|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Independence Public policy Policy analysis|
An independent policy consists of strategies laid down by a state to safeguard its self-interests, national interests and to attain goals surrounding its international relations with other countries. Several factors are used in determining a small state; such factors include; the population, GNP, military size, geographic size and the economic situation of the country. However, these factors remain controversial, inaccurate and a debate which has been there for quite some time. The following essay, therefore, seeks to combine the mentioned factors and demonstrate the difficulty in pinpointing small states and also disagrees with Handel's statement by proving that a small state is capable of developing an independent policy in international affairs, and how it is a struggle, yet possible, for a state to establish an independent policy in international relations.
A state with a population less than 10 to 15 million is said to in the developed world, less than 20-30 million in the underdeveloped world. Therefore, a state with a lower population is seen to be weak as compared to countries having more population and hence it is assumed that such states are unable to compete with larger states. This is because a dense population would lead to higher amounts of labor and as a result the economy would snowball and become stronger due to increased production of goods and services. As a result of this, there would be an increase in the countries GNP, and this will further boost the productivity of the state ((Vital 45).
Secondly, a small state is said to have less than 1% of the total world's GNP. This means that such a state has a fragile economy and also their production rate is very minimized. Hence if such a state threatens to impose sanctions it would have very insignificant effect as compared to larger states whose economy and production is ten times higher; hence they hold the economic power. In addition to that, the geographic size of a state is used to classify a small and large state (Karl 70).
Therefore, if a state occupies a large amount of land, it is safe to assume that the population would also be higher, and a more senior population would lead to more productivity and an increase in the economy. Consequently, a state with a limited amount of land would mean that their community is also small, and productivity is directly proportional to the amount of workforce labor imposed by a state. Hence the smaller countries would have a low productivity rate resulting in a weaker economy.
The last characteristic used in determining small and large states is their military size. If a country has a small army, it would be assumed that they lack power or have minimal influence. Therefore, it would be difficult for such a country to implement its independent policy because they would be unable to protect themselves from the implications of such a policy to states who have the military power to undermine them. For the case of Qatar, if the state decided to declare a policy which upset the United States, the state could face economic turmoil and military oppression. However, this is not always true, take the case of Egypt; for example, their army is equipped with high technology, and despite their small size, they were able to defeat Israel in 1967.
Many small states usually avoid making their independent policy due to various reasons, some of which have been mentioned above. For instance, it is hard for small countries to put their interests ahead due to fear of opposition or exile by the larger and stronger states. Due to their lack of power, they fear such a decision would lead to more trouble for their state than good. This is why Handel came up with his statement because almost all small countries have dependent policies. An independent policy means that the state is dedicated to preserving its interests. For a policy to be declared independent, it must be made, free from outside control which means that they do not depend on another authority.
A traditional small state usually engages in five ways; they have limited interaction with other countries, great enthusiasm when involved in international organizations, they support international laws, have a minimum use of force and military acts, and they concentrate regional policy on the local matter. All five contributions do not fall under the category of independent systems. They have limited interactions with other states because it makes them more reserved and prevents any conflict outside their borders. Their enthusiasm when involved in international organizations arises from the fact that they believe it gives them some power, which would be referred to as soft power. This helps them prove themselves to other larger countries by showcasing their good behavior.
An example of such a situation was during the voting of the Palestinian issue, Greece refused to vote against Palestine, even though it is a smaller country as compared to Greece because they support international laws mostly to protect themselves. Small states do not use force not only because their power is not strong enough to change major political issues but also because they would cause themselves more harm if they were to fight for their policy against a stronger country. Instead, they concentrate on regional matters because they have a lower risk of causing any conflicts. However, local policies could also create several battles if one country opposes a policy within that region.
Therefore, so many small states usually avoid making independent policies and they mainly focus on making dependent policies because they choose the safe option to avoid any confrontations with the larger countries. However, Qatar is an exception from these small states, as its policies and actions are not similar to those traditional smaller states. Even though Qatar has all the factors that qualify it for a small state, they still go ahead to make some independent policies. This is attributed to the fact that Qatar possesses some power as compared to other small countries. This power comes from the several elements in their country, like the gas they produce, Aljazeera network and their strategic location.
In addition to that, Qatar has US ties, which is acts as some form of protection because the U.S is a dominant power. Many small countries also try allying themselves with larger states as a form of protection in case there is any occurrence of anything. Also, Qatar is unique because it does not only interact with regional countries, but they have even gone out of their way to communicate with international countries, hence if they decide to make a foreign policy not so many countries will go up against them (Naheem 270).
As a result, Qatar has been able to come up and make their policies and gone ahead to implement them through their influence and also the soft power they have acquitted themselves. The state has been able to involve itself in matters such as conflict resolution and prevention, helping out with peace talks and generally having a voice in a political and also economic level. This is not a common characteristic of a small state because Qatar does not seat on the comfort zone of their protection, but instead, they have managed to interact with other nations on many other policies. Usually, small countries play it safe and only involve themselves in local and regional matters, and let the larger states take care of international affairs. This is why Qatar has entirely disapproved Handel's statement, because they have involved themselves in foreign affairs, showing that small states that they also can be pacemakers and decision makers when it comes to international relations.
In conclusion, Qatar has proven that small states can make their mark on international affairs hence making Handel's statement false as discussed above. Even though it may look like Qatar is this bold because they ally with the United States, Qatar has time and again made decisions that the US had previously disapproved. This clearly shows that if Qatar were cut off from their allies, they would still be able to make independent choices because they have already broken out of the small state circle and bridged the international affairs and policies. Qatar continues to differentiate itself from other states because they influence other states and through this, they have been to gain some power and also support. For instance, Turkey went out of their way to help Qatar during the GCC crisis in 2017, which had a very major impact on the country. Qatar chose to dilute the threats they were facing, and overcome them by rising to the powers of their neighbors. As Friedrich Hayek said, "we shall all be gainers once we create a world fit for small states to live in," this shows that the moment larger states accept smaller countries, then so many issues can be solved due to the diversity in opinions (Hayek 4).
Deutsch, Karl W. Political Community and the North Atlantic Area. No, 1957.
Vital, David. The inequality of states: A study of the small power in international relations. Clarendon Press, 1967.
Naheem, Mohammed Ahmad. "The dramatic rift and crisis between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of June 2017." International Journal of Disclosure and Governance 14.4 (2017): 265-277.
Hayek, Friedrich August. Hayek on Hayek: An autobiographical dialogue. University of Chicago Press, 2012.
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