Unit 2
To what extent should
nationalist interest be
Chapter 5: National Interest
and Foreign Policy
How are Nationalism and National
Interest Related?
Aspects of National Interest
 People who govern democratic communities
and nations make decisions based on what is
the best interest of the community or nation.
 Whether a people’s nationalism is based on a
shared ethnicity and culture or shared beliefs
and values, they want certain benefits for
themselves and their communities.
National Interest may focus on one or more
of the following:
Economic prosperity – This includes stable employment and
a decent standard of living.
Security and Safety – Measure to maintain national security
and physical protection include laws that protect citizens
within the country, as well as secure borders that can be
defended against intruders.
Beliefs and values – These include affirming and promoting
citizens’ values, beliefs, and cultures. Governments try to
safeguard and respect the shared worldviews, ways of life,
traditions, and languages of their citizens.
In which ways is an educated population in the best
interests of both a people’s personal interest and in a
national interest?
Changing views of National Interest
Just as people’s understanding for
nationalism may differ, their opinions on what
is in the national interest may also differ.
National interest is not static or unchanging.
Events within a country can change people’s
opinion about what is in the national interest.
For example, what was the national interest
for the regions hit by the tsunami December
26, 2006?
Differing Views of National Interest
People often decide what is
in the national interest based
on the understanding on
nation and national identity.
For example, many
Canadians take pride in
Canada’s reputation as a
nation of peacekeepers.
Their course of action may
depend on whether or not it
promotes peace in the world.
Another example is
China. The Chinese
government believes
that a strong military is
essential. “China’s
military might is meant
to safeguard it’s own
security and stability. It
is meant to deter the
hostile elements of Cold
War mentality who
attempt to threaten
China’s national interest
with force.”
How are Nationalism and National
Interest Related?
Peoples choices are often inspired by loyalty.
Nationalism and national loyalty can inspire
people to pursue the national interests of
their country or nation.
The Summer Olympics of 2008 in Beijing
allowed the Chinese to show the world how
proud they were of their nation. This would
be a national interest.
It also allowed for those opposed of China
and the Chinese rule over Tibet to show their
conflicting national interest.
National Interest and Artic
National interest often involves claiming sovereignty
over territory.
This is the case in the Arctic, where five countries
claim sovereignty to islands and the seabed. These
countries are Canada, the United States, Denmark,
Norway, and Russia.
In August 2007, Russia claimed part of the 1800 km
Lomonosov Ridge, which runs under the Arctic
Ocean. The Russian government states that this ridge
is part of the continental shelve that is connected to
Canada disputes this claim.
According to the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea, countries have sovereignty over 22.2
km of sea beyond their coastline.
Two factor highlight the importance of claiming
sovereignty in the Arctic:
 1. The ice is melting. This may open up the
Northwest Passage which will make it easier to
travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific
Ocean. Canada lays claim to this passage but
other nations dispute it.
 2. There is an abundance of resources in the
Arctic from oil, to gold, tin and diamonds.
Views on Canada’s national interests
in the Artic
In August of 2007, Stephen
Harper announced that
Canada would protect the
sovereignty of its Arctic
territory by:
 Sending patrol ships to
the artic
 Increasing aerial
surveillance in the region
 Expanding the Canadian
Rangers program
 Building a training centre
 Establish a deepwater
docking and refuelling
How has national interest shaped
foreign policy?
A policy is a plan of action that has been deliberately
chosen to guide or influence future decisions.
A country’s government is responsible for developing
both domestic policy and foreign policy.
Foreign policy decisions may have short term effects
or long term effects.
Some foreign policy decisions made at the end of
World War I are still affecting the world today. Many
people believe that the turmoil in the Middle Eastern
countries related directly to the foreign policy
decisions of the United States and European
countries as they pursued their own national interest.
National Interests and World War I
Peace Settlements
World War I was fought in Europe, the Middle
East, Asia, and Africa.
On one side were the Central Powers
(Germany, Austro-Hungary, Ottoman Empire,
and Bulgaria).
On the other side were the Allies (Britain,
France, Russia, Italy, and later the United
This war was enormous and deadly. Many
millions of people died and the financial cost
was huge.
Before WWI, nationalism flourished in
Europe. Many governments believed that
expanding their territory in Europe and in
their colonies was their national interest.
Their foreign policies involved forming
alliances with other European countries.
These alliances allowed for the members to
help one another out if they should be
threatened. The alliances are what allowed
countries to enter the war so quickly.
The straw that broke the camels
In June of 1914, Archduke
Franz Ferdinand of AustriaHungary was visiting
Sarajevo is the capital of
Bosnia, which was controlled
by the Austro-Hungarians.
While on his visit, a young
Serbian assassinated the
Archduke and his wife.
This event is said to have led
to WWI.
Due to the assassination of the Archduke,
Austria made demands to Serbia and comply
in 24 hours. Serbia refused and Austria began
to use military pressure.
Russia was aligned with Serbia and declared
war on Austria.
Germany, in alliance with Austria, declared
war on Russia.
France and Britain then declared war on
Most of the people affected
by the war, had no say in the
decision to go to war.
Canada, as a commonwealth
nation, went to war when
Britain declared war on
Many of the people who
lived in Russia, the Ottoman
Empire, and the AustroHungarian Empire also had
no say in this decision.
World War I lasted
four long years and
finally ended when
an armistice (truce)
was declared at
11a.m. on
November 11th,
Treaty Negotiations in France
Peace talks after the war took place in Paris,
France, from 1919 to 1920. At these talks,
leaders focused on the issues that had
caused the war: sovereignty and territory,
economic interests and security, and
nationalism and national identity.
The victorious Allies wanted to punish
Germany. The leaders of Britain, France and
the United States were the most powerful
and made most of the decisions of the treaty.
These decisions affected millions of people.
For Germany, the Treaty of
Versailles meant harsh
financial, military, and
territorial penalties.
The treaty required Germany
Reduce it’s military strength
Pay war reparation to
compensate the Allies for
the costs of the war
Five up territory in Europe
as well as all its colonies
Accept to responsibility “for
causing all the loss and
damage” that had affected
the Allies.
National Interests after WWI
During WWI, many Canadians believed that fighting
the war was in their national interest.
However, after the war, this national interest
changed. It went from being foreign to domestic.
In Canada, many people had jobs within the war
industry. When the war was over, many people lost
their jobs and returning veterans could not find jobs.
Many other nations became more interested in
domestic interests as well. The French and Belgians
needed to rebuild their nations.
The Treaty of Versailles was not enforced as so many
of the Allies were worried about domestic issues.
National Interests in the Middle East
Before WWI, the Turkish rulers of the Ottoman Empire had
focused on their own national interests.
Arabs in the empire shared traditions, religion, language, and
history, and often suffered persecution at the hands of the
During the war, Arab nationalism grew. The Arab peoples
wanted self-government. To help in this, the Arabs helped the
Allies fight the Turks and the Germans in the Middle East. In
return, they were promised an independent Arab homeland.
Arab Prince Emir Faysal led his people and helped the British
gain control of Palestine in 1917.
The French and British took advantage of him and divided up
the Middle East between themselves.
National Interest and Policy in the
Middle East
There were other treaties besides the Treaty of Versailles that were
signed after WWI.
Other treaties gave France control over the territory and the peoples of
Syria and Lebanon.
Britain controlled Cyprus, Iraq, and Palestine.
Although the United States was not involved in controlling the Middle
East, it supported Britain and France.
These three super powers paid little attention to the interests of the
Arab people. They were more focused on their own national interests.
Prior to WWI, there was little oil used and needed. After WWI,
however, oil became a hot commodity.
Britain and France believed that if they controlled the Middle East, then
they would control the oil.
Arab nationalists were outraged. They wanted their own nation. They
became angrier when the British passed the Balfour Declaration which
gave the Jewish people Palestine.
How has foreign policy shaped national
Just as national interest shapes foreign policy, foreign
policy can also affect national interest.
For example, a governments foreign policies can
affect its citizens safety and security, their economic
future, and their values and culture.
Canada’s effort on the War on Terrorism in
Afghanistan is part of a foreign policy. Canada is part
of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and
when NATO decided to go to war with the Taliban,
Canada went to war as well. How did this affect our
national interest?
9/11 and Canada in Afghanistan
The 9/11 attacks on the United States killed nearly 3000 people
including 24 Canadians.
After the attack, it was believed that Osama bin Laden was
hiding in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.
After the attacks, the United Nations agreed that the United
States and its allies could invade Afghanistan, bring down the
Taliban regime and find bin Laden.
NATO organized the mission, and Canada with the United States
and other member nations attacked the Taliban in October
Once the Taliban government was defeated, Canadian troops
kept peace while a new government was formed.
In 2003, the American troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan
and sent to invade Iraq.
As American troops left, more Canadian and other countries
forces were needed to make up for this loss of troops.
Canadian troops also expanded their role to include active
This has brought much debate for the Canadian people and the
Canadian government.
War costs both money and lives. To date 88 Canadians have
been killed in Afghanistan and the government is expected to
have spent $3.5 billion by early 2009.
Some say that a military role
was “not the right mission
for Canada” and that we
should led the world into
peace, not follow the U.S.
into wars.” Jack Layton
Others state that we are
there for the Afghan people,
and that if we abandon
fellow human beings to their
misery, that it will become
our own.”
Canadians are split on the role that the
Canadian military should take in Afghanistan.
Should the Canadian forces engage in
combat? Should they only be there as
peacekeepers? Or should the Canadian forces
be completely withdraw from Afghanistan?
Afghans are concerned about their future.
They want the same opportunities that many
others have around the world.
National Interests and Rights for
Women in Afghanistan
When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, girls
were not allowed to go to school and women
were not allowed to have careers.
Sima Samar is Afghanistan’s first minister of
women’s affairs. In 2007, she headed the
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights
Commission, which monitors the progress of
government agencies and other institutions
toward implementing human rights laws and

Unit 2 - SharpSchool