What is Foreign Policy?

Definition: A foreign policy is a set of pre-established strategies designed and implemented systematically to manage a country’s relationships with other nations. They are structured guidelines that regulate international political dealings.

What Does Foreign Policy Mean?

Foreign policies are drafted by governments to deal with international affairs adequately. These policies have different goals depending on the country’s interests. The purpose of it is to regulate the way the country interacts with the rest of the world, to guarantee that domestic affairs are properly safeguarded from outsiders and foreign goals are achieved. Depending on a country’s main agenda, which could be an economic, social or political agenda, the foreign policy is shaped to promote that agenda, to gain supporters and to increase international awareness and engagement.

It also draws boundaries to keep allies close and enemies isolated by expanding or reducing relationships with each. There are many topics covered by a foreign policy such as immigration policies, international trade, war and military conflicts, international organizations and international law, among other subjects.

There’s normally a person in charge of foreign policy issues, designated by the highest executive authority of each country. In the U.S. the Secretary of State is the person in charge of managing the country’s foreign policy.


Let’s assume hypothetically that there is a war between Italy and France. At some point, diplomatic channels were exhausted and the conflict exploded since Italy refused to pay France a huge amount of debt outstanding. France decided to invade the country after several threats were purposely unattended.

The conflict caused the immigration of many Italians to the United States, looking for refuge from the conflict. The U.S. Secretary of State, the person in charge of the country’s foreign policy, drafted a document to allow Italian refugees to enter the country with a temporary 6-month VISA, that includes a temporary work permission. After this period has elapsed, the State Department will evaluate the war situation again to issue further permission or to revoke and ask the refugees to move back to their country.

This is an example of how foreign policy shapes the relationship between the U.S. and Italy.