Foreign Policy is the course taken by a nation in conducting its relations with other nations. It consists of a set of objectives and the means of by which they are achieved. Each nation has certain permanent objectives of foreign policy and, in addition, short-term objectives resulting from the current world situation. Major foreign policy is concerned with such goals as remaining independent and economically healthy. The size, location, and resources of the country influence both long-range and specific objectives.
For example, when the United States was founded, it was separated from the Old World by an ocean voyage of many weeks. Its natural resources and industrial capacity made it self-sufficient. A policy of isolationism—of avoiding foreign entanglements—was followed for more than 125 years. Modern transportation and communication, however, have changed the situation: The United States is no longer isolated, and its size and strength make it a major world power. Following World War II, the policy adopted was one of active international problems (see Stoll, Richard, and Michael Ward, editors. Power in World Politics).
A. How Foreign Policy is determined?
Foreign policy is under the direction of a nation’s head of government, such as the president or prime minister, assisted by members of his cabinet. Policy decisions are based on information provided by government agencies, the professional staff of the office in charge of foreign affairs, and the professional staff stationed abroad in embassies and consulates. Some information comes from intelligence system sources. In the United States, the National Security Council is an important source of advice to the President (see Bailey, T. A. A Diplomatic History of the American People, 10th edition).
In democratic countries, foreign policy is influenced by opinion in the legislative branch of government. In the United States, for example, treaties must be approved by the Senate, and all funds used for carrying out foreign policy objectives are appropriate by Congress. Public opinion is also a strong influence.
B. How Foreign Policy Is Carried Out?
A secretary of state or foreign minister is in charge of putting foreign policy in effect. He heads the country’s diplomatic, or foreign, service.
There are various procedures for accomplishing the aims of a foreign policy, including:
Diplomacy. Diplomatic officials negotiate agreements and treaties with other nations concerning such matters as trade, boundaries, and mutual security. Diplomacy is carried out by sending ambassadors and ministers to foreign countries; by special conferences; or by membership in an international organization such as the United Nations (see Nathan, J. A., and J. K. Oliver. Foreign Policy Making and the American Political System, 2nd edition.).
Military Force. Foreign policy aims may be achieved by war or threat of war. A country can sometimes make other countries agree to its demand by simply exhibiting superior military power. It may also intervene in the domestic affairs of a weaker country by virtue of its military strength. Or it may encourage subversion and assist in the overthrow of another country’s government (see Crabb, C.V. American Foreign Policy in the Nuclear Age, 5th edition).
Economic Relations. Trade agreements, protective tariffs, embargoes, and foreign aid are economic tools of foreign policy.
Propaganda. The success of a country’s foreign policy often depends to a certain extent on the attitudes of the people of other countries. Propaganda is used in an attempt to create the desired attitude in these countries. The propaganda may consist of lies and distortions or it may be the truth—depending on the morality and aims of the country using it (see Nathan, J. A., and J. K. Oliver. Foreign Policy Making and the American Political System, 2nd edition).
Since World War II both the United States and the USSR have intervened in many conflicts, both civil and international, sometimes with their own military forces. The USSR has intervened in three states on its own borders—Hungary, Afghanistan, in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to retain in power political factions loyal to Moscow. The United States has fought protracted major wars far from its own shores: The Korean War (1950-53) and the Vietnam War (1963-73). The second intervention was probably the most controversial foreign-policy episode in U.S. history.
Both the United States and the USSR have on occasion intervened by using troops from other countries. In 1961, the United States armed Cuban exiles and helped them launch an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The USSR made a less direct use of Cuban troops in Africa in the late 1970s, when the Communist government of Cuba intervened at the invitation of several pro-Soviet African governments. In 1968, the USSR intervened in Czechoslovakia with its own forces and those of other Warsaw Pact countries. In 1980s, the contra rebels in Nicaragua were widely seen as U.S. surrogates.
Bailey, T. A. A Diplomatic History of the American People, 10th edition.
Stoll, Richard, and Michael Ward, editors. Power in World Politics.
Nathan, J. A., and J. K. Oliver. Foreign Policy Making and the American Political System, 2nd edition.
Crabb, C.V. American Foreign Policy in the Nuclear Age, 5th edition