Classical liberalism and international relations

International relations Australia

It is possible to develop a classical liberal foreign policy agenda, says Edwin van de Haar.

Classical liberalism is applicable in international as well as domestic politics – based on a study of four important classical liberal thinkers, David Hume, Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek.

Classical liberalism aims at maximising individual freedom, which requires international order. In an inevitably imperfect society of states, stability depends on an interplay of just war, the balance of power, and a minimum of international law and organisation. Even the expansion of trade cannot guarantee peace.

The classical liberal foreign policy agenda is one of change, calling for the abolition of all trade barriers, many international treaties, international organisations, and development aid. Maximising individual freedom is the right classical liberal goal at all political levels, everywhere in the world.

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