What Tools Do Foreign Policy-Makers Have at Their Disposal?

In this foreign policy video, learn how leaders further their countries’ interests with political, economic, and military tools such as diplomacy, trade, and intelligence.

What is foreign policy?

Foreign policy is a term that describes how countries influence one another in order to protect and advance their national interests, values, or both.

Tools of foreign policy

To achieve this goal, foreign policymakers have many tools at their disposal, which generally fall into three broad categories: political, economic, and military. Those categories encompass many activities and actions, broadly known as tools of foreign policy. They include diplomacy, trade policy, economic sanctions, arms control, and intelligence.

Each tool has its advantages and disadvantages. The trick to foreign policy-making is figuring out how to manage those tradeoffs by selecting the best combination of tools for any given situation.

In this video, we break down the various foreign policy tools and explore how leaders leverage them to further their countries' interests.

After covering the fundamentals of foreign policy with this resource, put those principles into practice with CFR Education's companion Tools of Foreign Policy mini simulations.