U.S. foreign policy
- See also: History of U.S. foreign policy
Ultimate responsibility for United States foreign policy rests with the President of the United States. For the ratification of formal treaties, he or she must obtain the advice and consent of the Senate.
In the modern practice of foreign policy, formally, the senior foreign policy official below the President is the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. In practice, the critical decisionmakers are the members of the National Security Council, which includes the Secretary of State. Other major influencers are in the National Security Council staff, headed by the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, James Jones. The U.S. Department of Defense, under Secretary Robert Gates, obviously has a major effect, as does the United States intelligence community, coordinated by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair.
Foreign policy formulation and execution is structured on regional and functional areas. Over recent years, there has been an attempt to reconcile the regional definitions of the various departments and agencies, so a country is not under one bureau of the State Department but under a different Unified Combatant Command in the military. This is not completely successful; the countries of the Mediterranean littoral as well as the Levant are under one Assistant Secretary of State, but the United States European Command is responsible for the former but the United States Central Command for the latter.
Foreign policy also needs to be considered in relation to the U.S. and world situation of the time.
U.S African policy is principally focused on the Subsaharan part of the continent. For reasons of colonial sensitivity, the United States Africa Command is considered a unified subcommand of United States European Command.
Europe and Eurasia
East Asia and Pacific
More than in most areas in the world, policies twist and turn and involve multiple countries. Nevertheless, there are some basic principles both for the region and for countries.
While the U.S. continues to provide major economic support to Egypt, there is increasing concern about succession, with President Hosni Mubarrak reported to be in poor health.
The Obama administration avoids the military threats implied by the previous administration, by the U.S. or others. While it is giving moral encouragement to the domestic protesters following the 2009 election, it is taking time, establishing a moral position, and waiting on events. It does appear to be holding back on direct engagement at any high level.
It is quite serious about pressuring Iran to stop what is seen as a nuclear weapons program, b as the best means to accomplish this goal. Instead, a consensus is growing, with allies, to use economic warfare, targeted at Iran's lack of internal petroleum refining capacity, and thus, while ironically an oil producer, a gasoline importer. 
- See also: Iraq War
South and Central Asia
Afghanistan and Pakistan
In many respects, it sees this as one problem; the political geography of the area also supports the argument that the Durand Line border between the two may have been convenient for the British, but does not reflect the boundaries of the Pashtun people.
Western Hemisphere Affairs
A number of these areas will definitely involve more agencies than the Department of State.
- International Organization Affairs (IO)
- Foreign assistance
- Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs(E)
- Economic, Energy and Business Affairs (EEB)
- National Marine Fisheries Service
Democracy promotion and information
- Democracy and Global Affairs (G)
- Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R)
- International Information Programs (IIP)
- Propaganda; Voice of America; Broadcasting Board of Governors, psychological operations staff, National Clandestine Service, Central Intelligence Agency
- Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
Law enforcement, including drug trade
- International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- War Crimes Issues (S/WCI)
- Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice
- Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)
- Global Women's Issues (S/GWI)
- Global AIDS Coordinator, Office of (S/GAC)
- Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES)
- National Science Foundation
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
- Monroe Doctrine : Add brief definition or description
- Containment policy : A U.S. foreign policy doctrine of the Cold War, begun in 1947, focusing on keeping Communist nations "contained" from further expansion, rather than direct confrontation
- American exceptionalism : An assumption that the United States, as opposed to the majority of nations, was created based on shared ideology rather than shared history, described by G.K. Chesterton as "set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence", and described by Seymour Martin Lipset as based on liberty,egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and laissez-faire
- See also: Vietnam, war, and the United States
While the U.S. had dealt with insurgencies well before World War II, the situation increased significantly in the Cold War. The 1940 U.S. Marine Corps Manual for Small Wars remains a reference based on experience in Latin America and elsewhere.
In Vietnam, which combined both insurgency and proxy war, the U.S. struggled to find an effective counterinsurgency strategy, eventually refocused on conventional military action, and left the country, which was overthrown by a conventional invasion.
Counterinsurgency (COIN) is alive and well in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there is a distinct split among soldier-statesmen as to the correct balance among counterterrorism, "conventional" military forces, and counterinsurgency to include nation-building. Among the best-known counterinsurgents are General David Petraeus. Petraeus' doctoral dissertation dealt with U.S. policy toward Vietnam,  a far more active role, than traditional for generals, in developing the Army doctrinal manual on counterinsurgency. 
Sometimes informally called the "COINdanistas", this is an influential school of thought that blends political, social and military strategies. The Center for a New American Security, a strategic think tank, has many of its principals in the Obama Administration. Petraeus, now the U.S. commander for the Middle East, has used advisers including David Kilcullen and H.R. McMaster, known for open criticism of policies, even while advising. 
Andrew Bacevich is a critic of what he regards as an overemphasis on counterinsurgency in the U.S. military, which he sees as a revisionist belief that the Vietnam War could have been won with the right long-term approach, which he terms that of the "Crusaders" for the new view. He sees a more appropriate lesson as the "Conservative" one from the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine.  He favors a "defensive strategy" of "containment."  Colonel Gian Gentile is concerned with a decline in conventional military forces, although Gentile recognizes the conventional enemy is not the mass of the Soviet Union.
- "Obama considers Iran gas cut-off", United Press International, 3 August 2009
- The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A study of military influence and the use of force in the post-Vietnam era, doctoral dissertation, Princeton University, 1987
- John Nagl, David Petraeus, James Amos, Sarah Sewall (December 2006), Field Manual 3-24: Counterinsurgency, US Department of the Army
- "Officers With PhDs Advising War Effort", Washington Post, February 5, 2007
- Andrew Bacevich (October 2008), "The Petraeus Doctrine: Iraq-style counterinsurgency is fast becoming the U.S. Army’s organizing principle. Is our military preparing to fight the next war, or the last one?", Atlantic
- Jon Wiener (28 August 2008), "Obama's Limits: An Interview With Andrew Bacevich", The Nation (magazine)