Sample International Relations Paper on Foreign Policy Analysis


Sovereign states do not exist in a vacuum as they operate and relate with other nations
and multinational organizations on the international plane. The relationships and interactions
between different states and multinational organizations in the international plane are based on
several foreign policy models. Foreign policy approaches, such as the rational actor and
bureaucratic politics models, enable sovereign nations to achieve their international goals and
objectives effectively through proper decision-making and negotiations. The two foreign policy
models, rational actor and bureaucratic politics, are relied upon by the United States of America
and China in their international relations, respectively. Foreign policy analysis enables
individuals to understand the decision-making frameworks of diverse nations in the international
plane, and therefore, fosters international co-operation. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has to
develop an expansive foreign policy framework that incorporates both the rational actor and
bureaucratic politics approaches utilized by China and the United States to develop strong and
beneficial bilateral ties with both superpowers.

Explanation of the First Scenario

The bureaucratic politics model of foreign policy is based on the social theory of
bureaucracy developed by philosopher Max Weber in the 19 th century. The foreign policy model
of bureaucratic politics is grounded on the fundamental holding that divergent actions within a
state are undertaken by several independent and competing entities (Yu, 2018). The bureaucratic
politics model of foreign policy views the state not as a unitary organization but rather as an
amalgamation of divergent entities within the nation (Lieu, 2009). The independent entities bring
different values and objectives to the decision-making process as they have divergent personal,

national, and international interests. The divergence in objectives and interests of the various
entities constituting the state results in a competitive process known as politics (Lieu, 2009).
Politics enables the divergent entities to achieve their set objectives and interests by negotiating
and bargaining through established avenues in a hierarchical government. Thus, foreign policies
based on the bureaucratic model are achieved through internal bargaining and politicking over
the interests of individual entities constituting a particular state.
The bureaucratic politics framework applies to China’s foreign policies and international
relations. The bureaucratic politics model is pertinent to China due to the central role played by
the Communist Party of China (CCP) and other entities in the nation’s foreign policy framework.
The Republic of China has several divergent entities with competing interests in the nation’s
international relations and foreign policy. The divergent entities that influence China’s
international relations include the International Department of the Communist Party of China
Central Committee (IDCC), the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Department of Policy Planning
(DPP), the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), and the China Institutes of
Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), among many others (Lieu, 2009; Yu, 2018). The
numerous entities with interests in China's international relations ensure that the nation's foreign
policies are characterized by intense politicking, negotiations, and concessions. The bureaucratic
politics model is suitable for China's international relations operations as it accommodates the
numerous divergent entities of the nation and enables China to benefit from their collective
action. However, since the majority of the Chinese entities have overlapping interests and
objectives, their coordination is quite challenging (Yu, 2018). This has consequently hampered
the smooth implementation of China’s foreign policies.

China’s foreign policies and international relations, compounded with its operations in
the international plane, showcase the reliance of the nation on the bureaucratic politics model.
The divergent entities that comprise China’s bureaucratic politics framework were drawn into
open conflict during the nation’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test (Lieu, 2009). The anti-satellite
missile test was conducted by the Chinese military without full consensus from both the CCP’s
Politburo and other civilian entities. The anti-satellite missile fired outside China’s territorial
boundaries resulted in overt disagreement between the Chinese military and the civilian entities
led by the nation’s Politburo as no consensus had been reached over the matter (Lieu, 2009). The
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the One Belt, One Road project, unveiled by
Beijing in 2017, also showcases China's reliance on the bureaucratic politics model in the
formulation of its foreign policies. The BRI is intended to expand the socio-economic and
political frontiers of China, particularly in Europe and America. The foreign affairs policies
regulating the BRI are arrived at through negotiations and consensus of several divergent
entities, such as the CCP Politburo, various government ministries, and state departments (Yu,
2018). The numerous entities have divergent interests in the BRI, and this ensures that no
bureaucratic entity has supreme authority over others in the decision-making process.
Potential Results of the First Scenario (UAE and China)

The UAE must engage in top-level political bargaining with various Chinese entities to
relate with the Republic of China efficiently. China’s foreign policy is based on the bureaucratic
politics model, which involves several entities, and therefore, is completely reliant on
negotiations and concessions. This makes the process of policymaking in China not only opaque
to the public but also slow as it is characterized by numerous red tapes (Yu, 2018). The UAE
must engage in top-level political bargaining with the divergent entities that shape China’s

foreign policies to deal with these challenges effectively and establish long-lasting and effective
bilateral ties with China. The main entities that shape China’s foreign policies include the CCP
Politburo, the foreign ministry, IDCC, and DPP (Yu, 2018). The UAE has to negotiate with the
top and influential executives of these entities and showcase to them the need for the creation of
effective ties between the two nations. The UAE can currently utilize the expansive scope of
both the BRI and the Silk Road Initiatives to negotiate with China on the issues of creating
stronger bilateral ties. Beijing’s BRI and Silk Road Initiatives are aimed at expanding China’s
influence globally through the exportation of Chinese culture into several states internationally.
The UAE can also utilize Chinese interest groups to advocate for better bilateral ties
between the two nations. Pre-Cold War China was characterized by overwhelming
authoritarianism that suppressed all interest groups that opposed the decisions made by the
CCP’s Politburo (Lieu, 2009). The authoritarian government of pre-Cold War China was
characterized by the suppression of the freedom of speech and expression. Suppression of
freedom of expression and speech was, however, lifted after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong
in 1976 and the subsequent leadership of Deng Xiaoping, a pragmatic reformer (Lieu, 2009). The
relaxed Chinese government's infringement on its citizens' freedom of speech and expression,
compounded by the intricacies of the nation's bureaucratic politics, resulted in the development
of several interest groups. Vested interest groups play a significant role in shaping Chinese
foreign policies as they have a massive influence on the divergent entities that constitute the
nation's international relations framework, such as the CCP Politburo (Yu, 2018). Since China’s
foreign policies are based on the bureaucratic model that requires consensus, the interest groups
leverage their influence on the various entities concerned to achieve their objectives. The UAE
should, therefore, engage several interest groups in China, particularly those with a massive

influence on the nation’s foreign policy, to circumnavigate China's bureaucratic politics model of
policymaking. The use of interest groups will enable the UAE to have more bargaining power,
and therefore, increase their chances of creating strong and beneficial ties with China.

Explanation of the Second Scenario

The rational actor model is grounded on the rational choice theory of political and social
behavior. The rational actor approach to foreign policy is founded on numerous economics and
political philosophy ideas that seek to maximize gains on interests using reason (Lebow & Stein,
2019). The rational actor model is based on the premise that the state is a unitary actor that
utilizes informed, rational, and calculated decisions to inform its foreign policies and relations
(Lebow & Stein, 2019). Besides, the framework is grounded on the assumption that
policymakers have access to relevant information and actions implemented throughout time are
not only consistent but also coherent (Lebow & Stein, 2019). The rational actor model enables
individuals to understand the relation between a nation’s goals and interests and foreign policies.
Moreover, the framework relies on the ability of a rational actor to identify a foreign policy
issue, identify possible alternatives and their consequences, and make a reasonable choice from
these alternatives to maximize satisfaction (Lebow & Stein, 2019). The model’s reliance on
rationality through quantifiable information and implementation of activities over the long-term
makes it suitable for the analysis of political behavior and foreign policy in the international
In practice, the rational actor model involves several steps that ensure that states
maximize their gains from their foreign policies. The rational actor model encompasses four
steps: identification of the foreign policy problem, definition of desired outcomes or interests,
evaluation of the possible consequences of potential policy choice, and making a final decision

that will maximize the desired outcomes (Lebow & Stein, 2019). The four steps enable states to
identify the foreign problem they are facing and how best they can deal with the issue. Moreover,
the rational actor model enables a given state to research possible alternatives for tackling a
foreign policy issue. This enables the state to choose and stick to the most appropriate and
effective approach that will enable it to maximize its desired interests. The four steps of the
rational actor model enable states to avoid taking extreme foreign policy initiatives characterized
by negative consequences, such as war (Lebow & Stein, 2019). Therefore, the rational actor
model of policymaking has contributed to the peaceful existence of several nations in the 21 st
The rational actor model of foreign policymaking is relevant to the United States of
America, which is quite concerned with maximizing its international interests. The U.S. relies on
the rational actor model in the formulation of its foreign policies and the implementation of its
international activities and programs (Lebow & Stein, 2019). The U.S. has numerous
international interests ranging from military to economic undertakings scattered across the globe.
America has invested in several modern forms of technology and approaches that enable it to get
firsthand data and information on its divergent interests to maximize the gain on its undertakings
globally (Lebow & Stein, 2019). The rational actor model enables various government
departments and specialized agencies of the U.S. to collect and analyze information pertinent to
the nation's foreign interests and policies. America also has several professional foreign policy
institutions and think-tanks that perform research on the nation's interests and provide
appropriate policy suggestions. This enables the U.S. to maximize the gains of its desired
international interests by enacting relevant foreign policies.

Numerous international activities of the United States of America have showcased the
nation’s reliance on the rational actor model of foreign policy. In 2003, during the reign of
President George Bush, America utilized the rational actor model to invade Iraq (Lebow & Stein,
2019). Using the rational actor approach, America identified the terrorism threat Iraq’s Saddam
Hussein’s regime posed to the nation’s domestic security interests. Using verified intelligence
reports that Saddam's regime had been funding Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist
organization, America opted for a military invasion of Iraq (Lebow & Stein, 2019). America’s
invasion of Iraq was aimed at the replacement of Saddam’s authoritarian government with a
democratic government (Lebow & Stein, 2019). Using the rational actor model, America
reasoned that a democratic Iraq would be the best alternative for ensuring long-lasting peace and
stability in America.
The current War on Terror policy adopted by the United States’ government is informed
by the nation's reliance on the rational actor model of foreign policy. By constantly fighting
terrorists globally, America can guarantee the peace and security of its internal borders and
citizens. Based on the rational actor model, America's war on terror provides the best solution to
the nation's security challenges as it prevents terrorist activities from being conducted on
American soil.

Potential Results of the Second Scenario (UAE and the USA)
The UAE has to exploit America's desire to derive maximum benefit from its interests to
create strong and productive bilateral ties with America. America's foreign policies are always
tied around the nation's interests due to their reliance on the rational actor model of policymaking
(Lebow & Stein, 2019). Therefore, America will only create strong and mutual bilateral ties with
nations they believe will aid and expand their socio-economic and political resources (Lebow &

Stein, 2019). America is interested in several global issues ranging from international security,
energy, environmental conservation, climate change, and trade. Thus, the UAE has to analyze
and decide on specific areas of interest upon which they can base their bilateral relations with the
U.S. For example, the UAE has massive deposits of oil that it can leverage as a trading item to
create long-lasting and mutually beneficial bilateral ties and relations with the U.S. Moreover,
the UAE can leverage its location in Western Asia to create strong bilateral ties with America.
Several nations close to the UAE, such as Iran and Iraq, are inundated by terrorism cells, which
is a huge threat to international security. The UAE can leverage its prime location to partner with
the U.S. in the fight against terrorism in the region. Based on the rational actor model, a
partnership between the UAE and America for purposes of fighting terrorism will be in perfect
alignment to America’s foreign policy of war on terrorism.
The UAE can also utilize direct lobbying of the American government to improve the
relations between the two nations. Lobbying is both an essential and effective mechanism for
influencing the foreign policies of the American government (Lebow & Stein, 2019). The
American government has changed its foreign policy several times due to lobbying by both
sovereign states and international organizations. For example, through intensive lobbying, Israel
has continuously improved its bilateral relations with America (Lebow & Stein, 2019). Since the
American government bases all foreign policies on the rational actor framework, effective
lobbying by the UAE government can strengthen the bilateral relations between the two nations.
Through lobbying, the UAE government can convince the American government on why strong
bilateral relations between the two nations will enable America to achieve and maximize its
foreign interests. Moreover, through lobbying, the UAE can negotiate the desired scope of the

bilateral relations between the two countries. This will ensure that the bilateral ties between
America and the UAE are mutually beneficial and not imperialistic.
How the International System Looks to You?

I believe that the international system is based on the idealism school of thought. The
idealism school of thought, which was first developed in the late 19 th century, is based on the
analogy that the nation-state is the microcosm of the international system (Carr, 2017).
Therefore, the idealism theory of international relations espouses that a sovereign nation should
make its domestic political philosophy the objectives of its rhetoric and conduct in the
international plane (Carr, 2017). For example, if the UAE is domestically interested in preserving
its national security, it should focus on advocating global peace and security in the international
plane. The idealism school of thought was best applied by former American leader President
Woodrow Wilson, who globally advocated for and promoted the implementation of democracy,
a fundamental American political philosophy (Carr, 2017). Idealism holds that sovereign nations
are rational actors, and therefore, capable of promoting lasting peace and security through the
avoidance of war.
The idealism school of thought is promoted in the contemporary domain of international
relations by several international organizations, such as the United Nations. International
organizations, such as the United Nations and International Monetary Fund, were developed to
promote ideal political philosophies, such as democracy and the fight against economic
inequality and poverty (Carr, 2017). The international organizations currently play a huge role in
the global community of nations and have helped enforce several ideal socio-economic and
political philosophies throughout the world. Through idealism, human liberties and freedoms
have been upheld globally as the theory promotes not only democracy but also the rule of law.


Conclusion and Recommendations for the UAE

Sovereign nations utilize divergent foreign policy frameworks in their international
relations and activities. America and China, both superpowers, utilize the rational actor and the
bureaucratic politics models as their foreign policy frameworks, respectively. The rational actor
model espouses that nations are rational beings who make objective decisions intending to
maximize gains from their interests. The bureaucratic model, however, holds that nations are
composed of divergent entities with competing interests, and thus foreign policies can only be
achieved through consensus. I recommend that the UAE utilizes high-level bargaining coupled
with the use of pressure groups with the various entities that develop China's foreign policies to
create strong bilateral relations with China. The UAE has to offer valuable partnerships that
maximize American interests and lobby the American government to enact favorable foreign
policies that regulate its operations in UAE to improve its relations with America.



Carr, E. H. (2017). Reading 2.4 Realism and Idealism. In Conflict after the Cold War (pp. 84-
101). Routledge.
Lebow, R. N., & Stein, J. G. (2019). Afghanistan, Carter, and foreign policy change: The limits
of cognitive models. In Diplomacy, force, and leadership (pp. 95-127). Routledge.
Lieu, C. S. (2009). Bureaucratic politics and overseas investment by Chinese state-owned oil
companies: Illusory champions. Asian Survey, 49(4), 670-690.
Yu, J. (2018). The belt and road initiative: domestic interests, bureaucratic politics and the EU-
China relations. Asia Europe Journal, 16(3), 223-236.