What Is Foreign Policy?

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Foreign policy is how a country uses different strategies to guide its relationships with other countries and international organizations. 

This means that foreign policy is made up of different global issues, relationships with other countries, and even domestic politics. The foreign policy of the U.S. government may change between different presidential administrations. However, the guiding principles of U.S. foreign policy remain constant: promotion of security, democracy, prosperity, and development in the United States and around the world. 

In this video, learn more about how security, democracy, prosperity, and development inform U.S. foreign policy decisions. 

Discussion Questions 

Use the following discussion questions to guide your classroom conversations about this video. Refer to the timestamps to find the answers to these questions.

  1. How are the U.S. Constitution, president, and State Department all connected? (start – 1:00)
  2. Why do some foreign policy ideas change over time? (1:00 – 1:40)
  3. Describe the four categories of foreign policy identified in the video. (1:35 – 3:50) 
  4. Why is security an important guiding principle of foreign policy? (1:45 – 2:00)
  5. Do you agree or disagree with this statement from the video: “The United States defends human rights by holding governments accountable to their obligations under human rights standards and agreements”. Explain your reasoning. (2:00 – 3:00)
  6. Why is promoting economic prosperity around the world important for the United States? (3:00 – 3:15)
  7. Why does the United States provide aid to other countries? (3:15 – 3:50)
  8. How is foreign policy related to and affected by domestic policy? (3:50 – end)
  9. What are some of the country flags represented in this video? 
  10. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  11. Summarize foreign policy.

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video. 

  • Foreign policy – The collection of strategies a country uses to guide its relationships with other countries.
  • Implementation – The process of making a decision or plan happen. 
  • Interests – What a country sees as important or valuable.
  • Security – Being free from danger or threat; safety. 
  • Dynamics – A process of change or activity. 
  • Bedrock – The ideas that something is based or built upon. 
  • Infectious – Capable of spreading. 
  • Entrepreneur – Someone who organizes and manages a business.
  • Tandem – Working together. 
  • Coherent – Having clarity and logic.