U.S. Foreign Policy | American History Lesson

 U.S. Foreign Policy U.S. government

A central function of the U.S. government is to conduct relations with the almost 200 other nations in the world. A nation is a sovereign country, and as such, possesses the highest authority over its territories. All sovereign states are theoretically equal. current american foreign policy, US Foreign Policy‎, Foreign policy of the United States, Obama's Foreign Policy Objectives, current american foreign policy, us foreign policy issues.


Foreign policy

Foreign policy determines how America conducts relations with other countries. It is designed to further certain goals. It seeks to assure America’s security and defense. It seeks the power to protect and project America’s national interests around the world. National interest shapes foreign policy and covers a wide range of political, economic, military, ideological, and humanitarian concerns.

America’s foreign policy has changed over time reflecting the change in its national interest. As a new nation after the Revolutionary War, America’s prime national interest was to maintain its independence from more powerful European countries. Protected by the Atlantic Ocean, its major foreign policy, as typified by the Monroe Doctrine, was to limit European attempts of further colonization of the Western Hemisphere.



Through the 19th century, America concentrated on creating a nation that spanned the continent, and it avoided foreign entanglements. Once industrialized and more prosperous, it began looking for foreign markets and colonies.
By the turn of the 20th century, the United States had become a minor imperial power, fighting a war with Spain for Cuba and the Philippines and annexing Hawaii and several other territories. World War I engaged the United States in European affairs, but after the war, a wave of isolationist feeling swept the country. Refusing membership in the League of Nations, America turned inward once again. Absorbed by the prosperity of the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s, America let its military strength erode. It was not prepared for war when the Japanese struck the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor in late 1941.

Through time, various constitutional principles and values have shaped American foreign policy. American foreign policy has favored the self-determination of nations for independence. Based on our commitment to constitutional government, we often favor and support nations that practice democracy. These principles, however, sometimes have conflicted with the goals of national security, economics, or the realities of international politics. In certain cases, America has supported dictatorial governments or intervened to curtail popular political movements.


Throughout much of United States history the pendulum of American foreign policy has swung between the extremes of isolationism and active engagement in world affairs. American foreign policy developed in response to a number of factors, including popular sentiments within the United States, international events, and the opinions of American thinkers and policymakers. Making foreign policy requires the participation of the President, the executive branch, Congress and the public. Conducting foreign policy, on the other hand, is the exclusive prerogative of the President and his subordinates in the executive branch.