Dear Halifa: Foreign policy is beyond written document

Dear Halifa: Foreign policy is beyond written document

In his lecture at The University of Gambia, Halifa Sallah claimed that Barrow’s administration does not have a clear and an articulated foreign policy.

Unless he believes in only what is written and stated on document, and unless his knowledge in the field is limited, he should be able to give a hint about the direction of Barrow’s foreign policies and in which cannon of foreign policy theories the foreign policy of The Gambia fits.

In analyzing foreign policies, you don’t glue your mind on the planned and stated strategies that should be adopted by governments in the pursuance their stated goals.

Rather, analysts use different lenses to examine actions, inactions, and statements, to a less extent, of governments to bring into the light their foreign policy directions.

Even though one cannot put a hand on Jammeh’s stated foreign policy strategies and goals, his foreign policies towards different regions and countries stand out to be analyzed throughout his reign.

Since his ascendency to the presidency, Adama Barrow and some of his top officials have engaged with different countries through official visits to different countries with different political systems.

Equally, they have received diplomats and the representatives of different countries and international organizations.

These and the statements that are frequently heard from Barrow and his foreign minister, Ousainou Darboe are sufficient to allow a well-versed person to gauge foreign policy direction of the Barrow government.

Knowing the gravity of the existing political and economic scene of The Gambia should be suggestive of the implications of domestic factors in shaping this foreign policy.

Rarely do foreign policy analysts refer to stated goals and strategies to describe and analyze foreign policies of governments as these are not necessarily reflected in their conduction of affairs, which are normally dictated by dynamic of politics at domestic, regional and international levels.

What the U.S. and Britain preach as their foreign policy goals are not necessarily the very goals and objectives that they pursue when engaging with different countries.

Thus, these stated goals and strategies are generally useful to spot discrepancies between the stated policies and actions. Nonetheless, they are insignificant to describe or analyze the actual foreign policies of a country, which can be conceptualized through actions, inactions and official statements, to a less extent.

Knowing grand foreign policy theories permits you to achieve this task without reflecting upon what is stated in documents.
Nevertheless, being obsessing with sections of the constitution, one will expect him to use the same constitutional mentality to analyze foreign policy.

Since there is no stated foreign policy in terms of goals and strategies, which can be akin to the laid down principles of constitution, he can only give this pretext to continue with referring to different sections of the constitution in order articulate to students his point about who should make foreign policy, what should be the goals of The Gambia foreign policy, and how the foreign policy decision should be made.

As a politician, Halifa Sallah is expected to give insight into practice: what it is, not what should be.

Alieu Manjang is a Ph.D. candidate in Gulf studies Program, College of Arts and Science, Qatar University. He is currently working as Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant at Qatar University’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute. Manjang is a holder of M.A in Gulf Studies and Public Policy.

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