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How can we best understand the role of religion in foreign policy?

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Introduction

Section C. (8) How can we best understand the role of religion in foreign policy? In order to best understand the role of religion in foreign policy, one needs to acknowledge that religion does play a role in foreign policy. However, the role religion plays in international relations is often overlooked. This omission of such an important factor that influences international politics in so many ways and on so many levels is detrimental and should be addressed (Fox, 2001:73). Religion influences international politics in varied ways. The phenomenal role of religion in foreign policy is not new or in dispute. Fox purports that religion, in more ways than one, is tied to other issues that distinctly influence international politics. There is a link between religion and nationalism, totalitarianism, political regimes, political opinions and attitudes, ethnicity, issues of identity, the process of globalization, terrorism, political culture, attitude towards war and peace, and the politics of specific states (Fox, 2001:72). We can best understand the role of religion in foreign policy by examining the influence that religious beliefs and views have on the decision making process. ...read more.

Middle

For example, the Islamic state of Iran demonstrating a direct link with religion and foreign policy criticizes and refers to the US government as infidels. Also, in the case of the religious Taliban regime, the US refused to accept the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and accused them of abusive actions. Third, many local religious issues and phenomena, including religious conflicts, spread across borders or otherwise become international issues. For example ethno religious conflicts like those in the former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, the Kashmir province of India, and Israel spread to include outside governments and agencies such as the UN. There is also increasing evidence of transnational religious groups that have no relation with the nation-state bonding together. For instances Sunni Muslims in various Arab states in the Middle East (Iraq, Saudi Arabia etc) are allying with each other. The assertion that modernization will lead to the decline of religion is perhaps ironic because scholars often suggest that modernization actually has led to a resurgence of religion (Fox, 2001:56). ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike his Iranian counterpart Ali Hoseini Khameni who strongly believes that there should be no separation between church and state. Moreover, as Spiegel states, religion indeed affects a leaders decisions and policies put forward, societal attitudes certainly play a role in influencing political leaders...some presidents, especially those from the south, have been affected by a messianic view of the Middle East (Spiegel, 2001:242). While it is not clear that religion was ever solely a domestic issue, it is currently an issue that crosses borders and accordingly is an international issue since many local religious and ethno-religious conflicts often reach international dimensions. While the efforts to make governments more religious may seem like a local issue, they often prove not to be the case in the long term. For example, in the case of Iran and Afghanistan in that, successful efforts to transform governments can change not only domestic policies, but also foreign policies. The role religion plays in international relations is often overlooked. Nonetheless, religion does play an important role in international relations. Religion is often tied to other issues that distinctly influence international politics. ...read more.

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