Advancing a Free Society

An Orienting Principle for Foreign Policy

Friday, October 1, 2010

One cannot oneself create anything; one can only wait till one hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then leap forward and seize hold of the hem of his coat — that is all.  — Otto von Bismarck

Only policy makers in great-power nations can aspire to realize grand strategies. They rarely succeed. In the contemporary international environment, coherence is more likely to be achieved by aiming at something more modest, a principle around which foreign policy might be oriented. Responsible sovereignty is the most promising candidate. Responsible sovereignty focuses on the need to create states capable of governing effectively within their own borders and to realizing, where possible, mutually beneficial bargains with regard to global public goods. Irresponsible sovereigns and failing states threaten the well-being of their own populations and the security, domestic norms, and authority structures of even the world’s most powerful countries. There is no alternative to responsible sovereigns; no regional much less global authority structure can replace the state.

Continue reading Stephen Krasner in Policy Review