National interest

National Interest is a rationality of governing referring to a sovereign state's goals and ambitions, be they economic, military, cultural, or otherwise.

The expression "reason of state" (Ragion di Stato) was first popularised by Italian political thinker Giovanni Botero, and championed by Italian diplomat and political thinker Niccolò Machiavelli. Prominently, Chief Minister Cardinal Richelieu justified France's intervention on the Protestant side, despite its own Catholicism, in the Thirty Years' War as being in the national interest in order to block the increasing power of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor. At Richelieu's prompting, Jean de Silhon defended the concept of raison d'État as "a mean between what conscience permits and affairs require."[1][2][3]

Within the field of international relations, the national interest has frequently been assumed to comprise the pursuit power, security and wealth.[4][5][6] Neorealist and liberal institutionalist scholars tend to define the national interest as revolving around security.[7] Liberal scholars see national interests as an aggregation of the preferences of domestic political groups.[8] Constructivist scholars reject that the national interest of states are static and can be assumed a priori; rather, they argue that the preferences of states are shaped through social interactions and are changeable.[6][9][10]

See also


  1. Thuau, E. 1996. Raison d'État et Pensée Politique a l'époque de Richelieu. Paris: Armand Colin.
  2. Church, W.F. 1973. Richelieu and Reason of State. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p.168.
  3. Franklin, J. 2001. The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp.80-81.
  4. Donnelly, Jack (2000). Realism and International Relations. Themes in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511612510. ISBN 978-0-521-59229-1.
  5. Krasner, Stephen D. (1978). Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investments and U.S. Foreign Policy. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-02182-9.
  6. Finnemore, Martha (1996). National Interests in International Society. Cornell University Press. doi:10.7591/j.ctt1rv61rh.
  7. Baldwin, David Allen (1993). Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-08441-3.
  8. Moravcsik, Andrew (1997). "Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics". International Organization. 51 (4): 513–553. ISSN 0020-8183.
  9. Finnemore, Martha (2003). The Purpose of Intervention: Changing Beliefs About the Use of Force. Cornell University Press. doi:10.7591/j.ctt24hg32. ISBN 978-0-8014-3845-5.
  10. Wendt, Alexander (1999). Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge Studies in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511612183. ISBN 978-0-521-46557-1.

Further reading

  • Beard, Charles A. 1934. The Idea of National Interest. Macmillan.
  • Burchill, Scott. 2005. The National Interest in International Relations Theory. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Frankel, Joseph. 1970. National Interest. London: Pall Mall.
  • Hu, Shaohua. 2016. "A Framework for analysis of national interest: United States policy toward Taiwan." Contemporary Security Policy 37(1):144–167.
  • Nuechterlein, Donald. 1976. "National interests and foreign policy: A conceptual framework for analysis and decision-making." British Journal of International Studies 2(3): 246–66.
  • Rosenau, James. 1968. "National Interest." Pp. 34–40 in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 2(1), edited by D. L. Sills and R. K. Merton. New York: Macmillan/Free Press.
  • Troianiello, Antonino. 1999. Raison d’État et droit public, Thesis paper, Université du Havre, 748 pages.