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Politics in command: foreign trade as national security policy


  • Holsti, Kal J.


Many of the current theoretical debates in international relations focus on the connection between economics and security policies. Most traditional North American textbooks have considered the two policy areas as separate domains. Some scholars view the major economic trends and events of the 1970s as intertwined, whereas others argue that “state” interests properly should prevail when the two sets of values conflict. The traditional liberal, mercantilist, and neo-Marxist literatures shed some light on the nexus between politics and economics in foreign policy, but they offer very general statements that reflect only the conditions of the major powers. Two case studies of Japan and Finland in the postwar period suggest that generalizations must be applied cautiously, that some states are compelled to follow mercantilist policies to protect their political independence and autonomy, and that policies of welfare maximization often have to be subordinated to security concerns. The cases also reveal that the connection between economic and security concerns changes over time. A dynamic model of foreign policy will thus have to be sensitive both to the peculiar circumstances of a variety of states and to the sources of foreign-policy change.

Suggested Citation

  • Holsti, Kal J., 1986. "Politics in command: foreign trade as national security policy," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(03), pages 643-671, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:40:y:1986:i:03:p:643-671_02

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    Cited by:

    1. Glismann, Hans H. & Horn, Ernst-Jürgen & Schrader, Klaus, 1993. "Wohlfahrtseffekte von Rüstungs- und Raumfahrtausgaben: Das Beispiel der Vereinigten Staaten," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 783, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. Reuveny Rafael, 2000. "The Trade and Conflict Debate: A Survey of Theory, Evidence and Future Research," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-29, January.

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