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Discuss and Evaluate the Role of Religion In the Formulation and Practice of Foreign Policy - Essay Example

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Discuss and Evaluate the Role of Religion In the Formulation and Practice of Foreign Policy

What are the potential for positive and negative outcomes of this? Do religious differences always result in war, or can differing countries unite to answer other needs? Religion is an important element in establishing identity, both for the individual, and nation states. However, sovereign states have a history of religious intolerance towards other religions, both within their domains, and with other nations. When you start making foreign policy based on religion, and particularly when it’s fuelled by religion based on absolute beliefs, you get some horrific results (Rappaport). The current differences in faiths becomes important when you consider that terms such as ‘Fundamentalist’ or ‘Crusaders’ are polemical terms which serve to label every member of that religious group as extremist and threatening: The term fundamentalism is used polemically to polarize the debate and eliminate the middle ground…little distinction is made among islamic traditionalists, neo traditionalists, radical and militant islamists, while liberal and reformist currents in Islam are ignored (Fundamentalism discourses: enemy images WAF)....
Against Fundamentalisms)

The 20th century demonstrated several clear examples of the difficulties posed by uniting religious belief with foreign policy, not least of all the Vatican's policy during World War II, which has been denounced as inadequate and even as actually favouring the Nazi's ( Manhattan, 171). There is also reference to "The conflicts between the Roman Church and the Freedoms of democracy" (Glenn Archer, quoted in Manhattan, 7). Sometimes the religious policies of a nation are in direct conflict with its own best interests, and the medieval histories of the Eastern European Bloc demonstrates: Constantly the battleground between the different Christian sects, and the mighty Muslim empire of the Ottoman's, Eastern Bloc states such as Yugoslavia, Romania and Hungary experienced not only external holy conflict, but internal as well.

Religion is not just a state mechanism, but is also a personal belief of many World leaders, a fact which cannot be avoided when considering their foreign policy:
Even in an ostensibly secular state the private religious convictions
And concerns of foreign policy-makers can be crucial, even decisive
Factors in shaping international relations (A. Rotter, quoted in Kirby, 3)

These conflicts and difficulties can be demonstrated through three case studies. The first two shall concentrate upon religious conflicts between states within a certain time period: beginning with how foreign policy was affected by religious conflict during the reign of Henry VIII, and then considering how religion formed a part in the policies of the Cold War. This will culminate in a review of the religious troubles of the Eastern Bloc, looking at conflict in both the later middle ages and during the Bosnian War in the latter half of ...Show more


This paper attempts to examine the way in which a country’s national religion effects the way in which it evolves and maintains its relationship with other nations…
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