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  • Academia - Foreign Policy: 16 Elements of Foreign Policy
  • Social Sci LibreTexts - Foreign Policy
  • UShistory.org - Foreign Policy: What Now?

foreign policy , general objectives that guide the activities and relationships of one state in its interactions with other states. The development of foreign policy is influenced by domestic considerations, the policies or behaviour of other states, or plans to advance specific geopolitical designs. Leopold von Ranke emphasized the primacy of geography and external threats in shaping foreign policy, but later writers emphasized domestic factors. Diplomacy is the tool of foreign policy, and war, alliances, and international trade may all be manifestations of it.

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Role of Foreign Policy in International Relations

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Published: Sep 5, 2023

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Introduction, the impact of foreign policy on international relations, the role of foreign policy in promoting peace and security, potential consequences of foreign policy decisions.

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Methods of foreign policy analysis.

  • Philip B.K. Potter Philip B.K. Potter Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, University of Virginia
  • https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190846626.013.34
  • Published in print: 01 March 2010
  • Published online: 30 November 2017

Foreign policy analysis (FPA) is the study of how states, or the individuals that lead them, make foreign policy, execute foreign policy, and react to the foreign policies of other states. This topical breadth results in a subfield that encompasses a variety of questions and levels of analysis, and a correspondingly diverse set of methodological approaches. There are four methods which have become central in foreign policy analysis: archival research, content analysis, interviews, and focus groups. The first major phase of FPA research is termed “comparative foreign policy.” Proponents of comparative foreign policy sought to achieve comprehensive theories of foreign policy behavior through quantitative analysis of “events” data. An important strand of this behavioral work addressed the relationship between trade dependence and foreign policy compliance. On the other hand, second-generation FPA methodology largely abandoned universalized theory-building in favor of historical methods and qualitative analysis. Second-generation FPA researchers place particular emphasis on developing case study methodologies driven by social science principles. Meanwhile, the third-generation of FPA scholarship combines innovative quantitative and qualitative methods. Several methods of foreign policy analysis used by third-generation FPA researchers include computer assisted coding, experiments, simulation, surveys, network analysis, and prediction markets. Ultimately, additional attention should be given to determining the degree to which current methods of foreign policy analysis allow predictive or prescriptive conclusions. FPA scholars should also focus more in reengaging foreign policy analysis with the core of international relations research.

  • foreign policy analysis
  • methodological approaches
  • comparative foreign policy
  • events data analysis
  • case study methodologies
  • network analysis
  • prediction markets
  • foreign policy behavior


The periodic reassessment of research methods is important to the vitality of any academic discipline, but it has particular salience for a relatively young field such as foreign policy analysis (FPA). Hudson and Vore ( 1995 :221) acknowledge as much in their review of the FPA literature, noting that, “in the study of foreign policy decision-making, the issues are not theoretical but methodological.” I define foreign policy analysis as the study of how states, or the individuals that lead them, make foreign policy, execute foreign policy, and react to the foreign policies of other states. This topical breadth results in a subfield that encompasses a variety of questions and levels of analysis, and a correspondingly diverse set of methodological approaches. This essay surveys FPA’s methodological development from its inception to the present and, in the process, outlines the body of existing methodological practice and identifies opportunities for future progress. The objective is to provide both an indication of the role that various quantitative and qualitative methods play in the FPA literature and an entryway for contemporary researchers seeking to apply these approaches to future work. Where appropriate, the reader is directed to more specific guides to the intricacies and execution of each method.

For the sake of organizational clarity, this review follows a stylized format roughly based on Neack, Hey, and Haney’s ( 1995 ) concept of “generational change” in foreign policy analysis. The section that immediately follows is partially archeological, that is, it surveys methods of events data analysis that were important to the early development of FPA, but in some cases have fallen out of widespread usage. The second section, which surveys qualitative methods, most closely reflects the current state of the art in the discipline. The third and final section addresses both cutting-edge and underutilized approaches.

The Methodological Origins of Foreign Policy Analysis

The unique historical context and intellectual environment of the early 1950s – specifically, the Cold War and the behavioral revolution – crucially shaped the early methodological development of foreign policy analysis. These origins have proven central to the methodological arc of the sub-discipline.

FPA was born of the opportunities presented by the largely atheoretical nature of historically oriented diplomatic analysis and the exclusion of political leadership and decision-making from the prevailing theories espoused by mainline international relations. Prior to the advent of FPA as a distinct subfield, the study of foreign policy relied on traditional methods and had long been the domain of political historians and diplomatic strategists in the tradition of thinkers such as Thucydides and Machiavelli. Early FPA researchers saw this longstanding tradition as part of their heritage, but, inspired by the methodological imperatives of the behavioral revolution, believed that systematizing the study of foreign policy would lead to progress in the form of generalizable and cumulative findings. Thus, from its inception, FPA was an explicitly theoretical exercise aimed at uncovering the systematic elements of foreign policy interactions, and the methods deployed reflected this.

Simultaneously, in response to the near monopoly of system-level theory in international relations, the pioneers of FPA argued that individual leaders or groups of decision makers are often the primary drivers of outcomes in international interactions (Snyder et al. 1954 ). Thus, at the very core of FPA’s intellectual identity lies a revisionist methodology (vis-à-vis diplomatic history) applied to a revisionist conception of the basic unit of analysis (vis-à-vis mainline international relations).

The strategic environment, specifically the position of the US in the early Cold War, also figured prominently in the early development of FPA methods. In the face of this protracted geopolitical conflict, American political leaders became unusually involved in the FPA academic endeavor. The promise of concrete conclusions and general enthusiasm for “scientific” approaches to political problems that stemmed from the success of the Manhattan Project led the US government to invest large sums in early FPA efforts. With funding came the expansion of major research centers such as the Rand Corporation and the Brookings Institution that were instrumental to the maturation of FPA as a subfield and methodological approach in international relations. However, the money and attention from the policy community came with strings attached – most notably, an expectation for immediately relevant research. Over time this requirement became increasingly difficult to reconcile with the relatively high uncertainty surrounding quantitative estimates of foreign policy phenomenon.

The first major phase of FPA research that emerged from this crucible is termed “comparative foreign policy.” Proponents of comparative foreign policy argued that controlled comparison of the domestic sources of external conduct across different countries could produce comprehensive theories of foreign policy behavior. Methodologically speaking, these scholars sought to achieve these ends primarily through quantitative analysis of “events” data, which I describe in detail in the section that follows. However, this transition to quantitative analysis was, at least in part, a refinement of even earlier attempts to develop a more robust understanding of the foreign-policy decision making process. Snyder, Bruck, and Sapin’s ( 1954 ) classic essay was arguably the first to encourage international relations scholars to reopen the “black box” of the state in order to study the actions of individual leaders. A significant body of early qualitative case study research flowed from this call to arms. To take just two examples, Paige ( 1968 ) took a decision making approach to understanding the origins of the Korean War, while Allison ( 1971 ) followed along similar lines with his well-known study of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The decision making school provided a useful groundwork, particularly by identifying the leader as a crucial unit of analysis, a tradition that has persisted in FPA ever since. However, the developments of the behavioral revolution eventually overtook the primarily qualitative methods of these early FPA scholars. An increasing premium was placed on the generalizability garnered by operationalizing foreign policy interactions numerically and analyzing them quantitatively. This transition gave rise to the comparative foreign policy literature, which maintained an emphasis on decision making and scientific analysis, but moved away from case study analysis in favor of events data.

Comparative Foreign Policy and Events Data Analysis

The demand for foreign policy research that was scientific, generalizable, and policy relevant caught nascent foreign policy analysts unprepared. Where other areas of political science could respond to the challenge presented by the behavioral revolution with numerical data already at their disposal, the traditional fodder for diplomatic analysis – histories, documents, interviews, biographies, and memoirs – were less easily reduced into the sort of data necessary for rigorous, quantitative hypothesis testing.

This reality set foreign policy analysis somewhat behind other areas of political science because it had to overcome two distinct obstacles. First, new data had to be collected that was better suited to statistical analyses. Second, methods had to be developed with which to analyze these data within a behavioral framework. Among others, Rosenau ( 1966 ; 1968 ), McClelland ( 1970 ), and Brecher et al. ( 1969 ) took up these early challenges.

These early foreign policy analysts sought to develop a quantifiable unit of foreign policy interaction. McClelland conceived of this core unit of analysis as the foreign policy “event,” which is simply a formalized observation of a conflictual or cooperative interaction between states. McClelland’s intention was to fill the gap between the traditional narrative approach to foreign policy analysis and empirical techniques that relied upon discrete quantifiable data that could be explored in statistical analyses (Schrodt 1994 ). In effect, the foreign policy event takes a qualitative observation of foreign policy interaction and reduces it to a numerical or categorical form suited for statistical analysis.

The process of generating events data was and is time-consuming and costly. It is most commonly accomplished through the content analysis of thousands of newspaper reports on the interactions among nations in light of a previously defined set of criteria or codebook. Each observation uncovered in this way is then assigned some numerical score or a categorical code, which can then be analyzed quantitatively (Schrodt 1994 ). This potentially lengthy process requires that the researcher accomplish some or all of the following: identify sources, identify a period of analysis, create or borrow a coding scheme, train coders, generate the data, and check for reliability.

Foreign policy scholars have generated a significant number of important events datasets that remain central to quantitative methods of foreign policy analysis. The best of them are impressive collections offering decades-long periods of analysis, coverage of many countries (if not the entire international system) and standards of intercoder reliability well in excess of 80 percent (Burgess and Lawton 1972 ). The paragraphs that follow describe a subset of the available data. Particular attention is given to projects that were seminal to the methodological development of the field and those that generated datasets still widely used by contemporary scholars.

The World Event/Interaction Survey (WEIS)

The World Event/Interaction Survey Project began at the University of Southern California under the direction of Charles McClelland as a research project on the characteristics and processes of the international system (McClelland and Hoggard 1969 ). The initial WEIS dataset records the flow of action and response between countries (as well as non-governmental actors such as NATO and the United Nations) captured from a daily content analysis of the New York Times from January 1966 through December 1978 . This reliance on the New York Times produces a well-known bias toward western perspectives, which was acknowledged from the outset by McClelland and his co-authors. However, they argued that by using a single source they were better able to remove the “noise” surrounding observations. Furthermore, the inclusion of non-state actors raises important methodological issues with regard to the basic unit of analysis. This question has taken on increased salience with the rise in concern about terrorist activities by non-state international entities.

The basic unit of analysis in the dataset is the interaction, which is simply a verbal or physical exchange between nations ranging from agreements to threats to military force. Each of these observations is coded to identify the actors, target, date, action category, and arena. The WEIS databank also provides brief qualitative textual descriptions of each event. These narratives provide context, which facilitates the process of identifying and understanding outliers and applying statistical findings back to political reality – both important for successful events analysis. The initial WEIS effort has been continuously updated and is presently current through 1993 (Tomlinson 1993 ). Other projects, such as the Kansas Event Data System, have applied WEIS coding rules to new research.

WEIS data has been widely used in the FPA literature, both by McClelland and his students and by outsiders who took advantage of these public domain data to test their own questions. The applications are diverse, underlining the versatility of well-designed events datasets. Several early examples are noted by Rummel ( 1979 ): Tanter ( 1974 ) used these data to understand the dynamics of the two major Berlin crises of the Cold War ( 1948–1949 and 1961 ); Kegley et al. ( 1974 ) explored patterns of international conflict and cooperation; while many others began the ongoing process of understanding the relationships among key contextual variables such as relative development, size, and political system, on international conflict, cooperation, and systemic stability (Rosenau 1974 ). Applications continue to this day. For example, Reuveny and Kang ( 1996b ) utilized WEIS data in their exploration of causality in the relationship between international trade and conflict.

The Conflict and Peace Data Bank (COPDAB)

The COPDAB project was designed by Azar and colleagues (Azar 1980 ; 1982 ; Azar et al. 1972 ) as a longitudinal dataset of international and domestic events developed through content analysis of daily newspapers. In an advance over WEIS methods, COPDAB data is drawn from a wide variety of international and regional media outlets, thereby avoiding some potential bias issues.

COPDAB coders scored each event on a 16-point ordinal scale ranging from cooperative interactions to full-scale violence. The resulting dataset covers the interactions of 135 countries from 1948 to 1978 and can be analyzed at levels of aggregation ranging from the day to the year. Each record includes nine variables: date of event, actor initiating the event, target of the event, issue area(s), contextual information about the incident, and the source of the information about the event. The COPDAB dataset is particularly useful for those interested in the interactions between interstate and civil conflict and cooperation, as complementary datasets exist for both international and domestic events.

While the WEIS and COPDAB datasets are clearly conceptually related, scholars have disagreed about their compatibility (Howell 1983 ; Vincent 1983 ; Goldstein and Freeman 1990 ). The underlying definitions of conflict and cooperation are quite similar; however, coding differences introduce the potential for inconsistencies. Reuveny and Kang ( 1996a ) explore this issue in detail with a series of statistical tests and time-series analyses. They argue that COPDAB and WEIS are indeed compatible for the overlapping period between 1966 and 1978 . Building on this logic, they combine the WEIS and COPDAB series to create a larger events dataset covering the period from 1948 to 1993 that is potentially useful for scholars interested in working with a longer period of analysis.

International Crisis Behavior Project (ICB)

Although the final two projects outlined here (the International Crisis Behavior project and the Correlates of War [COW] project) are often excluded from discussions of foreign policy analysis, they are clearly a continuation of events research and are among the most frequently updated and widely used events datasets. The distinctive feature of the ICB and COW datasets is that they primarily focus on international conflict and therefore lack the range of conflictual and cooperative events that characterize the data projects discussed to this point. Researchers should note, however, that the ICB project does provide some indirect data on cooperation.

Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld launched the International Crisis Behavior project in 1975 with the goal of creating a comparative resource for those studying the concept of “international crisis.” There are two defining conditions for a crisis, which are built on work done by Azar (of the COPDAB project): “(1) a change in type and/or an increase in intensity of disruptive, that is, hostile verbal or physical, interactions between two or more states, with a heightened probability of military hostilities; that, in turn, (2) destabilizes their relationship and challenges the structure of an international system – global, dominant, or subsystem” (Brecher and Ben-Yehuda 1985 ).

The ICB project is congruent with many of the core concepts in FPA – for example, in the operationalization of key elements of decision maker perception. This is perhaps unsurprising, as many of the ICB’s primary researchers are steeped in the FPA tradition. To take one example, Michael Brecher’s ( 1974 ) book on Israeli foreign policy decisions, which pre-dates his work on the ICB project, is often cited as a seminal contribution to FPA that seeks to characterize a nation’s psychological and cultural environment as an access point to an understanding of its foreign policy.

As of January 2009 , the core systemic dataset that results from this definition codes 452 incidents from the end of World War I through 2006 (version 9.0). Each crisis is coded for a number of variables, ranging from characterizations of decision maker perception to operationalizations of structural and environmental factors as well as crisis characteristics and outcomes.

The ICB project is unusual in that it proceeds simultaneously at multiple complementary levels. There are independent actor and system level datasets that allow the researcher to explore distinctions between systemic and national level explanations for crisis emergence and behavior. In addition, the project provides qualitative data in the form of a brief narrative description of each crisis, 9 in-depth volumes comprising 15 in-depth case studies; and 14 other unpublished studies. These serve as an aid to the researcher interested in adding additional nuance to statistical findings generated from quantitative analysis.

Correlates of War Project (COW)

Like the ICB project, the COW project does not attempt to capture multiple tiers of conflict and cooperation, but rather focuses on conflict. Two definitions were developed by the COW project in the 1980s, namely, a “militarized interstate dispute” (MID), and a “militarized interstate crisis” (MIC). The former is defined as: “[A] set of interactions between or among states involving threats to use military force, displays of military force, or actual uses of military force […] these acts must be explicit, overt, non-accidental, and government sanctioned” (Gochman and Maoz 1984 ). This “evolves into a militarized interstate crisis when a member of the interstate system on each side of the dispute indicates by its actions its willingness to go to war to defend its interests or to obtain its objectives.” These are steps two and three along a four-step ladder of growing belligerence, beginning with an “interstate dispute” and culminating in an “interstate war” (Leng and Singer 1988 ).

The majority of scholars currently working with COW events data use the MID dataset. The current version of the dataset contains 2331 militarized disputes from 1816 to 2001 coded for duration, outcome, and level of fatality. In addition, there are several complementary datasets on various metrics of international interaction (ranging from alliance to power to geography) that are associated with the broader COW project and can be easily mapped onto the MID dataset. This body of quantitative data is perhaps the most widely used at the present time – particularly among scholars interested in conflict.

Trade Dependence and Foreign Policy Compliance

An important strand of the behavioral work of the 1970s and 1980s addressed the relationship between trade dependence and foreign policy compliance. While this was far from the only research question to draw on quantitative data, the methodological challenges that confronted it were representative of those faced by quantitative FPA in general and are therefore worthy of some attention. Several scholars working in this area (e.g., Richardson and Kegley 1980 ; Moon 1983 ; 1985 ) argued that relatively smaller and weaker states adopt the foreign policies of their dominant trading partners. Thus, economic dependence severely constrains the independent decision making of leaders in states that are economically reliant on larger patrons. However, consensus on this conclusion was elusive, in large part because of how difficult it is to measure the two key concepts – dependence and compliance. The inevitable result was that discussion of the relationship became bogged down in issues of definition and operationalization. This is symptomatic of a larger issue in the quantitative study of foreign policy. Because the operationalization of the amorphous concepts in foreign policy necessitates discretion from the researcher, it is easy to critique the underlying assumptions that gave rise to the data, not to mention the model. Furthermore, if more than one scholar takes on a question in FPA, they typically settle on different operationalizations of the same underlying phenomenon. A high profile example of this trend can be found in the proliferation of events datasets on conflict and cooperation that has already been discussed. The unfortunate result is that many studies are not comparable or cumulative to the degree we find in the hard sciences.

Events Data – Methodological Challenges

Events data analysis poses a number of methodological challenges that should be taken into account by those analyzing foreign policy. The first of these issues relates to the very core of the events data endeavor – that is, the idea that foreign policy incidents can be reduced to a single quantifiable value. Despite the best efforts of the designers of the data projects described here, it remains difficult to effectively accomplish a cardinal or even ordinal ranking of disparate foreign policy events. However, many of the statistical approaches widely used in political science require cardinal level data, or at least data spaced at even thresholds. As a result, those seeking to generate statistical models of events data need to be particularly careful to apply methods that rely upon defensible assumptions about the nature of the underlying data.

Researchers should also be aware of methodological issues that may arise from the relative sparseness of positive observations in events data. The degree to which this is a problem depends on the type of model and the level of aggregation that is used, but if one considers the daily probability of a foreign policy event it is apparent that null observations would dominate the dataset. King and Zeng ( 1999 ; 2001 ) demonstrate that bias and inappropriately inflated statistical significance may arise in models of zero-inflated data. This is particularly problematic in instances where these null data contain no real information. There are several potential solutions to this problem should it arise. Tomz, King, and Zeng ( 1999 ) suggest a rare events correction for logistic analysis, which they have made available as an addition to the widely used STATA software. A less sophisticated check for rare events bias is to simply drop a random subset of null observations in order to confirm that findings derived from the remaining sample are consistent with the original result.

The non-independence of foreign policy events presents an additional methodological challenge. Non-independence simply means that positive foreign policy interactions tend to contribute to future positive interactions, while negative events are associated with subsequent negative events. At first appearance this might seem obvious, but this reality undercuts an assumption of independence that underpins most statistical models used in quantitative foreign policy analysis. Beck, Katz, and Tucker ( 1998 ) did much of the work that brought this problem to the attention of the discipline and they suggest a solution that entails generating a natural cubic spline with knots at the first and second derivative.

FPA scholars working with events data should also guard against selection bias (sometimes referred to as selection effects) when designing research, as inattention to this methodological challenge can significantly skew findings from both quantitative and qualitative tests. Selection bias typically arises from pre- or post-sampling that preferentially includes or excludes a particular type of observation from the sample that is subsequently used in testing. This is particularly easy to do when working with data on foreign policy because it is relatively easy to identify events, but difficult to tease out non-events. The trouble is that without an accurate characterization of non-events it is impossible to say anything about the causes or incidence of the events. To take one prominent recent example of this methodological challenge, Robert Pape’s recent work on the causes of suicide terror ( 2005 ) has come under fire for “sampling on the dependent variable” (Ashworth et al. 2008 ). Because Pape limits his sample to incidents of suicide terror, he effectively leaves out the instances in which such attacks did not occur. As a result, his research design prevents him from effectively speaking of when suicide terror does and does not occur.

Beyond issues related to the application of statistical methods to events data, there is an additional conceptual concern regarding the unit of analysis that should command attention from foreign policy researchers. Because FPA concerns the foreign policy of states, but sees this policy as emerging from the actions of individuals, traditional units of analysis are blurred. The foreign policy event is the result of the interaction and interplay between leaders, organizations, institutions, and states; however, many of the microfoundational theories that underpin the FPA endeavor are cast at the level of the individual decision maker. As a result, events analysis brings with it the nascent challenge of explaining how individual actions aggregate to the foreign policy actions of states. To put the issue more succinctly, while FPA theories distinguish themselves from mainline international relations by opening the black box of the state, the empirical data collected by scholars interested in events analysis typically returned to the state as the central unit of analysis.

There are also very practical concerns to bear in mind – simple tasks related to data manipulation remain some of the primary challenges confronting researchers interested in working with events data. It can be a nontrivial task to gather and combine data on foreign policy events with the various explanatory and control variables that are required for regression analysis. Researchers confronted with these difficulties should be aware of the EUGene software developed by Scott Bennett and Allan Stam ( 2000 ). EUGene is a basic data management tool that simplifies quantitative analysis of foreign policy interactions. The software offers several advantages. First, it allows for relatively easy transition between commonly used units of analysis – country–year, dyad–year, and directed dyad–year. Second, the software is capable of easily combining many of the events datasets discussed here with basic demographic and geopolitical data including data uploaded by the user.

Finally, there is the issue of collecting new events data. The substantial early investments in projects like WEIS and COPDAB were made at the high point of governmental and institutional enthusiasm for events datasets – both datasets were products of the National Science Foundation’s well funded Data Development for International Research (DDIR) project. However, DDIR funding and government and private support for events data collection projects in general declined markedly by the mid-1990s. While this decline had many causes, it was in part brought on by the difficulties that comparative foreign policy had delivering on its early promise. It proved far more challenging than expected to build policy relevant quantitative models with predictive capacity. The relative decline in interest on the part of traditional funding sources raises the issue of how new events data might be generated. Computer coding of electronically stored sources, which will be discussed in greater detail later in this essay, has emerged as one way to address this dilemma.

Qualitative Methods of Foreign Policy Analysis

The behavioral revolution and Cold War politics proved fertile ground for the emergence of FPA. However, the first major challenge for the young field also stemmed from this dual heritage. The problem was that these divergent intellectual pedigrees gave rise to methodological requirements that were at times mutually exclusive – on the one hand, an imperative from behavioralism for generalizability, and, on the other, a low tolerance for error on the part of Cold Warriors seeking to immediately inform policy with scientific findings. The emerging recognition of this tension and the seemingly unavoidable high error terms in quantitative models of foreign policy brought an end to the exuberance among academics and the US government for quantitative, events-driven foreign policy research. Policy makers backed away from direct involvement in the FPA endeavor, while academics tempered their commitment to events data and quantitative methods. What emerged was a second generation of FPA methodology, one that largely abandoned universalized theory-building in favor of historical methods and qualitative analysis (Neack et al. 1995 ).

The primary weapon in the arsenal of second-generation FPA researchers is the case study. However, this transition should not be viewed as a complete departure from that which came before it. Many of these scholars place particular emphasis on developing case study methodologies driven by social science principles, with the explicit goal of building techniques that provide intellectual rigor comparable to that of quantitative approaches. The result has been a robust discussion of the role and execution of qualitative methods.

It is admittedly artificial to divide methods of foreign policy analysis by “generation,” as this implies clean transitions that are in reality far more blurred. While the concept of generational change is useful for understanding the broad developments in the field, the reader should be aware that there are many exceptions to the general rule. Alongside second generation case studies were a wide range of quantitative approaches that, while often abandoning the drive toward universalized theory that characterized previous work in comparative foreign policy, stressed both the outputs and the outcomes of foreign policy processes and actions. Similarly, careful qualitative analysis of foreign-policy decision making has always been an element of foreign policy analysis, and therefore cannot only be considered to have followed sequentially on the quantitative work done in comparative foreign policy (although it did take on renewed prominence).

Case Study Analysis

There is no shortage of examples of the excellent use of case study methodology in foreign policy analysis. Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision ( 1971 ) is often cited as a seminal piece of research in this area with an innovative methodological approach. While Allison’s volume is concerned with a single incident – the Cuban missile crisis – the book is not a single case study, but rather three. Allison explored the US decision making process in the context of three competing explanatory theories: a rational actor model, an organizational process model, and a government politics model. Each of these three explanatory models receives independent analysis in a separate section of the book. Allison ( 1971 :258) argues that these three models combine to provide a clear understanding of decision making in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis: “Model I fixes the broader context, the larger national patterns, and the shared images. Within this context, Model II illuminates the organizational routines that produce the information, options, and action. Model III focuses in greater detail on the individuals who constitute a government and the politics and procedures by which their competing perceptions and preferences are combined.”

Another important strand of qualitative foreign policy analysis draws on work from political psychology to theoretically inform case study analysis of the foreign policy decision making process. These efforts began with “operational code analysis,” which involves determining how decision makers’ core beliefs shape their foreign policy reactions (George 1969 ; Holsti 1970 ). Operational codes include decision makers’ beliefs about the likelihood of violence, their ability to shape or prevent it, as well as leadership strategies and styles.

Robert Axelrod applies a related technique, termed cognitive mapping, to understand the influence of leadership beliefs on foreign policy interactions. Cognitive mapping entails defining a decision maker’s stated goals and then determining the causal linkages between these goals as a way of predicting likely behavior. Several applications of this technique can be found in an edited volume titled Structure of Decision (Axelrod 1976 ). A more recent application of cognitive mapping can be found in Johnston’s ( 1995 ) work on Chinese–American relations.

This early work developed into a substantial body of foreign policy analysis based more broadly on the psychology of decision makers, a method that figures prominently in analyses conducted at the individual level. Larson ( 1985 ) is a leading example of this sort of scholarship. In her book, Origins of Containment , she traces the path of Cold War politics in the context of the cognitive psychology of American policy makers.

A great deal of work has been done in recent years to improve and formalize case study methodology. One such volume, King, Keohane, and Verba’s Designing Social Inquiry ( 1994 ), has been influential (and controversial) enough that it is often referred to simply by the initials of its authors – KKV. King, Keohane, and Verba draw on their diverse methodological backgrounds to argue that the core logic of causal inference and control should apply as much to qualitative work as it does to quantitative research. They suggest that, by applying the logic of statistics, it is possible to produce theoretically robust and generalizable results while increasing certainty in the validity of qualitative findings.

Bennett and George’s ( 2005 ) more recent work on case study analysis has also emerged as an important contribution to the development of robust qualitative methods. This book lays out methods for designing case studies that are maximally useful for the formulation of policy, which remains a fundamental goal of foreign policy analysis. Bennett and George suggest greater emphasis on within-case analysis, process tracing, and theory building. While these suggestions differ markedly from those of KKV, the underlying goal is quite similar – to create scientific case studies from which lessons can be systematically drawn. In this sense, both volumes speak convincingly to the aforementioned tension between nuance and generalizability that plagues methods of foreign policy analysis.

This issue of generalizability has developed into the core methodological challenge surrounding case study analysis both in foreign policy analysis and in political science more generally. While systematic knowledge of foreign policy interactions does not necessarily require the numerical comparability that comes with quantitative research, some degree of generalizability remains important to the independent identity of foreign policy analysis, as it is this forward-looking element that separates the sub-discipline from diplomatic history. However, comparisons across cases are difficult for two reasons. First, case studies require such a depth of knowledge and investment of time that it is unusual for a scholar to accomplish more than a handful of them on any given question, though there are important exceptions (e.g., Brecher 2008 ). Second, the comparatively loose structure of case studies can hinder comparison, as many analyses fail to address the same subjects on the same terms. One way that these challenges can be overcome is through collaboration within a consistent framework.

An example of such collaboration can be found in a relatively recent volume edited by Beasley et al. ( 2002 ). The volume brings together qualitative work from 15 independent researchers systematically exploring the foreign policies of 13 states. Through the coordinating efforts of the editor, the volume maintains a degree of comparability across the cases while drawing on the deep knowledge of the individual contributors. As a result, the reader is able to engage in comparative analysis within a coherent theoretical framework, allowing for the quick identification of patterns and outliers. There are several examples of similarly structured volumes, and they indicate an important role for collaboration as an approach to boosting the sample sizes of qualitative analyses and thereby the generalizability of findings. The result is “comparative foreign policy,” but of a qualitative variety.

Another interesting solution to the issue of case comparability is found in the qualitative research that has emerged from the qualitative side of the International Crisis Behavior Project, which was already mentioned in the context of events data analysis. These case studies, though they were written over many years and appear in a variety of different outlets, follow a similar format and concern themselves with a consistent set of issues. As a result, they are an explicitly cumulative effort. With each new case study, the body of comparable knowledge increases and this expansion is accompanied by improvement in the robustness of findings.

Gathering Qualitative Data

Those interested in applying case study methodology will need raw material with which to build their analysis. For many questions, considerable ground can be covered using basic library research techniques and secondary sources. However, some of the most fruitful case studies (in terms of their contribution to the existing body of knowledge) bring new information to light. There are several methods of obtaining original qualitative data. The sections that follow will briefly discuss four methods that have become central in foreign policy analysis: archival research, content analysis, interviews, and focus groups.

Archival Research

Original source material can be a crucial element of a quality case study. Typically, scholars uncover such information through archival research. Relevant foreign policy materials are commonly found in the document collections housed in presidential libraries, national archives, and universities. While the basic concept behind archival research is self-explanatory, the actual process of gaining access to collections and navigating their contents can intimidate the neophyte. There are a number of guides to archival methods that can alleviate such anxiety. Directions for identifying and searching appropriate archival sources as well as tips for navigating the archives themselves can be found in Marc Trachtenberg’s ( 2006 ) recent volume on methods – Appendix II will be of particular interest to those seeking to utilize archival methods. Hill ( 1993 ), Larson ( 2001 ), and Lustick ( 1996 ) provide additional detail on the nuances of archival research.

Content Analysis

Content analysis is a hybrid method that has played a longstanding and important role in quantitative and qualitative foreign policy analysis. The section of this essay on events data already discussed the ways in which content has been used to generate quantitative data for statistical analysis. For example, some of the earliest approaches to events data generation coded the content of elite communication (Winham 1969 ). However, more detailed content analyses have also been used to generate the raw material for case studies or other qualitative analyses. Ole Holsti ( 1969 ) was a pioneer of this method, while, more recently, Steve Walker and his students at Arizona State have developed a typology and quantitative content analysis scheme for operational code analysis (Walker et al. 1998 ). Those interested in additional detail on the mechanics of content analysis should consult Weber ( 1985 ), Neuendorf ( 2002 ), and West ( 2001 ).

Because the role of the individual figures so prominently in foreign policy analysis, interviews can be a particularly valuable method for accessing information about the mechanics of the decision making process. Interviews enable FPA scholars to delve deeply into the idiosyncrasies of the foreign policy process, gleaning deep insights from decision makers and those around them. Over time, FPA scholars have developed a robust set of interview methods designed to enable researchers to maximize the acquisition of information without introducing biases into findings.

There are a number of excellent examples of innovative interview methods in foreign policy analysis, which can serve as models for those interested in interview research. Prime among them are FPA classics such as Yuen Foong Khong’s Analogies at War ( 1992 ). Based on a series of interviews with senior officials (and archival research), Khong argues that leaders routinely reference the past when making foreign policy decisions and that this cognitive bias can profoundly alter decision making. Schoutlz ( 1987 ) does similar interview work in the context of US policy toward Latin America. More recently, Silber and Little ( 1995 ) draw on a series of interviews to uncover the foreign policy interactions at play in the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Berg ( 2001 ), Brenner et al. ( 1985 ), McCracken ( 1988 ), Mishler ( 1986 ), and Seidman ( 1998 ) provide useful, in-depth tutorials on interview methods.

Focus Groups

Focus group research is a derivative of interview methodology in which the researcher attempts to facilitate an organized discussion among the participants. In foreign policy analysis this typically takes the form of a meeting of experts in a particular foreign policy area, or participants in a prior foreign policy decision. Focus group methods can be particularly informative because the emerging consensus that comes from such discussions pools the knowledge of the participating individuals and therefore can overcome some of the potential biases of recollection and self-inflation that accompany individual interviews. However, concerns arise as well, due to some of the very same pathologies that FPA scholars have identified in the context of group decision making. For example, Janis’s ( 1972 ) concept of groupthink can take hold in such settings, with focus group members avoiding controversy and settling instead on a comfortable consensus, even if this consensus is out of step with reality. Along similar lines, the value of elite focus groups can suffer due to deference to higher-ranking participants and domination of the discussion by more talkative individuals who might overshadow important contributions by those less inclined to assert themselves (Krueger 2000 ).

Third Generation Methods of Foreign Policy Analyses

Neack, Hey, and Haney’s ( 1995 ) concept of generational change, to which this review has adhered thus far, captures only part of the methodological richness of FPA. There have long been methods of foreign policy analysis that fall outside this strict quantitative/qualitative divide, and there has been considerable recent growth in these alternative methods. Meanwhile, the distinction between quantitative and qualitative approaches to FPA has become increasingly blurred as the relative advantages of each approach have become more widely recognized. These events auger the arrival of a third generation of FPA scholarship that combines innovative quantitative and qualitative methods, thereby bridging the internal contradictions that split the second wave from the first and unifying a variety of methods of foreign policy analysis.

Several methods of foreign policy analysis are available to aspiring third generation foreign policy analysts seeking to move beyond events data and case studies including: computer assisted coding, experiments, simulation, surveys, network analysis, and prediction markets. The sections that follow will briefly introduce each of these methods, though the list is by no means exhaustive.

Machine Coding

Computer assisted coding of electronically stored information offers several advantages and represents an important methodological innovation that is likely to play an increasingly significant role in the future of foreign policy analysis. First, machine coding can be more reliable than human coding simply because it removes the possibility of individual error and the resulting questions of intercoder reliability. Second, machine coding is extremely rapid. Where earlier events datasets were generated over periods of many years, computers can sift through huge quantities of data in minutes. The result is that machine coding greatly reduces the cost of events data generation – effectively bringing control over such data to the masses (Gerner et al. 1994 ; Schrodt and Gerner, 1994 ). However, the obvious benefits of machine coding are accompanied by two important caveats: the initial programming that creates the coding rules must be accurate, and the raw data must exist in a machine readable format (Gerner et al. 1994 ). Advocates of human coding often counter that the low cost and speed of machine coding are accomplished at the expense of accuracy and nuance.

At present, the best example of a machine coded events project is the Kansas Event Data System (KEDS). This project is among the most active events datasets, due in part to the relatively low cost and speed of generating data in this manner. KEDS provides a computer program that enables users to specify and create personalized events datasets with a variety of output options. The researchers on the KEDS team use this software to code news reports and generate political event data focusing on the Middle East, the Balkans, and West Africa; however, this approach can be extended to other regions or the international system as a whole.

The machine coding community, including members of the KEDS project, is particularly interested in predictive models built on the unique capacities of this technology (Schrodt, 1979 ; 1994 ; Gerner et al. 1994 ; Schrodt and Gerner 2000 ; Shellman forthcoming ). Machine coding not only partially circumvents the need for large financial investments in events data by reducing the required labor and time, but also has the potential to address some of the concerns about the lack of predictive capacity that caused the decline in external funding in the first place. Because machine coding concentrates the researcher’s effort on developing decision rules rather than on the coding itself, once underway these programs can generate empirical data in real time. Such models that draw on continuously updated data effectively serve as early warning systems capable of identifying when political phenomena of interest are likely to occur. For example, Shellman and Stewart use machine coding to predict incidents of forced migration, which they applied with some success in Haiti (Shellman and Stewart 2007 ). This particular application of events data remains at the cutting edge of the FPA literature and will likely continue to be a productive avenue for future research.

Experiments and Simulation in Foreign Policy Analysis

Like all social science, foreign policy analysis struggles methodologically with the issues of control and causality. The quantitative and qualitative methods already discussed took hold in foreign policy analysis in part because the gold standard of the scientific method – experimental control – is typically off limits either for practical or for ethical reasons. However, with careful attention to design and feasibility, there are applications for experimental methods in the study of foreign policy, and where there are not, researchers have begun to turn their attention to simulation, which can achieve some of the same objectives. To take one recent example, Christensen and Redd ( 2004 ) examine how the context of foreign-policy decision making affects choice and assess this relationship in a controlled experiment conducted on undergraduates. They find that, at least in this context, the way in which information is presented directly affects the decision maker’s evaluation.

In recent years the nuts and bolts of experimental methods have drawn increasing attention. Along these lines, McDermott ( 2002 ) provides an interesting discussion of the origins and practice of experimental methods in political science, as well as the unique challenges this approach presents. One such challenge that should be considered carefully by those designing experiments meant to speak to foreign policy behavior is the trade-off between internal and external validity in experiments. Internal validity indicates that the proposed relationship between the independent and dependent variables is the true causal one. When such validity is high it means that extraneous variables and alternative explanations have been ruled out. While typically very difficult to achieve in the social sciences, high internal validity results from proper randomization in an experiment. External validity speaks to the degree to which a proposed relationship is generalizable to a broader set of cases or the world at large. Thus, experimental methods are powerful because they are high in internal validity; however, a leap occurs when we attempt to generalize experimentally derived results to actual political behavior.

This leap can be particularly worrisome when it is from an experimental finding generated from a non-elite individual – for example, an undergraduate student as was the case in the Christensen and Redd study – to a foreign policy decision maker. In such cases, the assumption of external validity may not be reasonable. Mintz, Redd, and Vedlitz ( 2006 ) explore this issue in detail, replicating an experiment on the subject of counterterrorism with a group of college student and a group of military officers. The authors find significant differences between these groups, suggesting that experimental subjects cannot be expected to play the role of foreign-policy decision makers without careful regard for their actual background. However, while these scholars argue that average individuals can tell us very little about the behavior of elites, they do find it more acceptable to use subjects like students as a sample of the public at large.

Simulation, a close relative of experimental methods, has its roots in the longstanding practices of war gaming and diplomatic analysis. However, recent efforts in this area draw extensively on advances in computing power and the internet. Research in this area builds on early work by the Inter-Nation Simulation (INS) project (Guetzkow et al. 1963 ), and slightly later efforts by Hermann ( 1969 ) and Alker and Brunner ( 1969 ).

The International Communication and Negotiation Simulations (ICONS) project is an ongoing extension of this early work that allows political practitioners and students to develop decision making and foreign policy skills through computer aided interactive simulation. Jonathan Wilkenfeld and Richard Brecht developed ICONS in the 1980s, building on Noël’s ( 1969 ) early POLIS simulations. As presently formulated, the ICONS project is more about training than research, but the technique presents an intriguing methodological opportunity for those interested in testing theories of foreign policy interactions in a controlled environment.

Survey Research in Foreign Policy Analysis

When it is focused at the elite level, as it often is, survey research in foreign policy analysis directly relates to the previously discussed interview methods. This stands in some contrast to the way in which survey research is conducted in other areas of political science. For example, in American politics there is a long tradition of survey research designed to pinpoint public opinion on a myriad of topics. In order to accomplish this, researchers are obliged to reach as representative a sample of the population as possible. In contrast, FPA’s focus on elite perception and behavior as a determinant of foreign policy leads to the wider usage of elite interviews.

While surveys lack the depth of an interview, they offer the corresponding advantage of breadth. First, by aggregating information from a more significant number of sources, a survey can minimize some of the idiosyncratic error that can plague interview methodology. Second, in a survey analysis it is easier to control for secondary variables that might influence the recollection or reporting of subjects. Finally, surveys can both contribute to qualitative analysis, and serve to generate high-quality data for aggregate analysis.

Holsti and Rosenau’s ( 1979 ; 1980 ) work on post-Vietnam attitudes is an excellent example of what can be accomplished in foreign policy analysis with elite surveys. Holsti and Rosenau were interested in the degree to which historical experience altered the perceptions and beliefs of opinion leaders and decision makers. Their expectation was that the Vietnam conflict significantly altered the perspective of those who drew their primary experience from that conflict rather than World War II. To answer this question they extensively surveyed groups that they believed to comprise the national leadership structure – military personnel, foreign service officers, business executives, labor leaders, clergy, media, etc. – and found significant differences between occupations and within generations.

Surveys can be particularly valuable when conducted repeatedly over several years, as this allows for longitudinal analysis – something that is crucial if one is interested in changes over time. Both the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conduct quadrennial surveys of government, academic, military, religious, and scientific “influentials” in order to measure the content of and changes in elite opinion. These surveys, and others that could be conducted along similar lines, are an underutilized resource for foreign policy analysis. Presser et al. ( 2004 ) and Rea and Parker ( 2005 ) are useful resources for those seeking additional detail on the mechanics of survey research and questionnaire design.

Network Analysis

FPA scholars can also benefit from the recent explosion of interest among political scientists in network analysis. Social network analysis, which is simply the mapping and measuring of relationships among entities in a complex system, is a useful tool for modeling foreign policy relationships because it incorporates both bilateral connections and wider connections among the larger group. Because of this, the technique analysis allows FPA scholars to understand relational data – the contacts, ties, connections, and transfers between decision makers that cannot be cleanly reduced to properties of the leaders themselves (Scott 1991 ). Furthermore, a network theoretic framework consistently captures the role of third parties in foreign policy interactions, which prove to be crucial to understanding outcomes.

Relational approaches have long been an underlying element in the study of foreign policy. For example, Anne-Marie Slaughter ( 2004 ) writes on the relationship between elite networks and international conflict. However, quantitative social network analysis first began to make significant inroads into political science in the 1990s primarily through the study of “policy networks” (Marin and Mayntz 1992 ; Marsh and Rhodes 1992 ), though there are earlier, pioneering examples (e.g., Eulau and Siegel 1981 ; Tichy et al. 1979 ). These studies, as well as later work in international relations (e.g., (Hammarström and Birger 2002 ; Wilkinson 2002 ; Montgomery 2005 ; Heffner-Burton and Montgomery 2006 ; Maoz 2006 ; Ward 2006 ), provide models for future work with foreign policy networks. In short, relational thinking and social network analysis have already contributed to the clarification of a number of puzzles in political science and present a potentially powerful way of approaching foreign policy analysis.

Prediction Markets

Prediction markets are information exchanges built to generate forecasts using a price mechanism. Futures generated from predictions of upcoming events are traded, such that their value is tied to a particular outcome. The result of this arrangement is that the market prices of these futures can be interpreted as the predicted probability of that outcome. There is a significant body of research that establishes the ability of markets to reduce error in predictions. By aggregating the bets of many individuals, these markets effectively use the price setting mechanism to uncover the consensus about a future foreign policy event in much the same way that the stock market predicts the economic performance of a company or oil futures respond to the expected scarcity of that resource. Pennock et al. ( 2001 ) demonstrate that in many cases prediction markets systematically outperform the estimates of even the best individual analysts. There are only a few examples of longstanding prediction markets that handle political futures. These include Intrade, which floats, among many other things, a diverse group of political contracts, and the longer running Iowa Electronic Market, which is an academically oriented project designed for evaluating the probability of election outcomes.

Prediction markets have been applied sparingly in international relations and foreign policy analysis, but have tremendous potential for future application because they offer an interactive mechanism with which individual foreign policy experts can aggregate their knowledge and opinions. Interestingly, given the methodological diversity that characterizes FPA as a sub-discipline, the method by which each expert who trades futures on a prediction market reaches his or her own conclusion is irrelevant. Thus, a prediction market can provide an alternative way to combine and generalize both deep qualitative knowledge and quantitative findings. Furthermore, this approach presents a novel way of dealing with error and uncertainty.

Prospective researchers in this area should note that some early applications of this approach have not gone smoothly. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently abandoned a promising plan to use a futures market to forecast the probability of important foreign policy events such as regime change and terrorist attacks when the media picked up on the program and it became controversial. Despite a robust literature on the efficacy of such markets, politicians and segments of the public seized upon the effort as being unethical or even nonsensical (Looney 2003 ). The unwanted attention led DARPA, which usually operates well beneath the public radar, to cancel the project almost immediately. It remains an open question whether this approach will become more politically feasible – seemingly a necessity because these markets generally require a significant initial investment, presumably by a government or university. However, private markets such as Intrade, which is a for-profit enterprise, seem to be a plausible alternative. Foreign policy futures, such as the probability of an Israeli attack on Iran, are traded regularly on Intrade and provide useful information about expectations. Moreover, futures on the outcome of the last presidential election vied with polling data for public and media attention in the lead up to the 2008 US presidential election suggesting that familiarity with these markets may be rising.

Remaining Methodological Challenges

Methods of foreign policy analysis have developed markedly over the past few decades, but challenges remain. An unavoidable tension persists between the accuracy needed for policy relevance and the scope needed for generalizability. As the grand theories of foreign policy interaction motivated those who launched the FPA enterprise proved elusive, the discipline increasingly turned to the nuanced examinations of cases. However, if taken too far this trend is a threat to the unique identity of FPA because it blurs the distinction with longstanding traditions of historical analysis. This survey of available methods suggests that a partial solution to this dilemma lies in bringing quantitative analysis and underutilized “third generation” methods back into the FPA fold by reintegrating them into the well-developed qualitative tradition. The goal should be to develop a healthy mix of methods that applies each approach to the questions which each is best equipped to address.

Additional attention should also be given to determining the degree to which current methods of foreign policy analysis allow predictive or prescriptive conclusions. In recent years, enthusiasm for FPA has been fueled in part by the failure of most international relations scholarship to accurately foresee key events in the international system – specifically the decline of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The argument is made that Cold War politics, because they were in some sense stable or at equilibrium, were better suited to elegant and parsimonious models of the systemic behavior of state actors. In contrast, the more chaotic world we presently inhabit is characterized by fluidity driven by human agents and therefore is best understood using the methods of foreign policy analysis (Hudson and Vore 1995 ). This is a reasonable hypothesis; however, prediction is a difficult game in the social sciences and it remains unclear whether FPA is indeed superior in this arena. In short, with a few notable exceptions such as the KEDS project, methods of foreign policy analysis lack predictive capacity and, when they are able to predict, are often unable to clearly state the degree of certainty surrounding these forecasts. More can and should be done to improve this capacity.

Foreign policy analysts should also give deeper consideration to the issues that accompany the choice of the unit of analysis in their models. FPA derives much of its explanatory power from its ability to speak to the individual’s role in the foreign policy process, but the dependent variables that these efforts attempt to explain are often the interactions between states. The result is a gap in our understanding of the process of aggregation by which the behavior of leaders results in the actions and reactions of states. This aggregation problem is widely noted, but additional work is required to complete our understanding of this element of the foreign policy process. Improvements in this linkage between theory and test, as well as a consistent unit of analysis (individual or foreign policy event) are particularly crucial for robust quantitative analysis, as it is in part the inability of the subfield to resolve this basic issue that stifled earlier research on events data.

Finally, more must be done to reengage foreign policy analysis with the core of international relations research. FPA scholars typically claim the first and second image as their domain, but fail to engage with those in mainline international relations who also work in this area. In the lead essay of the first issue of Foreign Policy Analysis , Valerie Hudson ( 2005 ) convincingly makes the case that FPA has the potential to reshape the entire discipline of international relations by focusing attention on the workings of the fundamental unit of analysis – the political decision maker. However, despite the call to arms, more often than not FPA scholars labor in relative isolation. Some of these divisions emerge from methodological issues and can therefore be resolved.

In sum, the future of foreign policy analysis appears to be bright. There is reason to believe that longstanding methodological battles that characterized it are drawing to a close with the recognition that multiple methods have their place in the study of foreign policy. In addition, new methods and questions are emerging that are likely to contribute to our understanding of the foreign policy process.

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  • Neack, L. , Hey, J.A.K. , and Haney, P.J. (1995) Generational Change in Foreign Policy Analysis. In L. Neack , J.A.K. Hey , and P.J. Haney (eds.) Foreign Policy Analysis. Contiguity and Change in its Second Generation . Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
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Links to Digital Materials

International Crisis Behavior Project. At www.cidcm.umd.edu/icb/ , accessed July 2009. The ICB project provides quantitative and qualitative data on international crises. The core systemic dataset currently contains 452 incidents from the end of World War I through 2006. The link above provides access to ICB data, codebooks, citations, and a variety of other useful materials.

Correlates of War Project. At www.correlatesofwar.org/ , accessed July 2009. The COW project website provides widely used events data on militarized interstate disputes as well as several other datasets that may be appropriate for FPA scholars. Data, documentation, and codebooks are available through the link.

EUGene Software. At www.eugenesoftware.org/ , accessed July 2009. The link provides access to the EUGene software package, as well as manuals and documentation (all free of charge). EUGene allows for relatively easy transition between commonly used units of analysis – country–year, dyad–year, and directed dyad–year. In addition, the software enables the researcher to combine many of the events datasets discussed in this essay with basic demographic and geopolitical data including data uploaded by the user.

Kansas Event Data System. At http:/web.ku.edu/keds/ , accessed July 2009. KEDS provides a computer program that enables users to specify and create personalized events datasets. Detailed descriptions of machine coding methods, as well as several datasets and codebooks, are available on the KEDS web page.

The Consortium on Qualitative Research Methods. At www.maxwell.syr.edu/moynihan/programs/cqrm/index.html , accessed July 2009. CQRM promotes qualitative research methods in the social sciences. They hold an annual training institute that may be useful for FPA scholars interested in expanding their knowledge of qualitative methods. In addition, they maintain a database of syllabae on qualitative methods.

Intrade. At www.intrade.com/ , accessed July 2009. Intrade is the leading prediction market for political futures. The site has prediction markets for a wide range of political and financial outcomes that may be of interest to FPA scholars.


I would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of Michael Glosny , Deborah Larson , Rachel Augustine Potter , and two anonymous reviewers. All errors are my own.

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US Foreign Policy

Chapter 1 introduction (week 1), 1.1 discussion questions.

Why do you take this class? Any stories or research questions that are of particular interest to you?

Any questions/comments about the syllabus?

1.2 What this course will and will not cover

We will focus on understanding contemporary US foreign policy. There are tons of topic to cover and we will only be able to cover only a small fraction of them. This is limited by the time we have and also by my research focus. That said, if there are topics that you would like me to cover in this class, please do feel free to propose them by sending me an email. If you come across readings, videos, or any other resources that you think would be useful to current (or future) students of this class, please do recommend them to me.

The primary focus of this class is to facilitate students to carry out and write up a research project. You are evaluated by your research projects and the thoughts and efforts you put into them. All materials covered in class will be made available on this website. So you do not have to take any notes in class. Instead, you should make sure that you’ve read and thought over the assigned readings and can actively engage in discussions. You should feel free to use the required and recommended readings to build up your research projects. Of course, you can and most likely need to draw on other resources too.

1.3 Assignments

The main purpose of this class is to facilitate you in writing up an essay. Note that essay 2 is an revision and expansion of essay 1. Essentially, there are two sets of assignments:

  • You will write an essay, present it, and write a critique on another student’s essay. These will be your essay 1, speech 1, and critique essay.
  • You will incorporate the critiques you get from the instructor and fellow students to revise your essay 1. Expand it by adding empirical evidence and support your theory/policy recommendations. You will also present it toward the end of the semester. These will be your essay 2 and speech 2.

Yes, these are a lot of work and you should be prepared to spend a good amount of time in reading and writing. If you are not ready, do not have enough time to devote (and contribute) to this class at the moment, or simply would prefer to just learn more about Chinese foreign policy without the workload, you can always visit this website (which should be fully complied toward the end of the semester) to study at your own pace.

Given the number of students enrolled, we will hold the presentations in asynchronous manner by having students submit their recorded presentations to Blackboard. Note that you will be required to watch and evaluate two fellow students’ speeches. This will be conducted via peer review assignments (more on this below).

In terms of your essay, you are free to apply either qualitative or quantitative methods (or both). Some students are taking methods training at the same time. You can use this opportunity to practice the methods you’ve learned.

If, however, you are not taking any methods class now, you can still write up an essay by clearly explaining what your theory is, why it is important, and what the empirical evidence is. For the empirics, you can use case studies to test/support your theory. Please pay special attention in justifying why the cases you draw on are crucial in (dis)confirming the theory. If you have not heard about least likely and most likely crucial cases, please take a look of this paper by Gerring: Is There a (Viable) Crucial-Case Method? .

Finally, I would also recommend that you cite the readings (either required or recommended) in this class. You do not have to do so, particularly if none of the readings overlap with your topic of interests. But it could be a good way to reduce your workload. You can also draw from the resources that I listed in this website.

1.3.1 Structure of the essays

I prefer not to lay down too many hard rules about the structure of your essays (and relatedly, I prefer not to offer any sample essays from your fellow students). You should feel free to construct your essay in a way that can best help your argument. That being said, I also understand for some students these could be your first written essay. Let me emphasis that the research articles discussed throughout the semester are all samples of good research. You should feel free to mimic their structures. You can also check some tutorials, such as this: How to Write Your First Research Paper , by Elena D. Kallestinova from Yale’s writing center. I am also providing some rough guidance below.

The end goal of this class is essay 2. It should have

  • An introduction section, explaining your research question and making the case concerning why it is worth investigating.
  • The next section should explain your theory/policy in detail, aiming at convincing the readers that your arguments are sound and cogent.
  • You would then follow this with a section that provide and analysis the evidence.
  • In these two main sections, you should remember to consider and address alternative arguments and opposing views.The instructor and your colleagues will try to help. But you should also carefully think through potential counter-arguments to strengthen your paper.
  • A conclusion section that summarize your argument. You can also discuss the policy implications or potential limitations of your research in this section.

Now, essay 1 should aim to setting up the first 2-3 sections of this final essay. So your focus should be placed on explaining your research question clearly and telling us why it is important to study the question. You should also provide some initial/tentative arguments or conjectures (and offer some evidence if you have them). This way, your colleagues and I can better help by offering some counter-arguments.

In this regard, the critique essay should have at least two parts.

  • An introduction that explain the reviewed essay’s argument. This way, the respective colleague can have a better idea in terms of whether they have explained their theory/policy clearly.
  • A section that offers counter-arguments. If there are any logical gaps, please do point them out. If you need additional information to be convinced, please tell your colleague. If you know stories or information that contradict the author’s interpretations, please do provide them (and with the sources of your information). Again, these assignments are designed to help you and each other write up a good essay. Therefore, try to be respective and constructive in your critique essay. Put good work into your essay 1 so that others can help in a more cost-efficient manner.

1.4 Optional presentations

At the beginning of each class, students will have the opportunity to give a 5 minutes presentation on a topic of their interests or talk about latest news relevant to Chinese politics. This is arguably the best way for us to engage with each other and to increase your participation bonus points as well.

At the beginning of each week (say, by the end of Monday), students can propose their topic. This presentation does not have to overlap with the essay you are writing. It also does not have to be the latest events. You could, for instance, talk about a historical case or broad strategic questions concerning a certain project/region.

1.5 Appointment

I am happy to discuss with you about your research questions/interests either individually or in small groups. Online meetings will be held via Webex. Given the number of students we have in this class, please send me an email in advance for appointments. In the email, please specify

  • Your questions or purposes for the meeting.
  • Two or three time slots that work the best for you.
  • Whether you are willing to meet in a small group with students that share similar questions.

If you would like to arrange in-person meetings, please make sure in advance that you meet the university’s requirements (vaccination or recent negative tests).

1.6 Resources

Here are some think tanks and research institutes you can check concerning US foreign policy.

  • Rand Coporation
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Foreign Policy
  • International Affairs Blog
  • War on the Rocks

1.7 Course schedule

We will follow the schedule specified in the syllabus.

1.8 How to search and download research articles

Here are the steps to search and download articles via the library’s portal. First, you need the library’s UBsearch: https://ubsearch.sbg.ac.at/ . And then type in the journal you are looking for. In this example, it is Foreign Affairs.

introduction for foreign policy essay

In the search results, you need to look for e-journal.

introduction for foreign policy essay

In this step, you might be prompted to log into your Salzburg account. Remember to select a database that covers the year you are looking for.

introduction for foreign policy essay

You can now search the article by name and then download the pdf.

introduction for foreign policy essay

1.9 How to submit your work on Blackboard

Here are the steps to submit and evaluate peer review assignments (essay 1, speech 1, and speech 2). We are going to walk through the steps via a toy example after class. If you encounter any difficulties, please do make sure that you bring them up next week.

introduction for foreign policy essay

After the submission deadline has passed, you will be assigned to evaluate two peers’ answers. Please finish the evaluation before the deadline. For the speeches, the deadlines are within one week. For essay 1, you have two weeks to write up your critique.

introduction for foreign policy essay

What Roles Do Congress and the President Play in U.S. Foreign Policy?

What does the Constitution say about foreign policy? In this free resource, explore how the powers of Congress and the president protect and advance the country’s interests abroad.

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the dais behind him at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2021.

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the dais behind him at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2021.

Source: MELINA MARA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

On July 10, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson walked into the Senate chamber with a document under his arm: the Treaty of Versailles. That occasion marked the first time in 130 years that a president personally delivered a treaty to the Senate floor.

The document reflected Wilson’s vision for a peaceful global order following World War I , and he had spent the past six months negotiating its conditions in France. If approved, it would have brought the United States into the League of Nations, a new intergovernmental organization founded on the idea that security threats to one member demanded responses from all members. 

On the Senate floor, Wilson called for the chamber’s approval: “The stage is set, the destiny disclosed. It has come about by no plan of our conceiving, but by the hand of God. We cannot turn back. The light streams on the path ahead, and nowhere else.”

But Wilson’s big dreams for world peace crashed into harsh realities. Despite his advocacy, the Senate voted against the treaty, fearing the potential entanglements and obligations of membership associated with joining the League of Nations. Who would the United States be required to defend and at what cost?

The humbling episode was far from the only time Congress has rebuffed a president’s foreign policy agenda. In fact, the executive branch, led by the president, and the legislative branch, led by Congress, periodically clash, in part by constitutional design, on issues such as using military force and signing international agreements. However, that relationship has changed over time, and, since the end of World War II, the president has frequently had the upper hand in shaping the country’s foreign policy.

In this resource, we’ll explore what the Constitution says about making foreign policy and how foreign policymaking is actually carried out today.

What does the Constitution say about foreign policy? 

Although the U.S. Constitution is arguably the country’s most important document, it’s not particularly long. In fact, the original text clocks in at only 4,543 words—approximately the length of a twenty-page essay, double spaced.

As a result, the Constitution doesn’t provide instructions for how to handle every conceivable foreign policy situation. Instead, it sets general guidelines and splits foreign policy–making responsibilities between the executive and legislative branches. Some of those responsibilities are clearly and explicitly stated, while others are implied and have been interpreted differently over the years. 

Powers of Congress

The Constitution gives Congress several enumerated, or expressly granted, powers:

  • It can appropriate federal funding. Every year, Congress reviews and approves the federal budget, making decisions on which defense and diplomatic programs—among others—to fund or cut.
  • It has the exclusive power to declare war. Congress has exercised this power eleven times, the last of which was during World War II. The Constitution also empowers Congress to authorize military force without having to declare war, as it did—among other times—in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s. Additionally, Congress has used this clause to legislate how the president executes military action. For example, in 1973, it passed the War Powers Resolution, which requires the president to notify Congress within forty-eight hours of military action. 
  • It can regulate foreign commerce, which includes the power to impose tariffs and economic sanctions . In 1808, Congress used this power to abolish the slave trade.
  • It has the power to “raise and support Armies.” Congress has interpreted this clause to include the power to create, eliminate, and restructure agencies in the executive branch, such as the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security.
  • The Senate can approve the nominations of cabinet members, ambassadors, and senior military officials. Although the president nominates the officials in charge of executing U.S. foreign policy—such as the heads of the State Department, the Department of Defense, the military services, and ambassadors—Congress can reject or approve those nominations.
  • The Senate can provide advice on and consent for treaties. The president can negotiate treaties with foreign governments; however, the Senate has the exclusive power to approve them. During the approval process, the Senate can also attach conditions or reservations to the treaty.

Constitution Gives Congress Certain Foreign Policy Powers: Funding the federal government, Declaring war, Approving treaties and raising armies. For more info contact us at cfr_education@cfr.org.

Powers of the president

The Constitution gives the president several enumerated powers in foreign policy as well: 

  • They can nominate cabinet officers, ambassadors, and senior military officers. Presidents have interpreted this responsibility to include the power to recognize foreign governments and conduct diplomacy with other countries.
  • They can negotiate treaties. Presidents have used this clause to assume the role of head negotiator in all manner of diplomatic matters.
  • They serve as commanders in chief. Presidents have used this authority to deploy the country’s armed forces and collect foreign intelligence.

Constitution Gives President Certain Foreign Policy Powers: Nominating cabinet officers, ambassadors and senior military officers, negotiating treaties and commanding the military. For more info contact us at cfr_education@cfr.org.

What does the balance of power between the president and Congress look like in practice? 

Although the Constitution assigns certain enumerated powers to the president and Congress, many of those powers overlap and conflict. As a result, a tug-of-war periodically ensues over the country’s foreign policy agenda.

That tension has been a defining feature of U.S. foreign policy since the country’s founding. For instance, President George Washington and Congress clashed in 1793 over whether to take sides in a conflict between Britain and France. 

Let’s explore what the division of foreign policy responsibilities looks like today. 

Military operations: Although presidents have command over the military, they must notify Congress within forty-eight hours of sending troops abroad according to the War Powers Resolution. If Congress fails to authorize the military action, presidents are required to withdraw troops within sixty days, with a possible one-time extension to ninety days. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution to ensure that presidents can act effectively in a military context by deploying troops quickly, though not without Congress’s eventual approval. However, past presidents have violated the War Powers Resolution without facing action from Congress. For example, President Barack Obama ignored the War Powers Resolution when intervening in Libya in 2011, arguing that the U.S. involvement fell short of full-blown hostilities, thus not requiring invoking the act.

International agreements: According to the Constitution, the Senate can approve, reject, or sit on (not take action on) treaties. However, in recent decades, presidents have circumvented the Senate and struck bilateral and multilateral agreements with other countries on their own authority. Although that process provides presidents greater latitude to join international treaties, such agreements are not binding commitments under U.S. law, and future presidents can easily reverse them.

Immigration: Congress can pass legislation setting the United States’ immigration policies. The president’s job is to execute those laws; however, they can also advance their own agenda in certain ways. For instance, in 2011 Congress failed to pass Obama’s DREAM Act, which would have permanently protected immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. In response, Obama issued an executive action that deferred deportation for those individuals. However, Obama’s action was ultimately litigated and ruled unconstitutional.

Intelligence: The president nominates the heads of all intelligence agencies such as the FBI and the CIA and approves all covert action or classified foreign missions . However, committees within the House and Senate oversee those intelligence agencies, and Congress has the power to set their budgets.

Trade: Congress approves every significant trade deal between the United States and foreign countries. However, Congress has, at times, delegated certain trade powers to the president. For example, since 1974, it has enacted various time-limited legislation that grant the president the power to negotiate trade deals before they are put to a congressional vote.

Foreign aid:  Executive branch agencies—such as the State Department, Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—distribute foreign aid. However, Congress determines how much funding each agency receives through its approval of the federal budget. In the past, Congress has also intervened directly in the provision of aid—for instance, by passing legislation that withholds aid from governments with poor human rights records.

Is the balance of power actually balanced?

Since the end of World War II, presidents have exercised enormous latitude in using military force, forging and breaking international agreements, and conducting diplomacy. Although the president and Congress split foreign policy responsibilities, most scholars agree that the balance of power today skews decisively toward the president for five principal reasons.

Constitutional authority: This authority specifically refers to the powers given to Congress and the president in the Constitution and as a result of its interpretation through time, practice, and Supreme Court rulings. The president’s responsibilities include leading diplomatic efforts and serving as commander in chief.

Statutory authority: This authority refers to the powers assigned to a government official or agency through legislation passed by Congress. In many instances, Congress has delegated foreign policy powers to the executive branch in an effort to empower presidents to act effectively. Presidents often interpret those delegated powers in ways Congress did not originally intend. For example, Congress passed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) , which gave the president sweeping power to pursue the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their supporters. More than two decades later, the AUMF is still being used to justify military action in Iraq and Syria against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, a terrorist group that didn’t even exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

Veto power: Although this power is rarely exercised over foreign policy issues, presidents can veto any legislation passed by Congress. Congress can override a presidential veto with the support of two-thirds of their members, but it has only done so in less than 5 percent of all vetoes. The daunting odds of overriding a presidential veto can deter Congress from trying to legislate foreign policy in the first place.

Presidential initiative: In the past, presidents have taken unilateral actions without consent or approval from Congress under the assumption that Congress would be unable to organize a response due to partisan splits or other reasons. In many instances, those unilateral actions have been executive orders —presidential declarations that carry the force of the law but do not require congressional approval. Using executive orders in foreign policy has its limitations. For one, subsequent administrations can easily undo a predecessor’s executive order. In fact, in the first hundred days of President Joe Biden’s tenure, he reversed almost 30 percent of his predecessor’s executive orders.

Judicial intervention: When Congress and the president disagree over power and purview, the third branch of government—the judiciary—can arbitrate. However, the Supreme Court has shown reluctance at times to make such rulings. For example, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case in 1979 regarding former President Jimmy Carter’s right to end a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan without congressional approval. As a result of the court’s silence, Carter could continue his policy. 

What is the future of U.S. foreign policy?

Although foreign policy–making power favors the president today, Congress is far from impotent. It can shape public opinion on foreign affairs by holding public hearings and investigations as it did during the Vietnam War and the Iran-Contra Affair . Additionally, congressional consensus is often required to prompt substantial action on an issue. For example, the United States rejoined the Paris climate accords in 2021 through an executive order, but in order to meet any of the agreement’s goals, Congress must pass legislation implementing major environmental policies, which has proven difficult, though some, such as the $500 billion dollar Inflation Reduction Act, have passed. Congress can also pass legislation to curtail a president’s powers or reprimand them for overstepping their authority. However, in recent decades, partisan division has frequently prevented Congress from reaching consensus on many issues—including foreign policy—making it difficult to pass legislation.

Congress’s influence over foreign policy is greatest when presidents require its action, such as with issues of trade, budget appropriations, and domestic legislation. Conversely, Congress’s influence is weakest when the president is widely regarded as empowered to act unilaterally, such as when negotiating and deploying military forces. Congress also struggles when its authority is disputed—as with initiating major interventions—in part because it can only succeed by overcoming a presidential veto.

Congress and the president play distinct and important roles in setting and executing U.S. foreign policy. Although the president holds the lion’s share of the power today, history has shown that the relationship between those two branches of government is constantly evolving.

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Objective: This paper investigates the contradictions in the decision-making process of the United States, which historically proven to be successful policies in the short term, but in the long term proven to be wanting and failure. Methodology: The paper uses descriptive, historical, comparative method. Also, the paper proposes four models to examine the decision-making process and how it differs in the short term and the long term. The models are: 1. Individual and rational model (Model I); 2. Organizational and groupthink model (Model II); 3. Governmental and bureaucratic model (Model III); 4. Communication and information model (Model IV). Results: the study shows that Models I and IV are among the major explanatory factors for the failure of the US decision-making process in the long term. Conclusion: the study

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Foreign Policy - Free Essay Examples and Topic Ideas

Foreign policy refers to a government’s approach to interacting with other countries and international organizations. It encompasses a wide range of policies and strategies, including diplomatic efforts, trade and economic relations, security and defense agreements, and humanitarian aid. The primary goal of foreign policy is to promote the national interests and security of a country, while also working towards global stability and cooperation. Effective foreign policy requires careful consideration of geopolitical factors, cultural differences, and the evolving dynamics of international relations.

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American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers : Summary and Introduction

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Anders Stephanson, American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers : Summary and Introduction, Diplomatic History , Volume 39, Issue 2, April 2015, Pages 359–374, https://doi.org/10.1093/dh/dhu062

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This is an extensive summary of the first and lengthiest of the two essays by Perry Anderson on postwar U.S. foreign relations that made up an entire issue of the New Left Review (September–October 2013) and was published in 2015 by Verso under the title American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers . “Imperium” deals with the history and historiography of the period 1943–2013 while “Consilium,” the second essay, is devoted to an account of recent thinkers, the organic intellectuals of the present empire so to speak and some of its critics. In an earlier issue (“Homeland,” May–June 2013), Anderson had analyzed the domestic system and its politics and was struck by the radical divergence between the framing and dynamics of the inside as opposed to the outside. From the vantage point of Diplomatic History and the subfield in general, it is highly unusual to find an intellectual of Anderson’s international stature address our central issues and ways of dealing with them.

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The Study of Foreign Policy in International Relations

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  • Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs 06(04)

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introduction for foreign policy essay

Foreign Policy Analysis

A Comparative Introduction

  • © 2007
  • Marijke Breuning

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U.S. Foreign Policy and the Complex Factors in the Decision-Making Process

introduction for foreign policy essay

Dutch Foreign Policy: Staying the Course Amid a Changing World

  • decision-making
  • foreign policy

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Front matter, why study foreign policy comparatively, do leaders shape foreign policy, how leaders make sense of the world, leaders are not alone: the role of advisors and bureaucracies, leaders in context i: domestic constraints on foreign policy making, leaders in context ii: international constraints on foreign policy making, who or what determines foreign policy, back matter.

"Well-known scholar and journal editor Marijke Breuning provides a welcome new text to the field of foreign policy analysis. Aiming the book at those with no prior study of international relations, she uses both U.S. and other country examples to introduce students to the comparative study of foreign policy decision making.By posing interesting questions and puzzles, she conveys both concepts and theories in an accessible way.Our field s curricular literature has just been enriched, and those wanting to teach an undergraduate foreign policy analysis course owe it to themselves and their students to check out this volume."

- Ralph G. Carter, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Texas Christian University

About the author

Bibliographic information.

Book Title : Foreign Policy Analysis

Book Subtitle : A Comparative Introduction

Authors : Marijke Breuning

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230609242

Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan New York

eBook Packages : Palgrave Political & Intern. Studies Collection , Political Science and International Studies (R0)

Copyright Information : Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2007

Hardcover ISBN : 978-0-312-29619-3 Published: 15 November 2007

Softcover ISBN : 978-0-312-29620-9 Published: 15 November 2007

eBook ISBN : 978-0-230-60924-2 Published: 26 November 2007

Edition Number : 1

Number of Pages : X, 207

Topics : International Relations , Political Science , Diplomacy , Comparative Politics , Foreign Policy

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PLCY 860 Introduction to Foreign Policy

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This course requires students to research the basic contours of academic research in foreign policy. Students will work with their faculty member to understand the scope, history, controversial issues, and methods associated with academic research in this cognate. This research will serve as a stepping-stone to conducting a comprehensive literature review for their dissertation and provide the needed context to ensure that the student’s chosen dissertation topic is focused and appropriate.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the  Academic Course Catalog .

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This course is designed to help students undertake independent research that contributes in an original way to the foreign policy field. Students will address real world foreign policy problems in the field with a strong understanding of the role of geopolitics, political culture, political economy and religion in affecting foreign policy issues of importance. Students will complete a professional literature review to help prepare them to complete their dissertation. Students will contribute to research and learn to produce new knowledge through a thorough evaluation of theories and different approaches to the study of foreign policy. American evangelicals have had a long-term impact in world affairs and Christian approaches to international affairs will be emphasized. Scholars and policy makers need to be aware of the power of faith to inform and enhance foreign policy. Learning about the foreign policies of central countries like Britain, the United States, France, Israel, Russia, Germany, China, India, Iran and South Africa will help students gain an important understanding of foreign policy making in the world today.

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After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations , the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (4)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be 750-800 words, contain 3 scholarly citations (with the exception of “Discussion: Sage Research Methods and Foreign Policy Context” which will require at least 5 scholarly sources), contain at least 1 relevant Bible verse, and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 150-250 words and include at least 1 scholarly source. Sources will be cited in current APA format and must have been published within the last 5 years. 

Op-Ed Paper Assignment

Every member of the class is required to submit one written Op-Ed essay of no more than 1000 words, of the sort that might appear in a major national newspaper.

Research Paper: Outline Assignment

Students will prepare an outline to highlight the selected topic for the second research paper, identify specific challenges related to the topic, and provide recommendations drawn from the course material. Additionally, students will provide a list of at least 10 scholarly sources in addition to the course readings and presentations. The sources will be listed using an alphanumeric outline format. Citations will be in current APA format.

Research Paper: Short Assignment

The student will be required to draft 1 short research paper. The paper must contain 12–15 double-spaced pages of content (not including the title page and bibliography) in current APA format, with default margins, and use 12-pt. Times New Roman font. A minimum of 10 scholarly sources in addition to the course readings and presentations and at least 1 Scripture reference are required. Each paper must include a title page and bibliography in current APA format.

Analytical Paper Assignment

Every member of the class is required to submit one analytical essay, modeled on one of the short essays in the journal Foreign Affairs. This essay must be at least 2–3 pages (not including the required Title page and Bibliography), contain a minimum of 3 scholarly sources in addition to the course readings and presentations, include at least 1 Scripture reference, and adhere to current APA format.

Research Paper: Final Assignment

The student will write a 17-20 page double-spaced critical assessment research paper on a topic related to the course. The discussion of the topic should, ideally, be an extension and development of your chosen topic for Research Paper 1 and should also include an understanding of the following: 1) The major ideas relating to foreign policy as defined in this course, and specifically the public policy context and process; 2) Biblical integration; and 3) an awareness of current, scholarly research on the topic. This paper must contain a minimum of 20 scholarly sources in addition to the course readings and presentations, include at least 1 Scripture reference, use current APA format, and include a Title page and Bibliography.

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Indian Foreign Policy: Phases, Shifts and the Future

Last updated on January 6, 2023 by ClearIAS Team

foreign policy

India is on its path to become a regional superpower with considerable influence in global affairs.

Our foreign policy is a critical component in projecting this image and achieving many of its objectives.

Read here to know more about Indian foreign policy and its future.

Table of Contents

Indian Foreign Policy

The foreign policy of India or any country is shaped by two factors – domestic and international. Domestically, India’s history, culture, geography and economy have played an important role in determining the objectives and principles of India’s foreign policy.

The international factor, which is marked by the Cold War rivalry between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the founding of the UN, the weapons race, notably the nuclear arms race, anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism, etc.

The 3 S’s – Space for Strategic Autonomy, Stability – Both Within and in the Neighbourhood, Strength – Economic, Military, and Soft Power to Protect and Advance Indian Interests – have been mentioned by many specialists as the best way to summarise the objectives of Indian Foreign Policy.

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The extent to which Indian foreign policy has succeeded in achieving these objectives is debatable. What is undeniable, though, is that foreign policy plays a critical role in ensuring that India achieves her goals as a country both now and in the future.

Let’s examine the many stages of our foreign policy’s development and the underlying elements that have influenced it.

Indian Foreign Policy: Phases

Indian Foreign Policy can divided into seven phases of evolution:

  • The Power of Ideas (1947-1962)
  • The Fractured Years (1962-1970)
  • The Idea of Power (1970-1989)
  • The Years of Reflection (1990-1998)
  • The Reality of Power (1998-2011)
  • Back to the Future (2011-2014)
  • Enlightened National Interest (2014)

1. The Power of Ideas (1947-1962)

Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the most important leaders in the national movement. He served as the president of India at the time of independence. Along with serving as Prime Minister, he also served as Foreign Minister. He influenced Indian foreign policy for years to come as a steadfast idealist based on Gandhian and socialist ethos.

The concepts themselves were derived from the national movement and the prevalent progressive philosophies of the period. Non-Alignment served as the cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy at the time. India ascended to the position of dominance among the nations of the third world through the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM).

The main concern was to stay out of the USSR and US government’s Cold War block rivalry. The standard for judging issues was to be merit, not impartiality. Panchsheel, the five tenets of peaceful coexistence, served as the guiding ideals of this period.

India strongly opposed apartheid and backed efforts to decolonize the country. We also emphasised the need for peacekeeping and disarmament. This was made abundantly evident by our involvement in the Korean War. And the fact that we sponsored the Partial Test Ban Treaty.

The emphasis was also on inclusive and equitable development, Afro-Asian unity at the Bandung Conference, and multilateralism through the UN, Commonwealth, and other organisations. India’s idealistic outlook earned it respect among its neighbours and even among advanced western countries.

India was viewed as the obvious leader among the newly independent emerging countries. However, idealism had its limits. Non-Alignment was deemed “immoral” by the USA.

When India brought the Kashmir dispute before the UN, the US and the UK interjected, making matters more complicated and serving as the main impediment to a resolution.

The Sino-Indian War of 1962, in which China, a nation we had supported fervently since 1949, essentially turned its back on us and attacked, was perhaps the cruellest blow.

2. The Fractured Years (1962-1970)

After the Sino-Indian War, we also lost Mr Nehru, our Prime Minister. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s leadership was tough but not as effective as his predecessor’s on a global scale. The Indian Foreign Policy was impacted by this.

We had to start a new war in 1965 after Pakistan attacked us. In addition to this, the US imposed food sanctions on us for questioning the US’s role in Vietnam.

We also had a time of reflection during which we realised that realism, rather than idealism, was the foundation upon which the universe operated.

Smt. Indira Gandhi became the prime minister in the latter half of the decade. The challenges we overcame also presented us with several internal opportunities. The much-needed modernization of the Indian military was brought about by the Sino-Indian War.

The US sanctions served as the impetus for the Green Revolution, which produced enough food. The 1965 Indo-Pak war also helped India in the future by sparking strategic thought. The fractious years served as the foundation for the change in Indian foreign policy for many years.

3. The Idea of Power (1971-1989)

In India’s political system, Smt. Indira Gandhi had established her dominance by 1971. Centralization, Authoritarianism, and Courage in the face of adversity were traits that defined her reign.

Indian foreign policy acknowledged the value of power for the first time. So to speak, we returned to our Kautilyan origins.

The 1971 Indo-Pak War, which led to the establishment of Bangladesh, demonstrated the power of India’s military prowess and diplomatic skills. We were able to resist pressure from the USA by signing a friendship treaty with the USSR.

We conducted our first nuclear weapons test in 1974 and then left the Non-Proliferation Treaty because it was unfair.

As India became closer to the Soviet Union during this time, non-alignment gradually eroded as well. Socialist policies, such as nationalising banks and enforcing stricter licencing requirements, were also consolidated. Through it all, the economy was neglected, and in 1991, it finally bit us.

4. The Years of Reflection (1990-1998)

In the early 1990s, India did not do so well. The economy had been poorly managed, which had resulted in the current foreign exchange crisis. The North East, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir all saw mutinies during that time. The Soviet Union, our biggest “friend” on the international stage, swiftly fell apart, leaving us “friendless.”

Additionally, the crisis brought about certain logical changes in the economy and foreign policy. A new economic strategy focused on globalisation, privatisation, and liberalisation was established.

We made contact with the US and emphasised the need for closer ties. The next significant phase of Foreign Policy was put in motion by the robust performance of the Indian economy, which concealed domestic political weakness.

5. The Reality of Power (1998-2011)

India conducted its second nuclear test in Pokhran to usher in a new era of foreign policy (1998). The first test and the response to it were circumspect, but the second test made it plain that India was now a nuclear-weapon state.

Despite the US’s first response to sanctions, it soon became clear that democratic India, with its population and rapidly expanding economy, could be an ally in the future. This sparked the Talbott-Jaswant Singh negotiations, which greatly enhanced ties between the US and India.

The Indian economy was now expanding at a rate of around 8% annually. We saw the middle class grow and the IT revolution. On the strength of its reputation as a democracy and a strong economy, India also increased its soft power. A Look East Policy and better ties with China were added to the strong US connections.

In 2008, the US and India signed the Civil Nuclear Agreement, which was a significant victory for India. The prosperity of the Indian diaspora in the US contributed to the rapprochement of the two nations.

6. Back to the Future (2011-2014)

In 2011, a group of thinkers published the NAM 2.0 paper. This emphasized the need for strategic autonomy to underpin Indian foreign policy.

Strategic autonomy has continued to be an important factor in guiding India’s foreign policy, despite criticism that it focused too heavily on the now-outdated Non-Alignment idea.

7. Enlightened National Interest (2014)

Mr Narendra Modi, who is regarded as India’s most powerful Prime Minister since Ms Gandhi, rose to prominence following the 2014 general elections. With this transition in government, there was a change in foreign policy that was consistent with India’s influence on the global order.

Enlightened National Interest, which essentially means “National Interest Plus,” serves as the basis for the current foreign policy of India.

It is based on Aristotle’s theory of Enlightened Self Interest, which holds that people who act in ways that advance the interests of others (or the interests of the organisation or groups to which they belong) ultimately advance their self-interest.

Above narrow national interest, enlightened national interest places emphasis on a shared future vision for all. It adheres to the Vasudaiva Kudumbakam idea that is prevalent in India.

The Gujral Doctrine of the 1990s is modified, with a focus on soft power and neighbourhood first. Instead of the cautious strategy used during Non-Alignment, there is now a confident “multi-alignment” with major nations while yet protecting our strategic autonomy.

At first, there was a stronger readiness to interact with Pakistan, but the country’s position toward sponsoring terrorism has resulted in a deadlock.

Read Foreign relations notes here.

Indian Foreign Policy: Future

Uncertainties caused by the emergence of populist regimes throughout the Western world have an impact on the current world order. No force can take the Western powers’ position of dominance from them despite the Western powers’ declining might.

The trade battle between the United States and China is still going strong.

Maintaining a balance in relations between the US and China should be the main focus of future Indian foreign policy. Although Indo-US ties are at their highest point since independence, there hasn’t been much progress in many sectors.

Some experts worry that relations will stagnate. Strong action must be taken in this direction if India is to profit.

Competition on the one hand and cooperation on the other represent Indo-China relations. The US-China trade conflict has provided us with an opportunity to strengthen our ties with China. This is a chance that cannot be passed up.

A major goal of foreign policy is a connected, integrated South Asia. The remaining nations must be the main focus if Pakistan is not receptive to the same. A step in this approach is the BBIN (Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal) corridor.

The growth of India’s north-eastern region can be aided by connections with South East Asian countries via the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Corridor.

Lack of diplomatic skills is a significant barrier to India’s realising its potential in foreign policy. For a nation that aspires to be a global force, India lacks competent diplomats.

It is necessary to reform the Ministry of External Affairs and link it to the Ministries of Commerce and Défense. To fully utilise the synergies between the private sector and civil society, Track 2 diplomacy must be fostered.

Only a creative foreign policy can currently achieve the noble goal of stability while fostering inclusive growth. India must also make sure that it participates in the “rule-making” rather than the “rule-following” aspects of the international order.

To achieve this goal, one must be a permanent member of the UN and a member of all significant international organisations.

Article Written by: Remya

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American Foreign Policy: Main Steps Essay

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American foreign policy has been shaped by persons and individuals who remain to be icons in our Society. Foreign policy dictates the level and power that the country holds among her peers and it is very important that policies drafted for this purpose are done with the interest of the nation first. After a turbulent eight years in office, the Bush administration implemented a radical foreign policy that ended up with the country having more enemies and friends and foreign policy became a hot issue during the campaign period as reform was needed. This paper seeks to investigate the former and current policy that is being implemented and what impact it will have on America’s standing in the World stage.

1) According to Condoleezza rice, America has a huge responsibility of assisting Nations in reaching their full potential. This full potential can be manifested by countries attaining democracy and being economically independent from other donor nations. All this is done by increasing aid budgets to countries that need them for infrastructural development. The role of America is also described as protector of other nations from elements manmade elements such as terrorism and wars as pupated by Dickerson ( 1 ). This has been exhibited by diplomacy efforts headed by the secretary of state and her team of staff. From dealing with the Middle East issue to offering humanitarian aid in Africa, America’s role is perceived as all inclusive and best described as mission of positively changing the world. This is seen as an effort by the Secretary of state in trying to mend broken relationships with both allies and perceived enemies. This comes as a result of the idealistic nature and basis that the president undertook while trying to bring world peace.

According to Rice, America’s allies has the benefit of having many allies on its side who are ready to partner with her in achieving world peace and spreading democracy. Australia has been stated as one of the closest allies that the country can align its influence with. In her article, Rice fails to mention some of America’s bigger allies. This shows the changing view that she had on how strategic Australia had become. Challenges faced by America include the omnipresent threat of terrorism and emerging extremism that has taken shape both within and without the country. America should play its role as it cannot afford to leave threats in the form of terrorist organizations, harmful arms and other forms of threats to shake world peace. All these threats have been perpetuated by rogue leaders and extremist ideas.

Terrorism acts have been on the increase from the late 19 th century and have been propagated due to a myriad of reasons by the individuals concerned. Terrorism is defined as the act of employing violence by groups outside national governments. Their aims are mostly to create fear and intimidation among particular groups of individuals or parts of the population. These aims can broaden to involve the support of sympathizers and the intimidation of opponents who do not necessarily agree with them or their ideologies. Members of such groups are often from diverse backgrounds. Terrorists have been found to have undergone college education; some have no education background at all. While some terrorists have been found to have undergone college education, others have no education background. Where others are married, others have been found to be single; they could also be men or women. In essence they come from an expansive sample of lifestyles and backgrounds, making it nearly impossible to pick them up from the masses. The use of terrorist acts have been ongoing for a major part of the 19 th century and it is until the recent past that their actions have been seen to bring massive consequences and implications to many countries of the world. In the past, terrorists were more concerned with the withdrawal of military forces from their perceived “homeland”. From regions such as Kashmir, Chechnya, Sri Lanka to Lebanon, terrorist activities were aimed at the establishment of separatist state that was to be governed by the terrorist group as stated by Stone ( 2 ). Most of these acts were committed from the 1980’s to late 1990s and were restricted to the country of the groups involved. Reasons for violence were mostly blamed on independence. Terrorism is constantly taking on new forms as it mutates in aims, number and composition of its members. Is it being driven by a concept or is it a virus that seeks to reinvent itself to suit the environment at the time? Is terrorism controlled by a recognizable authoritarian apparatus or is it being held by loose network that transcended national borders? These are just some of the few questions that psychologists, scholars and researchers into this phenomenon are asking themselves.

2) Rice’s views contradict that of president Obama. While the former administration’s foreign policy was based on idealism founded on beliefs such as the balance of power and the need to put the interests of the American nation first, the current policy is governed on realism where Obama’s vision for the world is founded on morality and the need to promote the rights and freedoms of all individuals of the world irrespective of background. Condoleezza rice herself was a learner of Brent Scowcroft. The gentleman worked in collaboration with Henry Kissinger, an idol of American politics and foreign policies. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, the foreign policy at the time changed drastically. This change was the opposite of what president bush had been elected on, where he had said that he will follow a modest foreign policy; he changed his rhetoric and became Wilson an idealist. He freely subscribed to a freedom agenda. Obama on the other hand entered White house when the country faced a myriad of domestic problems. From economic to social problems that have plagued the country, the president signaled very early on that foreign policy was not top of his priority. As reflected in his speech, Obama’s policy differs from that of his predecessor who sought to impose himself on distant territories such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s policy is centered on generating peace and making up with former enemies in the Middle East. This approach is much more based on realism. Obama is willing to discuss with countries such as Iran and Syria in his effort to revitalize peace in the Middle East. He is also trying to promote peace by changing the ideologies held by most skeptics who have branded America’s effort in the Middle East as that of a neo colonial force.

3) Rice’s version of realism is different from the realism that had been fronted in traditional times. Rice is termed more of a neoconservative than a traditional realist as she paints the ability of United States to positively affect and influence political and economic decisions based on peaceful initiatives rather than through waging war. Traditional realism is based more on acting subtly and using coercive initiatives in order to pressure and sway decisions favoring the country. The type of realism subscribed by Rice is that of enhancing development throughout the world through programs and policy decision that enhance the efforts of many countries. Realism according to her view also takes into account that democracy and development have to go hand in hand as the full benefits are fully derived.

Traditional realism is based on more subtle means of spreading influence through the use of use of allies. Influence can also be spread through holding diplomatic talks in order to spread peace and diffuse tensions that may currently hinder development in certain regions. Traditional realists also did not hold away the thought of using provocative methods such as use of military force. This is unlike Rice’s view of realism which does not mention the use of military force as a method of spreading America’s influence. Her notion is rooted from the disastrous invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan which has resulted in America having more enemies than friends.

4) Criticism of Rice’s view of realism is that it is credited with the current wars that are being fought on two fronts. She has faced a barrage of questions as to the foreign policy that was adopted by America. Her policy is termed as that of failure because of how it managed to handle relations between International countries. The administration’s decision to enter into war without the full consent of the United Nation and with only a handful of countries supporting the war was a real policy fiasco that exposed America’ soft under belly as purported by Rice ( 3 ).

On the other hand, Obama is criticized for being unenthusiastic with the push for more countries to push for democracy. This is credited with his roots and knowledge on diverse issues related to foreign policy and hence the cautious stand that he may take.

Rice is seen more as a neoconservative rather than as realist. This is despite the views that have been expressed in her paper. Her views are seen to be different from that that was being developed by the president at the time. Foreign policy in America was naturally based on traditional realism as manifested through former presidents, Truman and Churchill and a host of other prominent personalities. This view was shaken on the onset of terrorist activities that took place on September 11 th . The current president is however taking a realist stand and this has also contributed to the immense issues that the administration is facing at the moment coupled with a deeper understanding of the geopolitics of the World.

  • Dickerson, M, An introduction to government and politics: A conceptual approach. New York: Cengage Learning: 2009.
  • Stone, R, American Government and Politics Today. Texas: Prentice-Hall: 2008.
  • Rice, C, The New American Realism: Rethinking the National Interest. 2008; 3 (12): 2-50.
  • Functions of Legislature in Different Types of Governments
  • The Relationship Between Political Power and Economic Elites in the UK
  • Realist and Liberal Theories of International Relations
  • Realism and Prudence in Foreign Policy
  • Rice as a Part of a Healthy Diet
  • Suburb Regions in Australia
  • Political Science and United States Politics
  • Rudy Giuliani’s Leadership During 9/11 Crisis
  • Bilateral Approach to the Parties in the United States
  • Security or Liberty Ethical Choice
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2021, December 26). American Foreign Policy: Main Steps. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-foreign-policy-main-steps/

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introduction for foreign policy essay

4 Takeaways From The Night Of JD Vance’s Big Introduction At The GOP Convention

introduction for foreign policy essay

The third night of the Republican Convention in Milwaukee had two goals: introduce audiences to the MAGA 2.0 take on foreign policy, and to former President Trump’s newly selected vice presidential candidate, Sen. JD Vance (R-OH). 

In both cases, what was included was as notable as what wasn’t. 

Here are four takeaways from RNC night three. 

Vance’s identity politics 

For Vance, a politician who burst into conservative politics thanks in part to support from a Silicon Valley billionaire, Wednesday night was a branding exercise. During his speech, he pointed toward his hardscrabble background to build trust with voters, seemingly trying to lend credibility to claims that would otherwise ring false about the Republican Party’s supposed future of fighting multinational corporations or protecting Social Security. 

As he concluded, he seized on an idea that came up at other times throughout the evening: That America is not just an idea, it’s a place. He took the theme of American identity and ran with it, suggesting America is a nation in the oldest sense of the word.

“It’s a people with a common history,” he said.

It was a somewhat-quiet, somewhat-obvious dog whistle, gesturing toward the idea there are, as some on the far-right contend , “heritage Americans.” That is, Americans whose ancestors have lived here for generations, and who therefore, the argument goes, have a deeper understanding of what the country means. It’s a view of nationhood that’s long existed everywhere but here, and whose absence has long made our country exceptional.

It’s also a means of leaning into what may be a defining theme of a potential Trump second term: ending birthright citizenship and restricting legal immigration . 

Where’s Ukraine?

For a night supposedly devoted to foreign policy, there was almost no mention of Ukraine. Vance focused almost exclusively on the U.S., alluding only generally to NAFTA and the war in Iraq as factors that shaped his political outlook. A few speakers mentioned Ukraine in passing, saying that Russia’s invasion would not have happened under Trump. But the war-torn country was mostly ignored.

The omission was notable. Vance has been an aggressive critic of sending support to Ukraine, voting against the delayed supplemental passed this year; Trump, famously, tried to extort its president.

Instead, the “Make America Strong Once Again” theme focused on what the right sees as examples of America’s current weakness: protests on college campuses, Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal.

Neither Ukraine — nor Taiwan, for that matter — received any sustained attention. This could be positive news for both countries: who knows what the focus would have brought? But it demonstrates how far the GOP has moved away from its Cold War-era foreign policy positions.

Nothing to see here

The third night of the convention unfolded in split screen, with news breaking that Democratic leaders had warned Joe Biden that his candidacy was a drag on the ticket, while the president himself tested positive for COVID. 

No doubt aware of the situation broadly, if not its specifics, the convention tried to reassure viewers that Trump’s agenda is not, in fact, scary. Forget what you’ve heard about Project 2025. Forget Trump’s first term! There was no mention of Trump’s baseless claims that he actually won the 2020 election; Vance called him the “once and future President” at one point, but most speakers ignored Trump’s 2020 loss entirely. Usha Vance introduced her husband, one of the most rhetorically right-wing members of the Senate, as a “meat and potatoes guy” who still learned to cook vegetarian Indian food for his mother-in-law.

At times, some speakers took potshots at Vice President Kamala Harris, as if hedging their bets on who the GOP’s final opponent would be. 

But looming over it all was a snide sense that the party understood itself to be on the path to victory, if only it could avoid attracting too much attention. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” Donald Trump Jr. said as he described the attempt to assassinate his father. “But I do believe in God’s plan.”

Trump’s former ICE head makes an impression

Thomas Homan, ICE director for the first two years of Trump’s term, spoke early in the night, but made an impression. 

He’s already become a minor influencer on the right: he runs a nonprofit that sends out speakers who paint a doomy picture of immigration to America. Homan spoke last week at the National Conservatism conference, where he said: “They ain’t seen shit yet. Wait until 2025.”

Homan channeled that energy Wednesday night, with a statement to all the illegal aliens out there: “You better start packing to go home.”

For a longtime federal employee, Homan had a surprising flair for the dramatic. He added, with some real venom in his voice, that Trump will designate the cartels terrorist organizations and destroy them. “You’re done!” he shouted. “You’re done!”

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Notable Replies

All 4 takeaways should just be that Vance is a shameless, lying, pandering toady who just debased himself for a grasp at power.

Anything else is superfluous.

The biggest takeaway is that being a total self-serving fraud is actually one of his redeeming qualities.

Sounds like another ‘war on drugs’ - that worked well the last few times it was tried so why not another round; it’s such a crowd pleaser.

“Famous” as in Trump, famously, tried to extort its president is incorrect. “Infamous” is correct.

What a lying, conniving sack of shit. Also what exactly is a “black and brown” job that an immigrant can steal ?

Isn’t the onus on the employer to make sure the employee is a citizen or holds a green card ? Where is the crackdown on people like Trump for hiring undocumented people to serve drinks or clean up slop at Mar-A-Lardo ??


Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

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BREAKING NEWS: 2-year-old girl hurt in DC shooting that killed 2 men and injured another


Biden and Trump accuse each other of weakening America’s foreign policy. Here are the facts

The Associated Press

July 17, 2024, 4:20 PM

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In a relative rarity for presidential elections, both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have long records on foreign policy and clearly stated positions on many of the world’s hot spots.

Trump’s allies at the Republican National Convention are expected to argue that Biden has weakened America’s standing abroad and permitted the outbreak of conflicts between Russia and Ukraine as well as the Israelis and Palestinians. Biden, a Democrat who ran four years ago on a message of shoring up America’s foreign alliances and reversing Trump policies , argues that he has restored U.S. standing abroad.

Here’s a look at their records on key conflicts.


One of Biden’s weakest arguments on foreign policy is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years, America’s longest war .

The chaotic events of July, August and September of 2021 posed one of the first international challenges for the relatively young Biden administration. At least 13 American servicemen and women were killed in an attack at the Kabul airport in the midst of the withdrawal.

Biden, who had long advocated ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan dating to his time as vice president under Barack Obama, defended his decision to pull out, saying the goals of the original invasion after the 9/11 terrorist attacks two decades earlier had been accomplished.

However, Biden administration officials also blamed Trump for leaving them with a vague and unfinished plan for withdrawal — and one that had little or no input from the U.S.-backed Afghan government in Kabul.

In February 2020, the Trump administration concluded an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces by May 2021. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Doha, Qatar to witness the signing of the deal, which was negotiated without the direct input of the Afghan government, and met with the Taliban’s chief negotiator to cement it.

As 2020 progressed through the presidential election in November that Biden won, there was little movement in planning for the eventual withdrawal, although American troops were gradually drawn down. Trump fired his defense secretary just six days after the November election.

After Biden took office in January 2021, his White House struggled to reconcile the new president’s desire to withdraw from Afghanistan on the timeline committed to by the previous administration. After the May deadline passed, the Taliban began to step up attacks and made significant territorial gains. When the Biden administration announced that all U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in September 2021, and then moved up the deadline, the Taliban increased its assaults, resulting in the fall of Kabul and the chaos that ensued.

The Middle East, Iran and Yemen

Trump was an unabashed supporter of Israel while he was in office.

Against advice from numerous foreign policy veterans, he unilaterally decided to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem . Previous Republican and Democratic administrations had refused to take this step due to competing Israeli and Palestinian claims on the holy city. Trump also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights , a territory seized and occupied by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war about which the U.S. had not taken a position.

In addition, in moves all since reversed by Biden, Trump cut off U.S. funding for Palestinian refugees and programs aimed at supporting Palestinian self-governance and rescinded a 1970s State Department determination that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are “illegitimate” under international law.

At the same time, Trump sought to promote Middle East peace by bypassing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and successfully negotiated the so-called “Abraham Accords” that normalized relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. He also proposed what some referred to as a “deal of the century” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict , but that plan was roundly rejected by both Palestinians and many of their Arab allies.

Trump claims the Israel-Hamas war would never have happened had he been in office. But it is impossible to know if Trump could have prevented the current war. Some experts believe that Trump’s alienation of the Palestinians may have contributed to the conditions that led to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel that started the conflict last fall.

In 2016, Trump campaigned on the idea that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration, was the “worst” diplomatic agreement ever negotiated by the United States. Trump’s argument was that the deal – which gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program – gave away too much and created a path for Iran to develop nuclear weapons once the time-limited restrictions in the agreement expired.

After several fits and starts, Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and embarked on a “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran that resulted in a wave of new and hard-hitting sanctions against Iranian entities. One top target of those sanctions was the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the administration declared a “foreign terrorist organization” for its support of anti-Israel and anti-US groups operating throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

In January 2020, the Trump administration killed IRGC commander Qassim Soleimani in an airstrike at the airport in Baghdad, leading to threats of retaliation from Iranian officials against Trump and several of his top national security aides that continue to this day. U.S. authorities ramped up security for Trump after detecting what they said was an Iranian threat on his life, but say that threat was unrelated to the assassination attempt that took place at his rally Saturday in Pennsylvania.

When the Biden administration took office, it declared its intent to try to resurrect the nuclear deal, arguing that it was the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons without military conflict. Biden removed or eased some of the sanctions that Trump had imposed but efforts to revive the deal failed after repeated attempts.

In August 2023, the Biden administration and Iran agreed to a deal in which $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds held in South Korea would be released to banks in Qatar in return for the release of five detained Americans in Iran. Republicans heavily criticized the agreement, saying it would help Iran fund terrorism, although administration officials have said the money cannot be used for anything other than humanitarian goods. As recently as last month, none of the cash has been released for any purpose, senior administration officials said.

In one of its last acts in office, the Trump administration determined that Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels were a “foreign terrorist organization,” a move that many aid agencies criticized because they said it would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The Biden administration reversed that determination with an eye toward improving conditions on the ground, but that has met with mixed results. While the crisis continues, the Houthis have continued their attacks inside Yemen and on Saudi Arabia and, since the Gaza war erupted last year, they have increasingly turned their sights on Israeli, U.S., British and other western shipping interests in the Red Sea .

North Korea

When he was elected president, Trump was told by his predecessor, Obama, that North Korea and its nuclear and missile programs represented the greatest threat to the United States. The threat from North Korea grew over Trump’s first months in office and reached a high point in 2017 when Pyongyang tested an inter-continental ballistic missile and at least one nuclear device.

Tensions reached a high point that September when Trump began referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “ little rocket man ” and warning that any attack on the U.S. would be met by “fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

Several months later, the two sides agreed to reduce tensions and, in a series of scripted official and unofficial meetings , laid the groundwork for Trump’s meeting – the first of three – with Kim in Singapore in June 2018. As a result of that summit and the two subsequent ones, North Korea suspended its missile and nuclear tests but attempts to secure a lasting deal failed.

Since Biden took office, North Korea has resumed its missile testing .

The Trump administration adopted a hard line on China, imposing tariffs and trade sanctions on Beijing as well as targeting Chinese diplomats for alleged espionage and then blaming China for the COVID-19 outbreak .

Although the Biden administration has sought to improve ties with China, including several meetings between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping , it has largely left in place the sanctions imposed by Trump’s team. The Biden administration now accuses China of bolstering Russia’s defense industrial sector to allow it to continue and step up attacks against Ukraine.

The Trump administration also upgraded U.S. ties with Taiwan, allowing for more senior-level meetings between the two sides and stepping up arms sales to the island, which China regards as its own. The Trump administration also forcefully condemned China’s increasing aggressiveness in the South China Sea, anti-democratic actions in Hong Kong and repression in the western region of Xinjiang. The Biden administration has not altered those positions.

Europe, Russia, Ukraine and NATO

As president, Trump inherited a situation in which Russia had not only occupied two enclaves in Georgia in 2008 but also seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 . Trump believed, and apparently still does, that his personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin could resolve these issues, yet neither did.

Although Trump did authorize the transfer of some offensive weapons to Ukraine, U.S.-Ukrainian relations took a hit with Trump’s attempts to force Kyiv to investigate alleged corruption by members of Biden’s family by withholding additional military aid. That led to Trump’s first impeachment.

Trump has also been extremely skeptical of NATO and U.S. alliances more broadly in Europe and Asia. He has repeatedly taken credit for more NATO members meeting their pledge to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense, although the vast majority of the 23 allies now meeting that goal did so while Biden has been president.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Obama, Pelosi and Democrats make a fresh push for Biden to reconsider 2024 race ahead of convention

Obama, Pelosi and Democrats make a fresh push for Biden to reconsider 2024 race ahead of convention

Former President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy, AP sources say

Former President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy, AP sources say

Former Speaker Pelosi warned Biden that his candidacy could prevent Democrats from winning the House, AP sources say

Former Speaker Pelosi warned Biden that his candidacy could prevent Democrats from winning the House, AP sources say


2-year-old girl hurt in DC shooting that killed 2 men and injured another

2-year-old girl hurt in DC shooting that killed 2 men and injured another

Summer COVID cases rise in DC area, local health expert pushes for vaccinations as Biden tests positive

Summer COVID cases rise in DC area, local health expert pushes for vaccinations as Biden tests positive

Trump shooting wakes up Americans, reveals nation’s vulnerability

Trump shooting wakes up Americans, reveals nation’s vulnerability

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introduction for foreign policy essay


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JD Vance, Trump's pick for vice president, will introduce himself to a national audience at the RNC

MILWAUKEE (AP) —  Donald Trump ’s running mate  JD Vance  will introduce himself to a national audience Wednesday as he addresses the  Republican National Convention .

The Ohio senator’s headlining address will be his first speech as the Republican vice-presidential nominee. He's a relative political unknown who rapidly morphed in recent years  from a severe critic of Trump  to an aggressive defender.

What You Need To Know

The ohio senator’s headlining address will be his first speech as the republican vice-presidential nominee trump, as the presidential nominee, is expected to speak thursday, the convention's final night vance is expected to lean into his biography, as someone who grew up in hardscrabble kentucky and ohio and became a marine, an ivy league graduate, a businessman and a bestselling author vance has become one of trump’s most aggressive defenders as the former president has sought the office a third time.

Vance, 39, is positioned to become the next potential leader of the former president’s political movement, which has reshaped the Republican Party and busted many longtime political norms. The first millennial to join a major party ticket, he joins the race when questions about the age of the men at the top of the tickets — 78-year-old Trump and 81-year-old President Joe Biden — have been high on the list of voters’ concerns.

Trump, as the presidential nominee, is expected to speak Thursday, the convention's final night.

Vance is expected to lean into his biography, as someone who grew up in hardscrabble Kentucky and Ohio and became a Marine, an Ivy League graduate, a businessman and a bestselling author  with his memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy .” The book exploring his blue-collar roots made him a national name when it was published in 2016 and was seen as a window into some of the cultural forces that propelled Trump to the White House.

Vance, though, was a harsh critic of Trump at the time, referring to him in interviews as “noxious” and someone who “is leading the white working class to a very dark place.” He even once referred to him as “America’s Hitler.”

He began warming to Trump over the years, especially as he sought in 2022 to run for the U.S. Senate. Vance won Trump’s endorsement, which helped him secure the party’s nomination for the Ohio Senate seat.

Vance has become one of Trump’s most aggressive defenders as the former president has sought the office a third time, sparring with journalists, campaigning on his behalf and appearing with the candidate at his trial in New York.

In his first interview after accepting Trump’s offer to join the ticket, Vance sought to explain his metamorphosis. Vance said in a Fox News Channel interview Monday that Trump was a great president and changed his mind.

“I think he changed the minds of a lot of Americans, because again he delivered that peace and prosperity,” Vance said.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son and a close friend of Vance, is also slated to speak Wednesday, according to a person close to Trump Jr. who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official speaking schedule has yet to be released.

Beyond Vance’s prime-time speech, the Republican Party intends to focus on a theme of American global strength.

Republicans contend that the country has become a “global laughingstock” under Biden’s watch and are expected to make a case Wednesday hitting on their theme to “Make America Strong Once Again.” That’s expected to include Trump’s “America First” foreign policy that redefined relationships with some allies and adversaries.

Democrats have sharply criticized Trump — and Vance — for questioning U.S. support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia's invasion.

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Rnc day 2 takeaways: former gop rivals, senate hopefuls stump for trump middletown residents weigh in on jd vance vp nomination jd vance on the issues, from abortion to foreign policy who is jd vance things to know about donald trump's pick for vice president.


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  1. United States Foreign Policy

    The United States of America has a comprehensive foreign policy which governs its relationship with other countries. "Since independence, the economy of U.S. has been flourishing and it is today one of the most developed countries in the world" (Hastedt 65). Get a custom essay on United States Foreign Policy. 187 writers online.

  2. Foreign policy

    foreign policy, general objectives that guide the activities and relationships of one state in its interactions with other states. The development of foreign policy is influenced by domestic considerations, the policies or behaviour of other states, or plans to advance specific geopolitical designs. Leopold von Ranke emphasized the primacy of ...

  3. Role of Foreign Policy in International Relations

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    Foreign policy as defined by Hill is "the sum of external relations conducted by an independent actor (usually a state) in international relations" (2002, p. 3). It is necessitated by the fact that different states all have to converge and put their differences aside in order to relate with one another.

  5. (PDF) The foreign policy of America

    The foreign policy of America. Abstract. The foreign policy of the Uni ted States of America h a s been a topic of interest f or analysts and. researchers alike, due to its significant impact on ...

  6. The Cold War: US Foreign Policy

    Get a custom essay on The Cold War: US Foreign Policy. The Cold War was an ideological war in which the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a war whereby each country sought to propagate its policies through the pursuance of different courses in different parts of the world. In this paper, it is argued that the nature of policy ...

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  9. Chapter 1 Introduction (Week 1)

    These will be your essay 1, speech 1, and critique essay. You will incorporate the critiques you get from the instructor and fellow students to revise your essay 1. Expand it by adding empirical evidence and support your theory/policy recommendations. You will also present it toward the end of the semester. These will be your essay 2 and speech 2.

  10. (PDF) Introduction: Analyzing Foreign Policy

    Foreign policy analysis (FP A) is an important sub-discipline of the broader field of International. Relations (IR). This book argues that what sets FP A apart from the broader study of IR is the ...

  11. What Roles Do Congress and the President Play in U.S. Foreign Policy

    In fact, the original text clocks in at only 4,543 words—approximately the length of a twenty-page essay, double spaced. ... Congress's influence over foreign policy is greatest when presidents require its action, such as with issues of trade, budget appropriations, and domestic legislation. Conversely, Congress's influence is weakest ...

  12. Foreign Policy Analysis A Comparative Introduction

    Comparative foreign policy analysis (CFP) is a vibrant and dynamic subfield of international relations. It examines foreign policy decision-making processes related to momentous events as well as patterns in day-to-day foreign interactions of nearly 200 different states (along with thousands of international and nongovernmental organizations).

  13. Foreign Policy

    Discover FREE essays on Foreign Policy to understand writing styles, structures, and find new ideas. Explore the largest database of free samples on StudyMoose. ... INTRODUCTION: A country's foreign policy is a set of goals outlining how the country will interact with other countries economically, politically, socially and militarily, and to ...

  14. American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers: Summary and Introduction

    INTRODUCTION. This is an extensive summary of the first and lengthiest of the two essays by Perry Anderson on postwar U.S. foreign relations that made up an entire issue of the New Left Review (September-October 2013) and was published in 2015 by Verso under the title American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers.. "Imperium" deals with the history and historiography of the period 1943-2013 ...

  15. PDF The Comparative Study of Foreign Policy.

    Illinois). As a field of scholarly inquiry addressed by scholars who self-consciously identified themselves as part of a common enterprise, the compar-ative study of foreign policy is approximately 20 years old. This paper represents a collective assessment of the field.

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    Obama's Foreign Policy on China Essay. President Barack Obama and his administration's foreign policy toward China can be summed up in one word: conciliatory. Conciliatory is not in the form of any weakness or appeasement, but rather the realization that in the 21st century global market, China is a main player on the world stage.

  17. The foreign policy of the United States

    How United States' foreign policy changed after World War II. Before the Second World War, the United States of America practiced the policy of isolationism (Chandler & Write, 2001); isolationism can be defined as the state policy of shunning economic or political conflicts with other nations of the world. Isolationism was the basis on which ...

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    Abstract. Foreign Policy decision-making is agreed to be one of the greatest instrument at a state's disposal to pursue its. national interests. It is considered as a full political activity of ...

  19. U.S. Foreign Policy Essay

    Foreign policy is the United States policy that defines how we deal with other countries economically and politically. It is made by congress, the president, and the people. Some of the motivations for United States foreign policy are national security, economics, and idealism. The United States entry into World War I in 1917 and the escalation ...

  20. Foreign Policy Analysis: A Comparative Introduction

    About this book. This book's introduction to foreign policy analysis focuses on decision makers and decision making. Each chapter is organised around puzzles and questions to which undergraduates can relate. The book emphasizes the importance of individuals in foreign policy decision making, while also placing decision makers within their context.

  21. PLCY 860 Introduction to Foreign Policy

    Every member of the class is required to submit one analytical essay, modeled on one of the short essays in the journal Foreign Affairs. This essay must be at least 2-3 pages (not including the ...

  22. American foreign policy : theoretical essays : Ikenberry, G. John

    Access-restricted-item true Addeddate 2010-05-13 17:26:48 Bookplateleaf 0002 Boxid IA117911 Camera

  23. Indian Foreign Policy: Phases, Shifts and the Future

    Let's examine the many stages of our foreign policy's development and the underlying elements that have influenced it. Indian Foreign Policy: Phases. Indian Foreign Policy can divided into seven phases of evolution: The Power of Ideas (1947-1962) The Fractured Years (1962-1970) The Idea of Power (1970-1989) The Years of Reflection (1990-1998)

  24. Full article: Group emotions and their role in EU foreign policy: a

    The special issue's introduction (Gürkan and Terzi, Citation 2024, this issue) offer an overarching framework to capture the different roles that emotions play in EU foreign policy in the event of external norm violation, whereas other colleagues pinpoint to the impact emotions have on different foreign policy decisions (see e.g. Gurkan ...

  25. American Foreign Policy: Main Steps

    American foreign policy has been shaped by persons and individuals who remain to be icons in our Society. Foreign policy dictates the level and power that the country holds among her peers and it is very important that policies drafted for this purpose are done with the interest of the nation first. After a turbulent eight years in office, the ...

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    Labour has shelved a legal crackdown on foreign workers amid the biggest rise in the population for at least 75 years. The party is set to delay the introduction of two major legal changes to ...

  27. 4 Takeaways From The Night Of JD Vance's Big Introduction At ...

    The third night of the Republican Convention in Milwaukee had two goals: introduce audiences to the MAGA 2.0 take on foreign policy, and to former President Trump's newly selected vice ...

  28. Biden and Trump accuse each other of weakening America's foreign policy

    One of Biden's weakest arguments on foreign policy is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years, ... JD Vance will get his political introduction at the RNC as Trump's running mate

  29. Welcome to Turnitin Guides

    Welcome to Turnitin's new website for guidance! In 2024, we migrated our comprehensive library of guidance from https://help.turnitin.com to this site, guides.turnitin.com. During this process we have taken the opportunity to take a holistic look at our content and how we structure our guides.

  30. JD Vance will introduce himself to national audience at RNC

    Republicans contend that the country has become a "global laughingstock" under Biden's watch and are expected to make a case Wednesday hitting on their theme to "Make America Strong Once Again." That's expected to include Trump's "America First" foreign policy that redefined relationships with some allies and adversaries.