NOL Foreign Policy Quiz, Part Two

This is a follow up to part one, where I discuss under what conditions a libertarian can engage in foreign policy beyond pursuing free trade and so whether the creation of a NOL Foreign Policy Quiz is even worthwhile.

In this post I outline how to design a foreign policy quiz.

For starters I imagine two major axis:

  • Soft vs. Hard Power and,
  • Nationalist vs. Internationalist

The first axis corresponds to whether an individual prefers using soft non-coercive actions to achieve their foreign policy goal or hard coercive actions. The second axis would correspond to whether someone prefers to act unilaterally, a “Nationalist”, or through multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, an “Internationalist”. Combined the two axis produce the below spectrum.


The questions themselves would be formatted something like the below:

Question: A foreign policy question on defense, trade, or resources/environment.

Answer 1: Nationalist, Hard Power action.
Answer 2: Nationalist, Soft Power action.
Answer 3: Internationalist, Hard Power action.
Answer 4: Internationalist, Soft Power action.
Answer 5: Do nothing.

On each question respondents would be given two points, one for the Soft/Hard axis and another for the Nationalist/Internationalist axis. A respondent’s coordinates would be the average score for the two respective axis.

For simplicity I think we ought to limit the NOL quiz to ten or so questions, but if a longer version were developed we could also assign scores on whether the question was about defense, trade or resources/environmental issues. That way we could further distinguish foreign policy views dependent on the type of issue at stake.

Note the inclusion of a fifth answer for all questions – to do nothing. This is an essential option as there are times, especially for the libertarians among us, where all available options are just awful. In those scenarios it may be better to simply not act at all.

I suspect that most of us who are based in the United States will tend to be most ‘nationalist’ than others all else held constant. Beyond that I am not sure where most libertarians would fall on spectrum. To be sure I think many would elect the fifth answer – “Do nothing” often and gravitate towards the center, but I’m doubtful many would be perfectly in the center.

Thoughts? Opinions?

In part 3 I will hopefully have an actual quiz developed so that we can have fun calling one another statists.


5 thoughts on “NOL Foreign Policy Quiz, Part Two

  1. Just curious Michelangelo: Wouldn’t the “do nothing” crowd end up in the nationalist quadrant, rather than the center?

      • Well, thanks to your conceptual clarification in this post, I have finally begun creating questions for the quiz on the GoogleDoc sheet I shared awhile back.

        If your choice is to “do nothing” then that means you want to avoid conflict regardless of who else is involved. Since it’s a foreign policy question, that means you want your country to avoid conflict regardless of what other countries are involved. That’s hella nationalist, is it not?

        I understand the flip side of this argument (I think): “Governments do things badly, and ‘intervening’ in any way, shape, or form will make the problem worse, not better. So intervening, whether for ‘national security’ interests or for humanitarian reasons, is actually the nationalistic position.” Yet this position pulls your state out from its position of splendid isolation and causes it to interact with other actors (state and non-state alike) so at the very least it’s less nationalistic than the “do nothing” proposal.

        I think this is a good conversation to have not only so we can create a bad ass quiz for people interested in foreign policy/international relations, but also so that we can conceptualize some age-old arguments within libertarian circles.

      • It took me a while, but I think I understand where you are coming from. A country like North Korea has a very limited foreign policy, interacting with really only the US, China and South Korea. Yet it would be absurd to consider them a libertarian nation in this regard and their isolation clearly has a nationalist component. Is this what you are getting at?

Please keep it civil (unless it relates to Jacques)

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