Presentation of International Project on Studying Foreign Policy Resources and Methods

Presentation of International Project on Studying Foreign Policy Resources and Methods

12 November 2021

Results of a project carried out at MGIMO in collaboration with the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech (USA) were discussed at an open online workshop attended by authors from MGIMO, the Sam Nunn School and Bocconi University (Italy). The debaters were representatives of Princeton University and RAND Corporation.

One of the main results of the research and educational collaboration between MGIMO and the Sam Nunn School was a special issue of the International Trends journal focusing on foreign policy resources and tools, forms and methods of pursuing foreign policy, with an emphasis on relations between Russia and the United States. The special issue of the journal was published in October 2021, with guest editors participating for the first time, including the Dean of the School of International Relations at Georgia Tech Adam Stalberg, the Associate Professor of the School Jenna Jordan and the Director of the MGIMO School of Government and International Affairs Mikhail Troitsky. You can find the issue on the journal's website in Russian and English.

The presentation of the project results published in the special issue was carried out by the PONARS Eurasia international research network, which unites more than 140 researchers and professors (including several MGIMO lecturers) with expertise in politics, economy and culture of the states of Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia, Central, East and Southeast Asia. The discussion was moderated by Henry Hale, co-director of PONARS Eurasia, Professor at George Washington University (USA).

The draft of the special issue was prepared by Andrey Baykov, Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Vice-Rector for Science and Research, Dean of the School of International Relations. He also contributed an article on language policy as a means of pursuing strategic interests of states on the world stage. Mr Baykov stressed the relevance of studying foreign policy resources and forms of behavior of states in the international arena (which are covered by the term statecraft). The Vice-Rector also analyzed the importance of language as a "soft power" resource of states in international politics and gave examples of successful and unsuccessful use of this tool by major and minor players.

Mikhail Troitsky, Adam Stalberg and Jenna Jordan, co-editors of the special issue, analyzed the concept of statecraft, which the special issue focuses on. They also discussed the dilemmas of foreign policy resource provision: does it make sense for states to openly formulate and justify their foreign policy interests? How appropriate is reliance on the identity of the state as a means of demonstrating determination to defend its stated interests? To what extent should new technologies be adapted and used to achieve foreign policy goals? Mikhail Troitsky emphasized the value of the statecraft concept for the analysis of nonlinear processes in international relations: a small change in the foreign policy tools preferred by some influential states can lead to large-scale shifts in its relations with other players and in world politics as a whole.

Camilla Pagani, researcher at Bocconi University, the author of the study on migration as a foreign policy resource, analyzed attempts to use migration flows to achieve the goals of states in the Middle East, the post-Soviet space and the European Union. She also focused on the current migration situation on the western borders of Belarus.

Igor Istomin discussed the advantages and limitations of building alliances of states as a foreign policy resource and outlined the differences in the approaches of major powers to the creation and maintenance of interstate associations. Adam Stalberg, co-author of the study of sanctions as a foreign policy tool, and Samuel Charap (RAND Corporation), a debater, explored the experience of using sanctions in modern global politics. They were critical of the effectiveness of sanctions as a means of achieving clear goals of foreign policy. Samuel Charap emphasized the need for a clear-eyed assessment of the purpose of sanctions and the separation of the goals of ‘punishment’ and ‘coercion’ of states through sanctions.

Michael Reynolds, Princeton University Professor, speaking as a debater, highly appreciated the theoretical foundation of analyzing the statecraft concept in the articles of the International Trends special issue. Reviewing individual articles of the special issue, he stressed the need for a thorough analysis of the differences between the interacting parties in approaches to the legitimacy of sanctions. According to Michael Reynolds, it is advisable for a state claiming world leadership to achieve wide dissemination and global use of its own language. This conclusion is directly related to the current competition between the United States and China for the primacy of their approaches to world politics. The debater also agreed with the conclusions of the article on international alliances as a foreign policy tool, pointing out that strict discipline within alliances is not a necessary condition for strengthening the positions of the alliance leader on the world stage.

The study of resources and methods of foreign policy (statecraft concepts) is an important step towards understanding the possibilities of resolving international conflicts through direct and indirect negotiations - a topic the study of which has been supported within the framework of the University's Development Program "Priority 2030".