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From:

Macridis, R. C. (1992). Introductory remarks. In R. C. Macridis (Ed.), Foreign policy in world politics (8 ed., pp. 5-
6). Singapore: Prentice Hall.

Steps in evaluating foreign policy:

1. We must first provide a clear description of the predicament what exactly was the
predicament or, rather, how was the predicament perceived. In other words, we must
determine why a certain situation was or is considered by policymakers to be a predicament.
2. The next step, related to the first, is to make an effort to assess the flow of information and
intelligence that goes into the formation of the perception of the policymakers: Is there only
one source? Which one? Are there many sources? Do they provide the same facts and
figures, or do they differ? If they differ, how are differences resolved in accepting one set of
information flows and rejecting another?
3. This leads us to our third required piece of information: Which governmental units are most
responsible for coping with the predicament? And if it falls (at least technically) within the
jurisdiction of more than one, what types of intergovernmental and interunit arrangements
exist to allow for a concerted action?
4. At this stage, assuming that the nature and perception of the predicament, the information
sources, and the particular governmental units and procedures are known, we need to have
a clear statement and description of the action resulting from the decision actually made
for example an ambassador was recalled; economic aid was offered; an official was bribed;
the marines were dispatched.
5. A knowledge of the action taken (or contemplated) must be coupled, at least when analysing
democratic foreign policymaking, with the possession of an unambiguous declaration of the
anticipated consequences of the action of decision. The simpler and the smaller the number
of consequences anticipated, the easier the evaluation. The greater the number and the
more complex the goal, the more difficult the assessment unless one is able to peel off the
rhetoric that often accompanies a decision from its substance, or unless we can establish a
set of priorities for gaols ranging from the imperative ones through the desirable ones down
to the least-expected but simply hoped-for. Such priority assessments are not always easy to
make, for the time dimension within which policies are implemented constantly forces
reconsideration and reshuffling of priorities.

It is based on a power theory of international politics in which the ultimate analysis of success or
failure can be measured in terms of the plusses and minuses in the increments of power and
influence for a given nation.

To summarize: Foreign-policy evaluation involves assessment of the goals of a given country;


analysis of the various predicaments that seem to endanger these goals; an examination of the
instrumentalities (policies) pursued to alleviate the predicaments; a careful examination of the
manner in which such policies were formulated, with regard to both the predicament involved and
the manner in which the policy was to be implemented; an account of the major governmental
organs responsible for the implementation of a policy; a careful examination of the availability of
alternate means and instrumentalities (were they considered? Were they rejected after being
considered, and if so, why?); and finally, an assessment that is, did the policy as formulated and
implemented bring about the desired goals?