The U.S. government has one most important function. It is to conduct relations with little less than 200 world’s nations. Every nation is a sovereign country. Every country has authority over its territories. In accordance with this, all states in the world are equal.
The objective of Foreign policy is to decide in which way will America conduct relations with different countries. It has specific goals, and the primary one is to assure America’s security and defense. It holds power to protect and project U.S. interests across the globe. Foreign policy is shaped by national interests, and it has a function to cover a broad range of military, economic, ideological, humanitarian, and political concerns.
This policy changes over the time according to changes in national interests. The United States were a new nation after the Revolutionary War. In those times its primary interest was to maintain its independence which was threatened by powerful European countries. According to Monroe Doctrine, the fundamental foreign policy at the time was to limit European attempts to colonize Western Hemisphere further.
Later in 19th-century foreign policy revolved around creating a nation which would span across the entire continent, without the interference of external influences. After achieving prosperity through industrialization, its policy turned toward finding foreign markets and colonies.
During the 20th century, the U.S. became an imperial power. It waged war against Spain for Cuba and Philippines, and it annexed Hawaii in the process together with several other territories. America was engaged in World War I, and heavily influenced the European affairs, but, after the war ended, the country fell into isolationism. The U.S. refused to join the league of nations and instead turned to itself once again. After the prosperity it achieved through the 1920s it reached its climax, and the Great depression followed in 1930s. Because of this, its military power was weakened. After the Japanese Navy and Air-force attacked the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941, they couldn’t respond accordingly.
But what followed afterward was American retribution. Thanks to its involvement in World War II the United States of America became world’s most powerful economy. This prompted a change in its foreign policy dramatically. The United Nations was founded with U.S. leading other nations. Through its Marshall Plan, it invested billions in European war-devastated countries. This time around they created alliances, one of them being NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
The primary goal of foreign policy in after war years was to contain the Soviet Union and the expansion of communism. What followed was the Cold War in which the United States and their allies fought with the Soviet Union over military, economic, and ideological dominance. Both sides mass-produced weapons and stockpiled nuclear materials. The two major world powers at the time never went openly into a war, but their dispute led to the U.S. involvement in bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.
After the Soviet Union collapsed because of economic exhaustion, that came as a result of competition with the U.S. and allies, the Cold War has ended. Tip on the scale moved, and the United States remained as the only real global superpower. Its foreign policy changed once again as it was no longer based on the containing of the Soviets. Through time foreign policy was shaped by various principles and values. American foreign policy revolves around nations self-determination for independence. As such it often favors other nations that practice democracy. But, there are some exceptions. In cases when there were matters of national security, economy, and politics involved, the U.S. was prepared to support dictatorial governments.
Making and Carrying Out Foreign Policy
The American foreign policy as it is today covers various issues and functions. It has a goal of establishing and maintaining diplomatic relations with other nations and organizations such as the United Nations. One of its primary tasks is peacekeeping. It works with allies on assuring regional and international security. It also has its hands in different economic matters such as trade, travel, and business. The foreign policy of the U.S. also includes providing aid and disaster relief. As world’s leading superpower America has roles in peacemaking around the globe, and it’s involved in signing treaties and agreements in regional conflicts. In addition to the economy and politics, the U.S. also deal with environmental issues.
Carrying out and making foreign policy is not done by one branch of government. It involves all three governmental departments and various other institutions and agencies.
The most significant role in making and conducting of foreign policy is in the hands of the president and the executive branch. The president appoints ambassadors and makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. He can call the summit of world leaders and is also chief commander of army forces and can deploy U.S. military across the globe.
National Security Council aids the president in creating the foreign policy. NSC consists of the vice-president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the nation’s highest military adviser).
The secretary of the state represents the President abroad, and it’s the head of U.S. State Department. This department has the obligations to carry out the decisions and to form different types of foreign policy for every region of the world. Part of the State Department that is made out of ambassadors, consuls, and other officers that conduct foreign policy is called U.S. Foreign Service.
Another governmental body that has a role in foreign policy is Congress. Their job is to set duties and tariffs imports and exports, commerce, and immigration, and to declare war if a need arises. They also control quotas on immigration, create trade agreements, vote on foreign aid, and work on the defense budget. Congress also has the power to accept, change, or reject policies that president proposed.
The Supreme Court also has a role in foreign policy, but a limited one. Their jurisdiction is only in cases that involve treaties, admiralty and maritime law. It furthermore decides the disputes between states and foreign states.
These three branches sometimes found themselves in a disagreement over the manner in which will the foreign policy be conducted. It has happened that the president wants to approve the treaties which Senate does not support. For example, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to sign the deals that Promoted the creation of League of Nations after World War I ended. The Senate was against and refused to ratify these agreements. At other times there was tension between the president who is commander in chief during wartime and Congress who has the power to declare the war. The President of United States has sent the army to the war on three different occasions in Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf War without Congress previously declaring the war.
Public also has a role to play in foreign policy. Advocacy Groups from different countries often try to influence Congress and the president. Business lobbies also affect the government decisions in the matters of economy and trade. It often happens that groups or individuals who have an extreme stance on foreign policy, especially during the military intervention, organize protests to influence decisions.