American foreign policy

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American foreign policy is the ongoing project of protecting and advancing American interests abroad, primarily to other nation states but also to non-state actors as well as supranational bodies such as the EU and the UN. It is primarily led by the POTUS and represented by the State Department within the Executive branch of the US Federal government.

Actual policy is heavily influenced by historical norms as well as international conditions and international law (in the form of treaties between nations and supranational bodies) that profoundly shape the resulting policy. Being managed by the administration within the executive branch, major changes are possible with the change of parties, and the result of policy often can shape the election (or reelection) prospects of the next administration.

It is essential that informed citizens are armed with their voice and vote to shape the correct policy, and becoming aware of the history and issues at the present, with a positive outlook toward the future. We have much work to do.

A great roundup of regional foreign policy concerns and forward-looking assessments can be found in a number of sources, and I've found this course to be particularly useful and well referenced. There, a primary tool used was the "4 Ps Framework", discussed in this text, as well as by other scholars in the field. The 4 Ps represent a means to facilitate discussion of the conditions, outcomes, and trade-offs resulting from possible foreign policy action or inaction and provide a means to break down the motivations of other actors in the international body to facilitate.

The 4 Ps Framework (Power, Peace, Prosperity, Principles)

The 4 Ps are:

  • Power
  • Peace
  • Prosperity
  • Principles

I found this a highly useful way to interpret and evaluate actions past, present, and future within the context of today's global landscape. An in-depth video overview of the 4Ps Framework is discussed by Bruce Jentleson's lecture on the topic.


World and Region Overview

Current issues