Moral Foreign Policy
Moral diplomacy proposed by President Woodrow Wilson is a system in which support is given only to countries whose beliefs are analogous to the nation.
In the contemporary world, the question arises whether morals matter in a nation’s foreign policy. Moral foreign policy is largely about pursuing good for the benefit of people both at home and abroad. The main goal is to understand on whose behalf do state leaders purport to pursue foreign policy. Joseph Nye suggests a rubric that is based on three-dimensional ethics of intention, means, and consequences to judge the morality of the foreign policy. The moral policy is also determined by looking at the behavior and institutions, at the acts, commission, and omission. Even then, the nature of foreign policy, with its contingencies remains unpredictable.
Moral foreign policy can be understood by drawing parallels to policies of America, in the quest for justice, order, legitimacy, peace, security, and prosperity in the international arena.
Moral foreign policy is about weighing and balancing the intentions, the means, and the consequence of the leader’s decision. Unfortunately, many judgments about morality in foreign policy are haphazard and not clearly defined.
In the case of America, President Ronald Reagan received support for the moral clarity of his statements. However, Woodrow Wilson’s and George W. Bush’s poor planned decisions proved that good intentions without adequate planning can lead to bad outcomes such as Wilson’s failure of the Treaty of Versailles and Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
President Trump’s policymaking has revived interest in what is a moral foreign policy in the new world order. For example, after killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Trump was criticized for ignoring the evidence of the heinous crime in order to maintain peace with the Prince of Saudi Arabia. Trump ‘s decision making has raised a lot of questions about the value of individual lives and the extent to which states choose to pursue their goals in the furtherance of national interests.
The concept of moral foreign policy is viewed differently by skeptics, realists, and liberals. While the skeptics disregard the notion of a “world community”, realists accept certain moral obligations that serve the national interests. Likewise, liberals argue that institutions of international law and morality play a critical role.
As Joseph Nye opines, a leader must integrate all the dimensions in making a moral judgment to generate beneficial consequences.