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Foreign Policy and a Turbulent World

Monday, January 21, 2013

Author: Seyyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour

Publisher: Ettelaat Press
Date of Publication: December 2012
Language: Persian
Paperback: 192

Book Description

The first decade of the 21st century has been one of the most incident-prone junctures of the contemporary history following the Cold War. As a result, the news dispatches as well as international developments during these ten years have been so voluminous that it makes conceptualization of those developments very difficult. At the same time, attention should be paid to major currents which can be identified in the midst of all those developments and ups and downs in three areas of actors, nature of actions, and the environment in which actions have been taken. Among international actors, although states are still the main players, non-state and non-governmental players have been also growing and playing their own specific roles. Under these conditions, the role and effect of governments on one another has not been uniform and has been, at times, different from what has happed in past years. During this period, the transition from a bipolar world system was not complete. On the opposite, developments which have taken place so far have caused it to appear that the period of transition has not ended yet.

As a result, no stable arrangement among major international players has emerged yet, and governments are still engaged in a competition to raise their power. This period can be considered a time for effective acting by emerging actors and regional powers because they have been able to claim a bigger share of the international politics in various forms compared to the past. In the meantime, China has found exceptional prominence and has presented new facets of its power tools and influence. India has also evolved into a prominent international player as Brazil and Turkey are playing more important regional roles compared to other new powers. Even some smaller countries have been center of intensified international political activity an example of which is Qatar. Although the international presence of certain state actors has been more pronounced during this period, the period is not characterized by actions of these new players as much as it is characterized by presence of more people and groups whose international impact is no less, if not more, than the states.

An understanding of international actions and reactions in contemporary times on the basis of sentiments and their dimensions may help analysts to come up with better analytical answers. The diversity of those sentiments has changed the political map of the world and has faced the world with different sentiments each of which shape the political behavior in a certain part of the globe. Therefore, they give birth to new geopolitical coordinates at a global level which is quite different from past historical junctures.

For example, East Asia has enjoyed a prominent place in international economic and political developments during the past two decades, has benefited from globalization, and has had a positive sense of contentment with its achievements. A combination of those conditions has helped countries in East and Southeast Asia, topped by China and India, to look more hopefully forward to future developments. An opposite example can be seen in Arab countries which feel that they have been ignored and humiliated. This sense of humiliation has led to specific political behaviors both outside and inside those countries in the Arab part of the Middle East. The West, however, is fearful. The fear largely stems from a sense of frustration as a result of losing control over the course of global developments and concerns about emergence of various anti-West forces.

In reality, however, we live in an age of globalized sentiments. The speed at which international developments are reflected through media night and day, is such that no human being can protect himself/herself against the relentless onslaught of sentiments produced all over the world, especially as a result of the unprecedented expansion of mass communication media due to profound developments in telecommunication and communication sciences. This powerful force is the reality which makes us perceive elements of hope, fear, and humiliation all through the world. However, sentiments alone cannot shape big power relations in an age of condensation of time and space. Sentiments have turned into an effective force, but are not still capable of totally changing the structures or explaining the behavior of all state, non-state and non-governmental players. In general, not all disturbances and fluctuations in international politics can be expressed in a specific concept. The behavioral complexities and the number of international players, the extent of actions and reactions among them, and the environment in which they interact in modern times has become so vast that various concepts should be necessarily used to understand them. Explaining this point is one of the main goals of the present book. The book also represents an effort which relies on recent international developments in order to identify many of the behavioral complexities among traditional and emerging players, the actions and reactions between international environment and players, as well as the ongoing trends in that environment. It aims to show the turbulence and chaos in the midst of which, the international power game is going on.

All told, changes which have taken place among international players, their actions and environment in which they act following the Cold War all point to one general concept: despite two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, the international relations are still marked with a certain sort of turbulence which poses serious challenges to management of every country’s foreign policy approaches. Therefore, it seems that understanding complexities of this field is imperative for policymakers as well as researchers of international relations. The existing book is an attempt to shed more light on a small corner of this complicated world in such a way as to make its understanding easier.

Subjects: Politics & International Relations, Politics, Foreign Policy, World Foreign Policy, US Foreign Policy, Barak Obama

About the Author

Seyyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour is a Senior Faculty Member of the School of International Relations, a Tehran-based think tank sponsored by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. He was previously Deputy Ambassador at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. He has also served as a senior officer of the Iranian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

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