Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy in the United States


Regional Issues

“For America, the choice is clear: We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs. We choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.” (President Obama, United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2014)

The Americas

“But even more than interests, we’re bound by shared values. In each other’s journey we see reflections of our own. Colonists who broke free from empires. Pioneers who opened new frontiers. Citizens who have struggled to expand our nations’ promise to all people — men and women, white, black and brown. We’re people of faith who must remember that all of us — especially the most fortunate among us — must do our part, especially for the least among us. We’re citizens who know that ensuring that democracies deliver for our people must be the work of all. This is our common history. This is our common heritage. We are all Americans.” (President Obama, Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center in Santiago, Chile, March 21, 2011)

East Asia Pacific

“Here, we see the future. As the world’s fastest-growing region-and home to more than half the global economy—the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority: creating jobs and opportunity for the American people. With most of the world’s nuclear powers and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.” (President Obama, Australian Parliament, November 17, 2011)

Europe and Eurasia

“The buildings that are now living monuments to European unity were not drawn from simple blueprints. They were born out of the blood of the first half of the 20th century and the resolve of the second. Men and women had to have the imagination to see a better future, and the courage to reach for it. Europeans and Americans had to have the sense of common purpose to join one another, and the patience and the persistence to see a long twilight struggle through.” (President Obama, Strasbourg Town Hall, April 3, 2009)

Middle East and North Africa

“Two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then -– and I believe now -– that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder. So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.” (President Obama, State Department, May 19, 2011)

South and Central Asia

“That’s what I want to address today —- the future that the United States seeks in an interconnected world, and why I believe that India is indispensable to this vision; how we can forge a truly global partnership -— not just in one or two areas, but across many; not just for our mutual benefit, but for the benefit of the world.” (President Obama, Remarks to the Joint Session of the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, India, November 8, 2010)

“We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends and allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.” (President Obama, Remarks on a New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, March 27, 2009).

Sub Saharan Africa

“I don’t see Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world. Whether it’s creating jobs in a global economy, or delivering education and health care, combating climate change, standing up to violent extremists who offer nothing but destruction, or promoting successful models of democracy and development —- for all this we have to have a strong, self-reliant and prosperous Africa…And the United States wants to be your partner.” (President Obama, Young African Leaders Town Hall, August 3, 2010)

Foreign Policy in the Context of Foreign Compulsion Doctrine

Multinational Corporations and United States Foreign Policy, the Sabbatino Case and the Sabbatino Amendment in International Civil Litigation

Analysis of the Multinational Corporations and United States Foreign Policy, the Sabbatino Case and the Sabbatino Amendment in relation with the Contemporary Formulations of the Act of State Doctrine.

The Case Applicable to Property

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the Hickenlooper Amendment requires a federal court to exercise jurisdiction over a suit in some situations only.

Concept of Foreign Policy

In the U.S., in the context of Foreign Affairs and National Defense, Foreign Policy has the following meaning: Approaches and goals pursued by a nation in its interactions with other nation states, in furtherance of national interests. Foreign policy can include economic, diplomatic, military, and social and cultural relations with other nations. (Source of this definition of Foreign Policy : University of Texas)

Foreign Policy

Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy in relation to Building Civilian Interagency Capacity for Missions Abroad

This section discusses generally the subject of Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy in the above context, offering the key elements of the topic in relation to the extent of the U.S. Military Providing Needed State-Building Capabilities.Another area of concern is the possible effect on U.S. foreign policy if state-building activities are largely conducted by U.S. military or Department of Defense contracted personnel. A prominent concern is the effect of military dominance on the State Department's lead role in foreign policy coordination and implementation. The current high-profile Department of Defense role may not only undermine the current statutory basis for the conduct of foreign policy, but also empower a department whose culture and processes are more attuned to accomplishing concrete missions than guiding the flow of bilateral and international relations with a view to the long run. In addition, many have questioned whether U.S. efforts to promote democratization and civilian control of governments abroad might be undermined by too prominent a military face on the U.S. presence around the world. A RAND publication predicts adverse consequences in both areas:

If nation-building remains a foreign-policy[sic] priority for the United States but the majority of resources and capabilities for that priority are concentrated in DoD, that organization … will become the lead agency for a major component of U.S. foreign policy. Such a development would weaken the role of the State Department, both at home and abroad. It would raise concerns about the weakening of civilian control over military policy and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world. In short, it would be a fundamental realignment of how the United States both sees itself and is seen globally [53].

More Details about Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy

The RAND publication also raises concerns that state-building activities are made more difficult and less effective when the military takes the lead [54]. As Department of Defense documents and officials public comments have repeated, the military is most often rightly the second choice for many statebuilding tasks. Although military personnel may become more competent at these tasks, many question whether the military could ever become as competent as civilians, hired for their expertise at state-building tasks, without dedicating personnel and units specifically to those tasks. That alternative has been rejected by the military in the past, and is not on the agenda for the future.

Note: Based on the Building Civilian Interagency Capacity for Missions Abroad: Key Proposals and Issues for Congress Report.


Notes and References

  1. 53 Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, and Heather Peterson, Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations, RAND, Santa Monica, CA, 2009, p. 64. (Hereinafter cited as Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction.) The quote continues: Such developments would send a powerful signal worldwide that the United States views stabilization and reconstruction as defense tasks rather than as components of its broader foreign policy. This would strengthen perceptions that the United States considers the military its primary instrument of power; it could also make stabilization, reconstruction, and other development efforts appear subsidiary to military missions. p. 65.

    54 “The United States would also face difficulty working with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and IOs [international organizations]around the world, which would distrust the military's leadership of such missions. It would also make it more difficult during such operations for the U.S. government to coordinate with governments whose civilians take the lead…. With NGOs and IOs distrustful, other civilian specialists likely questioning the mission, and State and United States Agency for International Development capacity dwindling as resources flow to DoD, stabilization and reconstruction efforts would be undertaken without appropriate information and guidance. Moreover, because warfighting will remain the primary mission of DoD, development tasks would probably be aligned to advance military goals rather than be the objectives in themselves.” Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction, p. 65.

Further Reading

  • Heritage 2005—Heritage Foundation, Winning the Peace: Principles for Post-Conflict Operations, by James Carafano and Dana Dillon, June 13, 2005.
  • Heritage 2008—Heritage Foundation, Managing Mayhem: The Future of Interagency, by James Carafano, March 1, 2008.
  • Lamb/Marks 2009—Lamb, Christopher J. and Edward Marks,), Chief of Mission Authority as a Model for National Security Integration, Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), October 2009.
  • SIGIR 2010—Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Applying Iraq's Hard Lessons to the Reform of Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations, Arlington, VA, February 2010.
  • Smith 2010—Dane F. Smith, Jr., Organizing American Peace-Building Operations, Praeger (in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies), Santa Barbara, CA, 2010.
  • ACTD 2007—U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy, Final Report of the State Department in 2025 Working Group, 2007.
  • Brookings/Center for Strategic and International Studies 2010—Brookings Institution and Center for Strategic and International Studies. Capacity for Change: Reforming U.S. Assistance Efforts in Poor and Fragile Countries, by Norm Unger and Margaret L. Taylor, with Frederick Barton, April 2010.
  • Buchanan/Davis/Wight 2009—Buchanan, Jeffrey, Maxie Y. Davis, and Lee T. Wight, “Death of the Combatant Command? Toward a Joint Interagency Approach,” Joint Force Quarterly, no. 52 (1st quarter 2009).
  • PNSR 2010—Project on National Security Reform, The Power of People, 2010.
  • QDR 2006—U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 6, 2006.
  • CGD 2004—Center for Global Development Commission on Weak States and U.S. National Security. On the Brink: Weak States and U.S. National Security, May 2004.
  • CGD 2007—Center for Global Development. The Pentagon and Global Development: Making Sense of the DoD's Expanding Role, November 2007.
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies/Association of the U.S. Army 2003—Center for Strategic and International Studies and Association of the U.S. Army, Play to Win: Final Report of the bi-partisan Commission on Post-Conflict Reconstruction, January 2003.
  • QDRIP 2010—Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, The Quadrennial Defense Review in Perspective: Meeting America's National Security Needs in the 21st Century, The Final Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review Panel (Report mandated by Section 1031(f) P.L. 109-364, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007, as amended by Section 1061, P.L. 111-84, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010), 2010.
  • RAND 2009—RAND, Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations, by Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Heather Peterson, Sponsored by the Department of Defense, Santa Monica CA, 2009.
  • CWC 2011—Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Transforming Wartime Contracting: Controlling costs, reducing risks, Final Report to Congress, August 2011.
  • DSB 2004—Defense Science Board, Summer Study on Transition to and from Hostilities, December 2004.
  • Flournoy/Brimley 2006—Flournoy, Michele A. and Shawn W. Brimley, Strategic Planning for National Security: A New Project Solarium, Joint Forces Quarterly, Issue 41, 2nd quarter, 2006.
  • Schnake/Berkowitz 2005—Schnake, Kori and Bruce Berkowitz, National Security: A Better Approach, Hoover Digest, No. 4, 2005.
  • SFRC 2007—U.S. Congress, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Embassies Grapple to Guide Foreign Aid, 2007.
  • NDU 2004—National Defense University, Transforming for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations, 2004.

    Pope 2010—Pope, Robert S., Lt. Col., USAF, “U.S. Interagency Regional Foreign Policy Implementation: A Survey of Current Practice and an Analysis of Options for Improvement”, (A Research Report Submitted to the Air Force Fellows Program, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, April 2010),

  • PNSR 2008—Project on National Security Reform, Forging a New Shield (Report mandated by Section 1049, P.L. 110-181, National Defense Authorization Act for FY2009), November 2008.
  • PNSR 2009—Project on National Security Reform, Turning Ideas Into Action, September 2009.
  • Stimson/American Academy of Diplomacy 2011—The Henry L. Stimson Center and The American Academy of Diplomacy, Forging a 21st-Century Diplomatic Service for the United States though Professional Education and Training, February 2011.

    U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (known as the Hart/Rudman Commission), Phase III Report, Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change, February 15, 2001.

  • Williams/Adams 2008—Williams, Cindy and Gordon Adams, Strengthening Statecraft and Security: Reforming U.S. Planning and Resource Allocation, MIT Security Studies Program, Occasional Paper, June 2008.
  • Cerami 2007—Cerami, Joseph R. “What is to be Done? Aligning and Integrating the Interagency Process in Support and Stability Operations, in The Interagency and Counterinsurgency Warfare: Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Roles, edited by Joseph R. Cerami and Jay W. Boggs, U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA, December 2007.

    Council on Foreign Relations 2005—Council on Foreign Relations, In the Wake of War: Improving U.S. Post-Conflict Capabilities, Report of an Independent Task Force, Task Force Report No. 55, September 2005.

  • Council on Foreign Relations 2009—Council on Foreign Relations, Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action, Council Special Report No. 48, October 2009.
  • QDR 2010—U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 1, 2010.
  • QDDR 2010—U.S. State Department and United States Agency for International Development, The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, Washington, DC, December 2010.
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies 2004—Center for Strategic and International Studies, Beyond Goldwater-Nichols Phase I, 2004.
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies 2005—Center for Strategic and International Studies, Beyond Goldwater-Nichols Phase II, 2005.
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies 2007—Center for Strategic and International Studies, Integrating 21st Century Development and Security Assistance, 2007.
  • RAND/American Academy of Diplomacy 2008—RAND and the American Academy of Diplomacy, Integrating Instruments of Power and Influence: Lessons Learned and Best Practices, Report of a Panel of Senior Practitioners, 2008.
  • RAND/American Academy of Diplomacy 2006—RAND and the American Academy of Diplomacy, Integrating Instruments of Power and Influence in National Security: Starting the Dialogue, Conference Proceedings, 2006.


See Also

  • Foreign Affairs
  • National Defense

Foreign Policy: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Foreign Policy. This part provides references, in relation to Foreign Policy, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Foreign Policy by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Foreign Policy and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Foreign Policy or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Foreign Policy and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Foreign Policy. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Foreign Policy should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Foreign Policy when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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