The task of foreign policy making is complicated and is best executed when professional diplomats are recruited and then assigned to design long-term foreign policy strategies and goals.
In a pioneering study of the foreign policy making process, Graham T. Ellison in 1970 laid claim to two models. Lambasting the Rational Actor Model (RAM) and with it the realist school of thought with its emphasis on heads of states or to use Morgenthau’s phrase ‘statesmen’ formulating foreign policy, Ellison showed how foreign policy making was a complicated task. In the initial instance, Ellison opened up the ‘black box’ of the state to argue that the state was in actuality an amalgam of institutions which are responsible for policy making. The leader or statesmen, in essence, is dependent on such institutions (specifically the bureaucracy and military) for the execution of foreign policy. In a nutshell, the statesman proclaims policy while the institutions of the state implement it.
The working of the state institutions was explained through two models: the organisational process model and the bureaucratic process model. RAM assumed that foreign policy was a rational exercise (rationality, in essence, being 100% achievable) and that a good foreign policy was a rational foreign policy. A rational foreign policy simply took account of a state’s national interest and objectives, outlined a plethora of options in order to deal with a foreign policy issue, engaged in cost-benefit analysis of each option in order to maximize the element of rationality and finally implemented the policy. This simple characterization of foreign policy was challenged by Ellison for he reasoned that bureaucracies, which implement foreign policy, do not always ensure comprehensive rationality but that bounded rationality is the essential element in foreign policy making. Allison applied his model to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and effectively demonstrated the utility of his model in explaining foreign policy making and out comes.
Ironically, Allison’s model was not applied to case studies from other states primarily due to methodological constraints (lack of access to official government documents and cabinet meetings, for example) but it remains a potentially useful theory in order to determine the processes through which foreign policy is made.
The task of foreign policy making is complicated and is best executed when professional diplomats are recruited and then assigned to design long-term foreign policy strategies and goals. Shahid Amin contends that Pakistan’s foreign policy has been tainted with the problematic of ad hocism ‘or the tendency to take decisions to tide over an immediate exigency without any long-term planning.’ Amin further contends that though a Research Wing has long been in existence at the Foreign Office it has rarely served its purpose and in fact is a ‘dumping ground for officers for whom no other posting could be found.’ Where does all of this leaves foreign policy decision making and the Pakistani state? Like other institutions of the state, the foreign policy machinery needs to be resuscitated with the best brains in the country so that its general health improves to provide long-term strength and stability to the Pakistani state.