Foreign policy  

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"Under Carter the US largely gave up the practice of helping rightwing regimes to make war on their own liberals. Under Reagan, especially if Kissinger makes a comeback, that sordid brand of Realpolitik might well be resumed." --Glued to the Box by Clive James

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A country's foreign policy, also called foreign relations or foreign affairs policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries. The study of such strategies is called foreign policy analysis. In recent decades, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, states also must interact with non-state actors. These interactions are evaluated and monitored in seeking the benefits of bilateral and multilateral international cooperation.

Since the national interests are paramount, governments design their foreign policies through high-level decision-making processes. Goals may be accomplished by peaceful cooperation with other nations, or through exploitation. Usually, creating foreign policy is the job of the head of government and the foreign minister (or equivalent). Modern states employ hundreds, thousands, or more professional diplomats in their diplomatic service. Much of their work involves implementing and researching the effectiveness of directives toward stated foreign policy goals. They see to the task of harmonizing compatible foreign policy goals between partner states and NGO's while also reporting to their agencies on both success in, and obstacles to, their efforts.

In some countries, the legislature also has considerable effects on foreign as well as other areas of public policy, most often in liberal democracies. States with stronger unitary executive branches of government and which lack parliamentary sovereignty have weaker legislative involvement with foreign policy, except in cases of autocracy where one ruler handles major decisions on all national policy, where the autocrat is the legislature. Elections and other shifts in government makeup can change the course of foreign policies, even on areas with long periods of consistency, when new leadership comes in with new goals and different views on the national interests.

Foreign policies of countries have varying rates of change and scopes of intent, which can be affected by factors that change the perceived national interests or even affect the stability of the country itself. The foreign policy of a country can have a profound and lasting impact on other countries and on the course of international relations as a whole, such as the Monroe Doctrine conflicting with the mercantilism policies of 19th-century European countries and the goals of independence of newly formed Central American and South American countries.

Some institutions of higher education offer foreign policy as an area of specialization as part of a master of political science or public policy degree, such as the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Sciences Po Paris, Munk School of Global Affairs, Graduate Institute Geneva, and London School of Economics, among others.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Foreign policy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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