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Although political asylum has been at the forefront of contemporary
German politics for over two decades, it has not been much discussed
in political science. Studying asylum is important, however,
because it challenges assertions in both comparative politics and
international relations that national interest drives decision-making.
Political parties use national interest arguments to justify claims that
only their agenda is best for the country, and governments argue
similarly when questions about corporatist bargaining practices arise.
More theoretically, realists in international relations have posited
that because some values “are preferable to others … it is possible to
discover, cumulate, and objectify a single national interest.” While
initially associated with Hans Morgenthau’s equating of national
interest to power, particularly in foreign policy, this position has
since been extended to argue that states can be seen as unitary rational
actors who carefully calculate the costs of alternative courses of
action in their efforts to maximize expected utility.
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