As the current most powerful country in the world, it has always been a vital part of our nation and government to have set standards and policies for interacting with other countries.

American foreign policy is something that has changed over time to become what it is today. We are going to be taking a look at its history, as well as some of the more intricate details of how America’s foreign policy works.


Since the American Revolution, foreign policy has been discussed in great detail.

Starting very early on in the history of the United States, George Washington stated in his farewell address that things, like observing good faith and desiring justice towards all nations, were vitally important. He also said that advocating trade with all nations and making sure to “steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” were of great interest to him as well.

His thoughts during his farewell address created the basic policies for the Federalist Party in the late 1700s. Throughout the 1800s, despite the two wars that North America had with European Powers (the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War), the American foreign policy was very peaceful and bountiful as far as foreign trade.

Changes in the Early to Mid 1900s

Once we reach the two world wars in the early 1900s, there were some changes to be noted.

The belief of non-interventionism, which is simply that political rulers should avoid alliances with other nations while maintaining diplomacy, was prominent before the two world wars. This also includes avoiding war unless directly involving self-defense.

During World War ll, the United States did have a non-interventionist policy from 1932 to 1938. Then the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, decided that having strong allies in their wars would be beneficial.

The national policy was mostly funding and equipping the armies of Allied countries without sending in any American combat soldiers. The president also assisted with establishing terms for the post-war world for the potential allies at the Atlantic Conference.

He made eight different specific points there which included no territorial gains for the United States and the United Kingdom, trade barriers would be lowered, global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare, as well as all people having the right to self-determination. This becomes a big step towards creating the United Nations.

Changes Towards the End of the Century

After that war, the United States became the dominant non-colonial economic power of the world. However, the Cold War brought along some struggles for power between North America and the Soviet Union. This lasted until almost the end of the 20th century and in 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved into separate nations. At this point, the Cold War had been formally ended – with the United States giving diplomatic recognition to former Soviet states including the Russian Federation.

During the 21st century, the United States still has an incredibly strong influence. However, it is declining in terms of economic output when compared to nations that are rising like Russia, India, and China.

As for present-day American foreign policy, our next section will cover what it currently looks like.

How it Works

Foreign policy in the United States has truly come a long way from its beginnings in the 18th century.

The official stated goals currently in place for foreign policy are “to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community,” as said in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the Department of State.

The United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs also has several goals as well. They are to “export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial interaction with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; international commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation.”

Different parts of the government complete different duties as well.

Powers of the President

The president is of course considered to be the Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces. They are also able to negotiate treaties with foreign countries, although that is subject to the consent and counsel of the Senate.

Powers of the Congress

Congress is given the power to declare war, and they are the only branch of government allowed to do so.

In addition to that, they are also responsible for the budget of both civilians and the military, as well as regulating commerce with foreign countries.

American Foreign Policy in a Nutshell

In current society, the American foreign policy and their views and actions on foreign aid have been debated passionately. There has been both a lot of praise and criticism for how it is handled.

Over time, depending on the actions and rankings of other nations, as well as events that are ever changing – we could see more changes in the countries’ policies.

What changes do you foresee happening in the future?

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