Foreign Policy Blogs

Tactics Over Ideology in International Negotiations

Photo source: https://vignetteagency.com/blog-post/strategy-vs-tactics-important-to-distinguish-difference/

 

The United States elected their latest President for many reasons, some good, some terrible, but the outcome to the rest of the world was that relations were shaken up between the United States and its partners. Mexico has been able to placate much of the conflict over the latest demands of the American president and his cross border issues. Despite electing one of the most socialist governments in Mexican history, and despite the regional push to move away from governments like Chavez/Maduro and well as the Castros, Mexico’s socialist government has been able to work fairly well with President Trump. Ideology gave way to practicality, as the Mexican government has taken positions to support Mexico’s economy over and above common ideological policy positions that might have broken the relationship with the United States. Even Canada has come upon conflict with the US by focusing in on ideology, rather than what is best for Canada’s economy and their American cousins. Yes, many Canadians have relatives in the United States and to not have an excellent relationship with the US comes out of local political motivations on both sides of the border as opposed to actual differences between the two countries. In an attempt to promote political divisions on both sides of the border, the Canadian government still needed America’s help, a natural position that should not be forgotten by these two natural allies.

In reality, while the US does need their allies in Europe, the UK, in North America and Asia, it is large enough and significant enough to operate on its own. With the EU tearing itself apart in small national pieces, the US and its inward focus enables it to pressure its allies to move in a similar direction on policy. The US can challenge a policy made by Russia in the Middle East on its own, and when the situation becomes aggravated to the point of becoming a security issue, the US is the main focus of regional and Russian diplomacy. The European response perhaps is forceful with some members, but the lack of a focused consensus bends European policy towards addressing the US response over taking a united European response. For this reason any action and reaction comes mostly from US policy approaches. Even for many European powers, the end response is one that seeks to work with the situation created by other international actors as opposed to a European lead approach and response.

A change in government in the United States may alter the administration, but it might not pull the US completely away from its inward focus. While many large countries might be able to be their own economic and policy juggernaut, only very large economic giants can determine the outcome of international policy without the essential need for international partners. Those countries often have large populations as well and a significant military presence. While not unique in history, the existence of the hegemonic power in international relations has always existed. Even in smaller regions, larger nations like Brazil in South America, Sweden in Scandinavia and Egypt in the Middle East have had a different position through history and remain as strong representatives of their region’s power base. It seems as if the United States might have taken on this classic power position. If it can gain benefits in being more assertive on the world stage, it might take more than eight years to change that policy approach. US allies and neighbours will have to adjust their responses in kind.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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