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Vocabulary from American Government & Politics Today, Brief edition

Foreign Policy

A nation's external goals and the techniques and strategies used to achieve them.


The process by which states carry on political relations with each other; settling conflicts among nations by peaceful means

Economic Aid

Assistance to other nations in the form of grants, loans, or credits to buy the assisting nation's products.

Technical assistance

The practice of sending experts in such areas as agriculture, engineering, or business to aid other nations.

Foreign Policy Process

The steps by which foreign policy goals are decided and acted upon.

National Security Policy

Foreign and domestic policy designed to protect the nation's independence and political and economic integrity, policy that is concerned with the safety and defense of the nation.

Defense Policy

A subset of national security policy concerning the US armed forces.

Moral Idealism

A philosophy that sees nations as normally willing to cooperate and to agree on moral standards for conduct.

Political Realism

A philosophy that views each nation as acting principally in its own interest.

Cold War

the ideological, political, and economic confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union following WWII.

National Trade Relations Status

A status granted through an international treaty by which each member nation must treat each other members as well as it treats the country that receives its most favorable treatment. This status was formerly known as most-favored-nation status.

Negative Constituents

Citizens who openly oppose the government's policies.

Intelligence Community

The government agencies that gather information about the capabilities and intentions of foreign governments or that engage in convert actions.

Monroe Doctrine

A policy statement made by the president in 1823, which set out three principals: 1) European nations should not establish new colonies in the western hemisphere, 2) European nations should not intervene in the affairs of independent nations of the western hemisphere, and 3) the United States would not interfere in the affairs of European nations.

Isolationist Foreign Policy

A policy of abstaining from an active role in international affairs or alliances, which characterized U.S. foreign policy toward Europe during most of the 1800s.

Soviet Bloc

The Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries that installed communist regimes after World War II and that were dominated by the Soviet Union.


A US diplomatic policy adopted by the Truman administration to contain Communist power within its existing boundaries

Truman Doctrine

President Truman's policy of providing economic and military aid to any country threatened by communism or totalitarian ideology.


A French word meaning a relaxation of tensions. The term characterized U.S.-Soviet relations as they developed under President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I)

A treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union to stabilize the nuclear arms competition between the two countries. Talks began in 1969, and agreements were signed on May 26, 1972.

Sources of Foreign Policy Making (in the executive branch)

The President, the Department of State, The National Security Council, the intelligence community, and the Department of Defense.

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