Examine the different forces that influence U.S. foreign policy, including business and labor organizations, interest groups, public opinion, and ethnic and religious organizations.

Secetary of State Hilary Clinton, 2009
Secetary of State Hilary Clinton, 2009

Focus Question: What groups influence American foreign policy?


Brief Summary of U.S. Foreign Policy

The foreign policy of the United States is the policy for which the United States interacts with foreign nations and sets standards of interaction for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens.
  • The global reach of the United States is backed by a $14 trillion economy,[1]approximately a quarter of global GDP, and a defense budget of $711 billion, which accounts for approximately 43% of global military spending.
  • The U.S. Secretary of State is the foreign minister and is the official charged with state-to-state diplomacy, although the president has ultimate authority over foreign policy; that policy includes defining the national interest, as well as the strategies chosen to both safeguard that and achieve its policy goals.
  • The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are "to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community."[2]
  • In addition, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs states as some of its jurisdictional goals: "export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; International commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation."[3]
  • U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid have been the subject of much debate, praise and criticism both domestically and abroad.[4]

United States embassy in Moscow, Russia, 2007
United States embassy in Moscow, Russia, 2007

Click here for Who Influences U. S. Foreign Policy, an article about from the American Political Science Review (2005),

Multimedia.pngVideo interview of Professor Peter Dale Scott about a possible new mindset on U.S. foreign policy

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for a Global Closet Calculator, an interactive game from National Geographic that
introduces students to the concepts of interdependence and globalization.