Monday, 12 May 2014

Rational Actor Model in Tanzania-Rwanda Diplomatic Spat

Foreign policy analysis is the resultant of human decision making with direct or indirect consequences on foreign entities. Foreign policy has been defined as those strategic goals formulated by a state in relation to another state. On a larger spectrum, foreign policy could also include strategic goals formulated by a state in relation to international organizations and or multinational corporations. Foreign policy involves goals, objectives, projections and outcomes which are premised on national interests which in typical International Relations discipline falls under the Realism school of thought (realpolitik). 

Tanzania and Rwanda have been embroiled in a diplomatic spat albeit an ambivalent one. For years, the two East African states have coexisted peacefully. They have enjoyed sound diplomatic relations which has seen Tanzania hosting the peace talks of 1993 between the then Hutu government and the then rebel Tutsi outfit of  RPA. After the unfortunate Rwandan Genocide of 1994, Tanzania has hosted the UN International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. This long and outstanding relationship seems to be on the rocks.  President Kikwete during the 50th anniversary of the African Union in Addis Ababa, called on Rwanda to negotiate with the rebel outfit because the military efforts have failed. In a quick rejoinder Louise Mushikiwabo, the Rwandan Foreign Minister described Kikwete’s remarks as “aberrant” and “shocking”. A war of word between the two states ensued with President Kagame allegedly publicly threatened to hit president Kikwete. See link for further details. 

The diplomatic tensions have since escalated with reports indicating President Kagame and Kikwete are not seeing eye to eye. As members of the East African Community, the two have been avoiding each other during EAC meetings. This has even resulted to the rise of the Coalition of the Willing (CoW) which includes Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda sidelining Tanzania and Burundi in what they term as Northern Corridor Infrastructural Projects. When Rwanda was marking the 20th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide on April 7, President Kikwete did not attend. Kikwete's excuse was that he was on the same day attending a national holiday in Zanzibar. When Tanzania was marking the 50th anniversary of the political union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar in April 26, President Kagame declined to attend. And during the EAC meeting in Arusha recently, Kagame did not attend instead he sent a representative. The height of this came last week during the World Economic Forum in Abuja, Nigeria. The two were in attendance but observers says that they avoided each other. Although it remains as speculation, it is evident that the tensions have reached fever pitch. 

While explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, Graham Allison's seminal work captures three models of decision making that are crucial in foreign policy. Allison posits that the attempt to explain international events by recounting the aims and calculations of nations or governments is the trademark of the Rational Actor Model. The central unit of analysis here is government action which is influenced by government officials. In this case, the protagonists are the two heads of state and their Foreign Ministers. Tanzania's Foreign Minister Bernard Membe is an international relations scholar who understands the complexities of decision making. His Rwandan counterpart, Louise Mushikiwabo has also carried out her duties well and thoroughly understands her country's national interests. The basic precepts of rational actor model are (1) goals and objective; (2) alternatives; (3) consequences; and lastly (4) choice. These precepts formalize the concept of rational actions that underpins economics, decisions, and game theory as most importantly individual behavior. The outcomes of decisions that follows this model are mostly based on national interests and individual behavior which is value maximizing. 

Whilst this is the case, Tanzania and Rwanda must appreciate their long standing brotherly relationship that has endured troubled pasts. Longstanding foreign policy is not hinged upon personality or behavior of the head of state rather it is embedded on a historical appreciation of one another. This is what builds venerable ties between and among states.   

No comments:

Post a Comment