The United States foreign policy

The United States’ foreign policy establishes how the government interacts with its different weaponry as well with other countries around the globe. As a powerhouse, the program plays a critical role in enshrining the United States’ responsibility for numerous continental matters. According to the Department of State, the primary aims of the strategy are to foster and maintain a stable, sustainable, and democratic environment that promotes peace and cooperation between American citizens and other global institutions (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2016). The major history behind the drafting of the foreign policy from the period of the American Revolution was the country’s position on non-interventionism concerns after World War 1 and its rise as major global homogeny and world power since the World War II and the end of the cold war (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2016). Since the 19th century, the US policy has undergone a series of reforms that have seen it change from the realist school of thought to the idealistic. The foreign policy’s spirit is centered towards the exercise of justice and good faith towards other countries and enhancing an atmosphere of harmony and peaceful co-existence. The policy’s idealistic, realistic and radical concerns will be brought up in this paper.


The strength of any nation lies in its instruments of national power. The World’s superpowers are respected by all countries because of their economic, geographical and military capability. The US, in particular, takes pride in its geographical strength. The biggest geographical aspect for the country is the size of its productive land. Although China and Russia might have the same size of land as the US, a big portion of their land cannot be used for development or agriculture. The Mid-West provides the United States with the largest piece of productive land globally. This implies that the US is capable of providing enough food for its citizens as well as the soldiers in the case that there is war. With the fact that food commodities form the basic human need, ensuring adequate and reliable food supply provides an environment that is viable for development (Krieg, 2016). The US also possesses one of the best maritime transport in the world. River Mississippi which is connected with the Red, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee rivers provides a large interconnected network of river transport worldwide. The US as well poses three natural harbors that are; Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Long Island Sound. A series of barrier islands also act as shields to the American shipping line against all other unwanted intrusions into the country. This means that the United States has the capability of producing abundant crops and taking them to the markets efficiently and cheaply because of their vast transport network. Unlike other countries, the US does not have to spend much developing their transport network. This implies that the money can be channeled to other developmental projects. Canada and Mexico being US’s neighbors do not provide adequate economic completion. The two countries being small do not also provide any security threat to the US. This implies that the US does not have to invest largely in securing its territories against the neighbors.

The US’s economic muscle cannot be compared with that of any other country around the world. Research indicates that America alone contributes to 16% of the world’s economy (Krieg, 2016). With China and the EU offering adequate competition, the US has managed to still impact the global economy. The GDP of many countries in the world cannot even manage that of a single US State. California alone is said to produce more than France. The US’s overall GDP by 2016 stood at $18.46 trillion according to Krieg, (2016). The US dollar is also the popularly used currency internationally with several countries adopting it as their official currency while others assume it to be their de-facto currency. High productivity, sufficient natural resources, and a highly developed infrastructure form the backbone of the US’s economic capability. The total value of their natural resources stands at $45 trillion. This has led to cheap production and increased market viability. Its ability to offer adequate competition in the gas and oil industry has seen its continuous economic growth and prosperity. Its large internal market and ability to provide for the external market also provide the United States with the capability to outdo the other countries that offer competition. The world’s best 500 companies have their headquarters in the United States. This implies sufficient employment opportunity and high-quality products for the American citizens. The US also takes pride in its financial markets with the New York Exchange being ranked as the world’s biggest exchange market by market capitalization. The consumer market of the United States is also considered the largest globally comprising of almost 71% of the nation’s economy. The US labor market has also attracted the highest level of immigrants than any nation in the world because of its job safety and high wages.

There is no other military or a combination of forces globally that can inflict a substantial number of casualties to the US forces in a conventional war. The reason behind this is that the United States alone spend close to what the entire world spends on their military; $711 billion annually (Loveman, 2016). The US possesses 8,700 M1 Abrams tank which has seen the highest number of wars than any other tank existing today. The US also has ten aircraft carriers while all the other countries have 10 combined. While there are 8,400 attack helicopters globally, the US takes pride in possessing 6,400 of this. The US Special Forces are also ranked as the most experienced in the world bearing in mind that they have participated in both the desert, urban, mountain and jungle wars globally. The United States also takes pride of possessing all the satellites that control the GPS systems in the world. Its advanced technology has seen it possess the latest sensors and information systems that enable them to access sensitive information on the world. The US is also the leading country globally in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. The nuclear power that it currently possesses is capable of bringing nations to their feet.

The US’s foreign policy is designed according to the realistic and the idealistic concerns that it represents. The idealism thought comes from the fact that it is driven by ideas and the realism because it’s driven by a perception of reality. Despite the complexity of any policy, its major point of judgment should be based on the purpose of that policy (Loveman, 2016). The idealistic elements in the policy holder that the key role of the US foreign policy is promoting the American ideals of moral principles and thus spreading the vices of democracy and freedom to other nations that might be lacking them. According to this school of thought, it is America’s responsibility to participate in promoting vices such as humanitarian assistance, nation building, and military aid as well as any other interventions that can save foreigners from vices of oppression and misuse of their rights (Loveman, 2016). As much as the policy might not serve the self-interest of the American people, its advocates that it is the right approach towards healthy foreign relations. The foundation stone for idealism is bringing the concept of tyranny to an end in order to promote a peaceful coexistence all over the world (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2016). According to the idealists, the task of spreading democracy and ending tyranny might be tough and requires immense time but failure to do it is a breach to the moral imperative. The main idea behind idealism is begged around the principle of altruism, an idea that promotes that in order to be moral, one must selflessly serve humanity. Various religious philosophies support altruism morality principle as they champion that we all need to be our brother’s keeper (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2016).

The realism philosophy presents that the biggest role of America’s foreign policy is to guard the interest of US’s national principles and interests that require being realistic. The concerns on reality are begged around the idealist arguments that the US policy is centered along morality. The idealist emphasizes that as much as the concept of guarding the interest of other nations is important, it cannot come before the need to safeguard national interests (Krieg, 2016). The realists are in strong disagreement with what the idealists propose that the United States is required to do. The realists, however, cannot bring out the principal role of the America’s foreign policy because their argument of promoting the rights of the citizens first according to Boot is selfish (Krieg, 2016). They cannot take pride in supporting or pretending not to realize the murderous and the dictatorial leaders all over the world.

The foreign policy presents some radical perspectives with regards to the relationship between the United States and the other countries in the world. The justification of the idealistic approach towards the US foreign policy was drawn from the unilateral exercise of the United States power and not on the international law and institutions. The preference of regime change rather than negotiations and engagements with the leaders of various countries presents a radical change and might in some instances affect the United States. By the US exercising authority over the other nations, a sense of rejection will develop within them. The quest by the United States to champion for the end of terrorism, the safety of political liberty and economic sustainability amongst various countries can only be realized if other nations are incorporated (Krieg, 2016). The US foreign policy brings out the subject of promoting democracy and equity without much concern for the sovereignty of various states and the support they will require. The total dependence on the military and economic power brings out radical concerns on whether their influence on other nations without their consent is justifiable or not. The greatest challenge for America in their wish to execute their policy, therefore, is the discovery of an appropriate way in which they can secure cooperation. The fact that many countries are not ready to join America’s quest to bringing order in various places of the world brings out the concerns on whether the other states are ready to come to their aid when things don’t go their way. The question of the national interests and the use of taxpayers’ money also brings out the extent to which the realists are willing to spend in protecting other countries. The security of the US citizens is also another radical component because of the retaliatory efforts that are bound to occur in the situation that the countries that feel oppressed because of the US policy take a step.

The world leaders have always taken their own perspective in defining the US’s foreign policy. Many of them including various heads of State have always presented and held their point of thought with regards to this sensitive subject. George W. Bush always championed for an idealistic approach towards the policy as he argued that “it is the role of the US to support and promote the development of democratic institutions and parties in the culture of every nation so as to achieve the end of tyranny in many states”. Although he sometimes championed that “our first responsibility is protecting the sovereignty and the lives of our citizens” he always maintained his stand that “the US has a great responsibility in seeking for a just and peaceful world” (Krieg, 2016). Foreign policy expert Max Boot commended on the America’s duty to guard the world by asking “what is the need of the US protecting the world yet it is not being appreciated? He goes on to answer that “provided that wrongdoings still exist, there must be someone to stand and protect the good people”. Boot acknowledges that “the only country to give the punishment is the US because of their viable economy, unquestionable military capability and a strong commitment to the rule of law” (Smith, Hadfield, & Dunne, 2016). James L. Baker; former secretary of state explanation of idealism is as follows: “It is not possible for us to formulate or execute the US policy in line with the thinking of Mother Teresa because the support will be withdrawn when the body bags start getting home ”. A popular founder of an idealist school; Hans Morgenthau supports the sentiments of Baker by saying that “on issues that regard foreign policy, the national interest of the US people is the standard evaluation technique” (Loveman, 2016). Kant a philosophical founder of idealism argued that “international relations have a duty to end all the wars in the world forever”.

The media plays a critical role in the shaping of nation’s foreign policy. Besides manipulating what the people believe, the media is also has an opinion-shaping aspect. The media’s choice to elaborate the policy either positively or negatively is accepted by a bigger percentage of the public because it is always believed. Although concerns have been raised with regards to the government’s influence on the media in order to promote their agenda, the media still remains the fastest and reliable means of passing information. Many times, the media has always sidelined itself to champion for the liberal ideals. This has made them a darling to the civil societies because of their capability to multiply information through framing. The media to a large extent, therefore, dictates how the international bodies interact as it not only provides a means to easily track the engagements between various nations but also enhances public awareness


In conclusion, this paper has brought out important elements that concern the US’s foreign policy. The realistic and the idealistic approach towards the policy was discussed to a large extent. The idealistic element of the policy proves to be the most dominant of all the elements because it champions for the proper exercise of the rule of law globally. It justifies the need for the US to be always engaged in helping other troubled nations because of its economic and military capability. Although issues that deal with the sovereignty of a nation arises when the approach is enacted, there is enough justification that backs this element. The ultimate success of the US’s idealist principles will be dictated by the cooperation of other countries in order to ensure that it is not only an affair of the United States but a global concern.


Krieg, A. (2016). Externalizing the burden of war: the Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East. International Affairs, 92(1), 97-113.

Loveman, B. (2016). US Foreign Policy toward Latin America in the 19th Century. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.

Smith, S., Hadfield, A., & Dunne, T. (Eds.). (2016). Foreign policy: theories, actors, cases. Oxford University Press.

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