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Foreign Policy
Guide: Making and Shaping Foreign Policy

This collection of resources investigates the powers of the president and Congress to shape U.S. foreign policy. Historical examples illustrate the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches, and how it has shifted over time. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Governments' approaches to regulation change over time based on domestic and global circumstances
  • American domestic policies span a spectrum from a free-market approach to a highly regulatory approach
  • A citizen's opinion on the need for regulation generally depends on his or her role in society
  • Social and economic policies form the basis of domestic policy
  • Through social policy, government officials can provide programs and services to maintain and improve citizen welfare
  • Through economic policy, the government seeks to maintain stability for the national economy
  • Foreign policies are influenced by the accepted doctrine of a time period, which is often shaped in reaction to world events
  • The executive branch plays the leading role in directing foreign policy

Key Questions

  • Why do the executive powers of the president allow them to be the leading force in shaping American foreign policy?
  • What are two key ways Congress can serve as a check on presidential foreign policy powers?
  • Identify one significant historical example of Congress checking the foreign policy powers of the president.


  1. Overview: Making and Shaping Foreign Policy
  2. Outline: Outline
  3. Transcript: Transcript
  4. Lesson: Introduction
  5. Lesson: 1-Role of the Executive Branch
  6. Lesson: 2-Role of Congress
  7. Lesson: 3-Case Studies in Foreign Policy
  8. Lesson: Closing
  9. Photos & Illustrations: Cuba: John Kerry with Cuba foreign minister
  10. Photos & Illustrations: Treaty of Versailles: newspaper headline announces treaty's defeat (1919)
  11. Facts & Figures: Presidential War Addresses: Standard Themes
  12. Reference Articles: Department of State
  13. Reference Articles: Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine
  14. Reference Articles: War Powers Act
  15. Reference Articles: Department of Defense
  16. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Political cartoon: Woodrow Wilson calls for Congress to act (1917)
  17. Political, Government & Court Documents: Iran-contra scandal: Report of the Independent Counsel (1993)
  18. Political, Government & Court Documents: War Powers Resolution (1973)
  19. Speeches: Wilson, Woodrow: Fourteen Points speech (1918)

MLA Citation

"Making and Shaping Foreign Policy." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156175?cid=256. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

Entry ID: 2156175

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