495 (US$000) (General Merchandise Exports 93.4%, Freezone Exports 2.6%, Goods Procured in Ports 4.0%) Imports: (January 2007) : Total Goods Import 511,015 (US$000); General Merchandise Imports 97.8%, Freezone Imports 0.3%, Goods Procured in Ports 1.8%)

World Trade Organizations Negotiations

From Website of Jamiaca Foreign Affairs: Following five years of negotiations, the Doha Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations were suspended on 24 July 2006, (approximately five months before it was schedule to conclude) after it became clear that deep divisions persisted among members on the extent to which farm subsidies and tariffs should be cut and the degree to which developing countries would be expected to further liberalise their markets to industrial products from developed countries.  The Round, which was launched in November 2001, has been characterised by several setbacks including missed deadlines on modalities (the methodology for tariff reduction) in Agriculture and Non- agricultural market access (NAMA) which are seen as the underpinnings of the Round.  Progress in other areas of the Round hinges on progress in Agriculture and NAMA.

The suspension of the Round has cast doubt on the Organisation’s ability to deliver on its development promises.    It can be argued the most striking feature of the Round so far has been the sidelining of the development components of the Doha Work Programme (both in terms of the mandate on S&DT and development as a crosscutting issue in all areas of the negotiation), and the pressure exerted on developing countries to make concessions that go beyond their means and capacities. Developing countries are being asked to make concessions in both the agriculture and NAMA negotiations with respect to tariff cuts which would put at risk the viability of their rural areas, jeopardise their food security and the livelihood of millions of poor farmers and exacerbate deindustrialisation and unemployment in the developing world. 

There are various speculations that it will not resume before the year end since divergences remain among members on agriculture and NAMA. 

Jamaica has used the current hiatus to emphasise that here should be:

  • no roll-back on the agreements struck at Hong Kong on issues of interests such as Special products; SSM; long- standing preferences; preference erosion in Agriculture; flexibilities for Small, Vulnerable Economies in NAMA
  • no lowering of ambitions on the development dimension and that core negotiating issues of development importance should be addressed meaningfully.
Welfare Violent crime, drug trafficking, and poverty pose significant challenges to the government today.
Prestige/Status Many rural and resort areas remain relatively safe and contribute substantially to the economy.
Support ethnic/ideological kin