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Main Responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

1. To implement the state's diplomatic principles and policies and related laws and regulations; safeguard national sovereignty, security and interests on behalf of the state; run diplomatic affairs on behalf of the state and the government; and handle diplomatic activities between leaders of the CPC and the state and foreign leaders.

2. To study overarching and strategic issues in international situation and international relations; analyze major issues concerning diplomatic work in such areas as politics, economy, culture and security; and advise the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on adopting diplomatic strategies, principles and policies.

3. To coordinate with relevant government departments according to the overall diplomatic planning, and report and give suggestions to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on major issues including foreign trade, economic cooperation and assistance, culture, military aid, arms trade, Chinese nationals abroad, education, science and technology, and public diplomacy.

4. To draft laws, regulations and policy plans concerning diplomatic work.

5. To handle global and regional security, political, economic, human rights, social, refugee and other diplomatic affairs in the United Nations and other multilateral fora.

6. To deal with matters in international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation; research international security issues; and organize negotiations on treaties and agreements related to arms control.

7. To conclude bilateral and multilateral treaties, handle international judicial cooperation, oversee or participate in dealing with major foreign-related legal cases that involve the state or the government, assist in examining foreign-related draft laws and regulations, and organize and coordinate the work of fulfilling international conventions and agreements.

8. To lead or participate in efforts to formulate policies related to land and maritime boundaries; guide and coordinate foreign-related maritime work; organize the work of border delimitation, boundary demarcation and joint inspections, and handle relevant foreign-related cases; and conduct diplomatic negotiations on maritime delimitation and joint development.

9. To release information about important diplomatic activities, elaborate on foreign policies, conduct information-related work about important diplomatic activities, organize public diplomacy activities, and take charge of the affairs related to foreign journalists in China and resident foreign news agencies.

10. To oversee the state's foreign-related protocol and ceremonial affairs; oversee the protocol arrangements of important diplomatic activities of the state; and oversee the courteous reception, diplomatic privileges and immunities accorded to foreign diplomatic missions in China.

11. To oversee consular work. To regulate the activities of foreign diplomatic and consular missions in China; oversee work related to consular affairs of Chinese nationals abroad; conduct or participate in handling representations regarding foreign-related cases in China; oversee consular protection and assistance, coordinate relevant government departments, local authorities and guide Chinese diplomatic missions abroad in handling cases requiring consular protection and assistance, and release warning information for consular protection and assistance.

12. To coordinate efforts to handle urgent incidents abroad concerning Chinese interests, safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions abroad, and take part in efforts to handle urgent incidents in China which involve foreigners.

13. To handle, in accordance with law, diplomatic and consular affairs in Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions, and handle foreign affairs related to Taiwan.

14. To guide and coordinate foreign affairs work of local government and State Council departments, examine important foreign affairs regulations of local government and State Council departments as well as the requests to the State Council for instructions concerning foreign affairs, and put forward recommendations together with relevant government departments on the handling of major incidents involving violations of laws and regulations governing foreign affairs.

15. To handle and coordinate foreign affairs concerning national security.

16. To provide interpretation for important diplomatic activities of the state and translation of diplomatic documents and correspondence.

17. To lead Chinese diplomatic missions abroad and the offices of Commissioners in Hong Kong and Macao; oversee the personnel and organizational work of diplomatic missions abroad; provide directions to Chinese diplomatic missions abroad and offices of Commissioners in Hong Kong and Macao on the use of information technology, financial management and premises construction; and regulate the use of real property by foreign diplomatic missions in China.

18. To oversee the work of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and oversee the foreign affairs work of the Red Cross Society of China and China Soong Ching Ling Foundation.

19. To perform other tasks given by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

The Ministry

task of foreign policy

The World Unpacked

task of foreign policy

Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class

Table of Contents

Preface: Questioning Long-Held Assumptions

Reckoning With the Link Between Middle-Class Anxieties and U.S. Foreign Policy

Evaluating Competing Foreign Policy Visions for Advancing Middle-Class Interests

Elevating Middle-Class Interests in Foreign Economic Policy

Elevating Middle-Class Interests in Diplomacy, Defense, and Economic Security

Concluding Thoughts: Rebuilding Trust


About the Authors

If there ever was a truism among the U.S. foreign policy community—across parties, administrations, and ideologies—it is that the United States must be strong at home to be strong abroad. Hawks and doves and isolationists and neoconservatives alike all agree that a critical pillar of U.S. power lies in its middle class—its dynamism, its productivity, its political and economic participation, and, most importantly, its magnetic promise of progress and possibility to the rest of the world.

And yet, after three decades of U.S. primacy on the world stage, America’s middle class finds itself in a precarious state. The economic challenges presented by globalization, technological change, financial imbalances, and fiscal strains have gone largely unmet. And that was before the novel coronavirus plunged the country into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, exposed and exacerbated deep inequities across American society, led long-simmering tensions over racial injustice to boil over, and launched a level of societal unrest that the United States has not seen since the height of the civil rights movement.

If the United States stands any chance of renewal at home, it must conceive of its role in the world differently.

If the United States stands any chance of renewal at home, it must conceive of its role in the world differently. That too has become a point of rhetorical consensus across the political spectrum. But what will it actually take to fashion a foreign policy that supports the aspirations of a middle class in crisis? The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace established a Task Force on U.S. Foreign Policy for the Middle Class to answer that question. This report represents the conclusion of two years of work, hundreds of interviews, and three in-depth analyses of distinct state economies across America’s heartland ( Colorado , Nebraska , and Ohio ). It proposes to better integrate U.S. foreign policy into a national policy agenda aimed at strengthening the middle class and enhancing economic and social mobility. Five broad recommendations bear highlighting up front.

First, broaden the debate beyond trade. Manufacturing has long provided one of the best pathways to the middle class for those without a college degree, and it anchors local economies across the country, especially in the industrial Midwest. It makes sense, therefore, that so much of the debate about the revival of America’s middle class is centered around the effects of trade policy on manufacturing workers. But while millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United States, other economic forces beyond global trade have also played a major role in the decline. In this sense, debates about “trade” are often a proxy for anxieties about the breakdown of a social contract—among business, government, and labor—to help communities, small businesses, and workers adjust to an interdependent global economy whose trajectory is increasingly shaped by large multinational corporations and labor-saving technologies.

Moreover, the majority of American households today sustain a middle-class standard of living through work in areas outside manufacturing, especially in the service sectors where the United States has competitive advantages. Many of these Americans generally support the trade policies of past decades that have largely served them well. In a February 2020 Gallup poll, 79 percent of Americans agreed that international trade represents an opportunity for economic growth. 1 Many of these Americans are less concerned with overhauling past trade policies and are more preoccupied with how military interventions and changes in the United States’ global commitments, among other aspects of foreign policy, might affect their security and economic well-being.

Middle-class Americans are not a monolithic group. Their interests diverge. Different aspects of foreign policy impact them differently, including across gender, racial, ethnic, and geographic lines. Getting trade policy right is hugely important for American households but it is not a cure-all for the United States’ ailing middle class and represents only one element of a broader set of middle-class concerns about U.S. foreign policy.

Second, tackle the distributional effects of foreign economic policy. Globalization has disproportionately benefited the nation’s top earners and multinational companies and aggravated growing economic inequality at home. It has not spurred broad-based increases in real wages among U.S. workers. It has not driven a wave of public and private investments to enhance U.S. productivity generally and make more American workers and small businesses globally competitive. And while it has brought down the prices of certain highly tradable goods, it has done little to alleviate the growing pressure on American middle-class families from the rising costs of healthcare, housing, education, and childcare. Making globalization work for the American middle class requires substantial investment in communities across the United States and a comprehensive plan that helps industries and regions adjust to economic disruptions.

Making globalization work for the American middle class requires substantial investment in communities across the United States and a comprehensive plan that helps industries and regions adjust to economic disruptions.

In particular, foreign economic policy will need to

Third, break the domestic/foreign policy silos . For decades, U.S. foreign policy has operated in a relatively isolated sphere. National security strategists and foreign policy planners have articulated national interests and set the direction of U.S. policy largely through the prism of security and geopolitical competition. That remains a critical perspective, especially at a time when geopolitical competition with China, Russia, and other regional powers is on the rise. But with so many Americans now struggling to sustain a middle-class standard of living, threats to the nation’s long-term prosperity and to middle-class security demand a wider prism—informed by a deeper understanding of domestic economic and social issues and their complex interaction with foreign policy decisions. That is not an easy shift to make. It will take better interagency coordination, interdisciplinary expertise, and some policy imagination. It will also require the contributions of a new generation of foreign policy professionals who break free of the mold cast during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath.

Fourth, banish stale organizing principles for U.S. foreign policy. National security strategists and foreign policy planners in Washington, DC, crave neat organizing principles for U.S. strategy. But there is no evidence America’s middle class will rally behind efforts aimed at restoring U.S. primacy in a unipolar world, escalating a new Cold War with China, or waging a cosmic struggle between the world’s democracies and authoritarian governments. In fact, these are all surefire recipes for further widening the disconnect between the foreign policy community and the vast majority of Americans beyond Washington, who are more concerned with proximate threats to their physical and economic security. A foreign policy agenda that would resonate more with middle-class households and, in fact, advance their well-being, should

This may seem like a somewhat less ambitious foreign policy agenda than might be expected from a task force comprised of foreign policy professionals who served in Democratic and Republican administrations from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama. And to a large extent it is. That is the point. The United States cannot renew America’s middle class unless it corrects for the overextension that too often has defined U.S. foreign policy in the post–Cold War era. It is equally evident that retrenchment or the abdication of a values-based approach is not what America’s middle class wants—or needs.

Middle-class Americans have no illusion that their fate can be walled off from the fate of the world. They embrace the sense of enlightened self-interest that has motivated U.S. foreign policy over the past seven decades and want the United States to serve as a positive and constructive force around the world. They appreciate that U.S. foreign assistance cannot simply be about short-term transactional benefits for the United States but must serve a wider purpose. They understand that repressive regimes make the world less safe and less free, and that it is in the United States’ self-interest to stand up for human rights. All this requires a larger international affairs budget to retool American diplomacy and development for the twenty-first century.

Middle-class Americans interviewed also understand that the United States must sustain a strong national defense and that, moreover, it is in their economic interests. Defense spending and the defense industrial base are—and will remain for some time—the lifeblood for many middle-class communities across the country. That is why drastic cuts in the defense budget in the near term would be unwise. Instead of slashing the defense budget, a more prudent course would be to reduce defense spending gradually and predictably over the longer term, while shifting some resources toward a broader conception of national defense—to include workforce development, cyber security, R&D to enhance U.S. economic and technological competitiveness in strategic industries, pandemic preparedness, and the resilience of defense supply chains.

At the same time, middle-class Americans are concerned about the cost of U.S. interventions and the potential for political overreach. They want the country to exercise its power judiciously and to selectively seek out the best opportunities for effecting positive change. But to credibly assert global leadership, the United States must redress democratic deficits and social, racial, and economic injustice at home while seeking to reclaim the moral high ground abroad. The United States must get its own house in order.

Fifth, build a new political consensus around a foreign policy that works better for America’s middle class. None of the current major foreign policy approaches hold the key to American middle-class renewal—be it post–Cold War liberal internationalism, President Donald Trump’s America First, or progressives’ elevation of economic and social justice and climate change and the potential downsizing of U.S. defense spending. This may partly explain why no single view commands broad-based bipartisan support. In fact, despite the variation in middle-class economic and political interests, their foreign policy preferences point the way toward a potential new foreign policy consensus that is not yet reflected in today’s highly polarized political class.

There is simply very little public support for Trump’s revolution in U.S. foreign policy and its call to turn back the clock on globalization and international trade, constrain legal immigration, gut foreign aid, abandon U.S. allies, or abdicate U.S. leadership on the global stage.

A Gallup poll from February 2019 showed that 69 percent of Americans thought the United States should take a major or leading role in world affairs, a figure that has been relatively stable for a decade. There is simply very little public support for Trump’s revolution in U.S. foreign policy and its call to turn back the clock on globalization and international trade, constrain legal immigration, gut foreign aid, abandon U.S. allies, or abdicate U.S. leadership on the global stage. But that should not be overinterpreted as support for the restoration of the foreign policy consensus that guided previous Republican and Democratic administrations. That set of policies left too many American communities vulnerable to economic dislocation and overreached in trying to effect broad societal change within other countries. America’s middle class wants a new path forward.

A foreign policy that works better for the middle class would preserve the benefits of business dynamism and trade openness—which does not feature prominently enough in the progressive agenda—while massively increasing public investment to enhance U.S. competitiveness, resilience, and equitable economic growth. It would sustain U.S. leadership in the world, but harness it toward less ambitious ends, eschewing regime change and the transformation of other nations through military interventions. And it would recognize that a foreign policy that works for the middle class has to be connected to a domestic policy that works for the middle class.

Taken collectively, the task force’s recommendations provide a blueprint for rebuilding trust. So much of what is required to make U.S. foreign policy work better for the middle class will not be visible to, or verifiable by, most Americans at the local level. And in many instances, it will require working through difficult trade-offs, where the interests of industries, workers, or communities do not align. The American people need to be able to trust that U.S. foreign policy professionals are managing this tremendous responsibility as best they can, with the interests of the middle class and those striving to enter it at the forefront of their consideration.

U.S. foreign policy professionals will also need to regain the trust of U.S. allies and partners, which no longer have confidence that the deals struck with one U.S. administration will survive the transition to the next or that basic alliance structures that have endured for decades are still a given. As a result, they are increasingly hedging their bets, trying to stay in the United States’ good graces while also keeping their options with China and other U.S. rivals open.

Restoring predictability and consistency in U.S. foreign policy requires building broad-based political support for it. And the best and perhaps only viable path right now to rebuilding such support lies in making U.S. foreign policy work better for the middle class. The ideas in this report represent a starting point for discussion—one that will hopefully lead to healthy debate and bring many more innovative and actionable ideas to the table.

1 Gallup, “U.S. Position in the World,” https://news.gallup.com/poll/116350/position-world.aspx . Also see Gallup, “Foreign Trade: Opportunity or Threat to the U.S. Economy,” https://news.gallup.com/reports/267386/trade-under-trump-gallup-briefing.aspx . Note that support for trade is negatively correlated with the domestic unemployment rate, and February 2020 could end up representing a cyclical high-water mark for trade support.

Carnegie does not take institutional positions on public policy issues; the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Carnegie, its staff, or its trustees.


Grasping greatness: making india a leading power, accidental czar: the life and lies of vladimir putin, struggles for political change in the arab world, the neighborhood effect: the imperial roots of regional fracture in eurasia, striking asymmetries: nuclear transitions in southern asia, economic diversification in nigeria: the politics of building a post-oil economy, u.s.-china technological “decoupling”: a strategy and policy framework, the indian ocean as a new political and security region, turkey under erdoğan: how a country turned from democracy and the west, atomic steppe: how kazakhstan gave up the bomb, popular articles.

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U.S. Foreign Policy Powers: Congress and the President

Signing the Constitution of the United States, by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, was painted in 1878. (Photo by MPI/Getty)


The U.S. Constitution parcels out foreign relations powers to both the executive and legislative branches. It grants some powers, like command of the military, exclusively to the president and others, like the regulation of foreign commerce, to Congress, while still others it divides among the two or simply does not assign.

The separation of powers has spawned a great deal of debate over the roles of the president and Congress in foreign affairs, as well as over the limits on their respective authorities. “The Constitution, considered only for its affirmative grants of power capable of affecting the issue, is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy,” wrote constitutional scholar Edward S. Corwin in 1958.

Foreign policy experts say that presidents have accumulated power at the expense of Congress in recent years as part of a pattern in which, during times of war or national emergency, the executive branch tends to eclipse the legislature.

Friction by Design

The periodic tug-of-war between the president and Congress over foreign policy is not a by-product of the Constitution, but rather, one of its core aims. The drafters distributed political power and imposed checks and balances to ward off monarchical tyranny embodied by Britain’s King George III. They also sought to remedy the failings of the Articles of Confederation , the national charter adopted in 1777, which many regarded as a form of legislative tyranny. “If there is a principle in our Constitution, indeed in any free Constitution, more sacred than any other, it is that which separates the legislative, executive, and judicial powers,” wrote James Madison, U.S. representative from Virginia, in the Federalist papers .

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Many scholars say there is much friction over foreign affairs because the Constitution is especially obscure in this area. There is not the intrinsic division of labor between the two political branches that there is with domestic affairs, they say. And because the judiciary, the third branch, has generally been reluctant to provide much clarity on these questions, constitutional scuffles over foreign policy are likely to endure. 

Powers of Congress

Article I of the Constitution enumerates several of Congress’s foreign affairs powers, including those to “regulate commerce with foreign nations,” “declare war,” “raise and support armies,” “provide and maintain a navy,” and “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.” The Constitution also makes two of the president’s foreign affairs powers—making treaties and appointing diplomats—dependent on Senate approval.

Beyond these, Congress has general powers—to “lay and collect taxes,” to draw money from the Treasury, and to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper”—that, collectively, allow legislators to influence nearly all manner of foreign policy issues. For example, the 114th Congress (2015–2017) passed laws on topics ranging from electronic surveillance to North Korea sanctions to border security to wildlife trafficking . In one noteworthy instance, lawmakers overrode President Barack Obama’s veto to enact a law allowing victims of international terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments.

Congress also plays an oversight role. The annual appropriations process allows congressional committees to review in detail the budgets and programs of the vast military and diplomatic bureaucracies. Lawmakers must sign off on more than a trillion dollars in federal spending every year, of which more than half is allocated to defense and international affairs. Lawmakers may also stipulate how that money is to be spent. For instance, Congress repeatedly barred the Obama administration from using funds to transfer detainees out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay .

Congress has broad authority to conduct investigations into particular foreign policy or national security concerns. High-profile inquiries in recent years have centered on the 9/11 attacks, the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation programs, and the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Furthermore, Congress has the power to create, eliminate, or restructure executive branch agencies, which it has often done after major conflicts or crises. In the wake of World War II, Congress passed the National Security Act of 1947, which established the CIA and National Security Council. Following the 9/11 attacks, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security. 

Powers of the President

The president’s authority in foreign affairs, as in all areas, is rooted in Article II of the Constitution. The charter grants the officeholder the powers to make treaties and appoint ambassadors with the advice and consent of the Senate (Treaties require approval of two-thirds of senators present. Appointments require consent of a simple majority.)

Presidents also rely on other clauses to support their foreign policy actions, particularly those that bestow “executive power” and the role of “commander in chief of the army and navy” on the office. From this language springs a wide array of associated or “implied” powers. For instance, from the explicit power to appoint and receive ambassadors flows the implicit authority to recognize foreign governments and conduct diplomacy with other countries generally. From the commander-in-chief clause flow powers to use military force and collect foreign intelligence.

Presidents also draw on statutory authorities. Congress has passed legislation giving the executive additional authority to act on specific foreign policy issues. For instance, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (1977) authorizes the president to impose economic sanctions on foreign entities.

Presidents also cite case law to support their claims of authority. In particular, two U.S. Supreme Court decisions— United States. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation (1936) and Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer (1952) —are touchstones.

In the first, the court held that President Franklin D. Roosevelt acted within his constitutional authority when he brought charges against the Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation for selling arms to Paraguay and Bolivia in violation of federal law. Executive branch attorneys often cite Justice George Sutherland’s expansive interpretation of the president’s foreign affairs powers in that case. The president is “the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations,” he wrote on behalf of the court. “He, not Congress, has the better opportunity of knowing conditions which prevail in foreign countries and especially is this true in time of war,” he wrote.

In the second case, the court held that President Harry Truman ran afoul of the Constitution when he ordered the seizure of U.S. steel mills during the Korean War. Youngstown is often described by legal scholars as a bookend to Curtiss-Wright since the latter recognizes broad executive authority, whereas the former describes limits on it. Youngstown is cited regularly for Justice Robert Jackson’s three-tiered framework for evaluating presidential power:

Separation of Foreign Policy Powers

Conflict Between the Branches

The political branches often cross swords over foreign policy, particularly when the president is of a different party than the leadership of at least one chamber of Congress. The following issues often spur conflict between them:

Military operations . War powers are divided between the two branches. Only Congress can declare war, but presidents have ordered U.S. forces into hostilities without congressional authorization. While there is general agreement that presidents can use military force to repel an attack, there is much debate over when they may initiate the use of military force on their own authority. Toward the end of the Vietnam War, Congress sought to regulate the use of military force by enacting the War Powers Resolution over President Richard Nixon’s veto. Executive branch attorneys have questioned parts of the resolution’s constitutionality ever since, and many presidents have flouted it. In 2001, Congress authorized President George W. Bush to use military force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks; and, in 2002, it approved U.S. military action against Iraq. However, in recent years, legal experts from both parties have said the president should have obtained additional authorities to use military force in Libya, Iraq, and Syria.

Congress can also use its “power of the purse” to rein in the president’s military ambitions, but historians note that legislators do not typically take action until near the end of a conflict. Moreover, lawmakers are often loath to be seen by their constituents as holding back funding for U.S. forces fighting abroad. During the Vietnam War, lawmakers passed several amendments prohibiting the use of funds for combat operations in Vietnam and neighboring countries. Congress took similar measures in the 1980s with regard to Nicaragua, and in the 1990s with Somalia.

Foreign aid. Presidents have also balked at congressional attempts to withhold economic or security assistance from governments or entities with poor human rights records. For instance, during the Obama administration, senior U.S. military commanders said that, while well-intentioned, restrictions on U.S. aid complicated other foreign policy objectives, like counterterrorism or counternarcotics.

Intelligence. Congress began to claim a larger role in intelligence oversight in the 1970s, particularly after the Church Committee uncovered privacy abuses committed by the CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Security Agency. Congress passed several laws regulating intelligence gathering and established committees to supervise the executive branch’s activities in areas including covert operations. Many presidents have protested these developments and claimed that Congress was encroaching on their prerogatives.

International agreements . The Senate has approved more than 1,600 treaties over the years, but it has also rejected or refused to consider many agreements. After World War I, senators famously rebuffed the Treaty of Versailles , which had been negotiated by President Woodrow Wilson. More recently, a small coalition in the upper chamber blocked ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea despite the support of both Republican and Democratic administrations. Political hurdles associated with treaties have at times led presidents to forge major multinational accords without Senate consent. For instance, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear agreement, both negotiated by President Obama, are not treaties. Thus, legal analysts say, future presidents could likely withdraw from them without congressional consent. The Constitution does not say whether presidents need Senate consent to end treaties.

Trade. The Constitution expressly grants Congress the power to regulate foreign commerce, but lawmakers have for decades provided presidents special authority to negotiate trade deals within established parameters. Renewal of this “fast track” trade promotion authority has become more controversial in recent years as trade deals have become more complex and the debates over them more partisan.

Immigration. Presidents are constitutionally bound to execute federal immigration laws, but there is considerable debate over how much latitude they have in doing so. Many Republican lawmakers said the Obama administration ignored the law when it established programs shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation. For its part, the administration said that it had broad discretion to decide how to spend the government’s scarce resources on enforcement. More recently, many Democratic lawmakers said President Donald J. Trump overstepped his constitutional and statutory authority when he attempted to block travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

The Reluctant Courts

Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, weigh in from time to time on questions involving foreign affairs powers, but there are strict limits on when they may do so. For one, courts can only hear cases in which a plaintiff can both prove they were injured by the alleged actions of another and demonstrate the likelihood that the court can provide them relief. For instance, in 2013, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an electronic surveillance program, ruling that the lawyers, journalists, and others who brought the suit did not have standing because the injuries they allegedly suffered were speculative.

Another form of judicial restraint turns on the “political question” doctrine, in which courts decline to take sides on a major constitutional question if the judges say its resolution is best left to the president or Congress. For instance, in 1979, the Supreme Court debated whether to hear a case brought by members of Congress against the administration of President Jimmy Carter. The lawmakers claimed that the president could not terminate a defense pact with Taiwan without congressional approval. The court dismissed the case after a majority of justices found the underlying issue to be a political question, and thus outside the scope of their review.

However, the Supreme Court has weighed in on several cases related to the detention of terrorism suspects at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay. More recently, the court took on a dispute between the Obama administration and Congress over the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. “It is for the president alone to make the specific decision of what foreign power he will recognize as legitimate,” the court held .

Trends and Prospects

Presidents have accumulated foreign policy powers at the expense of Congress in recent years, particularly since the 9/11 attacks. The trend conforms to a historical pattern in which, during times of war or national emergency, the White House has tended to overshadow Capitol Hill.

Scholars note that presidents have many natural advantages over lawmakers with regard to leading on foreign policy. These include the unity of office, capacity for secrecy and speed, and superior information. “The verdict of history, in short, is that the substantive content of American foreign policy is a divided power, with the lion’s share falling usually, though by no means always, to the president,” wrote Corwin, the legal scholar.

Some political analysts say Congress has abdicated its foreign policy responsibilities in recent years, faulting lawmakers in both parties for effectively standing on the sidelines as the Obama administration intervened militarily in Libya in 2011 and in Syria starting in 2014. Lawmakers should emulate the activist measures Congress took to weigh in on foreign policy issues from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, they say. Policymakers can also significantly alter executive branch behavior simply by threatening to oppose a president on a given foreign policy issue.

Additional Resources

In a series of blog posts, CFR’s James M. Lindsay examines the division of war powers between Congress and the president in the context of the U.S.-led military intervention in Libya.

President Trump’s foreign policy proposals may spur Congress into taking a more active role than it has in recent years, writes political science professor Stephen R. Weissman in Foreign Affairs .

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Under the Constitution, the President of the United States determines U.S. foreign policy. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department and the Foreign Service of the United States.

Created in 1789 by the Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of State is the senior executive Department of the U.S. Government. The Secretary of State’s duties relating to foreign affairs have not changed significantly since then, but they have become far more complex as international commitments multiplied. These duties – the activities and responsibilities of the State Department – include the following:

In addition, the Secretary of State retains domestic responsibilities that Congress entrusted to the State Department in 1789. These include the custody of the Great Seal of the United States, the preparation of certain presidential proclamations, the publication of treaties and international acts as well as the official record of the foreign relations of the United States, and the custody of certain original treaties and international agreements. The Secretary also serves as the channel of communication between the Federal Government and the States on the extradition of fugitives to or from foreign countries.

U.S. Department of State

The lessons of 1989: freedom and our future.


11a. Foreign Policy: What Now?

Distribution of U.S. relief supplies in North Korea

George Washington's Farewell Address in 1789 contained one major piece of advice to the country regarding relations with other nations: "avoid entangling alliances." Those words shaped United States foreign policy for more than a century.

Today some Americans think that Washington's words are still wise ones, and that the United States should withdraw from world affairs whenever possible. In truth, however, the United States has been embroiled in world politics throughout the 20th century, and as a result, foreign policy takes up a great deal of government's time, energy, and money.

If isolationism has become outdated, what kind of foreign policy does the United States follow? In the years after World War II, the United States was guided generally by containment — the policy of keeping communism from spreading beyond the countries already under its influence. The policy applied to a world divided by the Cold War, a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, containment no longer made sense, so in the past ten years, the United States has been redefining its foreign policy. What are its responsibilities, if any, to the rest of the world, now that it has no incentive of luring them to the American "side" in the Cold War? Do the United States still need allies? What action should be taken, if any, when a "hot spot" erupts, causing misery to the people who live in the nations involved? The answers are not easy.

Nations that benefited from the Marshall Plan

Foreign Policy Goals

To investigate the nature of current United States foreign policy, the logical source is the State Department, whose job it is to define and direct it. Foreign policy goals include the following:

Examining these goals closely reveals that they are based on cooperation with other nations, although "preserving the national security of the United States" implies possible competition and conflict.

historic documents, declaration, constitution, more

Who Makes Foreign Policy?

Henry Kissinger

As with all policy making, many people and organizations have a hand in setting United States foreign policy. The main objective of foreign policy is to use diplomacy — or talking, meeting, and making agreements — to solve international problems. They try to keep problems from developing into conflicts that require military settlements.

The President almost always has the primary responsibility for shaping foreign policy. Presidents, or their representatives, meet with leaders of other nations to try to resolve international problems peacefully. According to the Constitution, Presidents sign treaties with other nations with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. So the Senate, and to a lesser extent, the House of Representatives, also participate in shaping foreign policy.

The Secretary of State and many other officials of the State Department play major roles in setting foreign policy. The Secretary of State is usually the President's principal foreign policy adviser, and he or she is the chief coordinator of all governmental actions that affect relations with other countries.

The Foreign Service consists of ambassadors and other official representatives to more than 160 countries. Ambassadors and their staffs set up embassies in the countries recognized by the United States and serve as an American presence abroad. The embassies are part of the State Department, and they protect Americans overseas and are responsible for harmonious relationships with other countries.

President Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat

The National Security Council, as part of the Executive Office of the President, helps the President deal with foreign, military, and economic policies that affect national security. It consists of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and others that the President designates. The National Security Adviser — who coordinates the Council — sometimes has as much influence as the Secretary of State, depending on his or her relationship with the President.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), one of the best-known agencies that sets foreign policy, gathers, analyzes, and transmits information from other countries that might be important to the security of the nation. Although the CIA is notorious for its participation in "spy" work and "top secret" investigations, much of its work is public and routine. The CIA Director is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

United States foreign policy has changed dramatically from George Washington's day. Although Americans always pay attention to the advice of their revered founder, the world is of course not the same. The many people that shape American foreign policy today accept the fact that the United States is a member of a world community that cannot afford to ignore the importance of getting along.

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1. Introduction

The dramatic growth of the national strength since the end of World War II has elevated Japan's status in the international community. Today, it is no exaggeration to say that more often than ever international political and economic issues cannot be coped with without Japanese participation.

Economically, having recovered from devastation from the war, Japan now accounts for about 10 percent of the world's gross national product (GNP). Its position as a major economic power is now firmly established. Along with this change, there have come to be increasing awareness and expectations of Japan's political role in the global community.

Meanwhile, in today's more interdependent international community, political and economic matters including security issues, are closely inter-related on a comprehensive and global basis. As a nation, which can secure its peace and prosperity only in the context of world peace and prosperity, Japan should tackle its foreign policy tasks comprehensively and coherently in such fields as security, economy, economic cooperation and cultural exchange and expand its international responsibilities from the economic field around which Japan's role has been centered, to cover the political area as well, making contributions in ways befitting its national strength and conditions.

2. Assuming a More Positive Political Role

In response to the world's expectations Japan must play amore positive international role in the political area as well. For this purpose Japan, taking account of the following principles, must pursue an independent, positive foreign policy befitting its national strength and conditions so that it may win the trust of other nations.

Japan must, first, make clear its basic position and the grounds behind it.

In the present international environment centering on East-West relations, Japan is "a member of the West." Geographically it is grounded on the Asia-Pacific region. This means that Japan's foreign policy stance inevitably varies with nations and regions, although it maintains its basic attitude of seeking to secure friendly relations with all countries of the world. It should be noted that a country without an established position of its own will not be trusted by other countries, and that such a country might even become isolated from the rest of the world.

Second, taking into account this basic position, Japan must take internationally responsible actions and follow coherent policies in the long term as well.

In so doing it is important for Japan to make clear what it can do and what it cannot do, and to faithfully carry out its declared policies. Japan cannot make any positive contribution in the international arena without clarifying its own policies and views and without firmly carrying them out.

For example, it is Japan's responsibility, also from the viewpoint of being one of the leading members of the free world, to make further efforts to improve its defense capability as it has stated at home and abroad. At the same time, however, it is important for Japan to continue to clarify its adherence to the basic policy of maintaining a solely defensive posture under the Constitution. Also, it should be made clear that Japan will never become a military power that would pose threats to other nations, and that it will firmly maintain the three non-nuclear principles.

In the economic area as well, Japan should assume an internationally responsible attitude. For example, as it has internationally stated, efforts must be made to further open up the domestic market, pursue positive economic management and expand economic cooperation to the developing countries.

To nurture in such a way the international trust in Japan in a wide range of fields including politics and economy, can be said to be a prerequisite for Japan being able to play a positive international role.

Third, Japan must always maintain a fair and objective assessment on the international situation and hold its own independent views on the basis of such an assessment.

To constantly hold a fair and objective assessment and carry on dialogue with countries of the world on the basis of it is not only a way for Japan to contribute politically to the international community, but also a way to enhance its international status.

For example, during visits made by Foreign Minister Abe to Iran and Iraq in August 1983, Japan presented its own view, from as fair and objective a standpoint as possible, on the international situation surrounding each of the two disputing nations. By so doing Japan tried to reduce the danger of the armed conflict escalating as the result of a miscalculation on the part of either nation. This is one of the major significances of the Foreign Minister's visits. Recently, inquiries are made in rapidly growing numbers on Japan's assessment and prospects concerning international developments by nations around the world, not only neighboring Asian nations such as the ASEAN nations and China but also the United States and European countries. The change in this regard is striking compared with only several years ago.

This attests to the growth of Japan's national strength and the international trust which it has cultivated through the continuous peace diplomacy of the past 30 years. But this is also a reminder of the need for Japan to strengthen the information related functions in its conduct of diplomacy and thus improve its ability to form accurate judgments on the international situation.

Fourth, Japan must base its foreign policy on national support.

Today more than four million Japanese travel abroad yearly learning about foreign countries at first hand and supporting Japan's diplomatic activities. Foreign and domestic policies are intertwined more closely than ever before as overseas developments and Japan's responses to them could have a tremendous impact on every aspect of national life. To maximize the overall national interest while coordinating international requirements and domestic circumstances, diplomacy must be conducted on the basis of the people's understanding and support.

True mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and other nations is a basic prerequisite for the conduct of such diplomacy. Hence cultural exchange and public information activities on a broad basis must be promoted.

3. Japan's Basic Position

(1) Foreign Policy as "a Member of the West"

Japan shares the basic values of freedom and democracy with the other industrialized democracies. Japan and these nations have common interests in maintaining and developing the free trade and market economy system. It is Japan's basic foreign policy to maintain strong solidarity and close cooperation with these Western democracies on a broad range of international political and economic fields.

Friendly and cooperative relationship with the United States, based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, is the cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy. The United States is Japan's most important partner in a broad spectrum of areas including politics, economy and defense. It is especially necessary for Japan to ensure smooth and effective operation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, which represent a pillar of this country's security policy, responding to the role the United States is playing and the efforts it is making to maintain Japan's security.

Japan and the United States should make sustained efforts to resolve bilateral issues in the defense and economic areas. In addition to the resolution of such pending issues of immediate concern they must further develop their relations to promote mutual cooperation from a global perspective.

Among the Japan-United States-Western Europe trilateral relationship, it is to be welcomed that the ties between Japan and West European nations have been further strengthened through such exchange as the visits made to European capitals by Japan's Foreign Minister in January 1983. It is particularly important for Japan to further promote political consultations and cooperation with the West European countries which are increasingly deepening their awareness of Japan's political role.

(2) Diplomacy Grounded on the Asia-Pacific Region

In recent years the Asia-Pacific region has exhibited more vitality and dynamism than any other region. It is pregnant with great possibilities for growth and development. Obviously, stability and prosperity in this area is of vital importance to the peace and prosperity of this country. Japan must contribute to peace and development in Asia and the Pacific region by ascertaining the hearts and minds and winning the confidence of its neighbors and other countries in the region, thus promoting friendly relations with them. This is also a way to secure its own peace and security.

Japan and Asia-Pacific nations maintain the most friendly relations in their history. The climate of Japan's relations with the Republic of Korea improved markedly with the visit made by Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone soon after he took office. Further efforts should be made, however, to build a multidimensional and popularly based relationship between the two nations. A relationship of friendship and mutual trust has been maintained with China, with the prime ministers of both nations reciprocating visits in 1982 in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the normalization of relations. China, now in the process of modernizing itself under an open-door policy, attaches great importance to relations with Japan. This is shown by the fact that General Secretary Hu Yaobang referred to relations with Japan before those with other countries in a report to the party congress held in September 1982. Japan should reciprocate it by promoting friendly and cooperative relations with China. Relations between Japan and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have become still closer with visits to the region by Japan's Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers. Japan should continue her support to the self-help efforts of the ASEAN nations to improve their resilience and to the development of ASEAN as a regional cooperative organization. This is essential to peace and stability in this area. In order to bring political stability to Indochina and Southeast Asia as a whole, Japan should seek a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodian problem and support ASEAN's efforts in this direction, while at the same time maintaining dialogue with Viet Nam. In addition, Japan's friendly and cooperative relations with Southwest Asian nations show signs of further improvement.

Japan, the largest aid-giving nation in Asia, must contribute to stability and development in this region, cooperating with the Pacific-rim countries and other industrial democracies for the development and prosperity of this region.

(3) Broad-Based and Multi-Faceted Diplomacy

Japanese foreign policy, as stated above, is based on the Asia-Pacific region. Also, Japan is "a member of the West." At the same time, however, Japan must, like it or not, conduct its foreign policy from a global point of view in all of the political, security, economic and cultural areas. This is inevitable in the light of the changes in the international situation and the growth of Japan's national strength. The question of world peace cuts across the national borders. Events in one region may immediately affect the entire world, creating a situation in which Japan cannot remain aloof. On the other hand, Japan's actions affect the world so much that no region can ignore them. In these circumstances Japan must conduct a broad- and multi-faceted foreign policy bilaterally and multilaterally, as in the United Nations. By so doing Japan can contribute to the stabilization of the international circumstances surrounding it.

For example, Japan can explore the possibilities for an early settlement by peaceful means of the Iran-Iraq armed conflict and of the Cambodian problem. This country is in a good position to do so because it maintains channels of dialogue or cooperative relations with both Iran and Iraq and also with the countries in Indochina and the member states of ASEAN. It can also study positively the possibilities for cooperation with Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon and for assistance in the reconstruction of that war-torn country from a standpoint of international cooperation. In doing so, however, Japan must closely watch progress in the implementation of the agreement concerning the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon. Another possible area of contribution is cooperation to the civilian section of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG), including the dispatch of personnel when it starts its activities for the purpose of assisting the independence of Namibia.

In order to give greater breadth and depth to its foreign relations, Japan should also try to promote friendly and cooperative relations with all nations of the world, regardless of their social systems and national circumstances. This orientation of its foreign policy underscored the official visits made by our Foreign Minister to Burma and Yugoslavia, both committed to a policy of nonalignment, in March and June 1983, to Romania and Bulgaria in August and to Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, a country traditionally sympathetic to Japan, in the same month.

4. Current Foreign Policy Issues and Japan's Responses

In the light of what has been stated above Japan must effectively tackle the following current foreign policy issues:

(1) Efforts Toward Peace And Disarmament

In the present international situation revolving around the opposition between the East and West, the construction of stable East-West relations is of the most fundamental importance to world peace and stability. While we must recognize the grim reality that the peace and stability of the world is maintained by the deterrence based on a balance of power, it is also essential that efforts be continued to promote dialogue and negotiation between the East and West with emphasis on disarmament. The political statement issued at the Williamsburg Summit declared that the summit countries must maintain sufficient military strength to defend freedom and justice on which their democracies are based. At the same time it expressed their wish to achieve lower levels of arms through serious arms control negotiations.

The U.S.-Soviet negotiations on the intermediate range nuclear forces (INF), particularly the Soviet SS-20 missiles, are of crucial importance to the security of this country. Japan has repeatedly made its position clear to the countries concerned, including the United States and the Soviet Union. It is highly significant that the summit countries displayed Western solidarity by making their position clear in the Williamsburg political statement that their security is indivisible and must be approached on a global basis. Japan expects the Soviet Union to respond to this in good faith and to make serious efforts toward disarmament. At the same time Japan must maintain close consultation and contact with the United States and other friendly nations. It should also continue to make efforts so that verifiable and effective disarmament measures may be worked out step by step at the United Nations, the Committee on Disarmament and other relevant forums. Being the only nation in the world which has experienced atomic bombings, Japan gives highest priority to nuclear disarmament so that such a nuclear holocaust will never again be inflicted on mankind. From this standpoint it must make further efforts toward progress in the U.S.-Soviet arms control talks, the comprehensive nuclear test ban and the maintenance and strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

East-West relations must be placed on a course of greater stability not only through disarmament and arms control but also in the wider political, economic and cultural areas. To this end the Western nations as a whole must try to devise a common basic strategy and search for policies that can be implemented in the long term. At the same time they should seek self-restraint on the part of the Soviet Union, making it clear to Moscow that it can venefit from the West if it exercises such restraint. Also, economic relations with Eastern-bloc nations should be developed in ways conforming to the security interests of the West, instead of following the unprincipled policy of separating political and economic aspects.

Relations with the Soviet Union, our important neighbor to the north, are regrettably in a difficult phase, reflecting the severe East-West relations and also the Soviet military buildup in the Far East including the Northern Territories which are inherent Japanese territory. To establish stable relations with the Soviet Union on the basis of true mutual understanding is one of Japan's major foreign policy tasks. Japan, bearing in mind its position as a member of the West, must continue efforts to maintain dialogue with the Soviet Union on various occasions in order to resolve the territorial issue and conclude a peace treaty with them so as to establish stable relations between the two nations.

East-West relations involve very long-term problems which can be resolved only through prudent and coherent policies over an extended period of time. All the measures described above must be followed by the West in order to maintain such policies. In addition, it is crucially important to ensure the sound development of the economies of the industrialized democracies, which provide the basis for the power of the West, and to make greater efforts toward the solution of North-South problems through the vitalization of the world economy.

(2) Contribution to World Economic Development

The world economy, as confirmed at the Williamsburg Summit, is witnessing signs of easing inflation and business recovery in some countries. But interest rates in the United States still stay at high levels. Unemployment in the United States and other nations beset with structural problems also remains high. World trade has stagnated since 1980, recording a 6 percent year-on-year decline in 1982. Against this background protectionist moves continue persistently. Moreover, developing countries are plagued by many difficulties, such as the problem of accumulated debts of Latin American countries.

In these circumstances it is important for each country to make best efforts to run its economy in a balanced manner internally as well as externally, in order to secure the non-inflationary and sustained growth of the world economy. At the same time it is necessary to make further efforts to prevent the proliferation of protectionism and reinforce the international trade system under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which is indispensable to maintain and strengthen the free trade system for the sustained economic growth of the world. In addition, for the stabilization of the international monetary system, broad multilateral cooperation including closer consultations should be strengthened.

As Japan's share of the world's GNP has come to represent around 10 percent, there is a strong expectation among countries that Japan will make greater contributions to the world economy. At the same time, however, there is criticism of Japan abroad as has been seen in economic frictions with its trading partners. Thus requests to Japan 'from foreign countries reflect various aspects of sentiment, and this country must respond effectively to such requests. In many cases, however, economic issues with other countries derived from these requests are directly related to domestic interests and have close bearings on domestic politics. In consequence Japan is obliged to treat these problems comprehensively.

Taking the above mentioned circumstances into consideration, it will be essential for Japan to make further efforts to open up its market aiming at balanced growth of trade and "an open country to the world," as well as to run its economy with policies centered on the expansion of domestic demand.

Progress in science and technology can play a major role in the stable growth of the world economy in the medium and long term. Foreign countries look at Japan with great expectations init as one of the advanced nations in the field of science and technology. Japan is therefore required to attach more importance to and further strengthen international cooperation in this field.

(3) Cooperation for the Stability and Development of the Developing Countries

Stable political, economic and social development in the developing countries is of crucial importance to world peace and stability. Such development will help prevent conflicts and resolve disorders in the developing region.

As a country firmly committed to international peace and closely interdependent with the developing countries, Japan deems it an important contribution to the world to cooperate for the stability and development of these countries. From this standpoint and recognizing that economic cooperation with the developing countries, particularly official development assistance (ODA), constitutes one of its major efforts to ensure its comprehensive security, Japan intends to further expand ODA pursuant to the new medium-term target despite the financial difficulties facing the government.

With the world economy still in the doldrums, and no dramatic improvement being seen in the economic predicament of developing countries, the significance of promoting cooperation for their economic and social development both from the standpoint of interdependence and out of humanitarian considerations should be reaffirmed. Strengthening assistance to those countries in areas important for the maintenance of world peace and stability, such as Thailand, Pakistan, Turkey, which are bordering conflict areas, and Egypt, the Sudan, Somalia and Jamaica, and also assistance to refugees will promote political and social stability in the recipient countries. This will lead in the long run to the elimination of domestic disorders and external interferences, and also to regional peace and stability.

Japan should also make a positive contribution to the strengthening of the United Nations peace-keeping functions because this, too, helps to achieve political stability in the developing region. In addition to financial cooperation, Japan should continue to study other ways of cooperation, such as sending personnel for peace-keeping activities within the limits of our capability and granting materials and equipment for such activities.

The establishment of constructive North-South relations is essential not only to the vitalization of the world economy but also to world peace and stability. At the Williamsburg Summit Japan emphasized the importance of addressing North-South problems, in the belief that there can be no prosperity for the North without prosperity for the South. At the sixth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held in Belgrade in June 1983, this country played a positive role as an intermediary between the North and South. Thus Japan has been contributing positively to North-South dialogue based on understanding and cooperation. Countries in the South are beset with many difficult problems, such as those related to external debts, primary commodities, trade, and currency and finance. Steady efforts must be made toward the solution of these problems through international cooperation.

Japan should manage its economy primarily through the expansion of domestic demand. At the same time it should further liberalize its domestic market. In these ways Japan should support indirectly the efforts of developing countries to achieve sound economic development through trade.

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This article discusses the main theories of foreign policy making and the factors infl uencing the formulation of external agendas. Although the rational model foreign policy theory was valid in the early Westphalian system, the French Revolution contributed to the evolution of the bureaucratic model favoured by liberals. The leadership model added the impact of the personal perception of decision makers as ushered in by constructivists to the other two models. The inputs of these models come from three sources, namely the international community, the national situation and the perspectives of leaders. Based on the role of diplomacy as the major instrument of foreign policy, the article explains the key functions of a diplomatic mission, arguing that handling bilateral relations is the most important task of a diplomat. Explaining the approaches of diplomacy, the article concludes that the decentralised mission approach is more successful than the centralised embassy approach.

World Affairs is a leading journal, printed and published in India. It seeks to provide the much needed Asian and the developing world's perspective on issues of global significance. It stimulates interaction and debate between developed and scholars and decision makers in all countries. The journal addresses a wide range of readers and reaches out to world leaders, politicians, industrialists, academics, students, and the general public while focusing on the changing socio-politico-economic situation and equations in the world today, taking into account historical factors as well as futurological projection.

This item is part of a JSTOR Collection. For terms and use, please refer to our Terms and Conditions World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues © 2020 Kapur Surya Foundation Request Permissions

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