Party In The USA - Miley Cyrus"I Make Foreign Policy."- President Harry S. Truman
The Role of the Chief Diplomat
  • Signs treaties and trade agreements with the leaders of other countries.
  • By directing the actions of U.S. ambassadors, the President conducts foreign policy.
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Diplomacy in Action Check out this video to see how three past presidents fulfilled one of their many duties as Chief Diplomat for the United States of America.

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Secretary of State


  • The Secretary of State assists the President with foreign affairs, sometimes conducting negotiations with foreign leaders.
  • They are the main adviser to the President regarding foreign policy.


Our current Secretary of State is Hillary Clinton.
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Hillary Clinton on her first visit to Moscow as Secretary of State. There she discussed topics such as Iran's nuclear program and missile defense with President Dmitry Medvedev.


Assisted By Congress
Although in the Constitution the President is given the most power or the upper hand in dealing with foreign affairs, the President can not make foreign policies alone by himself. It is the job of Congress to keep the President in check regarding his foreign policy powers. Also, having the ability to control the country's wallet, Congress can put a stop to some the President's endeavors in foreign affairs.
For example, when the United States is threatened by foreign nations the President has the power to order the military into action as a form of protection. However, the power to actually declare war is given to Congress, not the President. Another example is concerning the selections of ambassadors to foreign nations. Congress can choose not to approve of any person nominated by the President to be an ambassador. A final example of Congress' power over the President concerning foreign relations has to do with treaties. A treaty is formal agreement with other nations and the Senate may reject any treaty. So am many ways congress can over power the President as outlined in the Constitution.


Obama may think the world is in the palm of his hand and that he make any shot he wants, but Congress has the power to knock it down.
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On His Own
As mentioned earlier the President is sometimes under the control of Congress concerning foreign policy. However, there is one area where the President has freedom to make his own decision without the approval of congress. This area is regarding executive agreements which are agreements with other nations that can cover a wide range of topics such as future trading goals or promising aid to countries in times of need.


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How The President Can Make Foreign Policy
The most obvious way for the President to make foreign policy is by negotiating treaties and agreements. Although only the President has the right to do this, most treaties need to be ratified by Congress and don't take effect until Congress has approved them. Also, the President can make fo reign policy by reacting to events in other countries. The President or Secretary of State can propose legislation that directly has to do with other countries, like prohibiting sales with certain countries or providing support. Although many foreign policy legislations need to be approved by Congress, the President can interpret it however he wishes, even if it's not exactly what the Congress thought, and sometimes even takes action before Congress is fully informed. Congress then needs to decide whether they support the President or try to reverse the foreign policy or pass a new legislation. The President can make foreign policy in many, many ways.


The UN
The United Nations plays a large part in the decisions that the president makes concerning foreign affairs. The UN allows leaders from all nations who choose to participate to have an equal say and discuss foreign affairs. This is important so that various dignitaries can hear others views on many topics, and sometimes come up with solutions to current problems worldwide. This is an especially important tool for the president, (should he choose to utilize it) as Chief Diplomat, to assist in his decision-making process.


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Bush's Diplomacy Views Vs. Obama's Diplomacy Views
It is important to know how the current President feels about foreign affairs; such as what countries he agrees with, those that he opposes, and those he considers allies or foes. Throughout Obama's campaign process, how the old administration (Bush) differed from the new administration (Obama) concerning foreign policy. The following are some foreign policy issues that these two men disagreed on:

1. Obama planned/is planning to hold meetings and discussions with Iraqi and Cuban leaders (among others) to strengthen any and all ties/ Bush thinks this sends the wrong message to these leaders. He says this means they would think we are now allies, which he disapproves of.

2. Obama says that he wants to gradually withdraw troops from Iraq, and would only send them back if/when Al-Qaeda secures a base within the country
/ Bush says that Al-Qaeda has been already trying to secure this base, and therefore taking out our troops would be a bad idea.

3. Obama wants to make sure that everyone understands that America is not an enemy of the Muslim world/ Bush didn't have such a friendly outlook on Muslims.

4. Obama wants to reduce and eventually be rid of all nuclear arsenals, as well as ensure that terrorists don't acquire nuclear power/ Bush had withdrawn for the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty*.

*Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty - A treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that limits the use of anti-ballistic missile systems in defense of missile delivered nuclear weapons to certain areas. Created in 1972, Bush withdrew from this treaty in 2002.


Courtesy of:

Aislyn Fredsall, Brittnee Maia, and Kat Rosner.