Chapter 14: U.S. Foreign Policy
by Jonathan S. Miner and Craig B. Greathouse
One of the most important areas of public policy in which the American government must engage is relations with other countries in the international system. U.S. foreign policy entails developing and advancing American national interests abroad using all the tools and abilities of government and society. This chapter fits well at the end of this volume as many of the subjects studied so far (the president, Congress, judiciary, bureaucracy, state and local governments, political parties, mass media and general public) have a prominent role in the process of making U.S. foreign policy. In this chapter, a discussion of the nuts and bolts of foreign policy will be coupled with an analysis of the specific actors who make and implement U.S. foreign policy, a survey of its prominent historical themes, and a contemporary application of this process to the crisis in Libya.
Chapter 14: U.S. Foreign Policy
A Civic Engagement Challenge—Becoming Involved in Foreign Policy DecisionsTwo of the basic goals of this chapter are to de-mystify the U.S. foreign policy making process and to show that the ordinary American citizen has a real place in influencing how decisions are made and implemented. Students sometimes do not realize the impact they can have on a given issue of importance to them, especially so if that issue is international and seems both complicated and remote from any power they might have. Now that the reader has a better idea of how to become involved into this process and who has the most influence, they can assert themselves into foreign-policy making in a number of ways.
‘‘All politics is local’’ as the saying goes, and support or opposition for any U.S. foreign policy begins in a local arena, such as your university or local community. The civic engagement challenge for this chapter is for students to get involved with a local campaign to support or oppose an issue of U.S. foreign policy. This involvement can be from within a university-sponsored club or organization that promotes awareness or action, with a purposeful vote for a local or national candidate that supports your position, a protest, petition drive, phone call, or letter to your local representative. While students cannot right now hope to have the power to make U.S. foreign policy decisions, they most definitely can influence how those issues are perceived by their peers in the local community. So, recognize what international issue stirs a passion inside you, and get involved!
Test Your Knowledge
A policy that emphasizes a united front and cooperation between the major political parties.
The scope of involvement abroad and the collection of goals, strategies, and instruments that are selected by governmental policymakers.
The reliance on economic and military strength to solve international problems.
Early approach to foreign policy based on America’s reluctance to become involved with European alliances
A notion held by a nineteenth-century Americans that the United States was destined to rule the continent, from the Atlantic the Pacific.
A United States policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas.
National Security Act (NSA) of 1947
Created a department which placed the Army, Navy (and Marines), Air Force, and sixteen separate intelligence agencies under the control of the Secretary of Defense.
Normal trade relations
Trade status granted as part of an international trade policy that gives a nation the same favorable trade concessions and tariffs that the best trading partners receive.
Denial of export, import, or financial relations with the target country with the intent to influence that nation’s policies.
A reliance on diplomacy and negotiation to solve international problems.
For Further Reading
Please see Chapter 14 References on pages 424-427 of the textbook for primary sources and readings.
American Exceptionalism and the Politics of Foreign Policy By John Gans, Jr.