Meaning, Definition and Nature of Foreign Policy

In the modern times, no state can survive in isolation and no state can ignore the involvement in international sphere. This involvement must be systematic and based on some well-defined principles. So, such kind of principles in the light of that such involvements are made is called Foreign Policy.

Foreign Policy is such wheel around that the huge machinery of international politics revolves and operates. It is a sovereign relation between/among sovereign states of the world, to protect their own interest as well as of other states. It is foreign policy through that a state can achieve their respective goals and objectives. Without foreign policy, a country is like a ship having no direction. Foreign policy is a strategy, planning or decision for specific goals. Every state wants to achieve certain specific goal and on the basis of these objectives foreign policy is formed.


Foreign Policy is defined variously by different thinkers and politicians. Some of the important definitions of foreign policy are as under.

According to Professor Gibson: “Foreign policy is well defined comprehensive plan based on knowledge and experience for conducting the business of the government with the rest of the world”.

According to Professor Joseph Frank: “Foreign policy consists of decisions and actions that involve to some appreciable extant. relations between one state and other”

According to George Modelski “The system activities evolved by communities by changing the behavior of other states and for adjusting their own activities to international environment.

According to C.C Rode: “A group of principles that is adopted by the states to protect the national interest and to change the behaviour of others.”

Foreign May be defined as: “Foreign policy gives you confidence on the basis of that you try to interact with other states”.

“Foreign policy is concerned with the process of making decision for the achievement of subjective and interests and to follow specific course of action”.

Aims and Objectives of Foreign Policy

Foreign policy is sum total of foreign action for achieving objectives, foreign commitments and the correct form of its interest.  

  1. “Foreign policy is sovereign relations among sovereign states of the world”.
  2. “Foreign policy is the behaviour of one state towards other”. Following are the important objectives of foreign policy

Following are the aims and objectives Foreign Policy in International Relations

National Interests

The General and continuing ends for that a nation acts is called National Interests“.

National interest is one of the most important objectives of foreign policy. The Primary Interest of every state is self-presentation, Security and wellbeing of its citizens. National Interests is the permanent Interests of each state and every state want to protect it by using the following methods.

  1. Coercive Measures and Forcible Means
  2. Alliances are generally concluded by two or more Nations for the protection and promotion of common Interest i.e. NATO.
  3. Diplomatic Negotiations
  4. Economic aid i.e. US Aid under Marshal Plan (1948) to Europe and Third world
  5. Propaganda i.e. US Propaganda in Iraq War
  6. Collective Security i.e. against Iraq in Gulf War 1991

Economic Development

Economic development is the process that not only effect economic relations but also social, political and cultural relations of the Society”. “Economic development means increase in national income or increase in Per-Capita Income”. Economic development is an attack on the chief evils of the world today i.e. disease, illiteracy, unemployment and inequality”. Economic development is one of the most important objectives of Foreign Policy. As the status of a state in International Sphere is determined by the economic condition of a state thus a state pursue the policy to contribute to economic prosperity.

Protection of Territorial Integrity or National Security

The Protection of the territorial integrity of the country and the protection of the interest of its citizens both within and outside the country is the objective of foreign policy. Generally, for this purpose the state prefer to follow policy of status quo. Moreover, it includes Economic security, Political Security, Military Security and Psychological Security.

Maintenance of links with other Members

Another objective of foreign policy is maintenance of links i.e. relations with other members of international community, and adoption of policy of conflict or co-operation towards them with a view to promote its own interests i.e. economic, political, security, social etc. for gaining these interests for instance Pakistan have adopted the policy of co-operation towards China and Policy of conflict towards India because India is also the enemy of China.

Enhancement of the Influence of the State

Another aim of foreign policy is the enhancement of the influence of the state either by expanding its area of influence or reducing the other states to the position of dependency i.e. USA and USSR followed this policy during Cold War era. Enhancing of power is the most unique principle of F.P aims because; power in this modern period is the corner stone of the state’s foreign policy

Nature of Foreign Policy

For Foreign Policy, there is no single principle that keep it static, but it may change with the passage of time and according to the interests of the state, i.e. sometime states formulate offensive foreign policy and sometime defensive. So, it shows that it changes according to changing conditions.

Stages in Foreign Policy Decision Making

The making of foreign policy involves a number of stages:

Assessment of the international and domestic political environment – Foreign policy is made and implemented within an international and domestic political context, which must be understood by a state in order to determine the best foreign policy option. For example, a state may need to respond to an international crisis.

Goal setting – A state has multiple foreign policy goals. A state must determine which goal is affected by the international and domestic political environment at any given time. In addition, foreign policy goals may conflict, which will require the state to priorities.

Determination of policy options – A state must then determine what policy options are available to meet the goal or goals set in light of the political environment. This will involve an assessment of the state’s capacity to implement policy options and an assessment of the consequences of each policy option.

Formal decision making action – A formal foreign policy decision will be taken at some level within a government. Foreign policy decisions are usually made by the executive branch of government. Common governmental actors or institutions which make foreign policy decisions include: the head of state (such as a president) or head of government (such as a prime minister), cabinet, or minister.

Implementation of chosen policy option – Once a foreign policy option has been chosen, and a formal decision has been made, then the policy must be implemented. Foreign policy is most commonly implemented by specialist foreign policy arms of the state bureaucracy, such as a Ministry of Foreign Affairs or State Department. Other departments may also have a role in implementing foreign policy, such as departments for trade, defense and aid.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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