By Mphatso Kampeni, A Malawian Diplomacy and International Relations expert based in E-Swatini:
All successful foreign policies, just like Malawi’s, are aimed at maintaining good relations with other nations. Foreign policies should be adaptive and dynamic in nature, capable of achieving both short term and long term national aims and interests. The domestic political systems as well as nature of changes which take place in global scenario time and again demand radical changes in the policies and the perceptions of Nation States. In order to meet them, both the nation and its government are required to necessitate formulation of new theories, policies, approaches, and partnerships. As such, a given foreign policy neither can be a success throughout the history nor could be a failure throughout. A foreign policy is presumed to be sound and successful, if the policy framed is capable of meeting the short and long term national objectives and interests.
Geopolitics is not geographic determinism, but it is based on the assumption that geography defines limits and opportunities in international politics. As argued by Mackubin Thomas Owens of Foreign Policy Research Institute, states can realise their geopolitical opportunities or become the victims of their geopolitical situation. One purpose of grand strategy is to exploit one’s own geographical attributes and an adversary’s geographical vulnerabilities.
Geopolitics is dynamic, not static. It reflects international realities and the global constellation of power arising from the interaction of geography on the one hand and technology and economic development on the other. Technology and the infusion of capital can modify, though not negate, the strategic importance of a particular geographic space, this is what Malawi wants to benefit from Israel without necessarily looking at where our diplomatic representation will be located.
The very nature of domestic socio political system, deciding the making of foreign policy is inescapably dependent on international scenario. There is always a demand of drastic changes in the policies based on the changes taking place in the international environment. In order to meet these challenges, Malawi government has to continuously work towards re-assessing its foreign policy and making suitable changes in it to suit the existing global and world order. In other words, it would be correct to say that Malawi foreign policy is necessitated to be changed and amended as we are seeking new friends at international level.
Malawi and Israel traditionally have shared close cultural and historical relations as well as political and ideological understanding with each other. From its inception, Malawi’s foreign policy approach towards Israel and other countries has remained fairly steady to politically support the world cause. Independent Malawi felt emotionally and morally committed to its national aspirations in order to gain rightful place in the comity of nations.
The establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel in Jerusalem will result in a new era of partnerships which will grow for mutual bilateral relations between the two states. Despite the short duration of establishment of full diplomatic relations, cooperation between the two countries has been impressive. It seems that both sides have discovered each other once again and that the affinities will not be limited to sharing the same cultural, spiritual, and moral values. The smooth pace with which relations have grown and strengthened has rewarded Israel’s patience and made Malawians to think as to why they had delayed in normalising the relations for so long. Currently, both countries have worked hard towards re-inforcing the institutional mechanism for stronger bilateral relations. There have been visits of various teams to the two countries. There is a great deal of coming and going between the two, more perhaps from the Israel side than Malawi in terms of trade interests. Helped by fast changing realities and a much stronger public opinion, the two countries are moving cautiously but rapidly to develop a comprehensive diplomatic relationship.
As it stands, Jerusalem is controlled by Israel as a sovereign state and not international community or otherwise. Even though it might not be stated explicitly, establishing Malawi’s embassy in Jerusalem would be a de facto recognition that Jerusalem is indeed Israel’s capital.
Malawi also needs the alliance and cooperation of Israel in achieving qualitative and quantitative superiority in her bid for economic independence and capabilities to fulfil her aim of becoming a predominantly exporting nation.