Special Interests in Interstate Cooperation

  1. Introduction

Well then, a republic is the property of the public. But a public is not every kind of human gathering, congregating in any matter, but a numerous gathering brought together by legal consent and community of interest. The primary reason for its coming together is not so much weakness as a sort of innate desire on the part of human beings to form communities. For our species is not made up of solitary individuals or lonely wanderers. From birth it is of such a kind that, even when it possesses abundant amounts of every commodity …”

(Cicero, 54 – 51 BC, translated by Rudd, 1998, p 19)

Res Populi

Res populi. Or the ‘the interests and affairs of the people’ is how the state is defined in the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), known as one of the most influential Roman political-philosophers. The typical use of the statement is when Cicero emphasizes the idea of the common interest and the responsibility of the state to the people. As stated above, the people or populi are not any random or selective group of human beings, but specifically “a union of a large number of men in agreement in respect to what is right and just and associated in the common interest” (Wood, 1988). In his assessment of humanity’s inherent desire to form societies, Cicero identifies three simple forms of governments: a government of which one man holds supreme authority in ruling the populace is a monarchy, when the power is vested in a select group, that state is ruled by the power of an aristocracy, and when everything is depended on by the people that state is a democracy (Rudd, 1998, p 20).

This Roman philosophy regarding public matters survived the centuries as the idea of the social contract in classical liberalism by John Locke inspired the United States Constitution – “We, The People,” stating that its people give up some freedoms for the government to protect them under its written laws. As these three first words of the Constitution exhibits, that sitting government is directed by the people under a democracy.

European states, having not explicitly expressed the democratic nature of their elected governments in words, are commonly identified as democracies as its Constitutions provide the people of equality before the law. Meaning, under Article 1 of the Constitution of the Netherlands, that the law is applied equally without discrimination and under the principle that all people are subject to the same laws of justice (Artikel 1, 2016).

Cicero acknowledges the flaws that the supreme authority holds in the three simple forms of government. The defect of democracy identified is when “the supreme power exercised by the […] people [is] transformed into the mad and irresponsible caprice of the mob . . .” In aristocracy, “the masses can have hardly any share in liberty, since they are deprived of any participation in discussion and decision-making.” In monarchies, the rest of the population is considered to play “too small a part in the community’s legislation and debate” (Rudd, 1998, p 20 – p 21). What can be identified here as the central issue of government is how the social contract relates to the actions that it undertakes to safeguard its citizens’ interests through trade, security, the law, equality and human merit.

In contemporary globalized society, the provision of citizenship by states and its need for import and export has increased the value of citizenship when performing external business, as its interests are protected by internal politics. In the case of multinational corporations (MNCs), the interests of citizens of states are pursued for reasons of economic security such as energy resources, raw materials, primary agricultural products. It is, however, through Cicero’s theory of human’s natural tendency to create different formations of social groups or communities that the interests of MNCs and that of states and citizens can conflict. These forms of governments – in the primitive sense of the word – that pursue economic and political power on an international level and can be regarded as units independent of states as transnational channels (Koksal, 2006) (Keohane & Nye, 2001).

Global integration at the start of the 21st century has led to new challenges for governments as the populi in countries in Europe and the United States. A “mad mob” aspiring nativist and xenophobic tendencies directs itself at the state that promised “protection.” Three objectives will be explained according to individual case studies with three key concepts that hold the explanation of the interests of states and citizens together; 1) the state, 2) interests, and 3) the populi in accordance to new interdependence theory, formulated by Keohane and Nye in Power and Interdependence (2001).


The first objective of this paper is to identify the relationship of interdependence between states and multinationals. In the context of contemporary challenges to western society with the falling apart of the European Union following the Brexit or the growing sentiments against Big Business in the United States and the campaigning for issuing protectionist policies by both the Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump and the single-biggest competitor for the Democratic Presidential Nomination Bernie Sanders, both candidates underestimate the change in the international economy: states are losing their power to pursue independent policies. They must now master the new game of ‘triangular bargaining,’ as explained by Koksal in his thesis The Impact of Multinational Corporations On International Relations (2006). The game is about keeping relations at a level that pleases everyone at the same time. He assesses that states are now in the middle of a ‘Bermuda triangle’ and that governments need to manage a series of difficult trade-offs among competing interests (Koksal, 2006).

The second objective is to identify the role multinationals play for states. To take into consideration both the costs and the benefits of an interdependent transnational relationship relates to the world explained as ‘Complex Interdependence’ by Keohane & Nye (2001), in which increasing economic cooperation is often formed by an agenda receiving attention by high officials. Here, the distinction between ‘high politics’ and ‘low politics’ is made to emphasize the role that military power plays and how – in interstate relations – it supersedes transgovernmental and transnational economic cooperation. The ‘Bermuda Triangle’ by Koksal can be further explained by the risk of military confrontation in the politics of interdependence due to the vulnerabilities and sensitivities of actors. Linkage strategies that determine the use of interdependency as an economic approach are therefore limited.

The third objective is to identify the role states play for domestic groups and multinationals. Globalization can for communities be regarded as a process that has given more opportunity to the populi in terms of resource accessibility for economic security. The internationalization has furthermore integrated humanity’s altruism in regards to the formation of social groups that transcends borders, nationalities and cultures. However, witnessing a political shift to nativism and economic protectionism, it should be fair to consider that the global economic integration is also stimulating political and social disintegration (Koksal, 2006, p 60). Some, like renown economist Naomi Klein (46), view ideologic incentives for market forces as a delegitimization of the national economy and the nation-state. While the state is losing power, other transnational actors such as domestic groups and MNCs are achieving to have more say on the national and international economic issues of states. MNCs have gained both economic and political power, steering even dominant states that possess military force to issue interference in state affairs on domestic issues and foreign policy – through private actors (Koksal, 2006, p 56).

Research Questions

Research Question (1)

That citizens of nations are losing trust in their leaders can be measured of how the political rhetoric matches the reality. Without getting too much into detail ahead of the findings, United States’ foreign policy of the last century is a concatenation of an agenda consisting of multiple issues not arranged in a clear or consistent hierarchy. What this means, according to Keohane & Nye, is that when military security does not consistently dominate the agenda then there is an “absence of hierarchy among issues.” Meaning hereafter that both realist and liberalist as conflicting political theories are at work. For instance, the creation of the Panama Canal. The funding of the company that settled its territory right through the state of Panama (1903 – 1979) was in the interest of the United States in terms of commerce as well as controlling its maritime defense over both the east coast and the west coast.

Apart from this short example, states and multinational companies compete and cooperate to the same extent as do states and multinationals do between one another. The dynamic is just somewhat different, which brings me to the first research question: How do states and multinationals cooperate in the international arena and where do they conflict?

Royal Dutch Shell & Iran

Case study (1)

According to a case study explaining the delicate relationship between multinational energy corporation Royal Dutch Shell and the state of Iran, the first research question will be explained. This case study has been provided by an episode of Tegenlicht, a Dutch documentary-series televised by the VPRO. In episode Big Data: de Shell search, the makers research how data collection provides for new ways of investigative journalism according to the case study of Royal Dutch Shell.

Shell’s multibillion dollar debt to Iran became a delicate situation after the trade embargo enforced by the United States. In 2013, Shell owned Iran 1 billion dollar. Previous to this, Shell was pressurized by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its investments in gas production in Iran that was meant for international export. According to the documentary, a huge gas-reserve was discovered, containing 51 billion m3 of gas, making it the worlds largest gas-reserve, setting up a competition against Russia on the international market.

Shell felt unintimidated by the U.S. After an organization in the U.S. called United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), led by renown figures of U.S. and Israeli intelligence services – the CIA and the Mossad – threatened to remove Shell from the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, Shell used the ruse of possible diplomatic embarrassment for the U.S.. It was only after the U.S. began sanctioning international energy companies that were doing business with Iran that Shell began having difficulties in doing its business in the Gulf.

Research Question (2)

The role of military power in contemporary globalized world is sometimes misunderstood. Yes, the production of an iPhone is a transnational enterprise between the United States, China, Japan, other Asian countries and European countries in support of the supply chain (Macworld, 2016). The distribution of products is universally applicable for MNCs, but its sourcing and manufacturing is dependent on the state industries that produce resources and can support its manufacturing – economically. For example, would a state decide to nationalize its industries for domestic purposes, or due to changing ideologies of (chosen) leaders, these domestic policies can impact the international community and its national economies. The U.S. & UK led military coup in Iran (1953), was followed by the installment of western businesses. This brings me to the second research question: How do states use multinationals to implement domestic policies on an international level?

Iran, the Coup (1953)

Case study (2)

In 1951, the Iranian Parliament voted to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). This was followed with the democratic election of Mohammed Mossadegh as Prime Minister who was one of the leading figures behind the nationalization. AIOC was initially in hands of the United Kingdom (UK), which meant that are revenues came to be confiscated by the state of Iran. The UK regarded Mosaddegh as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests and with the support of the United States (US), the UK initiated a Coup which resulted in the installment of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (the shah) as leader of Iran.

The Coup organized by the United States’ CIA and the United Kingdom’s MI6 produced the following substantial legacies: 1) the denationalization of the oil industry; 2) the destruction of secular opposition; 3) the fatal delegitimization of the monarchy; and 4) the further intensification of the already intense paranoid style of Iranian politics (Abrahamian, 2013, p 206).

Later in 1954, the U.S. and the UK settled the oil dispute, profit-sharing with the petroleum Consortium that was held for 40% by British Petroleum, 14% by Royal Dutch Shell, 6% by Compagnie Francais, 35% by five major American companies, 7% each by Gulf, Texaco, Mobil, Standard Oil of New Jersey, and Standard Oil of California, with the remaining 5% spread out over smaller American independent companies (Abrahamian, 2013, p 207).

Research Question (3)

In today’s globalized world, multinational corporations have gained both economic and political power, integrating humanity’s interests in terms of social and economic life never before achieved in any world empire or nation-state. According to Koksal, MNCs of the 21st century have achieved something that no other nation could manage today. MNCs have reached billions of people through different channels. These channels connected through the internet have achieved global integration on social life, culture, business and the economy (Koksal, 2006, p 57).

MNCs like Apple and Shell, and many others, like Amazon and Facebook, have superseded the nation-state, diffusing technology and economic growth to developing countries and interlocking national economies into an expanding and beneficial interdependence; non-conforming to state policies like the likes of Uber and Airbnb. These MNCs have become powerful institutions in itself challenging most members of the United Nations (Koksal, 2006, p 58).

In the earlier example regarding Shell’s sanctions, and the involvement of the U.S. domestic organization UANI, domestic groups funded and supported by MNCs and private actors have also taken an important role in furthering policies and their potential economies. Whether its in support to lower corporate taxes, or lowering tariffs and propagating for less regulations through trade agreements, domestic groups and MNCs create industries to further their political and economic goals through the military power of the state. This brings me to the third and last research question: How do multinationals and domestic groups use the state to further implement their economies and policies?

  1. Literature review

This paper will focus on three main themes: (1) the role of the state and civil society, in accordance to Cicero’s definition; (2) the new interdependency theory put forth by Keohane & Nye ; (3) the behavior of MNCs in international relations.

Later on, an emphasis will be placed on individual actors. I believe that the individual is being left out of modern political theory at the expense of what I regard as a reality in civil society. By describing the governmental systems of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy as inherently flawed systems the role of individual political actors and private actors should be consoled and what role then the populi plays when corruption occurs. Cicero, on corruption:

A state should possess an element of regal supremacy; something else should be assigned and allotted to the authority of aristocrats; and certain affairs should be reserved for the judgment and desires of the masses. Such a constitution has, in the first place, a widespread element of equality which free men cannot long do without. Secondly, it has stability; for although those three original forms easily degenerate into their corrupt versions (producing a despot instead of a king, an oligarchy instead of an aristocracy, and a disorganized rabble instead of a democracy), and although those simple forms often change into others, such things rarely happen in a political structure which represents a combination and a judicious mixture – unless, that is, the politicians are deeply corrupt. For there is no reason for change in a country where everyone is firmly established in his own place, and which has beneath it no corresponding version into which it may suddenly sink and decline.”

(Cicero, 54 – 51 BC, translated by Rudd, 1998, p 32-33)

The corruption of individual political leaders affect the systems’ perception in which they operate. The Revolution that followed the overthrow of Iran’s former leader Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and the abolishment of his monarchy and replacing it with a very complex National republic led by a religious leader, creating a theocratic-republican constitution; came from a reaction of the populi and its distrust in western institutions (Abrahamian, 2013). The consequent nationalization of Iranian oil in 1979 resulted in an energy crisis throughout the western world – also, resulting in benefits for other OPEC members making record profits.

This dynamic will be explained according to Keohane & Nye new interdependency theory, according to their assessment of the existence of multiple channels connecting societies, including informal ties between governmental elites as well as formal foreign office arrangements. The channels are summarized as interstate, transgovernmental and transnational relations. Assessing Morgenthau’s realist theory, Keohane & Nye regard interstate relations the channels as assumed. Transgovernmental applies when the realist assumption that states act coherently as units is relaxed ; transnational applies when the assumption is relaxed that states are the only units (Keohane & Nye, 2001).

Last, this paper will also refer to other sources as previously referenced in the introduction.

  1. Key concepts

According to individual case studies, the key concepts that will be repeated and referred to at the end of each research question is (1) the state, (2) interests, and (3) the populi. The state is referred to its classical meaning of ‘civil society.’ The interests are the movement and influence that help the business or cause of the designed actor – political, economical, or individual. The populi is, as previously referred to the voice of the people.

The key concepts lead up to the main thesis discussed in part five, namely: States are considered to promote the interests of their citizens. How do these interests conflict with the interests of domestic groups and MNCs?

  1. Findings

Research question 1)

How do states and multinationals cooperate in the international arena and where do they conflict?

Case study (1) Royal Dutch Shell & Iran

Following up on the case study involving the sanctioning of international trade with Iran, the MNC Shell did not immediately discontinue its business. For historic reasons, as Shell was one of the institutionalized private actors in the 1990s that invested in Iranian gas and oil exploitation under Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, the MNC held firmly to its friendly relationship with the state of Iran – looking in the long-term for possible reassessment of the trade embargo and a continuation of its gas and oil extraction.

The documentary-series finds evidence of diplomatic cables between the United States and the government of the Netherlands. The relationship between Shell and Iran is protected through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as proven by its quoting of a letter found in the cables dating from 2008: “The Dutch government supports targeted sanctions against Iran but not actions that limit Shell’s activities there.” This is an odd finding because it diminishes the perception of an obvious friendly alliance between the Netherlands and the United States and creates the suspicion that Dutch government actors are involved in keeping Shell’s business active in Iran against the wishes of the United States. What the journalists found was a public official by the name of Simon S. who worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later came to work for Shell as ‘Government Relations Advisor’ from 2006 – 2008. After that, he returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a higher function. Apparently, Shell has a department called the ‘Government Relations Group’ that was enacted to deal with what they call ‘problematic countries’ – countries with which Shell has difficult diplomatic relationships. Shell has a large amount of Government Relations Advisors who would go back and forth between Shell and a government ministry or embassy everywhere in the world.

Shell and the Netherlands seem to have regular contact regarding the situation with Iran. The questions that can be raised are: Who do these diplomatic actors serve, the state of the Netherlands or the MNC Shell? Is there a difference between the interests of the MNC and the state, or is the state influenced by the interests of the MNC? And how does this influence the relationship between the Netherlands and Iran, and how does their ‘special relationship’ impact the alliance of the United States and the Netherlands?

Based on the key concepts the following can be taken from this case study: the United States enforces its policies according to forceful persuasion or coercive diplomacy. By threatening with the use of military force, the U.S. moves from low-politics (economic disintegration through the use of sanctions) to high-politics by side-tracking Iran’s nuclear program – if Iran doesn’t assist in complying with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it will use its military power to pressure Iran into doing so.

Under former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (served from 2005 – 2013), the state of Iran did not comply with any negotiations regarding its nuclear plan. Under current President Hassan Rouhani (2013 – present), Iran does comply to the demands of the U.S. and the rest of the international community. This interstate cooperation will ultimately lead to the interests of the international energy industry to be fulfilled and with the interests of a MNC like Shell, very likely also the interests of the state of the Netherlands.

The question now remains, how will a renewed relationship between Shell and Iran influence the welfare of the populi? Who do the actors involved serve and should they be regarded as government actors or private actors? As the states of both the Netherlands and Iran are involved in a renewed cooperation in the energy industry since the lifting of the sanctions in 2016, how will trade relations work in the interest of the populi?

This last question is important to ask. After the Coup in 1953, the Iranian people came to be deprived of a lot of aspects of their civil society and culture but also of their oil production as it was privatized by western MNCs and Iran’s share was minimal (Abrahamian, 2013). “… In aristocracies the masses can have hardly any share in liberty, since they are deprived of any participation in discussion and decision-making….” (Cicero, Rudd, 1998; p 20).

Research question 2)

How do states use multinationals to implement domestic policies on an international level?

Case study 2) Iran, the Coup (1953)

As depicted earlier, the Coup of 1953 initiated by both the U.S. and the UK, threw over the fundaments of Iranian civil society. The oil industry became denationalized, political secular opposition was destroyed, the monarchy became delegitimized over the course of the years and Iranian politics became even more paranoid in its style. It started off with the signing in of the oil Consortium when the British ambassador was conflicted with the dilemma, a direct quote:

The articulate part of the Persian public has I believe realized that oil settlement is desirable. Nevertheless, they accept the facts reluctantly.The blow to their foolish hopes has left their nationalism still extremely sensitive. It is liable to break loose from any shackles of logic. We have to deal with a government which is unusually well-disposed and to whose survival quick agreements is essential. It understands the oil problem in broad terms, and it quite realistic about it, but can not afford an agreement which does not look presentable. If either in the course of the negotiations or at the time of the conclusion of an agreement, it appears to be selling the pass on any of the subjects liable to arouse mass emotions (the degree of Persian control and compensation) it may be swept out of office…”

(Abrahamian, 2013, p 207 – 208).

In the end, the Consortium got all it wanted. After 1954, the influx of foreign cash from oil revenue and from loans helped finance development project by private investments which led to a growth in GDP. However, the lack of control of imports and an increase in corruption led to inflation, all while there was no possibility for trade-union organization or strikes which resulted in lower wages, widening the disparity between rich and poor. This rushed the eventual financial crisis of 1960 (Keddie, 2006, p 138).

Suppression of any opposition to the regime was regularly assisted by American support, as well as its economy – which delayed the structural reforms the country of Iran needed. The problem of the shah ultimately was his loyalty to western policies that followed the train of thought of American interests. Especially his anti-USSR stance made his critics call him “colonized” by the west.

The collapse not only destroyed the monarchy but delegitimized Iran’s regular military. It furthermore brought the United States in Iran’s political picture which exhibited a train of thought that national leaders were just “marionettes” controlled by “foreign strings” (Abrahamian, 2013, p 218 – 222).

A fair assessment of how the state of Iran changed from a pro-western civil society to an anti-American Islamic theocracy that rejects all western values, lies in the elaborate construction of conspiracy theories by Iran’s leaders after the Revolution of 1979. Its narrative still exists today and was from the start an effective political weapon against the Consortium led by U.S. and UK MNCs to regain control of Iran’s oil production.

The westernization of Iran, although enforced by the shah, was regarded as an effective method of further liberalizing Iran’s economy to foreign investors. The problem with the transnational application of domestic policies to Iran’s civil society was that there was no room to be considered for political opposition. Any opposition was repressed, jailed, tortured and killed under the regime of the shah. The populi, after 1979, regained control of their civil society and Iran’s oil revenues created an economic spark for the country. From Cicero’s perspective, the shah’s monarchy failed as the populace played too small a part in Iran’s community’s legislation and debate” (Cicero, 54 – 51 BC, translated by Rudd, 1998, p 20).

Research question 3)

How do multinationals and domestic groups use the state to further implement their economies and policies?

Case study 3) Islamophobia, a multi-million dollar industry

Before I start exploring this case study, let me explain why I chose not to include it in the introduction. The subject of this case study is not clear-cut and can more easily be identified as a theme that is recognized through different layers of society and not only as a political tool to further the interests of domestic groups, MNCs, and political actors. Yet, why I did chose to include Islamophobia in the discussion of special interests in interstate cooperation is because recent developments are able to show that there are in fact think-tanks and private actors funded by donor groups to develop criticism and a narrative that are used to incite fear of muslims. As the founders of the database https://islamophobianetwork.com/ explain: there are eight donors that contributed 57 million dollar between 2001 and 2012. A small group of foundations and wealthy donors provide critical funding to right-wing think-tanks and misinformation experts who spread hate and fear of muslims and Islam in the form of books, videos, reports, and website.

I want to emphasize that I did not have the opportunity to thoroughly research the specific private actors that are named and if they in fact lobby for funding to develop a narrative that spreads hate or that they just ventilate their critical opinions of the religion. I do recognize some of the American media pundits that in fact rely on sponsoring for their media programs and spread wild conspiracy theories involving muslims. Looking into the nature of the given foundations by https://islamophobianetwork.com/, the biggest donor, Donors Capital Fund (DCF) is named. DCF funded Investigative Project on Terrorism, a research organization that constructed a narrative that speculates that contemporary Islam has a cruel criticism against Jews and Christianity: “We don’t want to accept […] that one of the world’s great religions, which has more than 1.4 billion adherents, somehow sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine.” (IslamophobiaNetwork, 2016 : 1). This is only one example of the many that the database provides. It must therefore be said that when an organization making an unsubstantiated claim that is even more remarkable given the fact that this research organization received almost 1.5 million dollars in funds. Furthermore, although not specified on the database, a quick internet search finds claims that links DCF to the U.S. multinational Koch Industries (DeSmog, 2016).

It is here where the case study becomes delicate. An internet source as the one depicted can not substantiate a claim that Koch Industries deliberately funds organizations for the purpose of spreading fear and hate of muslims. It becomes especially delicate when political donor Charles Koch has publicly denounced Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump’s anti-muslim rhetoric. However, the theoretical framework for the new interdependence theory may well add a narrative to the quantitative numbers of DCF that are provided by the database. I’m aware, however, that this narrative is not enough to substantiate the claim that Koch Industries and other MNCs are directly linked to the funding of the domestic groups named in the database. The aim for the following theoretical framework is therefore to show what effects domestic groups can have on civil society through the enactment of policies and propagating for draconian laws.

Keohane & Nye assess that the use of interdependence between particular groups on issues can be used as a source of power by the use of, for example international organizations and transnational channels (Keohane & Nye, 2001, p 27). The theme of ‘Islamisation’, a claim made by Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, is a favorite topic of many right-wing populist politicians. Geert Wilders regularly is invited to anti-muslim events around the world, for example, in the U.S. where he has met with anti-muslim think-tank founder Nina Rosenwald who defended Geert Wilder’s call for fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.

Social segregation in civil society through the implementation of discriminatory policies against muslims is a theme occurring through all layers of society, directly and indirectly acknowledged through the implementation of interests of different domestic groups. This case study can in itself function as a thesis apart from the interests assessed by MNCs. The channels through which this theme can be exhibited are too diverse to clearly pinpoint the political and private actors that are involved. However, how the global population that identifies itself as muslim (more than 1 billion people worldwide) is affected and are not represented by the interests of an autonomous state gives room for the interdependence theory to assess in a broader way through which transgovernmental and transnational channels this is done. In fact, with today’s developments in European countries and the United States where anti-muslim rhetoric claims a stronger voice linking the interests of pro-Israel lobbyists with anti-immigration policies and can potentially serve as a tool for the oil industry to assess a state’s military power for interests non-conforming to the populi, can be assessed in the case of, for example, a conservative organization such as UANI.

The rise of anti-immigration movements in European countries and the U.S. led by Brexit and Donald J. Trump forecast a gloomy discharge of all business through the resolutions and decrees of the people, as a state fails to maintain its high reputation, for it did not observe the different levels of merit, in the words of Cicero (Cicero, 54 – 51 BC, translated by Rudd, 1998, p 20).

  1. Discussion and analysis

Main thesis:

States are considered to promote the interests of their citizens. How do these interests conflict with the interests of domestic groups and MNCs?

New Interdependence

In a world of complex interdependence between individual political actors private actors and institutionalized through states, MNCs and domestic groups, one expects some officials, to emphasize the variety of state goals that must be pursued. In the absence of a clear hierarchy of issues, as low-politics (economics) and high-politics (military power) often conflict or interrelate, goals will vary by the issue presented, and may not be closely related. Through multiple channels, each actor and institution will pursue its own concerns. Agencies may reach compromises on issues that affect them all, however, a consistent pattern of policy is difficult to maintain, as can be witnessed in the assessment of how the Netherlands had to manage its transnational relations with Shell and its interstate alliance with the United States as these channels will introduce different goals into various groups of issues (Keohane & Nye, 2001, p 26).

Dominant states like the U.S. and the UK in the case of Iran, after they initiated the Coup 1953, and with the help of the shah tried to secure their domestic policies through transnational channels by using economic power to affect results on other issues. If only economic objectives were at stake, they may have succeeded. But their economic objectives had political implications, and economic linkage by the strong is limited by other domestic, transnational and transgovernmental actors who resist having their interests traded off, as the National movement and the erection of the Islamic Republic as a theocratic-republic have proven (Keohane & Nye, 2001, p 26).

What is sure to be expected is that both economic as well as political agendas are affected by international and domestic problems created by economic growth and increasing sensitivity as a result of increased interdependence, such as is the case with globalization. Discontent domestic groups will politicize issues and force more issues onto the interstate agenda. To what extent the anti-immigration movement in western countries will persist remains to be seen (Keohane & Nye, 2001, p 28).

The issue of security issues is dominant here as installed fear that has resulted in xenophobia threatens people’s way of life in times of war – especially when this war on terror does not seem to end. International institutions may therefore play a minor role, as the interests do not have to be universally applicable for states to welcome immigrants holding the same religion who flee war-zones. As European countries policies regarding immigrants have changed, the interference of international organizations like the United Nations (UN) and its agencies then become a side issue in politics. And yet, because of the linkage of issues and the need for political actors to make a move, the UN also contributes to political agenda and can potentially act for forming cooperation on interstate level (Keohane & Nye, 2001, p 30). Yet, the role of the UN should not be overestimated, as its institution in today’s world is more and more regarded as a tool for smaller states to gain a larger number of votes, which in the short-term, does not affect the political policies of big states with both military and economic power.

  1. Conclusion

Finally, what does it mean for an individual to be involved in the powers of politics and economics and its contribution to civil society? As we’ve learned according to the case studies, the form of government that is applied to run a state with the best intentions does not mean it is infallible. In contemporary western society, democracy is regarded as an infallible system as it promises to promote the interests of the populi. Yet, what does it mean if the populi fails to see the demise it will bring up on itself? The new interdependency theory shows that the channels that relate with one another are not bound to one state that stands in itself as a unit. Domestic groups and multinational corporations can provide a relation to issues and the promotion of interests not earlier identified by the state that represents its people.

So, where does this leave us? Is there no perfect system? Is civil society, the populi, bound to fall apart every time it fails to find social groups and communities to belong to and who share the same interests? Prosperity and opportunity, how can this be achieved for everyone? To answer this, I would like to end this paper with a quote by Cicero.

The good life is impossible without a good state; and there is no greater blessing than a well-ordered state. […] The aim of a ship’s captain is a successful voyage; a doctor’s, health; a general’s, victory. So the aim of our ideal statesman is the citizen’s happy life – that is, a life secure in wealth, rich resources, abundant in renown, and honourable in its moral character. That is the task which I wish him to accomplish – the greatest and best that any man can have.”

(Cicero, 54 – 51 BC, translated by Rudd, 1998, p 83)


Abrahamian, E. (2013) The Coup. 1953, The CIA, And The Roots Of Modern U.S. – Iranian Relations. The New Press.

Artikel 1 (2016) Artikel 1 Van De Grondwet. Retrieved on 1.7.2016: http://www.art1.nl/artikel/1198-artikel_1_van_de_grondwet
DeSmog (2016) DonorsTrust. Retrieved on 3.7.2016: http://www.desmogblog.com/who-donors-trust

IslamophobiaNetwork (2016 : 1) Investigative Project on Terrorism. Retrieved on 3.7.2016: https://islamophobianetwork.com/organization/investigative-project-on-terrorism

Keddie, N. (2006) Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution. Yale University Press.

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